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The Multimedia Landfill (Part of www.jaybusbee.com)

Friday, October 14, 2005


With the impending release of issue #2, I went and pimped me out some SUNDOWN a little more. Click here for the press release on ish 2, along with some preview pages from new artist Jason Ossman.

And for those of you who are visiting here for the first time FROM that Newsarama article, welcome. Stay a spell. Grab yourself a beer. Don't cost nothin'.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


--Finished up a couple solid books lately--Jimmy Buffett's A Salty Piece of Land and Tim Dorsey's Torpedo Juice. More comprehensive reviews on 'em both soon.

--Adebisi's back, and on Lost! Don't know who Adebisi is? Go back and watch the first few seasons of HBO's Oz...he makes Sawyer look like a second-grade bully. So far, Lost hasn't disappointed--it's got whipsaw plot twists and just enough character development to keep things interesting without getting lost in some ponderous wannabe depth. Well worth watching.

--Yeah, the Braves are out of the playoffs, but so are the Red Sox AND the Yankees. Makes me smile through my tears.

Sunday, October 9, 2005


So another Braves season ends too soon. Yes, this is getting old; yes, this sucks; yes, something is just...wrong about the way Atlanta can't get it together to win another title. That said, let's just cap off the season with a few points:

--The failure in this series was the bullpen's fault, plain and simple. Cox couldn't have managed any better; the Braves put together clutch hits (for the most part--though leaving 16 men on base today kind of sucked); the starting pitching at least kept them close for every series. But, Jesus--to give up a grand slam AND a game-tying, bottom-of-the-ninth-and-two-outs home run in back-to-back innings? Come on. No excuse at all for that kind of incompetence. And the Braves need to understand that losing this badly, in this foolish a fashion, just makes it that much harder for them to get credibility back in the eyes of many of their fans, who assume they're nothing but a bunch of choking losers.

--I'm not one of those fans, by the way. There are a million ways to lose a baseball game (and Atlanta seems hellbent on figuring out every way possible in October)--but do you think for a second that the fans in Philly and Cleveland (choked their way out of the postseason in the season's final weekend), Baltimore (barely sniffed the playoffs once in the last decade), Wrigley Field (thought Prior-Wood-Maddux was going to lock up titles from 2004-2010), or Pittsburgh (haven't even cracked .500 in a SEASON since before CLINTON was elected!) feel the least bit sorry for Atlanta? Nope. Gotta be in it to win it--and I'll take a hundred division flags if I know going into every single season that my team's going to be playing in October.

--Also, the five-game division series is just bullshit. There's no logical or logistical rationale behind it. In football, the first round of the playoffs isn't a three-quarter game. Basketball is seven-game series from the moment the regular season ends. Give each series time to breathe. I'm certain that plenty of fans in Boston and (God willing) New York feel the same way now.

--Houston isn't a great ballclub, but they're an opportunistic one, and a freakin' lucky one at that. I played a tennis match yesterday where the other guys weren't any more talented than we were; they just happened to get all the lucky bounces--I'd smash an overhead; they'd cower behind their racket; the ball would ding off their frame and dribble onto my side of the net for their point. They kept getting away with these lucky shots over and over until we'd dug ourselves into a hole we couldn't climb out of. Same thing happened too many times with Atlanta; they have to accept that teams are going to put runs on the board, but get a solid enough bullpen that teams don't score in clown-car-loads.

--And by the way, that stupid "Crawford Box" left field fence in Houston is so close that a well-placed bunt could leave the ballpark. Not an excuse, but still--anywhere south of Fenway, and Berkman's grand slam is a harmless fly ball.

--Finally, let's all remember that this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Atlanta. No way does any other manager in baseball get 18 rookies to put his team in the postseason. So get off Cox's butt, and if Schuerholz can land a couple solid middle relievers, lay off him too. We need to hang onto Francoeur, Langerhans, and McCann for dear life, send Devine and Farnsworth to Mexico for the winter to mow down cheap competition and get their heads back on straight, and then come back in March ready to--yep, once again--make the run for the postseason.

Now, who's ready for some Hawks basketball?



Friday, October 7, 2005


Or maybe "McCann-Do." (I bet that's the ESPN headline.) This might have been the most important non-elimination Braves game in almost a decade, and the Braves came up huge. Everything went right here--starting pitching, relief pitching, clutch hitting--these are the kinds of games that make you think this team might just be something special. Good signs: the rookies all got hits (even Francoeur, who at this point would swing if the pitcher threw over to first), Smoltz didn't throw a whole lot of pitches, and Reitsma kept his head and knocked the 'stros down in the eighth. Key play of the game--Chipper Jones' diving save of a Biggio screamer in the seventh. Sure, Atlanta was up four, but Smoltz was out of gas, and if that gets through, one run's in and the bullpen--shakier than a meth addict three days clean--has to come in to "clean up" the mess. Not a comforting thought. Every year since 1995, that ball gets through and things get ugly. This year...

Okay, enough speculating. On to Houston.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005


...but don't go planning any parades, either.

I think I'd qualify as a Braves fanatic. I've followed the team my whole life. Hell, I kind of work for them now, as a regular columnist for the magazine ChopTalk. I don't live and die by my team, but I damn sure have a happier day when they win. And I've spent most of the past 15 Octobers cheering, rooting, praying, and finally taking The Walk. The Walk, through the dark streets of my neighborhood, is my calming time, the thing that stands between me and homicide every year the Braves fail in the postseason. (Back in '92, I punched a bar wall and nearly broke my hand, so I'm improving.) I spend the entire walk dissecting the last game, the playoffs, the season...and by the time I get home, I've gotten all my fury out and I'm ready for basketball season.

Sometimes those Walks take a looooong time.

Anyway, every year I go into the postseason hoping that this won't be the October that ends with a Walk, that this year I can watch the final outs and then head out somewhere for a few dozen celebratory beers.

And every year, the Braves lead off with a godawful crapfest of a game like they played today, getting walloped (as I write this) 10-3 by the Astros. Getting 10 runs scored on you by the Astros is like having Clay Aiken bitch-slap you. There was the usual Braves playoff trademark--batting-practice-style relief pitching--though it was good to see some energy and some power out of the lineup this year.

Thing is, everybody outside of Atlanta loves to giggle about how sorry the Braves fans are for not showing up in the Division Series. Friends, THIS is why. Every year, the Braves say it's going to be different, and every year they make meek little Queen Elizabeth-style waves as a different pitcher--Livan Hernandez, Sterling Hitchcock, Robb Nen, and on and on and on--makes 'em sit like contestants in the Westminster Dog Show. There are only so many times that you'll go to a subpar restaurant, that you'll buy a band's one-good-song CDs, that you'll hit on a chick that doesn't deliver...the Braves wouldn't put up with a player who failed to deliver in the clutch for thirteen years, so why should the fans?

Tomorrow night, the Braves face what might be one of the most important non-elimination games in recent history. If they go down 0-2, if they show that the players change but the culture of close-but-not-quite doesn't, they're going to have a hard time convincing anybody of their championship legitimacy anytime soon.

So kick some Astro ass, willya, Atlanta?

Friday, September 30, 2005


I'm a geek. You're a geek. We're all geeks. Sure, maybe not of the dressing-in-elf-costumes-and-speaking-Klingon variety, but we've all got our pop culture obsessions that border on the disturbing. Really, how is a diehard Baaaahstan Red Sahhhx fan that different from a Star Wars geek? Both worship at the altar of media- or computer-generated gods, right? Both base their happiness on something that they have no control over, right? Both hope the good guys triumph over the Evil Empire and Darth Steinbrenner, right? I'll go toe-to-toe with anybody on this one; it's my way of helping out my geek brethren who tend to respond to assaults from the mainstream with nasal bleats or sniggering in-jokes ("Yeah, well...you're...you're too stupid to tell a Balrog from an Orc.").

That said...

...I thought I'd share with you a couple finds. First off, here is the post that Esquire dubbed "The Geekiest in the History of the Internet," a dissertation on the human-versus-elf percentage in the lineage of Arwen from the Lord of the Rings (Liv Tyler played her in the movie):

"...Arwen is actually less than 20% human. Rounding up her lineage is
Teleri 53%
Noldor 17% (all elves 78%)
Vanyar 8%
Edain 19%
Maia 3%
This assumes that Nerdanel was a Noldor, Turgon's wife was a Noldor, and Nimloth was a Teleri."

Got that? Good, 'cause this next one will make your head explode. These are the original lyrics to the Star Trek theme song (you know, the one with the ululating soprano who kicked in right after Kirk said, "Space...the final frontier..."). Why didn't we ever hear these lyrics, you ask? According to The Urban Legend Reference Pages (http://www.snopes.com), it's because Gene Roddenberry just wrote 'em up and tacked them onto the publishing rights of the original theme song in order to cut himself in for half the hefty financial pie of the original composer. Anyway, here are the lyrics...sing along at home:

The rim of the star-light
My love
Is wand'ring in star-flight
I know
He'll find in star-clustered reaches
Strange love a star woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

Ouch. Hurts just to READ it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


So...got plenty afoot on the comics front here. Let me introduce you to a few folks whose stellar work will be gracing my words over the next year or so. To begin:

JASON OSSMAN, who's stepped in and done a kick-ass job on the last two issues of SUNDOWN: ARIZONA when our previous artist was unable to continue. Jason's got the kind of grit that brings S:A to creepy life...issue #2, his first, hits shelves real soon, and--sales willing--he'll be redrawing #1 for collection in a trade paperback.

JARED BIVENS, my old colleague from Western Tales of Terror #1, who's going to be starting up work on GAMBLING IN HAVANA--my rednecks-loose-in-Cuba crime/comedy--as soon as I can get him a script.

MAX VELATI, whose near-photorealistic style will--at long last--bring SUNSHINE STATE, my tale of a Florida vice cop in the 1980s and his detective son today, to lush pastel-and-neon life.

JEREMY BENNISON, whose ultradetailed work is going to be put to use destroying cities around the world in XL, my giant-monsters book. (Hook line: "The food chain just added a new link.")

MARTIN MORAZZO, who's going to be a big star one day, but hopefully before then he'll finish up the initial issues of THE NETWORK, my ESPN-for-superheroes tale.

JASON FLOWERS, who knocked out a kick-ass four-page story for a recent contest--if we win, I'll let you know; if we lose, I'll post the entry here. But I think we're gonna win. Now, though, he's going to be working on RIPPED, my time-travel/terrorist story. (So what would YOU do if you found yourself in Dallas on that fateful November afternoon as the motorcade was approaching?)

Not a bad lineup, huh? With any luck, this time next year I'll have a bookshelf of new work on the stands. Make your bets as to which one's gonna hit first. As always, you know where to look to track 'em all, don't you?

Friday, September 23, 2005


Okay, so it ain't exactly a marlin and I ain't exactly Santiago, but dammit, this here fish was good enough to win me a hundred bucks last weekend in San Diego. A bonita tuna, it was the biggest fish anybody on our boat reeled in...and it was damn tasty with a little soy and grilled onions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Friends, when New Orleans reopens and you head to the bars of the French Quarter, find yourself a seat at one of the streetside windows. You couldn't go out and grab a greater cross-section of society than will present itself at your window--especially if there’s a good ballgame on.

I had been speaking at a conference in Lake Charles--located exactly where a bunion would be on Louisiana's bootheel--and a buddy and I stopped in New Orleans because, well, that's what you do when you're within 200 miles of the Big Sleazy.

I don't know how things are now--well, I know how they are NOW, but I’m talking pre-flood--but this particular weekend, there were no direct routes (that we could see) from the highway into the Quarter. We drove off and boy, did we take a wrong turn. For about three blocks, I was certain we’d be dragged from our car or shot at any instant--and then we rounded a corner, saw a college-aged couple going at it against a building, and we knew we had arrived in Safe Tourist Land.

This being one of the weekends of the NCAA basketball tournament, we went back to Bourbon Street, staked out a streetside table in one of the bars, and proceeded to obliterate ourselves as we provided running commentary on every game, regardless of who was playing. (I remember UNC being on the screen, but that's it.) It was my mom's birthday, and I staggered down the street to find a pay phone, gave her a call, and apparently made her promise not to tell Annie how plastered I was. Saint that she is, my mother still has this call saved on her answering machine all these years later.

Anyway, at our table, we sat like kings, receiving a never-ending line of freaks, lunatics, and morals-ditching tourists. A crew of housewives from Ohio or somewhere, in town for the shopping and the Monet exhibit, came and shared a table with us for awhile, and these ladies were damn near begging for a little of the ol' Mrs. Robinson treatment.

A few moments later, some guy staggered up to the window, wild-eyed and jittery like he'd been let out of a closet. And, in a way, he had--he had been let loose from prison just that very day. "Did six months for distribution," he said, and then, without any irony or a missed beat, asked, "Y'all wanna buy some weed?"

I vaguely remember a lot of images from then on out--New Orleans is kind of like a scrapbook of drunken memories even as you're experiencing it--like wandering in and out of voodoo shops, getting into an ugly shoving match with some guy over a woman I didn't even know--and who bolted as soon as things got ugly, throwing up within sight of Jackson Square, and somehow managing to drive across Lake Ponchartrain without plunging into the water. Once again, New Orleans tattooed my brain.

And I am NEVER letting the kids go there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Continuing my week of all-new content...

New Orleans is that rarest of towns, the kind of city that imprints itself on you and doesn't allow itself to fit any mold (a word that's going to take on a whole new meaning soon) but its own. And while the French Quarter itself seems to be spared the worst of Katrina's effects, it's clear that the city has its own permanent stain, like New York and 9/11, Dallas and JFK, Memphis and Dr. King.

So here's the first of some recollections I have about the city. We start in 1994, when I was living in Memphis and Annie was still in D.C. A friend of hers--a former White House intern before that became shorthand for a kneepad joke--was getting married to the son of Supreme Court Justice Scalia. Now, Annie and I had a bit of experience with high-level Washington--remind me to tell you about the Dan Quayle Incident sometime--but this was a whole new phenomenon. I picked up Annie just in time to head to Bourbon Street and Pat O'Brien's, where the wedding party had booked up the entire top floor for a rehearsal dinner party. The wedding party hadn't yet arrived, but we and a few other out-of-town guests proceeded to down Hurricane after Hurricane (there's an irony, huh?)

And then Justice Scalia and crew arrived, and brother, I don't care what your political affiliation is, this is a man who knows how to have a good time--and happily brings you along for the ride. We spent the next few hours drinking (a lot) and eating (not so much), leaning out over the balcony with that air of superiority that comes from knowing that the Little People down there on Bourbon Street are looking up at you and trying to place your face--'cause if you're in one of those exclusive rooms, you gotta be Somebody, right?

Then the justice and his wife left and, with a wave back at us up on the balcony, walked off down Rue de Bourbon. As we watched him plunge into the very depths of the kind of hedonism his supporters fear more than Hell itself, I started thinking--you know, unless his security guards are disguised as puking college students, empty cups, or strippers of dubious gender, there ain't NOBODY guarding that guy. And I started thinking about the perpetual razor-thin ideological margins on the Supreme Court, and, well...I wanted to save the rest for a book, but that friggin' Grisham beat me to it (see: Pelican Brief, The.)

So even though the celeb in attendance blew out, the party kept on keepin' on. As is usually the case when you've pickled your brain, the night became a disjointed series of short films. Here, we see Jay and Annie stumbling their way down the winding stairs of Pat O'Brien's. Whoops! Annie nearly stumbles into the flaming fountain. Bang—they're across the street, Jay's trying to buy a slice of pizza while Annie tugs on a guy's sleeve and says, "Y'know who was jus'here? Jussis Scalia! Inn'at cool?" Zip--it's twenty minutes or perhaps two hours later, and Annie's patting a horse's ass--no, not me, a REAL horse's ass--as she coos into what she thinks is its ear.

We made it back to our hotel, somehow, and managed to get to a majestic Catholic church carved out of the bayou in time for the wedding. The food was exceptional, but since we both felt like we'd gargled with swamp water, we stayed calm, and had a politely pleasant tourist evening in New Orleans. That's fine, though; the previous night was enough.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Back after a too-long absence...client work, business trips and the like. I've got a few entries stored up on the laptop, so I'll spool 'em out once a day this week. First off, an entry I had up a couple weeks ago, but deleted when I got into conversations with a Rolling Stone editor about pitching ideas to them...this seemed too kiss-ass then. Here it is now:

When I was an impressionable young high schooler in suburban Atlanta, Rolling Stone magazine did as much to make me a writer as any other inspiration. Reading the magazine's take on everything from the Manson family to Lennon's murder to a host of presidential elections galvanized me. (Of course, the smug tone of their reviews also stained my style in a way that's taken years to rub off.) But in recent years, the magazine had seemed to lose its way, publishing only a few quality pieces of journalism every year, instead diving headlong into charticles, rewritten press releases, and hack celeb journalism--really, how many times can you start an article talking about what your subject is dining on at a sidewalk cafe in Venice Beach? Rolling Stone appears determined to test the limit.

But their last few issues have been a pleasant surprise. Three weeks ago, Matt Taibbi penned an exceptionally painful piece on the inner workings of Congress entitled Four Amendments and a Funeral, and if you harbor any illusions that this country is still any kind of democracy, even a representative one, don't go near that piece. And the latest issue boasts some solid stories on the White Stripes and a Brazilian slavery ring. Plus, Taibbi hits another one out of the park with a story about war prostestor Cindy Sheehan, which rightfully pulls no punches for either the president or the pack of left-wing leeches who would start calling the sky green if Bush called it blue. He nails why Sheehan's an important figure and why she's got hardline Bushies running very scared:

"In the Sixties, the anti-war movement was part of a cultural revolution: If you opposed Vietnam, you were also rejecting the whole rigid worldview that said life meant going to war, fighting the Commies, then coming back to work for the man, buying two cars and dying with plenty of insurance. That life blueprint was the inflexible expectation of the time, and so ending the war of that era required a visionary movement.

"Iraq isn't like that. Iraq is an insane blunder committed by a bunch of criminal incompetents who have managed so far to avoid the lash and the rack only because the machinery for avoiding reality is so advanced in this country. We don't watch the fighting, we don't see the bodies come home and we don't hear anyone screaming when a house in Baghdad burns down or a child steps on a mine.

"The only movement we're going to need to end this fiasco is a more regular exposure to consequence. It needs to feel its own pain. Cindy Sheehan didn't bring us folk songs, but she did put pain on the front pages. And along a lonely Texas road late at night, I saw it spread."

I've busted on Taibbi before, but in recent work he seems to have reined in his sanctimonious-jackass persona and focused on the subject at hand--and turned in some of the best political and cultural writing of the year as a result. I look forward to more from him and more from Rolling Stone.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Was watching the Falcons-Jags preseason game tonight, and a Snickers ad came up. Their catchy little tagline? "It's only satisfying if you eat it."

What the hell does that mean?

Is it supposed to be borderline sexy? (Sounds a little like a prison demand--or a senior putting the moves on a freshman--in that context.) Is it one of those "live life to the fullest by consuming our product" kind of things? I dunno. It's just stupid. And I've wasted too much headspace on it already.

Tonight's listening: Warren Zevon's "Learning to Flinch," an all-acoustic collection of Zevon's live performances. Good God, what a songwriter. If lines like "I can saw a woman in two/but you won't wanna look in the box when I'm through" ("For My Next Trick I'll Need a Volunteer") don't make you laugh and lines like "Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house, maybe you'll think of me and smile/ You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse...keep me in your heart for awhile"
("Keep Me In Your Heart," the last song Zevon wrote before dying of lung cancer) don't make you cry, well, you've been deluded and you need educating. It's just that simple.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I've interviewed some big-name athletes in my day--Shaq, MJ, Peyton Manning--and the only ones that still get me all googly-eyed include a flyswatting second-baseman, a flash-in-the-pan fireball pitcher, and one of the most envied men on the planet:

Yeah, that's me, and that's former Atlanta Brave Dave Justice. We hung together for a half-hour or so at the Atlanta Braves' annual Hall of Fame luncheon on Friday. Every table got a former or current Brave player or team member--the less-lucky tables ended up with trainers; ours ended up with Mr. Justice. And through some stroke of luck, he and I ended up sitting next to one another, and I turned goofy fanboy again. I must have bored him out of his skull peppering him with questions about the early 90s, current and former players, living in Atlanta (but no Halle Berry questions, sorry), but he damn sure LOOKED happy answering every one.

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the Braves' world champion team of 1995, and just about everybody from that team with the exception of current players Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Javy Lopez returned for the ceremonies. And for a Braves freak like me, it was like the reunion of the Beatles...Steve Avery, Mark Lemke, Jeff Blauser, and so many others, along with current players John Smoltz and Chipper Jones...man, I was in baseball heaven. And that evening, I had great interviews with Chipper and the Padres' Ryan Klesko for an April '06 Richmond Magazine article...son, it don't get no better than that.

The great weekend was tempered by some unfortunate news from a close friend. It's their family's business so I won't go into it here...but get well soon, Joli Vega.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Had a fine booksigning at Great Escape Comics in Marietta, Georgia last night:

What a handsome, chipper lad.

Anyway, I caught a lot of folks as they were swinging by the comics store on their way home from work--Wednesday, for those of you not in the know, is New Comics Day, the day that week's offerings hit the shelves--one of 52 little Christmases each year for the comics fan.

It's funny...you don't really get a sense of comics fandom until you get right up close to them (which, in some cases, isn't really advisable.) There were a few people who were there for their Green Lanterns and their Power Girls and not much else, but there were also quite a few who were interested in chatting about craft, comics, music, and other cool stuff. Annie showed up and looked only moderately uncomfortable at plunging into the unfamiliar sausagefest that is the American Comic Store 2005. (And this is a woman who has to visit prisons as part of her daily routine--she's an attorney and occasionally must represent someone staying at the Ol' Graybar Hotel.)

But back to the industry--what I kept hearing over and over is that so many people aren't interested in reading about Boobalicious Spandex Babes In The Infinite Ultimate Crisis:

...so much anymore. (Looking at 'em, sure. But just like in the real world, comics fans have realized that the Boobalicious babes rarely have much interesting to say.) Anyway, a lot of readers--like me--who love the form but are tired of the same old, same old are looking for new material to dig on, and many of them have apparently found it in SUNDOWN: ARIZONA. I also got copies of current favorite books The Atheist, The Expatriate, and Elk's Run into new hands, so that's a good thing.

In the end, I think I won a few new fans, met some cool folks, and hooked up with an artist who's going to help me murder a few teenagers at a McDonald's...on the page, y'all, on the page. Many thanks to Paul and Ethan at Great Escape--I'll be back next year! (Well, I'll be back in the store next WEEK, but you know what I mean.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


A few weeks back, my buddy Jason Rodriguez asked me to pitch in and contribute an entry to his blog while he was out of town. I did, and here it is:

New Year's Eve morning, 1993. Manhattan. Le Parker Meridien Hotel. I'm riding up in the elevator, a bag of fresh bagels in my hand and a song in my heart. Last night, you see, under the angels of Rockefeller Center, I proposed to the love of my life, and she accepted. We celebrated with a dinner at Tavern on the Green, and today we were ready to head back home to D.C. and begin calling the fam' and friends with the good news.

Only...there was a problem.

I opened the door of the hotel room to find my wife-to-be laying on the floor of the bathroom, curled in a fetal position and wailing in pain. And two thoughts exploded into my head:

1. OhdeargodwhatthehelliswrongwithAnnie?


2. Damn, son, you musta knocked the bottom outta that thang last night!

But #2 quickly faded into the background as I realized that this was no ordinary Jesus-God-what-the-hell-did-we-do-last-night kind of situation. Annie wasn't quite puking blood, but she was still in some excruciating pain. I defaulted to Little League coach mode-"Get up, soldier! Rub some dirt in it, you'll be all right!"-which wasn't a whole lot of help. We contacted the hotel doctor-who I’m pretty sure was the same guy parking cars the night before-and after a quick feel-up determined that whatever was ailing Annie, it was out of his league.

He called in an ambulance, and we skipped right out on paying that fat New York City hotel room bill. The EMTs were still in the "does it hurt when I do this?" phase of examination; they'd shoved me to the back of the ambulance, and I stared out the back window and watched cars and taxis fight to fill in the space left in our wake.

"Counting the lawyers, buddy?" one EMT ventured, a line that sounded like he’d used it a hundred times.

"Um…no." The witty repartee had deserted me.

We entered through the emergency doors of St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital near Columbus Circle-the same doors John Lennon was wheeled through the night he died-and found ourselves in the surreal hell of a New York City emergency room on New Year's Eve. If I wasn't flat-out terrified that my brand-new fiancee was going to blow a gasket right here-and before I'd even had a chance to take out a life insurance policy on her-I would have really dug this dive into a petri dish of humanity.

But with ten years of perspective-and a now-very-healthy wife-I can appreciate the subtle insanities of the day. Like, for instance, the intern who wheeled my wife around from test to test sporting a tie featuring the Grim Reaper standing on a windswept mountainside. He spouted some cheery existential bullshit about death being all around us so we should embrace it, not fear it, fortune-cookie nonsense that didn't seem to fit the mood of the day.

After ten hours in the emergency room, we still had no idea what was wrong in Annie's abdomen, but I had seen this:

-An attending physician with glasses thicker than a half-pound burger who walked into our little cubicle, grabbed the bottom hem of Annie's gown, and callously threw it back like he was unveiling this year's Mustang. "What's the story with this one?" he asked a nurse. This one. Bastard.

-A chubby little fireplug of a fellow, wider than he was tall, shuffling down the hallway toward the bathroom-and dropping his drawers about three steps short of the door. Thankfully, he continued onward.

-A little girl sobbing her eyes out as she walked through the emergency room clutching to her chest the red, wet towel wrapped around one hand. And, a few minutes later, a bored-looking fellow holding a plastic bag filled with ice-and one tiny little finger.

-Creepiest of all was the room directly across from Annie's cubicle. When burger-glasses banished me while he looked over my wife-to-be like he was pricing furniture, I sat down on a plastic chair in the hallway. While Annie's "room" was just a couple of curtain dividers, this was an actual door with a large window looking into darkness. On the doorknob was taped an index card with DO NOT OPEN DOOR!!!! scrawled in magic marker. And as I sat there looking at my reflection in the window-I swear this next part is true-a face loomed up out of the darkness staring straight at me. A hand pointed slowly at the doorknob. I looked around-nobody else was anywhere close by-and shook my head no, still not certain this wasn't just some hallucination. The face faded back into the black, and I never saw it (him? her?) again.

With about three hours left in the year, the doctors finally determined that one of Annie's ovaries had developed a cyst, twisted around on itself, and died. For purposes of comparison, the doctors recommended I consider how I feel should one of my little fellas do the same thing. "Ouch" doesn't begin to describe it.

They determined that Annie's ovary had to go, and figured that while they were in there, they'd grab the appendix too. So half an hour before midnight, they shot her up with enough morphine to keep Courtney Love happy for a week, and moments later, for the first time all day she smiled. Then she went from gentle smile to outright dopiness. "You won't lose any champagne corks in me when New Years comes, will you?" she giggled. The doctors just smiled and said, no, they'd drunk all their champagne already.

They wheeled her off into the operating room, and I friggin' lost it. I began bawling, a full-on shivering-shoulders cry, and I found the nearest phone and called my parents to give them an update. I hadn't gotten more than two sentences in when a couple of security guards walked around the corner, stared at me incredulously, and-with zero regard for the fact that I was a grown man red-eyed from crying-asked, "What the hell are you doing here?" (By this point, you see, visiting hours were long over.)

I excused myself, went to the cafeteria, and sat there, head in hands, as a monotone announcement came over the loudspeakers: "Attention. It is now 1994. Happy New Year." From where I was sitting, I could see the reflections of the Times Square fireworks off the surrounding buildings. And all seemed very dark.

Long story a little less long, things worked out. Annie came through just fine; the other ovary picked up the slack. I spent the next day sitting by Annie's bedside, doing nothing but watching bowl games as she slept. She'd wake up every so often, smile, touch my hand, and pass out; I'd smile back if there wasn't a critical play on. And I spent several days on the ground in New York-during which time I got yelled at by a hospital administrator for sleeping in the lounge, got fleeced by scalpers at the Knicks-Magic game, and ate cheap pizza for a week.

I could overreach for some moral, some nonsense about early adversity strengthening our love, but screw that. It was a hell of a start to a marriage. More important, it was a great story-and in the end, that's what matters, am I right?

Monday, August 15, 2005


I'll be signing copies of SUNDOWN: ARIZONA this Wednesday night at Great Escape Comics in Marietta, Ga. Click on the store name for more info on the signing and directions...and swing on by!

Sunday, August 14, 2005


SUNDOWN: ARIZONA got a good review from ibulle.com, a French (or maybe French-Canadian, I dunno) website. You can read the original right here or a Google-translated version here. Some choice excerpts:

-"Sundown is a western of horror, a mixture of kinds which becomes again à la mode." Mmmm...comics with ice cream...

-"By discovering that Jay Busbee had written a history in the Western anthology Bruise of Terror # 1, I have immediately laminated the comics in order to remind the style of this author." Hey, even I don't laminate my comics. Thanks, mon frere! (And "Bruise of Terror" would be a KILLER name for a band.)

-"In my opinion Jay Busbee is a scenario writer who it is wise to follow in the future." Damn straight, chien.

So merci beaucoup to ibulle--in gratitude, I promise to lay off the French for a couple weeks, at least.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Way back at the beginning of the year, I made a pledge to read 25 books this year. I am, uh, a scotch behind on that pledge--I think I have to knock out three a month now to hit it--but one of the books that I did manage to get to this summer was Elmore Leonard's new one, "The Hot Kid." I started reading it as part of a book club on The Isotope message boards, but for whatever reasons that club fizzled out mighty quick. Anyway, the verdict--reliably fine writing from Mr. Leonard, who to me is the Greg Maddux of literature: he ain't the flashiest, he ain't the splashiest, but when you look back at his career, and when you look at what he's still putting out...damn, he's good.

"The Hot Kid" is the story of one Carl (nee' Carlos) Webster, a U.S. marshal with a steel spine, a deadeye aim, and a before-his-time approach to marketing oneself. Set in 1920s Oklahoma, the book follows Carl as he tracks Triple-A-level crook Jack Belmont and runs afoul of all the gangsters, cops, and chicks that Jack leaves in his wake. Carl is often shadowed by a reporter from True Detective magazine, and has coined his own catchphrase: "If I have to pull my weapon--I'm shooting to kill." One of the nice touches of the book is the way Carl thinks through his delivery of the line, once deciding not to say anything because he figures he might not be able to carry out his promise. There's plenty of bankrobbing, tough-talking, ambushing, and gun-moll-loving, and Leonard effectively plugs us into a world where guys like Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd are beyond heroes--they're gods. There's a bit of the "Huh. How about that. Well...all right, then." to the finale, but that may be more my fault as a nicely-conditioned everything's-gotta-end-with-the-apocalypse media consumer than Leonard's.

Bottom line: solid book, and like most of Leonard's work it would/will make a fine flick (he's the writer of books that became Jackie Brown, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and several others). I can already see the sepia-toned long shots of Hoover-era Tulsa streets right now.

Monday, August 8, 2005


Dig on this--another good review of Sundown: Arizona. If you aren't buying the book by now, man, you're just hopeless.

Man, this site has just degenerated into one seedy, greasy alley of comic/journalism pimping, hasn't it? I gotta deliver some more original-writing game, so more game I shall indeed bring. With mustard, bitches.

Monday, August 1, 2005



Well...sort of. This week's ep of HBO's Entourage was filmed at last month's San Diego Comicon. And in some of the scenes, you can very clearly see--well, the bottom half of a giant ceiling banner of the SUNDOWN: ARIZONA #1 cover. (Note the upper right corner above.) Hey, it ain't The Sopranos, but it'll do to stoke my raging ego...for now.

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