J.C. Ciesielski, Fanbase Press Contributor

J.C. Ciesielski, Fanbase Press Contributor

Someone sits across from you on the bus or at the bar. Walking down the street, you pass by that certain someone in the neighborhood who has always seems "off" to you in some way. As you intersect, just as the opportunity has all but diminished, you glance up to see them inspecting you out of more than just the corner of their eye. There is always that person. That person that views the world the same as you, but maybe the details are what doesn't match up, or they are catching something you chose not to notice. That's the feeling Milk for the Ugly elicited from me. Then again, who's to say that's what it wants.

"The saying goes: 'Everybody loves a clown.'" Thus, the opening line of Clown by author James Maddox encapsulates the tone of his story, the way an overture gives a brief taste of the entire piece without giving away the nuance and detail which follows as the story unfolds.

. . . then she swung her blade, as if her life (which it did) depended on it. Vincent used his resources to more than their abilities. He commanded . . . Apologies. It just struck me that some of you have not been introduced to Creepy Scarlett or the graphic novel that borrows her name. Let's give you a quick recap, if you haven't yet been introduced.

Or a better question, am I getting to be the cranky curmudgeon that complains, "They don't make good music anymore!" To be honest, (a rare treat, so enjoy it!), I've cut back on my Top 40 listening over the years. Personally, I'm not enjoying the stuff I hear, and I'd give those stations more of a chance if they would at least play a wider array of crap. Top 40 became "Top 15 whose labels pay the best." Pay for Play has been around since the first commercial radio station hit the airwaves. I truly wish record labels, especially the ones with a few spare bill laying around, would sack up and lay down some cash to some artists that aren't just on the air 'till they can make the transition to their true passion, reality T.V. I'd plea for radio stations to at least give their listeners an hour or two devoted to new, non-cookie cutter music. One band I could suggest for that format would be SLIG.

"Welcome to Best Buy, what type of music do you like? Can I suggest some bands for you?"

Words you well never hear.

Let's assume for this article that J.C. stands for "Jaded Curmudgeon." Even if you were to shop for music at a store that doesn't require employees to wear name tags (assuming you want to leave the house and get a physical format), the best you may get would be a friendly, "Are you finding everything all right?" How can you find what you're looking for if you don't know what it is? You want something new that fits your tastes, but trying to describe it to someone who doesn't care about music is a bust. Maybe I can help.

Back before Pandora or Spotify told you who you would enjoy listening to based off of your current listening selection, well, there was this guy. This guy hung around record shops, clubs, and concert venues and waxed on and on about this band and that, coaxing out tidbits of your personal music preference, then suggested bands or tracks to check out on the merit of his knowledge of music, and not some "what people who listen to X also like Y" formula created to sell shampoo and acne cleaner to music (or what sometimes passes for music) listeners. I miss those guys. Occasionally, you still run into folks who can pass along a good suggestion or two, but it's a hard line to follow when it's so easy to submit to the ease that is musical complacency.

Love is in the air at Fanboy Comics! In this magical month of romance and enchantment, the FBC Staff and Contributors decided to take a moment to stop and smell the roses. In the week leading up to Valentine's Day, a few members of the Fanboy Comics crew will be sharing their very personal "Love Letters" with our readers, addressed to the ones that they adore the most.


To the Clowns in the Sky,

Space. The Final Frontier. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Too far away for me, and I have little patience to sit through a history lesson. I prefer my sci-fi to take place in a not-too-distant future (possibly next Sunday, A.D.) way down in a place called Deep 13. Do I need Vaders and Mauls when I can have Forresters and T.V.'s Franks? Why deal with Klingons around Uranus or 1000 Falcons when I can hang out with the gang of the S.O.L. (Satellite of Love)? Why bother with an effeminate golden droid with a bad British accent or a blue and silver extra large suppository that won't speak in the same language as everyone else? Or a whiny farm boy, a smug smuggler, or an even more smug Captain? I prefer the likes of robots made from spare parts by a man trying to stave off insanity by loneliness and depression from being exiled by evil overlords. Or as many call them . . . bosses. This is the life I'm more partial towards, spending my days cracking wise on crap movies with a couple of robots. It's the American dream.

There are images and sounds that immediately recall memories of one another. You see a black-and-white photo of a baseball mid flight, soaring out of the park, while a half-twisted Babe Ruth has yet to drop his bat and CRACK!, that noise of leather and wood embracing and separating at once springs to mind. You hear a song that played during a climactic point in a film, and you're suddenly envisioning it in your mind, possibly still wondering why Chewie got shafted out of a medal at the end of A New Hope. The combination of sight and sound is ageless, but, in print, it is much less frequent. Unless animated, the written word, with or without illustrations, rarely gets a soundtrack. The most recent combination that springs to mind is the album Haunted by songstress Poe that was developed as a companion piece to the surreal book House of Leaves written by her brother Mark Z. Danielewski. That was in 2000. Nothing else is jumping out at me. That is until Love & Monsters jumped into to my line of sight.

Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in. Adhering to the comment I made in my last The Final Plague review, recaps be damned (at least by them). The boys working with Action Lab aren't about to surmise what happened in previous issues, and, quite frankly, neither am I. Okay, I lied. The Final Plague tells a tale that, as partakers of most any media these day, we've seen a few times. The infected. Those that change from their original state of being to something else. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, fair weather fans of sports teams once they start doing well. The Final Plague skews from that well-worn material and spins it with something that hasn't been a real worry since the days of the Black Death. Infected animals. Jumping from one location to another across the fruited plain, we are shown that distance isn't a factor when it comes to these viral creatures . . . unless we find out in a future issue that the spreading of the virus has been happening longer than we have been shown to this point. We'll have to wait and see.

When I opened the shipping box from Buffalo Games, I saw an envelope with my name written on it laying on top of the contents. What's going on here? Is this a death threat (again) or a bribe to give the games a good review? No, merely a card with the Buffalo Games logo watermarked on the cover, and inside accompanying a business card was a hand-written note explaining the contents of the box and well wishes with an interest in hearing what I have to say about the 3 games included. I've never received such a gesture with a package of review games before and was touched and intrigued.

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