What I bought - 27 October 2010

The great French revolutionary hero Danton, who will lose his head during the 'Terror,' is making a rueful remark. '... But Robespierre and the people,' he observes, 'are virtuous.' Danton is on a London stage, not really Danton at all but an actor speaking lines of Georg Büchner in English translation; and the time is not then, but now. I don't know if the thought originated in French, German, or English, but I do know that it seems astonishingly bleak - because what it means, obviously, is that the people are like Robespierre. Danton may be the hero of the revolution, but he also likes wine, fine clothes, whores; weaknesses which (the audience instantly sees) will enable Robespierre, a good actor in a green coat, to cut him down. When Danton is sent to visit the widow, old Madame Guillotine with her basket of heads, we know it isn't really on account of any real or trumped-up political crimes. He gets the chop (miraculously staged) because he is too fond of pleasure. Epicureanism is subversive. The people are like Robespierre. They distrust fun. (Salman Rushdie, from Shame)

Abattoir #1 (of 6) by Darren Lynn Bousman (creator), Michael Peterson (conceiver), Rob Levin (writer), Troy Peteri (writer/letterer), Bing Cansino (artist), and Andrei Pervukhin (colorist). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC, Radical.

The fine folk at Radical sent this to me (plus another below), and as you know, if you send something to me for free, I'll review it, no matter what (and no matter how long it takes - I have a bunch of stuff that people have sent me that I haven't gotten to yet, but I will, I swear!). Gianluca at Radical keeps sending me pretty much everything they publish, which is kind of cool of him because I haven't liked everything they've published, but I'm happy to give them the publicity. Unfortunately, Abattoir falls into the category of books I just don't like. In fact, it's probably the worst Radical book I've read yet.

The story is simple enough. In the late 1980s (which is when the book takes place, for no good reason yet given), a man goes a bit wonky, slaughters a bunch of neighbors and his entire family at his kid's birthday party, and gets shot down by the cops. A few weeks later, Richard Aswalt, a real estate agent, is trying to figure out how to sell it. One Friday night he and a friend go to the house to check out what needs to be fixed up, and a very creepy old man named Jebediah Crone appears, offering to buy the house at a significantly higher price than its listing. Richard tells him he needs to go through the proper channels, but Jebediah doesn't want to do that and implies that things could go badly for Richard if he holds things up. On Monday Richard, an ex-cop, is visited by an old friend on the force who tells him he's a person of interest in a home invasion because some evidence points his way, even though Richard had nothing to do with it. That night he goes home and his wife tells him a friend of his is visiting, and of course it's Jebediah Crone. Dum-dum-DUMMMMMM!!!!!!

It's a fairly standard horror set-up, with nothing so far to recommend it. Richard has issues in his marriage but is trying to make things work, he loves his daughter, he's not doing very well at his job so he's under pressure to sell the house - nothing terribly interesting there. Crone is a typical creepy old dude, with a ring of white hair that sticks out horizontally from his head - the dude must use some serious hair gel! The slaughter at the beginning is unpleasant, which I guess it's supposed to be, but it's not terribly scary or even necessary - the book loses nothing if it begins with Richard and we learn about the slaughter in flashback, especially because Richard has some creepy visions about it while he's walking through the house. Cansino's art isn't bad - heavily reliant on photo-referencing, sure, but filtered enough so it looks better than that usually does. The appearance of Gary Cole as the boss from Office Space as Richard's boss is unnecessarily goofy - the book could use some humor, but tonally, Gary Cole is just distracting. And, unfortunately, like far too many of Radical's books, the coloring is ridiculously dark - yes, a lot of it takes place at night, but that's no reason to make the nighttime scenes almost impenetrable, and other scenes in, presumably, well-lit places are drenched in dark earth tones. It's a mess, visually.

I don't want to bang on a book that I didn't pay for, but Abattoir is just not very good. Perhaps over the next five issues it will get better, but it feels like your standard bloody and dull horror story, and I don't have a lot of confidence that the writers will turn it around. I should point out that this book has a creator, a person who came up with the concept (how is that different from the creator?) and two separate writers. Maybe that's why it's such a mess. I don't know. I'd avoid Abattoir, though, and if you're desperate to buy a Radical book, pick up the one further down.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Black Widow #7 ("Kiss or Kill Part 2 of 3") by Duane Swierczynski (writer), Manuel Garcia (penciler), Lorenzo Ruggiero (inker), Jim Charalampidis (colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I enjoyed this issue of Black Widow, in which Natasha tries to get Nick to tell her his source, the one who is telling him that she's been killing various politicians worldwide, including his father. It's fairly exciting, Garcia's art is pretty good (even though I'm sure Kelly read through it grinding her teeth down to stumps because of Natasha's unzipped status - not to mention that final page), and Swierczynski sets up a good final issue of the arc (and the series, too, I assume - it's not solicited in the latest Previews, and I don't think anything past issue #8 has been offered) with the reveal at the end. It feels rushed, probably because Swierczynski didn't get much time to do anything with it, but it is, I admit, a bit better than some interminable arcs where nothing happens. As implausible as it is, Natasha and Nick manage to get to Poland, where Natasha has one plan go FUBAR, then escape, get new identities, and get attacked by the "real" bad guys - all in the final 16 pages. We're zipping along, which is probably for the best for silly spy stuff like this.

I still have no idea why this three-issue arc exists as part of the ongoing, especially as it doesn't appear to be continuing. But it's not a bad little story, if you're in the mood for wacky espionage stuff!

I have no idea if anyone clicks on any of the professional links I provide (only one commenter has ever mentioned them), but there's a pretty cool post at Swierczynski's blog. Of course, I grew up near Philadelphia, so maybe I'm biased, but still - old buildings are coolio.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dracula: The Company of Monsters #3 by Kurt Busiek (plotter), Daryl Gregory (writer), Damian Couceiro (artist), Stephen Downer (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Couceiro is a fill-in artist, but his style is similar to Godlewski's and with Downer's coloring, the look of the book remains consistent. I don't like Couceiro's face for Evan quite as much, but that's a minor complaint.

As we move through this first arc, we finally come to the fairly obvious "twist" (I put it in quotes because I doubt if it's even meant to be a twist): Old man Conrad wants Dracula to turn him into a vampire. It's a disappointing end to the issue, because it's so obvious. In the first two issues, it appeared that Conrad wanted Dracula for his business acumen, and the idea of a centuries-old vampire wreaking havoc on the business world has its merits. I'm not saying the book won't go there, but to sidetrack it with a pathetic old man wanting to live forever (even though it's keeping with what we know about Conrad so far) is a bit annoying. Oh well.

The interesting parts of the issue come from Romania, where we see a group of vampire-hunters in action, and they seem to have it together much more than, say, Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds, and Jessica Biel did. We also get to see Evan debating Dracula about the state of the world and some of Dracula's more medieval methods when he ruled (Evan asks, "Are you trying to sell me on feudalism?"), plus the fact that Evan seems to know some dark and disturbing magic that he might not be aware of. All of that works pretty well, until the last few pages when Conrad steals the show. I didn't expect him to be around long because he's such an obvious villain and I expected him to be killed, so I do hope Gregory doesn't go the obvious route and make him a vampire just so he can vex people. Kill him off, Daryl Gregory!

I'm still making up my mind about this comic. I know I'm getting issue #4, but we'll see about after that (it's the end of the arc). It's intriguing, but I'm not completely sold on it yet.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father #5 (of 5) by Jay Faerber (writer), Júlio Brilha (artist), Joe Eisma (artist, "Notorious" back-up story), Ron Riley (colorist), Paul Little (colorist, "Notorious" back-up story), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $3.99, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

Faerber, perhaps not surprisingly, gives us a superb ending to this mini-series, not necessarily because of what happens (the good guys win) but because of how it happens and how the heroes deal with it. Many superhero epics end very near the end of the final issue, leaving us wondering how the heroes deal with it (and in some cases they do, and in some, they don't). Faerber doesn't have the luxury of an ongoing series anymore (I blame the people who would rather read J. T. Krul books for that), so he decides to wrap things up quickly (I mean, we know the heroes are going to win, right?) and let the consequences come out in this very book. I certainly don't want to ruin it, but Faerber does bring up questions that are always present in superhero books, the first and foremost of which is: When is it okay to kill? As you'll see below, the violence in this book is brutal, but is that necessary? And if so, should the heroes feel bad about it if it was, in fact, the only thing to do? This will be something that troubles the group going forward, because Faerber does have plans to keep the book going - there's a holiday special and another mini-series in the works. Knowing Faerber, the way things play out will be pretty fascinating.

I'm very glad that Dynamo 5 is back. Ever since it began, it's been one of the best superhero comics around, and it was fun to see Faerber bring it back with this kind of story, which is packed to the gills with superhero clichés that he can play with. Then, when we're sucked into the spectacle of it all, he hits us with this devastatingly emotional issue, which deals with death, responsibility, more secrets, and even xenophobia (oh yes!). I'm already looking forward to December!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden ("Sacrifice") by Evan Dorkin (writer), Mike Mignola (writer), Jill Thompson (artist), and Jason Arthur (letterer). $3.50, 24 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

If you've skipped any of the Beasts of Burden material that's out there, you have a chance to see why it's so neat, as this is a simple, done-in-one story that gives you a good idea of what the rest of the comics are like. Dorkin (with some input by Mignola) gives us Hellboy meeting up with the various dogs and cats of Burden Hill, who protect it from mystical evil. They follow a trail underground to a creepy altar, where a woman wants to be reunited with her long-dead boyfriend and needs to shed blood to do it. Then there's a big stone golem. Yeah, Hellboy won't be amused with that.

It's a fun issue, as we get some nice interaction between Hellboy and the rest of the group, especially as Hellboy wins Pugs over after the dog initially mistrusts him. Dorkin also gives us a clever way for Pugs to contribute to the overall victory. We get a nice adventure, a good idea of what the other stories are like, and Thompson's art. What's not to love?

Well, I must say, as much as I like Thompson's art, I didn't like Hellboy's legs. Check out that cover and the panel below. Don't the legs seem a bit spindly for Hellboy? It's like that throughout the book, too. Mignola draws them a tiny bit spindly, but his blocky style overcomes that. With Thompson's more delicate line work, I would have liked to see her bulk them up a bit. How can he even stand?

Yes, I'm complaining about the legs of a fantastical character in an otherwise gorgeous comic. Just roll with it, people! Overall, of course, the book looks amazing. Give the comic a try!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Henry & Glenn Forever by Igloo Tornado. $6.00, 59 pgs, BW, Cantankerous Titles.

You know, in the annals of high concept, putting Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig in a comic as "roommates" and making their next-door neighbors - Daryl Hall and John Oates - Satanists has to rank up there. And so the gentlemen at Igloo Tornado (there are four of them) decided to make a comic about it. And here it is! Each page is a different gag, and for the most part, they work very well. Glenn is the self-involved one, always worrying about whether Henry really likes him but also yelling at him a lot. Henry, meanwhile, is more sensitive but also willing to put up with Glenn's emoting. We get diary entries (mostly by Glenn, but occasionally by Henry) scattered throughout, but for the most part, we just get an image and some jokes. There's not much else to say about it. If you like the panel below, you'll probably enjoy this. I do, so I did. I will point out that in the beginning, there's a page of quotes praising the book, and Rollins' is: "You know why I am depicted in a comic? Because I am fuckin' famous." Rollins rocks, man. Danzig was apparently not as happy about it. That's not surprising. (And yes, there are a couple of Misfits jokes in the book - they're probably funnier if you know some of their lyrics.)

It's only six bucks! Totally worth a look!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Hotwire: Deep Cut #2 (of 3) ("My Name is Bertus") by Steve Pugh (writer/artist/letterer). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Radical.

In this issue, the clash between Alice and the outside contractors that the city hired to clean up the "ghosts" while Alice was incapacitated heats up, as the commander of the force wants to use a kind of doomsday weapon that deletes ghosts entirely, and Alice wants to stop him. It turns out that there's a dead witness wandering around after the car accident in issue #1, and the commander doesn't want her testifying about how his squad cocked things up. So it's a race against time! Of course, Alice is still dealing with her dead boyfriend from last issue, and we learn that the government is doing its own testing with blue-light soldiers, which might actually help the dead witness get free. If it all sounds a bit wacky, that's because it is! This remains, by far, Radical's best book, and it's actually one of the better comics you can find right now, as Pugh simply steps on the accelerator and never lets up. Everything makes perfect sense (well, according to the rules of this world) and fits together elegantly, and Pugh's amazing art makes it all work, especially because the dead witness doesn't realize she's dead and sees herself as normal even though half her head is missing. It's a neat way to keep the book from being too gruesome and just hint at the horrors she's been through (ah, subtlety - perhaps DC should hold a seminar on it). And it's even a funny book in spots - the fact that the cops all love Alice now vexes her, because she has carefully cultivated a snotty attitude toward them and now she fears she'll have to learn their names. Damn popularity!

As I've said before, I'd buy this if Radical didn't send it to me. It's a blast to read. (Of course, they can keep sending it to me, too. I'm not complaining.)

One totally Airwolf panel:

Incognito: Bad Influences #1 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist/letterer), and Val Staples (colorist). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

Ed Brubaker always gets a bit peeved when I mention that Criminal isn't doing anything new with the genre, just doing it very well. I never write that certain people, like Jay Faerber above, aren't doing anything new with superheroes, just doing them well, so why should I with his noir book? Brubaker has a point, even though I praise the hell out of Criminal, but I thought I'd mention it with regard to the new issue of Incognito, which begins its second mini-series with this issue, because Brubaker is doing some new things with superheroes in this comic (even though Criminal is a superior work). It's not like we haven't seen a superhero book from the point of view of a villain before, but making it a curious hybrid of superhero, pulp, noir, and espionage makes this a nice stew (and even that isn't unique, but it's certainly uncommon). With Incognito, Brubaker is attempting something different. With Criminal, he's not. But that doesn't change the fact that Criminal is better, and it's rather odd that Incognito sells better. Are people that hung up on superheroes?

All right, enough blathering. One day I'll actually meet Brubaker and he can punch me in the face, if he's so inclined. I will say that this issue of Incognito is fantastic, better than the first series by far (and the first series, remember, was pretty good). Zack is now working for the good guys, but a random event - he is seen by an old man who mistakes him for Lazarus, the Returned Man, because he's one of the bodies Lazarus would use to remain, well, Lazarus - sets in motion a plan in which Zoe Zeppelin - with whom he's having sex, because why not? - sends him undercover into Level 9, a top secret criminal organization. He can do this, presumably (we don't see him inside yet), because Level 9 won't know if he's a good guy or not - the event with the old man has changed their perception of him. So he has a chance against Simon Slaughter, another undercover agent who has switched sides and is close to running Level 9. See? It's all very clear!

What makes this so good is that Brubaker isn't afraid to highlight the goofiness of the superhero conventions (when he shows the bad guys that Zack is fighting now, for instance) but he makes it as "real-world" as possible. As this is a "mature readers" book, he doesn't shy away from the sex inherent in the lifestyle, and he's not squeamish about the violence of superheroing. Plus, he adds the element of Zack trying to adjust to being a good guy and having a secret identity, which leads to the same issues he had at the beginning of the first series - living a normal life is boring to him. It's a nice way to keep Zack, and by extension the readers, on edge a bit.

Phillips is fantastic, of course, and although I've read other comics colored by Staples since the last issue of Criminal, it's always a pleasure to see him work over Phillips' art. He does a good job contrasting the more sedate tones of the "normal" moments in the book with the lurid superhero world. The art in Incognito is always slightly more interesting than in Criminal, mainly because of the subject matter, and this issue is not an exception.

I should point out that in the back matter, Brubaker gives us a bit of information about the movie, and he writes that he knows Leonardo DiCaprio would be perfect as Zack. Boy, I couldn't disagree more, and I really like DiCaprio. He seems too suave to be Zack, and definitely not brutally tough enough. Back in the day in some other comment thread, our pal T. decried the lack of tough-guy leading men (and, coincidentally, he has a recent post that is obliquely about that issue), and for something like Incognito: The Movie! this would be a problem. I can't think of many leading men types in their 30s (Zack is in his 30s, right?) who could portray him. Jason Statham comes to mind (he's 38), but I don't know about that. Mark Wahlberg (39), maybe? Dwayne Johnson (38)? It's an interesting conundrum, because if you're going with DiCaprio, you're obviously trying to class up your movie a bit, and I'm not sure if that's the way to go with an adaptation of Incognito. Of course, I have so much input I'm sure someone will be calling me with my thoughts, but it's kind of fun to think about.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Kill Shakespeare #6 (of 12) ("Lend Me Your Ears") by Conor McCreery (writer), Anthony Del Col (writer), Andy Belanger (artist), Ian Herring (colorist), and Chris Mowry (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.

Excuse me whilst I drag out Ye Olde Grammar Coppe Hatt and expound. On page 2 of this issue, Iago says, "No, Othello, you misunderstand me. I mean to praise thy demeanor, which has changed so much from whence I knew thee first." I usually ignore the redundancy of using "from" with "whence" - "whence" means "from where," so the person is writing "from from where" - because, as I found on yonder Internets, the construction of "from whence" has become so common - Shakespeare himself uses it - that it's not considered incorrect. It still bugs me, though. However, what's really incorrect about that statement is that I haven't seen any definition that allows its usage to connote a change in attitude and its origin - "whence" almost always means "from what place" in space, and Iago's more abstract usage is incorrect. You can use it to mean a cause of something, but not as a shift in time. Iago could have said "Whence comes your new praiseworthy demeanor?" Methinks (since we're being archaic) that McCreery and Del Col wanted to use "whence" to mean "from when," but like "wherefore" (which means "why," not "where"), they may have mixed up archaic terms. Okay, I'm taking off my hat now. Let's move on!

This is the end of the first half of the book, but McCreery and Del Col do a nice job making sure that, while it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, it doesn't feel like much of a break. All that happens to indicate that we've reached a critical point is that Hamlet finally makes a damned decision, taking far less time than in his play. This decision helps Juliet turn around a reluctant group of villagers (in Shrewsbury, which is where Henry IV defeated a rebel army in 1403, so there's a Shakespearean connection but not one with Richard - he was killed at Bosworth Field) to her cause and it also marks a crucial step in the relationship between Othello and Iago. So a lot happens, but as issue #7 is coming out next month (which is nice, as I hoped there wouldn't be a break), there's no reason to treat this as a break point except that the trade (which also comes out next month) collects through this point, presumably so trade-waiters won't have to keep their money for another six months. I certainly think that you should get the trade if you've been waiting, but as I can't imagine a 12-issue omnibus won't be in the offing, I wonder if you should just wait for that.

Still, this remains a very fun series, full of great action and stirring speeches and absolutely wonderful art, both in the actual pencil work and the way Belanger lays out a page. There's so much going on on each page, and it's fun to just check out the details. It's very neat.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Madame Xanadu #28 ("Extra-Sensory Part 5: A Taste of Things to Come") by Matt Wagner (writer), Marian Churchland (artist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I'm somewhat amazed by this comic book. In it, Matt Wagner totally rips off Chew. A young lady named Charlotte has a weird acid trip (the story, like all of the ones in this arc, is set in the 1960s), and when she comes down, she can discern the origin of everything she tastes, and it nearly drives her mad. She only finds salvation when she stumbles upon Madame Xanadu, who tells her she needs to stay with her and become her apprentice so she, Madame X, can teach her how to control her talent. As usual with all of these "Extra-Sensory" stories, it's less about what happens than about seeing the various artists, and Churchland continues with the group of excellent artists that Wagner recruited for this arc. It's odd because Charlotte becomes Madame Xanadu's apprentice and Wagner obviously has plans for her, but unless he tells us quite a bit in next issue's finale, we won't know what they are. That's kind of weird.

But I can't really get past the fact that Wagner ripped off another comic. We see writers use ideas from other sources all the time, and that's fine, because it's how you make an idea your own that counts, but Chew's premise is so unique and still new that I can't believe Wagner ripped it off. I suppose - to give him the benefit of the doubt - that he's unaware of Chew and had this idea completely on his own. I'd love to believe that. But then his editor (Angela Ruffino, associate editor, or Shelly Bond, editor) should have put the kibosh on it, because they should know about Chew. I mean, the comics world isn't that big, and it's not like Chew hasn't had a ton of publicity. If Wagner submitted this story without malice (I've met Wagner but don't know him, so I can't say he's without malice), that's fine. But I'm amazed that DC would let it see print, especially because it's not like this is a common idea. I mean, you could easily publish a story where "a super-villain becomes a hero," because whose idea was that first? But as far as I know, Chew is the first to give us a character who can "read" food, and therefore it seems pretty clear it's John Layman's idea. This is really weird.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Scalped #42 ("Unwanted: Conclusion") by Jason Aaron (writer), R. M. Guéra (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

SPOILERS AHOY!!!!!! I'm totally serious, people!!!!!

So a while back, Carol found out she was pregnant. I opined that I couldn't really see any way she would keep the baby, because Aaron had done a good job creating a character who would not keep it. Some people agreed, some people didn't, and the world spun on its axis. In this issue Carol makes a decision, and she has an abortion. What makes this book amazing is that Aaron made what I thought was an easy decision into a gut-wrenching one, at least for the readers (Carol, true to her character, agonizes a bit over the decision but shakes it off once she decides). We just don't know what she's going to do, and to be honest, if Aaron had gone the other way, I think he would have been able to convince me that she made a decision that was true to her character. Aaron drags out a nice hoary chestnut, the conversation between two people who say a lot without saying what they really think (and instead of goofy thought balloons, we get not-goofy-at-all caption boxes to let us know what Carol and Dash are thinking; see below), but because he's so good at writing this comic, it doesn't feel clichéd, just extremely powerful. Like every other time this happens in fiction, I felt like yelling at both of them, because Aaron takes them right to the edge of saying what they think, but then he pulls back. It's an amazing conversation, and it's bookended by Carol's dream of a perfect life in the beginning of the issue and her reality of what her life is now at the end, and it's yet another terrific issue of Scalped. Man, this is a great comic.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Secret Warriors #21 ("Night Part Two") by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Mirko Colak (artist), Alessandro Vitti (artist), Andres Mossa (colorists), Imaginary Friends Studio (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Hickman has done a pretty good job getting me to actually take Hydra seriously, because they're often so inept that it's really hard to do that, but now he has that woman strolling around with a giant octopus on her head, and it looks like a float at a parade, and while everyone is posturing and people are dying, I keep thinking how ridiculous she looks. Take off the damned octopus, Madame Hydra! It's really not a good look. Clinton and Stacy are back on Friday, so maybe they should step in.

I didn't mind Colak's art last issue, but that's because it did the job and I didn't have anyone to compare it to. This issue shifts halfway through to Vitti, and the upgrade is immediate. Colak isn't terrible, but his art lacks the verve and detail that Vitti brings, and I'm glad Vitti drew the second half of the book, when we get the big ol' sword fight. It's a very cool sword fight, ending pretty much how we expect it to end, but I'm not sure it's as dramatic as Hickman wants it to be, given the nature of the combatants. Still, it looks very keen.

The issue is basically a big fight, so there's not much else to say about it. I'm looking forward to how Hickman starts wrapping things up, because it's kind of neat how he's set so much up earlier in the series and now everything is falling, domino-like, into place. But I just can't get over Octopus Head. Someone should name it Henry.

One totally Airwolf panel:

In news that ought to be more important, Benoît Mandelbrot died a couple of weeks ago. Mandelbrot should be known to all comics geeks, if for nothing else than the Mandelbrot set. Mandelbrot was a pioneer of fractal geometry, something which I barely understand but which several comic book writers claim to get even though I think they're full of it. Anyway, in a world where the deaths of actors get the front page of newspapers, it's kind of a shame that a dude who helped create a new branch of science didn't get more press when he shuffled off. Raise a glass to Benoît Mandelbrot as you try to measure the coastline of Britain!

According to Travis Pelkie, it's always fun to check out The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. "Lay All Your Love On Me" - ABBA (1980) "A little small talk, a smile, and baby, I was stuck"2. "Billy Jack Bitch" - Prince (1995) "What misfortune left your heart so broken you only say words intended to belittle or dismay?"3. "Neverland" - Marillion (2004) "When you're with me, I can stand it"4. "On and On and On" - ABBA (1980) "I said 'Who are you to talk about impending doom?'"5. "She's Crafty" - Beastie Boys (1986) "She robbed us blind, she took all we owned, and the boys blamed me for bringing her home"6. "Talk is Cheap" - Cinderella (1994) "It's hectic at the bottom and it's lonely at the top"7. "The Company" - Fish (1990) "You tell me I'm free, then you want me to compromise"8. "The Hounds of Winter" - Sting (1996) "It's easy to remember, remember my love that way"9. "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" - En Vogue (1992) "Now you promise me the moon and the stars - save your breath, you won't get very far"10. "Round and Round" - Ratt (1984) "The way you move, you know it's easy to see"

Could it be totally random lyrics? Why of course it could!

"And when ye come, and all the flow'rs are dyingIf I am dead, as dead I well may beYe'll come and find the place where I am lyingAnd kneel and say an 'Ave' there for me."

Note the correct form of "lie" in line 3! Everyone join in!

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