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Horrors Of The Red Planet

When you stare into the movie abyss, the movie abyss stares back into you. Also known as The Wizard of Mars, from 1965, this has… well, probably nothing you wanted in a movie. Other than being free.

I suppose if you were in your Dad’s car with your date at a drive-in in 1965, this gave you plenty of reason to fool around and I suppose that was the point.


Kid Banana Gets His Superpowers

In addition to fighting grime at night as a janitor and fighting crime during the day as Banana Man, Banana Man has a son: Kid Banana. Kid Banana gets “Dad Time” alternative weekends. This is one of them.

Banana Man straightens the slightly soiled white ball cap over Kid Banana’s long-ish straggly dirty blonde hair. He steps back a moment to take a good look. Normal-looking skinny 13 yr old boy. Blank white ball cap. Slightly soiled and just a bit too large white overalls. White T-shirt printed with one word: “TRASH”. Work gloves.

Banana Man turns and looks at his reflection in the windows of the storefront of the Stark Industries office. He’s dressed just the same, only bigger.

“Ok Kid, ready to get your superpowers?”

“Um, ok Dad. I guess, I mean.” Comes the uncertain reply.

“Good Kid. Just follow my lead. Nod your head a lot. Let me do the talking.”

“Ok, Dad.” Kid Banana scuffs the pavement with his worn Keds then looks up at the sign. “Are you sure this is OK dad? I mean, I don’t wanna go to jail or ‘nuthin’.”

“Hey, don’t you worry about it.” Banana Man gives the Kid one of those mock knuckles-across-the-chin punches. “What do the kids say these days? ‘You got this!’ Follow me. Onward towards Justice…” He pushes open the door. Inside standard-issue corporate beige carpet, white walls with minimal color added by abstract paintings and plastic plants. A few chairs. A wide reception desk occupied by a man with thick, round glasses underneath the big gold letters of a “STARK INDUSTRIES” sign.

“May I help you?”

BM steps forward confidently. “Yes. We are here about the trash.”

“Ah yes, that.” He presses a button and a set of double doors to his left swings open. “Just follow the green line in the floor. That will take you to the staff lunch room. Then follow the black line which will take you to the back door and the dumpsters.” He shakes his head. “Man, that was some retirement lunch for Leonard yesterday. You’re going to have your hands full.”

“We’re on it. We are professionals. We fight grime.” Banana Man confidently strides through the doorway, Kid Banana in tow. Once through the passageway and out of earshot of the man at the reception desk, BM turns and whispers to KB. “Ok, now keep your eyes peeled. Watch for a research lab, chemicals. Anything marked ‘Radioactive’.”

“Um, OK Dad.” KB trails along as his dad takes the lead peering around corners, examining signs on doors and peeking through windows.

The green line leads them further into the building. “Nothing yet. Looks so ordinary. Must be something here…” The place seems pretty empty of people. Saturday, no surprise perhaps. The green line abruptly ends at a set of double doors which our heroes push open. “Hm. Lunchroom.” Sure enough. Ever seen a generic employee lunchroom? They look just like this one, perhaps with fewer grease-soaked pizza boxes, half eaten cake mushed into paper napkins, empty sodie-pop cans. Cheap paper banners celebrating Leonard’s long years of service droop on the walls as if sad the whole thing’s over.

“What now, Dad?”

Banana Man scratches his chin. “Hrm. Trash is our cover story.” He waves over at some large trash cans in the corner. “Gimmie a hand loading these up.” The pair start stuffing the remains of the party into the big 50-gallon trash barrels, lined with your standard garbage can liners. “Hey cool, these things are on wheels. Handy!” They roll the cans out the doors and start following the black line in the floor. “We’ll stick to the black line. We call that our ‘cover story’.”

They walk along, Banana Man keeping a sharp eye out, occasionally trying a door only to find either bland beige office cubicles or a locked door. Frustration. Not too long later and the black line has lead them another double-set of doors that clearly leads outside. Banana Man bangs them open with his can. Sure enough, an almost empty parking lot and two dumpsters.


“If you need that, the bathroom’s inside, man.” A man is leaning against the building. Foot crooked back against the wall and holding a cigarette between his fingers. He’s wearing a white lab coat and sunglasses.

Banana Man huffs the first trash can into the dumpster. He turns to the guy in the lab coat. “Say, you guys work with radiation here?”

“Nah, not really.”

Banana Man mumbles to himself, “So much for the Spiderman angle.”

The man eyes the remaining stuffed garbage can. “Leonard, what a card. He invented Anti-Velveeta. What will we do without him?”

“Hm. Maybe you’ve got some kind of toxic waste?”

“Maybe, not my department. What would you want that for?”

BM motions to Kid Banana. “Kid here needs some super powers. I was hoping for maybe a bite from a radioactive rhino.”

The tall man chuckles and scratches his beard. “Heh. Well, I’ve got some rats that are totally high on cocaine.”

“No good. What else you got?”

Another scratch. “We’ve got some grumpy bunnies. We’re working on some new anti-flea medications.”

“Anything that shoots some kind of rays? Gamma rays worked for The Hulk.”

“Unless you count the photocopier, no.”

“You call yourselves a research lab, or what?”

“Oh sure. Want to sign up for a study on diet pills? Have be 18 or older though.” The man waves a hand dismissively.

“What is this world coming too? I expected more from Stark Industries. Maybe you’ve got some strong chemicals?”

With a snort, “Yeah, lots of bleach.”

“Feh.” Banana Man heaves the other trash can into the dumpster. He dusts his hands. “Dead end.” He grits his teeth and puts his hand on Kid Banana’s shoulder. “Ok kid, no superpowers today. Let’s go get some donuts.”


The Great Martian War 1913-1917

Free on YouTube, a faux film – a documentary on The Great Martian War of 1913-1917.

A product of the History Channel, done in the History Channel style, it’s a modern retelling of The War of the Worlds. It’s fiction, of course, but adding CGI Martians to WWI footage plus interviews of people telling stories they create a very believable “documentary” of something that never happened.

The greatest thing ever? No, but you may enjoy it:


The Theft of Baby Shamu

The Theft of Baby Shamu, a Hardly Boys mystery.

(You know who Shamu is, right?)

Baby Shamu is missing! She’s gone! And there’s three shows tomorrow! There’s nothing left behind to be found but an empty orca tank, the top teeth to a pair of dentures, a three-dollar bill, a receipt from the gift shop, and a half-empty 50-gallon drum of Canola Oil. Can the Hardly Boys piece these clues together and find Baby Shamu in time?

Yes, the Hardly Boys are drag queens, brothers and sometimes sisters, together they solve mysteries and fight crime!

Just one of the Hardly Boys mystery novels. Can they fight crime, finish their homework, get to bed on time and still stay Fabulous? Read on and find out!

Midjourney wouldn’t let me create a version of a graphic like this but with the boys in drag chasing a killer whale…

Almost, but not quite.


The Big Sleep

“I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.”

“I’ve been jingling two nickels together, trying to get them to mate.”

“It’s not his step, it’s the back of his lap he should watch.”

— Dialog from The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler


The Hunt For Red Banana

“I don’t want the world, I just want your half.” Down goes another shot of cold vodka.

“Party foul! Quit quoting They Might Be Giants!” Dana Dastardly angrily cracks the ice from her drink between her molars. She sneers with narrowed eyes. “They’re one of those happy bands. No wonder they call you Commie Bastard.”

“That’s Lying Commie Bastard to you. I want all the halfs.” Commie Bastard crosses his brawny arms over his paunch and stained, ironic obscure rock band t-shirt.

Triple Agent 9000, country-club perfect in a blue polo, Beach Boys blonde hairdo, dimples and a smile with teeth so white and straight they could be used as a credit reference leans in. “Oh, if you’re a Commie, what’s up with that Red MAGA Hat?

“‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.‘ Tell me Comrade. What is the official color of International Communism? Is it blue? Is it green? Besides, I appropriated it from a capitalist’s head.”

A 50-ish man with a pointy nose jabs into the conversation. “Can the chin-music, you ham sandwiches. We need a winner image. We need to beat someone.” Secret Nixon pounds the bar table and shouts into a tiny microphone on shirt collar. “Secret Agnew, take some notes on this!”

A figure in the darkest corner of the booth, face hidden behind a slouch hat and the extra-large collar of a full black coat smoothly suggests, “We are the Legion of All The Dooms. Why don’t we just take over the whole world?

Dapper Dana Dastardly pretends she’s twirling a long mustache. “What? You’ve got a giant laser or something? What about you Dr. Weevil? Giant laser?”

Dr. Weevil glances back and forth. “I’m really more into worms than lasers. Perhaps if we shot lasers at some worms…?”

You can almost see the smoke coming out of Secret Nixon’s ears. “If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats! What are we willing to risk here, Legion?”

Dana Dastardly reaches into her large, clunky black purse. “I’ve got five dollars and twenty seven cents. Drat! Double drat!”

“I can risk anything I can claim as an expense to the other guys.” Adds Triple Agent 9000.

“Who are you working for anyway, Mr. 9000?” asks Shadowy Figure.

“Well, you guys of course. Legion of All The Dooms all the way. But you see,” he’s leaning in close to keep outsiders from listening in “I’m pretending to work for the Justice League of Justice as a double agent against you, but I’m really working for you which is what makes me a Triple Agent.” He’s making circular motions with his hands, pointing back and forth. “You see, it’s like a circle, or maybe a horseshoe. Möbius kinda thing.”

Megabarnacle barges in and drops his bulk into one of the plastic chairs. “Whatchoo cats talkin’ about?” A slight, dower Chinese man with greasy black hair and the suggestion of a mustache approaches the table. He looks like he just found a dead bird in his lunchbox. Knowing how things work at the Long Up Chuk Chinese-American Restaurant and Lounge he’s probably cracking hour 16 of his shift.

He drops a laminated menu on the table, worn from long use. The prices have been updated multiple times with white-out and ball point pen. “May I take your order, sir?”

“Yeah man, gimmie two orders of your chicken-fried noodles. And a Diet Coke.”

“Megabarnacle’s contribution to our efforts is a Diet Coke.” deadpans Shadowy Figure.

The waiter silently withdraws with a nod, his shoes hardly sticking to the carpet at all. Dana Dastardly pokes Commie Bastard in the ribs. “Hey buddy, workers of the world unite. There goes one of your people.”

“Feh.” Commie Bastard spits on the floor. “Look at that chump. There ain’t no real communists anymore.”

Shadowy Figure makes a questioning gesture with his hand. “What about Red Banana?

Dana Dastardly pounds the table with her gloved palm. “Red Banana! You mean, the anti-Banana Man? He loves grime, does he not?”

Commie Bastard is frowning over his gnarled forearms, leaning his chair back on two legs. “No one’s seen Red Banana since the Berlin Wall fell for the second time. Last I heard he was working at the dump.”

“Taking over the world may have to wait until we have more than five dollars, a Diet Coke and no lasers.” Shadowy Figure pauses, “but perhaps we could take over a bowling alley.”

Dr. Weevil gasps, “The Justice League of Justice! Man, I hate those guys. We could take them on.”

“Yes…” hisses Commie Bastard. He narrows his eyes and purses his lips in thought. “For that we need Red Banana.”

A well-dressed gentleman who looks a bit like The Penguin in his bowler hat and round glasses squeezes into the booth. “Hey, howdy fellers, I’m Roger Stone. Did I miss anything?”


Another Problem

Arnold Ziffel

“Green Acres is the place to be.”

Arnold Ziffle’s fresh incision is itching. The old pickup’s ride ain’t what it once was. The thing rides over the ruts like an empty 50-gallon drum. The a/c as dead Lincoln’s great-grandfather.

“Farm livin’ is the life for me.”

The pills have been keeping the pain down to a dull ache.

“Land spreadin’ out so far and wide”

Arnold stares out the passenger window. Pig sweat starts dripping into his eyes. Worse than dull ache in his chest is the need for nicotine. The crushed, empty pack on the floor, like the dead remains of unpleasant memories.

“Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside!” Bubbah pounds his arm rest and gets into it with gusto, swinging his scruffy black beard from side to side.

“…The chores.
…The stores.
…Fresh air.
…Times Square!”

Arnold once pretended to be a patient, friendly pig on TV. That was then, this is now. He turns slowly to the fat man driving next to him.

“Green Acheeeeeeee–errrrrrssss!”

“Fat man. HEY, FAT MAN.” There’s hate in his voice thick enough to spread on toast like butter.


“What’s black and blue and red all over?”

“Z’at some kinda pig joke?”

Arnold narrows his eyes. “Answer the question, Bubba. What’s black AND blue AND red all over?”

“Shit pig, I dunno. I’m only in this for the pills.”

“It’s your corpse, jackass, if you don’t stop singing that fucking song.” Arnold gives him a stare colder than eskimo ice cream then turns back to the window. Staring blankly at the dry, brown empty Texas plain.

The ride is quiet the rest of the roll to the smokes at the mini-mart. Still, it haunts him.

“You are my wife.
Good bye, city life.
Green Acres we are there.”



Hostess Apple Pie

(Should you be inclined, you may view the Author performing this episode recorded live, on YouTube by clicking here.)

“Let’s go, Honeys!” Shouts He-Wonder Woman over her shoulder while shouldering open the door to leave the Super Mini-Mart and smacks right into an enormously fat black man with a big ‘fro. Now he’s got Strawberry Lime Slushy all down the front of his flat black T-shirt, missing his black shorts due to the overhang and drips on the ground by his black sneaks. He works up a scowl that could curdle milk.

“Oh, Megabarnacle! I didn’t see you there, darling” she gasps, manicured fingertips pressed against her lips.

Dr. Weevil pulls open the other door and rubs his bald head. “Oh, look what we have here. Banana Man, Wonder-Where’s-The-Weiner and Black Rhumba. Fancy running into The Stupid Friends here.” At the disturbance the other members of The Justice League of Justice crowd out onto the cracked pavement lit a slightly nauseous yellow by aging sodium lamps.

“Oh, no! Let me get some paper towels Megabarnacle!” Titters He-Wonder Woman.

A grumpy reply. “Oh no.” Shakes his head slowly. “It’s too late for that.”

A skinny teen with messy hair and a Where’s Waldo T-shirts dances from foot to foot with glee, pointing at the big man and giggling. “Ha ha! Grout thinks you look so stupid!”

An even skinnier teen with messy hair and braces is also pointing and laughing. “Ha ha! Curdles thinks you look dumb!” He rubs the “I’m With Stupid” T-shirt over his guts.

“We’re not the Stupid Friends, we’re The Justice League of Justice and we fight for … Justice.” Growls Banana Man.

“Oh, is it a fight you want? Looks like you’ve got yourself a Rumble with The Legion Of All The Dooms!” Megabarnacle jabs a thick figure at Banana Man. “You, Banana Head. Yo mama’s so fat she left home in high heels and by the time she got home they was flip-flops!

Banana Man looks confused. “Ah… And your mother wears combat boots.” The Legion Of All The Dooms bends over with laughter.

“Ha ha! LAME!”

Black Rhumba steps forward, starts circling The Legion. “Stand back, Leaguers. Better let me handle this.” He jabs his head towards Megabarnacle. “Oh yeah? Yo’ momma’s so heavy, when she stepped on a scale it yelled, ‘No livestock!”

“Oh, it’s on…” Dr. Weevil puts a pinkie to the corner of his smirking mouth.

Hands cocked over hips. Megabarnacle has been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. “Heh. Yo’ momma’s so stupid she sits on the T.V. and watches the couch!”

Black Rhumba is unfazed. “Yo’ momma’s so stupid it takes her 2 hours to watch 60 Minutes!” Marina Skank snorts and chews her auburn locks.

“Yo’ momma’s so old when God said, ‘Let there be light,’ she flipped the switch!”

Banana Man is getting angry. He’s crushing his Hostess Apple Pie in his fist. He’s suddenly aware of every piece of gnarled litter fouling the grimy parking lot.

“Yo’ momma’s so old she sat behind George Washington in third grade.” Retorts Black Rhumba, slick and smooth in his white T and purple leather jacket. Curdles and Grout are shaking with laughter.

“Let me tell you about your momma. She’s so poor she shops at The Penny Store!”

“Is that all you got?” Chuckles Black Rhumba. “Yo momma’s like Ramen Noodles, cheap and easy!”

GG Allin screams and pulls down his pants. “That’s it. IT’S FECES TIME!”

With that distictive “WHOOP! WHOOP!” a police cruiser humps itself into the parking lot, blinding the combatants in its headlights.

“It’s The Fuzz! Let’s beat it!” The Legion scurries off the lot. Marina Skank stops and shakes her skinny fist at The League members. “You ain’t seen the last of us!” And they’re gone.

Banana Man grimly takes a bite out of his crushed pie and hisses. “Justice….”

Thanks to B. Raciot for some great character names!

Rumble! Performed live by the Author on June 24, 2023:


I watched Starship Troopers the other night on Netflix. Haven’t read the book.

It is a silly movie, which is fine. Clearly aimed at teens. It seems that in the future you don’t graduate from high school until you’re 25. It is a bit hard to believe Earth can send hundreds of troopers to an alien planet, but not a single armored people carrier or artillery.

No matter how many times the aliens attack the same way, no one ever figures out they should set up their Mobile Infantry in such a way that the troopers behind the six people in the front can shoot at the critters. However, it does set them up for some gruesome death scenes.

From the Wikipedia entry:

“I wanted to do a big, silly, jingoistic, xenophobic, let’s-go-out-and-kill-the-enemy movie, and I had settled on the idea that it should be against insects … I wanted to make a war movie, but I also wanted to make a teenage romance movie.”

Consider it, goal accomplished!