Comic review: “Cobra Civil War: Cobra” #3

Cobra Civil War: Cobra #3
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: David Williams
Cover B: Antonio Fuso
Cover RI: David Williams
Cover RIB: Jonboy Meyers

Written by: Mike Costa
Art: Antonio Fuso
Colors: Arianna Florian
Letters: Shawn Lee

ROLL CALL
G.I. Joe: Steeler, Breaker, Firewall
Cobra: Tomax, Blacklight

RECAP
When last we saw Tomax, he was getting shot in the back like a punk by a pair of generic unidentified agents in G.I. Joe #3. He’d spent the entirety of Cobra’s commander contest thus far moping about and having Cobra not taking him particularly seriously; by the time the events of Cobra Civil War: Cobra #3 play themselves out, it’s clear that this was all part of his master plan.

This is a brilliantly-written issue by Mike Costa, focusing on Tomax incarceration after being shot and captured in G.I. Joe #3. The vast majority of the issue is Tomax’ inner monologue, and it’s almost all misdirection. For the first 13 pages of this book, it seems pretty obvious the direction he is taking. Costa even gives artist Antonio Fuso two full pages sans dialogue to play “Tomax Paoli, This Is Your Life” to hammer it home. Then in one stunning horizontal panel, Costa swings him 180 degrees in the opposite direction and Tomax becomes a scheming, cunning bad-ass.

Tomax starts the book in a cell, and ends it wearing a freshly-pressed suit in a Cobra helicopter. What Tomax has achieved is an incredibly complex and dangerous scheme for what basically amounts to an opportunity for him to look at the Cobra Council, stick out his tongue and say “neener neener, look what I did!” while throwing a huge Cobra-shaped pie in Hawk’s face. It really fits his character quite well.

It’s also clear that this is far from Tomax’ endgame, but the opening salvo in his campaign to punish the Joes. Above and beyond the motivations of the other contestants to succeed and assume the mantle of Cobra Commander, Tomax also seeks vengeance for the death of his brother. It’s clearly a powerful motivator.

The four primary characters in the contest so far – Baroness, Oda Satori, Vikrim Khalikhan and, now, Tomax Paoli – are each taking different paths through the “do the most damage to the Joes” challenge. With Satori having destroyed the Pit in glorious fashion, Baroness running a kill squad and Khalikhan currently having his fun toying with Snake Eyes in the mountains, it’s difficult to see how Tomax’s gambit will measure up. Tomax thinks he’s done something spectacular, however, and the way he explains it you can certainly see how his mind is working. His damage is psychological and political, and as we saw with Gen. Hawk’s dealings with the government in the main G.I. Joe series, this could ultimately prove to be an effective strategy — if the Cobra Council buys into it as well.

The two-page Blackout segue is odd; it provided a well-timed interlude to the Tomax story, but for it to last only two pages and then disappear made it seem a little jarring. However, the Tomax story benefited greatly from the interlude, as the pages interrupted by the Blackout story needed some distance to have the right impact. Even a little bug in the first panel of the Blackout segue that said “Panama” to let us know locations had changed might’ve been helpful here.

Elsewhere, Steeler recovers from the injuries he suffered during the Joes’ failed mission in Panama and in the issue’s cliff-hanger makes a shocking discovery about one of his teammates.

ART
A slight changeup to the art team for this issue; Arianna Florian is back on colors, and Shawn Lee letters Cobra for the first time since the civil war began.

Antonio Fuso continues to deliver as expected in this series. He’s developed a unique and consistent look for IDW’s Cobra series; nothing has changed here. There are a lot of fun things with the art in this issue; Tomax’s impossibly pointy chin gives him a Loki-like appearance that actually serves his character quite well; the “OK, things are not what we thought they were” panels that change the entire story to lead Page 14 are fantastic; and Tomax fretting about the fact that he had to temporarily wear an atrocious suit whilst surrounded by the brains he just blew out of a prison warden’s head is a great panel.

It looks like low-res art was used for the second page of the Blacklight feature on Page 8; the art is significantly fuzzier on that page than anywhere else in the book.

COVERS
David Williams’ Cover A captures the essence of the entire issue in one image; Tomax, a shattering event, a bad-ass Tomax left behind. The impact of the cover image really doesn’t take hold until you’ve read the story inside; once you realize what he’s done in the book, the cover couldn’t be a more perfect representation.

I don’t have access to the other covers as anything but the thumbnails on the inside front cover of the issue I bought; reviewing them based on the thumbnails wouldn’t be appropriate.

BODY COUNT
This is the first issue in the Cobra Civil War where no Joes or Cobras were killed.
G.I. Joe: 0 (Total: 31)
Cobra: 0 (Total: 38)

PREVIEW
IDW did not post a preview for this issue.

Lego Gaga: The One With the Feather Hat and Finger Claws

I found this photo from a fan-made album cover for “Born This Way.” It was a pretty complex pose and most of the detail in the dress was hidden, so I decided to just try to capture the color scheme and a few of the basic elements – the round part at the belt, the sheer shoulders, and the gold trim on the bottom – rather than trying to copy the original dress. I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

IDW Publishing panel at San Diego ComiCon

IDW Publishing held a forum today at ComiCon in San Diego, covering mainly their Transformers, G.I. Joe and Dungeons & Dragons properties.

YoJoe.com liveblogged the presentation and culled out the G.I. Joe-related information; you can find that here:
http://forums.yojoe.com/news/82170-san-diego-comic-con-idw-panel.html

There’s another liveblog of the panel up at HISS Tank; they included information on the Transformers and Dungeons & Dragons-related parts of the panel. Visit their coverage here:
http://www.hisstank.com/gi-joe-news/conventions-9/sdcc-2011—idw-hasbro-panel-live-10551

YoJoe’s got more detail on the G.I. Joe-related parts of the panel.

The highlights:
• Javier Saltares’ run on G.I. Joe ends next month; IDW is bringing Will Rosado on board to take over that title in September. Rosado’s no stranger to G.I. Joe; he is credited for pencils on three issues of the original Marvel run, on issues 141, 144 and 153 in 1993-94. You can see Rosado’s online portfolio at williamrosado.com.

• Alberto Muriel is doing the art for Snake Eyes #5; you can check out Muriel’s online portfolio here.

• Current Cobra Civil War: Cobra story arc will wrap up with issue #4, next month (has been focused on Baroness and Serpentor so far). Cobra issues 5-8 will have a Chameleon story and deal with a Cobra agent inside G.I. Joe (not specified if they mean Breaker, already revealed to be Serpentor’s inside guy, or another agent). Werther Dell’edera will be handling art for issues 5-6; Antonio Fuso already working on issue 7. Werther’s blog is here.

• Cobra Civil War storylines will tie together with a crossover of all three G.I. Joe titles at issue #9 (so, January of 2012); all three books will be written by Chuck Dixon that month with art on all three by Alex Cal. Cal did pencils for the Season One story arc where the Joes sunk Cobra’s super-sub during the operation to recover intel from Cobra’s data relay station on Manatua Island. IDW says “there will be a new Cobra Commander.”

• New story arc starting on Real American Hero series starting with issue #170; Flint/Lady Jaye/Roadblock story with Arashikage ninja fightin’ action.

• In Q&A, IDW said there was a “good chance” of a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover at some point in the future.

• No concrete plans as of yet for how to support 30th anniversary or handle G.I. Joe 2 film; IDW’s preference is for prequel-type stories for films rather than a straight comic adaptation, but realizes importance of straight adaptation of film to provide core for spinoff projects.

Thanks to the live-bloggers out there who covered this panel! Quick access to this information is amazingly appreciated for those of us unable to attend the convention.

I originally published this post on the forums at The Terrordrome; you can see that post here, and hopefully follow along with the people commenting on the post there. :)

Conversations with a 13-year-old

While explaining her occasional inability to sleep upstairs out of fear of shadows or boogymen:

Megan: “Sometimes, in order to get to sleep, I have to remind myself that bad guys would have to come by your room in order to get to me, and that you would hear them and go punch them or something.”

Comic Review: Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes #3

Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes #3
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: Robert Atkins, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover B: Agustin Padilla, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover RI: Robert Atkins
Cover RB: Jonboy Meyers, with colors by Chuck Pires

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Robert Atkins and Agustin Padilla
Inks: Juan Castro
Colors: Simon Gough
Letters: Shawn Lee

RECAP
Iceberg, Helix and Alpine attempt to make their escape from the busted mission to infiltrate Khalikhan’s mountain base (Khalikhan, who’s back to being two-L “Khallikhan” in this issue after two issues and a cover appearance with just one L — come on, editors…) and Khalikhan raises the stakes against the imprisoned Snake Eyes in a continuation of what’s shaping up to be one of IDW’s better story arcs in its G.I. Joe universe.

The efforts of Helix and Iceberg to get their extraction and get Alpine to safety makes for a relatively uninteresting part of this issue; Vipers chase them, Helix kills them, Iceberg calls for evac, Helix predictably leaves them to go back for Snake Eyes, and we get a cliffhanger showing more Vipers going after the Joes. You could’ve called this as soon as Alpine got hurt.

Snake Eyes’ imprisonment inside Khalikhan’s fortress is where the book gets interesting. Khalikhan takes advantage of his captivity to tease and taunt Snake Eyes, reveal that he knows much about Snake Eyes and his past, and through Cobra’s intelligence network, the ability to learn much, much more in a short amount of time. Snake Eyes is meant to perform for Khalikhan, and the raja makes great effort to ensure his new plaything is appropriately motivated to deliver his A-game.

The finale that Khalikhan sets up for Snake Eyes is amazing. It’s a parallel to the end of Return of the Jedi, where Emperor Palpatine pits his ultimate hit-man, Darth Vader, against Luke Skywalker, the man being interviewed as his successor, for reasons basically boiling down to “because I can, and because I think it’ll be a fun test of the new guy.” Likewise here, Khalikhan pits Snake Eyes against Slice and Dice, clearly his main agents, because seeing Snake Eyes at his best amuses him. What’s missing is the “kill him and rule beside me in his place” aspect of the Palpatine/Vader/Skywalker triangle, but with Khalikhan having his sights set on leadership of Cobra, perhaps he is arrogant enough to think he can pull off what would be G.I. Joe’s ultimate heel turn.

Based on the events of the Cobra Civil War so far, Oda Satori clearly still retains the lead in Cobra’s commander contest. However, as a challenge even to close followers of this series – what does Satori look like? How does he talk? What sort of character is he? We have barely any idea; his lead in the contest is solely due to the stellar efforts of his agents, Zartan and Storm Shadow. Satori has appeared in the book, but not in significant fashion. In fact, his most notable appearance probably came in issue 25 of season one – more than six months ago.

Conversely, Khalikhan has been front-and-center throughout the Snake Eyes series so far, manipulating events to his whim and allowing certain actions to take place simply because he thinks it’s fun — all while brashly flicking sweat from his forehead, confronting Snake Eyes with one hand behind his back, talking trash and arrogantly pontificating. Satori may have a temporary advantage in the contest, but Khalikhan actually feels like Cobra Commander.

However, a rather serious plot difficulty seems to have sprouted up in this issue. Following the events taking place in the three concurrent series telling the Cobra Civil War, it has been challenging to establish a master timeline of events across all three series. Based on the finale to G.I. Joe #3, it seems as if the events in Snake Eyes must take place before Cobra’s incursion into the Pit. This issue attempts to eliminate some of that guesswork. On Page 20, in a sidebar to Scarlett while she’s carrying on two conversations at once, one with Mainframe and one with Iceberg, Mainframe says to Scarlett, “Flint says we have two intruders.”

This leads the reader to believe that the mountain mission is taking place concurrently with Zartan and Storm Shadow’s incursion into the Pit, as shown in the main G.I. Joe series.

However, this is impossible as Helix is a key player in both events, and she can’t be in two places at once. The call from Flint to Mainframe shown in this book doesn’t make sense either, as Scarlett was with Flint when the Joes first surmised that Zartan did not enter the Pit alone in G.I. Joe #3 (it was, in fact, Helix who said this).

There are some other nitpicks to be had with this issue – it’s difficult to imagine how Snake Eyes could walk with Mission: Impossible lock-picking kit hidden ingeniously on his body; Khalikhan calls Snake Eyes “the only Joe who’s given Cobra any trouble,” a statement I think Captain Vicuna of Cobra’s super-submarine would take issue with, etc. But they’re minor speedbumps in an otherwise excellent issue.

ART
The creative team for Snake Eyes #3 remains constant from the previous issue, with one exception: Agustin Padilla provided pencils for the battle between Helix and Frostbite and a team of Snow Serpents on pages 8-9 and 12-15.

The effort Robert Atkins is putting into this series is blindingly apparent on the page 6-7 spread where Khalikhan is lording over an imprisoned Snake Eyes, who is lashed to a chair. Khalikhan is grinning or gloating in every panel, and at the top of page 7 even daintily has one hand behind his back; he’s not remotely threatened by Snake Eyes. And sans visor, Atkins gets four thin, horizontal panels to finally do some acting with Snake Eyes that isn’t relegated to body English.

He could’ve taken a shortcut and used duplicates of one or more of the close-up images of Snake Eyes’ eyes, but he did not. The differences between the panels amount to a millimeter’s worth of movement of his eyelids, but the subtleties tell a powerful story. With each minute shift, Snake Eyes’ disposition changes from “I have been in these situations before, I’m relaxed and I know I will kill you and escape” to “now you’re bothering me” to “now it’s on.”

Atkins is doing a simply fantastic job on this series.

COVERS
I only have access to Robert Atkins’ Cover A this month, so a review of the other covers based solely on thumbnail-sized images isn’t fair.

SCOREBOARD
G.I. Joe: 0 (Total: 31)
Cobra: 20 (12 Snow Serpents are seen in Page 2, Panel 1; they’re all killed by Helix. Snake-Eyes kills eight Vipers on Page 16). (Total: 38)

CONTEST UPDATE
No Joes were harmed in the making of this issue, so Oda Satori retains his lead in the Cobra Commander contest.

PREVIEW
IDW Publishing did not provide a preview for this issue.

Dusting off Derka

Last week, while I was in the middle of spending five consecutive days basically in bed recovering from some minor surgery, I relented to the crack dealers at Blizzard Entertainment who had emailed me an offer I couldn’t refuse – a free week of play time for World of Warcraft, just waiting for me to log in and claim it.

I started playing World of Warcraft in the game’s open beta stage in the late fall of 2004, and when the game launched on Nov. 24, 2004, I created my orc warrior, Derkaderka, on the Whisperwind server. Over the next five years, I spent an absolutely embarrassing amount of time guiding him through Azeroth. At some point in mid-2009, during the game’s second expansion, “Wrath of the Lich King,” I quit. It didn’t stick, and a few months later I brought Derka out of retirement to play again, only to burn out on the game again after a couple of months when I retired again.

This cycle has continued ever since – quit for six months, then relent and poke my head back into the game to check it out and say hello to some people. My renewal last week was, I believe, the fifth time I’ve brought Derka out of retirement; most recently, I ended an absence of about six months in late October of 2010 so I could start playing for the most-recent expansion to the game, “Cataclysm,” which was released in early December of last year. I lasted all of two months before I quit playing again early in January, and that retirement lasted until this past week.

In the week I was back this time, I finished up about 70 quests I had skipped when leveling from 80 to 85 in the expansion’s Mount Hyjal zone, did a whole bunch of repeatable daily quests for the Therazane and Dragonmaw Clan factions (had I had another two days, I’d have finished those reputation grinds off and become exalted with both factions) and started the Firelands daily quest series — which reminded me of the Shattered Sun Offensive daily quest hub from the Burning Crusade expansion, and is something that if I continued playing I’d definitely finish off. I also did some tradeskill leveling on some of my secondary characters.

What I did *not* do was make any effort to group with anyone. I only went into one five-man dungeon when another player in my guild desperately needed a tank to finish off the last boss in Zul’Gurub. Immediately on entering, some idiot pick-up-group player from another realm started bad-mouthing the level of my character’s equipment and, to show his displeasure, repeatedly  pulled monsters into our group in an attempt to intentionally kill us.

I suddenly remembered why I hated playing the game. The game itself is pretty fun; I’ve always enjoyed actually playing the game and experiencing the game’s various monster encounters and dungeons. Dealing with the other people who play the game, however, has become a mostly miserable experience. There are fantastic people playing World of Warcraft, for sure, and the guild I’ve been in since 2005 has a lot of them. But the number of absolute jerks and miscreants you encounter along the way makes the multiplayer aspect of the game nearly intolerable – for me, anyway.

My free week ran out yesterday morning. As of now, I have no intention of telling battle.net how to get my $14.99 a month to pay to keep playing. Being back for a few days was fun, but there’s absolutely nothing in the World of Warcraft today that won’t still be sitting there in another six months.

Legos tonight with Helen

After dinner tonight, I spent quite a bit of time in the basement playing with and talking to Helen. It was pretty awesome.

When I went to Kansas at the beginning of June to pick up Megan for the summer, my parents bestowed upon us an enormous plastic tub full of Legos they picked up at a yard sale for the princely sum of 12 bucks. In this tub was supposedly a treasure trove of Harry Potter Lego sets; Megan, being the Harry Potter fangirl that she is, wanted these Legos – badly. So my parents sent them home with me so the girls and I could attempt to make some sense of what they had and, hopefully, get everything rebuilt.

Through lots of research at various Lego sites found scattered around them there Internets, which mostly involved downloading PDFs of the instruction manuals for every Harry Potter Lego set we could find and then matching up key pieces in the set with stuff we found in this box, we started building. And quickly found out that while, yes, many, many sets were once owned by the former owners of this box of stuff, many, many of the pieces to those sets never made it into the box. Last month, Megan managed to piece together an enormous Hogwart’s Castle that’s actually pretty impressive, and I was able to mostly build the train that takes the students back and forth from the real world to the land of magic.

Well, tonight Helen and I worked on Hagrid’s hut. As with the other sets we found we had, I got a good chunk of the hut built before I got stymied by the fact that there are just far too many pieces missing to complete it. But during the couple of hours I was down there working on it, Helen and I just chatted about all kinds of different stuff. She helped me dig up parts, rummaged through boxes of my stuff and asked me a ton of questions about my Star Wars and G.I. Joe collections, and was basically just great to be around.

For the last 20 minutes or so, she played with this McDonald’s Happy Meal toy of Spencer’s magic meatball from iCarly; it’s basically a simplified Magic 8 Ball that has three answers – ask me later, the magic meatball says yes! or the magic meatball says no! She asked it dozens of questions, about what she liked and what she might get to do in the future, but eventually settled in on asking the magic meatball questions about itself. She gave the magic meatball the third degree when it answered in ways that contradicted previous answers. One of the exchanges went like this:

Helen: “Magic meatball, do you like video games?”
Toy: “The magic meatball says no.”
…several questions later
Helen: “Magic meatball, do you like Pac-Man?”
Toy: “The magic meatball says yes.”
Helen: “But earlier, you said you didn’t like video games. Magic meatball, have you changed your mind?”
Toy: “The magic meatball says no.”
This brought on fits of hysterical laughter, both from Helen and from me.

Millie is amazing, with her toddling about and her wide-eyed astonishment at absolutely everything she can see and touch and the pure joy I can see in her face as a tiny little person who’s trying to figure out the world. This is the third kid I’ve watched like this now, and it just doesn’t get old – it’s magic, and even after having watched it for years, I still get teary eyed over how happy it makes me to be around it.

But having a kid I can play with and have a conversation with and laugh with — like I did tonight in the basement with Helen — that’s my favorite part about being a dad.

“In chaos, there is opportunity.”

“In chaos, there is opportunity.”

Those were the words of Minnesota State University, Moorhead President Edna Szymanski earlier today in a press conference where the Dragons became the first school to pounce on this week’s college hockey apocalypse as an opportunity to make a name for itself (Moorhead’s official release is here).

Moorhead first announced it was exploring the possibility of adding ice hockey in the spring of 2009, but at that time really didn’t have a viable conference home to join. The WCHA was, at that point, full, and publicly deflecting Bemidji State’s desire to join; that wasn’t an option. Travel costs would have made the CCHA impossible, and the CCHA was in the midst of proving it couldn’t care less about the fate of smaller hockey programs by allowing Wayne State to fold and giving the stiff-arm to Alabama-Huntsville’s formal application request. So, really, even if Moorhead would’ve had the money in 2009, they had nowhere to play.

All that changed this week when the WCHA blew up like the Death Star.

The conference dropped to five members for 2013-14 when the five breakaway schools poached Miami University to form the NCHC, and will likely make quick work of the Northern Michigan application to get back to an NCAA conference-legal six members, while also further plundering the CCHA and making that conference’s prospects for long-term survival look pretty bleak (unless they start pillaging Atlantic Hockey for expansion members, which could happen). Bruce McLeod, the commissioner of the WCHA, has said his ideal WCHA has eight members – that leaves Moorhead staring down the barrel of two open slots in its dream conference and, in fact, probably the only conference affiliation that makes any financial sense if they’re to get hockey off the ground.

It’s a tremendous opportunity – for Moorhead, if they can pull it off, but also for the schools that splintered off from the WCHA and CCHA to form the Big Ten (along with Penn State’s expansion program) and the NCHC. If Moorhead can get its money together, launch men’s and women’s hockey and get itself into the WCHA, then this sport-shattering conference realignment will have allowed college hockey to expand by two programs in one year. That is huge for a sport that has seen more programs fold than start in the decade since I’ve been, directly and indirectly, following college hockey as part of my job here.

It also gives the Big Ten and NCHC no small portion of moral high ground. They’ll be able to – rightly – say “Look, you may not like what we’ve done, but these moves have directly and indirectly led to the creation of two new programs — and you all have said you wanted college hockey to grow again.”

I hope Moorhead’s efforts are successful. It’d be fun to have another program in the state, they’re a natural rival with BSU in our Division II sports, and they’re in a part of the state that has a college hockey void. They have a lot to accomplish before they green-light it, but the next three months will be fun as the college hockey world watches to see if they can pull it off.`

Fitting ab.com into my “social” flow

I’ve been pretty bad about posting new things here; I’m falling into outlet overload, I think. I follow Twitter and post there while I’m at work, but hardly ever when I’m at home; this is mostly because I monitor Twitter all day for work-related things and maintain the school’s official account @BSUNews. My personal use of Twitter really sprang from starting the work account; I needed to get a handle on how it worked because I was told “start this for us.” Facebook I’m pretty good about keeping updated all the time, from work and from home; updating Facebook is easy to do from my phone when I’ve got a photo to throw up, and I have it open constantly just out of habit because my friends seem to be in the same habit – so Facebook offers some instant gratification.

That leaves ab.com. I like it here; I really do. I just struggle to know what to do with it sometimes. I let that “Soundtrack of my Life” thing stall for a few months because, while it was and still is kindof a cool thing, I honestly just got bored with it — and that was supposed to be the one thing that’d ensure I was posting something here at least weekly. I like keeping my comic book reviews here; it makes them feel more “mine” instead of just living on the forums at Terrordrome. I haven’t done a single thing with that awesome new toy I found that allows for piece-of-cake Twitter integration yet. I never got into a groove with bookmark sharing, mostly because my RSS reader habits are “read it once and forget about it” with very rare second visits to any material that I run across. So I hardly ever think to bookmark anything, let alone take that next step of actually sharing the bookmarks. I’ve even written about work-related stuff on here, albeit only once.

So I’ve got this blog, that I really like, that I really want to continue to have, but it’s a mish-mash of all kinds of crap with no focus and no purpose other than a mind-dump for a bunch of really random and mostly disconnected stuff — the only common thread is that it’s all “me” somehow. But I never can get into a flow of updating it regularly. This has quite honestly been the case with me ever since I built my first personal website on Kansas State’s web servers (good ol’ ksu.edu/~abart) back in 1994. Also, I’m amazingly cautious about posting anything work-related that could be remotely controversial; the whole “fired for a blog post” phenomenon just makes that far too much of a risk, and I’ve never really been the sort of personality to run a Dooce blog and put my entire life up here for all to see. I don’t write about deeply personal stuff either; I have a friend who does, and I *love* reading her; she’s a fantastic writer. I’m just not brave enough to do what she’s doing, especially on a site with my name at the top. :) It’s made me consider an anonymous blog somewhere, but then I wonder what the point of that would be.

So I’ve got this blog. And I continue to have no idea what to do with it. I’ll keep throwing things at the wall every now and then, I guess, and we’ll see what sticks.

Soundtrack of My Life: 1985

This is the ninth entry in a “soundtrack of my life” project — one song that is representative of each year of my life since about 1977, when I was five years old and was approximately the time when I have specific memories of music.

This song was huge at Wurzburg American High School, and the people who managed to get ahold of it on mix tapes didn’t give it away freely. I can’t remember the name of the guy I begged my copy of the tape from; I can picture his face, but can’t for the life of me remember his name. I just remember he had a Jheri curl with a pick in it at all times. :) Anyway, I managed to get ahold of this song toward the end of my tenure at WAHS, just a few months before my dad was transferred and we moved back to the U.S. Since the Internet didn’t exist, you couldn’t just look up the song lyrics; I remember listening to this song repeatedly and trying to write down all the lyrics so I could learn to sing along. Chris Grammiccioni and I compared notes on this a few times; he was attempting the same project and was the one who informed me that it was not “snatched cold cheese when the cops ain’t lookin’,” but “gold chains.” In retrospect, that makes significantly more sense. So, thanks Chris.

The tape eventually got lost, and I went many years without hearing this song. I managed to find it again in the late 1990s on Napster, during one of my random “hey, I remember this song, let’s see if I can find it” moments at work one afternoon. I still have it in my MP3 library on my computers, and it’s a lot of fun when it makes an appearance during a long afternoon at work. This is a great song, and a near-perfect example of mid-1980s rap awesomeness.

Another serious candidate for the 1985 position on this list was Jermaine Jackson’s Dynamite; it’s pretty much Jermaine’s only really great song, and I still love singing along with it to this day. Plus, the video is completely 1980s bat-shit crazy, which is a nice bonus. Jermaine looks like an Alley Viper.

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