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So, my good friends, Dirk and Melissa are having a bay boy tomorrow. And for the past couple weeks after softball we debated the "foreskin issue." To snip or not to snip? That is the question. My wife and I have a daughter, but before she was born, and before we knew she was a girl, we had come to the decision that we would NOT snip if we had a boy. We researched and debated and both agreed that if you're born with it it must be there for a reason. PLUS! The "tradition" is really isolated to the U.S. (for whatever reason) and Israel where it's a religious thing. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY it has been determined that men whose foresking is left intact have a better quality of sexual pleasure--which I am all about. So, had we had a boy he'd have the "anteater."

So, upon hearing Dirk say that they were going to snip I was a bit stunned. Firstly because the foresking snipping is beginning to trend downwards again in the U.S. and more people are coming to the same conclusions Sandy an I did. And second, Dirk has his anteater still intact!!! So I was like, "Dirk...whassup?! You got yours! You've heard the 'better sex' arguement! What's the deal? Why you gonna snip the little fella?!" To which he replied (and I'm paraphrasing), "I don't want him getting laughed at in the showers." And then another couple I'm friends with echoed the same basic sentiment.

Is that the only reason we're snipping our kids? If so we have to all grow up a little people. Get out of the "cookie cutter" mentality. Stop being sheep! Stop being frickin' followers!!! We're so worried our kids will get giggled at that we have a pretty darn barbaric surgery done to them when they're only a few hours old. We've got to get over this.

Now, to be completely fair, my little buddy Dirk did further explain that he also had some discomfort growing up when it was time to give the anteater a bath. I guess the foreskin was pretty tight and pulling it back was an unpleasant task for him when he was a wee lad. But now he's completely onboard with the whole "better sex" angle. So, a little "growing pains" for a big payoff down the road? pros/cons. I'm with the deal with the growing pains payoff, man! And I'm guessing he is whether he realizes it or not...the little fella's one of the biggest horndogs I've ever seen!!!

I've found it interesting that the majority of our friends still lean towards the snipping. Inadvertently, my friend Maria kind of made an obseravtion that I don't think she initially intended. She asked me, "Yeah, but how many of your friends that you know weren't circumcized?" To which I replied, "Well, yeah, but that's because we grew up in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin...that's about as Republican as you can get." By which I meant "Whitebread" "Vanilla" "Middle America." A place where I believe the biggest concern, again, was "God forbid we look different than everyone else!" (BTW, For the most part I'm pretty much Republican, too, so no insult was intended towards Republicans there)

Sad really.

Before Stella was born we took those "birthing classes" and the instructor was very anti-snipping. She went as far as referring to anyone who had their kids snipped as "butchering them" and "robbing from them." A few days later I decided to tell my parents that they stole something precious from me when they had me circumcized (I really laid it on thick!) and that I'd never forgive them. My mother is a total sucker for this kind of crap and I must say that my delivery on stuff like this is pretty damn good. I could win the Oscar for Bullshitting if there was such a category. Anyways, she was taken aback and basically confirmed my arguement by saying, "Well, it's what the doctors were all telling us to do back then...everyone was doing it." To which I replied, "You butchered all of us...we never had a chance."

A week later the phone rings. It's my mom. She says in this really subdued voice, "Do you really think we 'butchered you' when you were born?" She's totally been torturing herself over this for the past week apparently (this is her way). And I am stunned, do the typical eyeroll, and tell her I was just giving her the business. I had to reassure her that I have no recollection (on a conscious level anyways) of the "butchering" being performed, and that seeing as I never had the foreskin I'll never really know how much better the sex would be...I have no basis for comparison. I told her she was off the hook and I was okay with my penis the way it was.

No use in beating her up over it. What's done is done. My bishop goes into battle without a helmet.

So I ask all of you out there reading this to research before making, for what to most seems to be an arbitrary decision. Really research what circumcision is all about and WHY we do it. Don't just have it done because you're circumcized. Because your friends are all circumcized. THINK about it.

I know that I, for one, want my foreskin back.




I realize I have been remiss in my blogging duties as of late but was reminded, nonetheless, by my buddy, Tim "Big Tim" Lyons last night at softball (we won 4-3 BTW. I went 2 for 3).For this I sincerely apologize for I realize that there are literally millions of people out there who rely on my little "pearls of wisdom" each and every week to help get themselves through the sometimes mundane drudgeries of their respective lives. I now realize just how important my blogging is to some, and it was made even more obvious last night as Big Tim pulled me aside to tell me just how so. I didn't see the tears swelling up in his eyes at first as I was busy signing a few autographs for the kids and some other players from other teams. I didn't immediately sense Big Tim's urgency. It was only after I heard the gentle sobs that I realized how much pain my dear friend was truly suffering. My blog is life for my friend and I have slowly been stealing the very lifeblood away from him by my blogging neglect.

For this I am sorry to Big Tim and the millions more out there that I am sure are suffering as he is. I just hope that, for some, it's not too late.

Tip of the day!...

Buy the soundtrack to the movie THE DEPARTED! Ironically I was tipped off by one Mr. Christopher Multisanti on last week's episode of THE SOPRANOS (Which I will dearly miss!) right before that poor bastard died in a rather pathetic way. Anyhoo!...THE DEPARTED was not only a fantastic movie but has a fantastic soundtrack! The 1st song alone is worth the 14 bucks. COMFORTABLY NUMB, a classic by PINK FLOYD, performed by Roger Waters, Van Morrison and The Band! Van Morrison sings the chorus (David Gilmore's part) with such distinct style and passion I just can't play this track enough. And the following track is a BEACH BOYS song called "Sail On Sailor" which doesn't remotely sound like anything they've ever done before and it is fabulous! There's a ROLLING STONES track that is wonderful, a few rock classics including an ALLMAN BROS. live track and a couple other instrumentals that round this album off and make it, perhaps, the best soundtrack I've ever heard. Trust me, Have I ever lied to you before?

That's it for today. I am really hungry right now and am going to go stuff my face. This I will also do in homage to my buddy Big Tim, a champion "face stuffer."




What a sad, sad week it's been. Like many of you I was deeply disturbed by the tragedy that transpired at Virginia Tech. I am going to refrain from mentioning the evil loser bastard's name that did the cowardly murders because that is exactly what that loser wants, but I would like to mention and talk a bit about Liviu Librescu. This is a name that should forever be remembered by everyone because he was a true hero. By first hand, eye-witness accounts it seems that this 76-year-old man sacrificed his own life to save the lives of his students by attempting to hold the murderous coward at bay. Upon seeing the murderer trying to enter his classroom (or re-enter, I'm not sure) Liviu ran to the door and held it shut while students escaped through the windows. In doing so Liviu was gunned down as the coward shot through the door. Liviu died but his heroic effort saved at least a few lives. A true hero.

And then you discover that Liviu was a Holocaust survivor as well. I never knew this man until this sad event took his life but my heart swells with pride nonetheless. He is an inspiration to me. I'm sure those that he saved will never forget him and I know I won't either.

We would all be well-served to forever remember the name Liviu Librescu.

And now a comment on the state of "loserdom" that this coward apparently found himself floundering in. He liked to blame others for his own self-inflicted situation. Sure, why not? that's what a super-loser does! Blame veryone else but yourself. From all accounts other students tried to establish contact with this chump and he chose to simply ignore their efforts at friendliness. He made a choice to isolate himself and therefore perpetuate his state of loserdom. Listen, we've all been in school and we've all seen people like this. People who don't fit in. I was in quite a few classes like Art and Shop where the "rejects" seemed to flock to. Guess what? I talked to these people and in almost every case I eventually got them to crack and let me in. I have an outgoing, sometimes "loud" personality, and I relish getting reactions and responses from people. But THEY MADE A CHOICE to let me in! That's the difference between them and the reject from VT. He chose to stay a loser instead of trying to open up. He went the other way and kept digging his loser hole deeper and deeper until he couldn't get out. Could one of the rejects I came in personal contact with turned into a vicious murderer like the coward at VT? I don't know...probably not as that is a very extreme case, but the point is I killed them with kindness. In more than a few cases I even saved their asses from bullies who wanted to kick their aforementioned asses! I befriended them. And they let me befriend them. There were plenty of people out at VT who tried to befriend this coward as well. His saying otherwise is pure BS. He chose his path and apparently wanted the path he chose. Let's not let this a-hole off the hook by saying he had "a disease" or some such crap. He had plenty of chances. He was just an evil, pathetic, sack of crap who made an evil choice.

If you're a super-loser like this jerk and CHOOSE to be so, fine. So be it. Your choice. But don't point the finger at innocent people who had nothing to do with it. Point it at yourself. And if you feel violence is the only solution point the gun at yourself as well. But just yourself, okay?

Word! r


Okay...last week it was my friggin' knees that were killing me. This week it's waking up with horrible cotton-mouth caused by having completely plugged up nasal passages and then blowing these horrible, thick, green ropes of snot once the shower's steam loosens them up properly! Yes, I know, it's disgusting. And the puzzling part is that, for the most part, I feel fine during the day. So, It's not a cold. it only seems to affect me while sleeping. I should also mention that my right ear feels slightly plugged and achey. What the hizzel is it? Sinus infection? Ear infection? Mold? Dust?

Don't Know.

But it is the thickest, greenest snot I've ever seen.

I'll be selling it on ebay this week!

THE OSCARS!... I watched about the 75% of the Oscars last Sunday...just missed the opening half hour. Personally I thought the show was pretty lackluster. It just didn't have any rhythm. Ellen Degeneres was okay, but there just wasn't enough (apparently!) time for her to do a whole heck of a lot. And the montages seemed irrelevant this year and superflous. The shadow people thing was clever the first couple times but after while I was like, "Okay, unless they do an homage to Jenna Jameson's film career somehow, I don't care anymore!" And for a show that's always trying to "trim the fat" and save time why do they keep cooking up this type of hooey?! The "costume" category shtick with the people strutting around was annoying as well. And I whole-heartedly agree with Entertainment Weekly's observation that the writers of the show flat out stunk! Their intro for Seinfeld was cited as a complete failure and I'll agree..."You wonder where he's been..well, here he is!" It was some such crap. This beautiful turn of phrase was constructed by a TEAM of professional writers! I also didn't dig the guy who took us to commercial breaks. What was up with that? He was like some Horsetrack oddsmaker giving us the lowdown on how to hedge our bets. Hokey. And Al Gore winning an Oscar? That was just weird. And before you jump to any conclusions, I completely agree that there's a problem with pollution and it is a very real threat to our environment...not sure what the extent is, or not, but it does make sense that pollution is not a goosd thing. But still, Al Gore won an I said, weird.

I liked the choices for the wins for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor. All well-deserved. I was especially happy for Alan Arkin. I've always been a fan of his work.

Speaking of movies, a couple other great movies I've seen recently have been...STRANGER THAN FICTION, THE ILLUSIONIST and THE QUEEN. All brilliant in their own ways. Was thrilled to see Will Ferrell stretch his amazing talents in this toned down role.

Other than that my daughter Stella celebrated her 5th birthday this week and we had a party with 7 of her friends (screaming friends) yesterday. This was her first party with classmates. Last night Sandy and I chugged a bottle of wine to soften the screaming echoes burned into our brains.

Sandy also turned 40 this week. She is old. It's very disturbing.




Ugh! My knees are killin' me. As some of you may remember, I play basketball on Wednesday nights--this is how I suffered my horrible eye injury in 2003 (And YES I wear protective eyewear now! I'm not a complete imbecile). my knees are achin'! First it was my feet, then my back, now my knees. I am quite possibly facing the inevability that at 39 years of age I am not quite the unfreaking unbelievable human speciman I once was...It's close! but maybe I am not quite Superman anymore. Of course you may feel free to correct me on this if you'd like. I won't stop you.

But god my knees are hurtin' today.


Like many of you I just finished the last installment of Marvel's CIVIL WAR 7 issue mini-series. I have been thoroughly impressed with this series...up until the last issue. God help me but I actually thought there might be some CLOSURE. Nope. Seems the whole thing was just a set-up for an ongoing "situation" "event" that'll continue on for god knows how long from here. Kind of ticks me off to tell you the truth. And that's taking nothing away from the fact that the CIVIL WAR mini-series, in general, was nothing short of magnificent! I LOVED IT! Riveting storyline, awesome idea, fantastic art...everything one could possibly hope for in an event of this magnitude...except for the slight fizzler of an ending. Well, it really wasn't an ending at all now was it. And that's too bad. It could have and should have been! Remember the old days when these mini-series "event" stories had a beginning and an end within the mini-series? I do. SECRET WARS, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. What the hell happened?


Still...It was really, really cool. It was. Seeing Hercules crush the Thor clone was a fanboy wetdream! "Gleeee!...."

On a different note... One of the comics industry's true "good guys," Sean Scott of Mile High Comics, passed away last week at the very young age of 37. In 2006 he was diagnosed with a very aggresive cancer and less than a year later he's gone. He wasn't somebody that a lot of fans of comics will know but his part, and his place, in the comics industry was immeasurable. He was a great spokesperson for Chuck Rozanski and Mile High Comics...someone that the other retailers liked and trusted. He was kind, funny, self-depricating (all the way to the end, in fact!), had great taste in comics, loved to have a good time and was someone I considered a friend. I'll never forget all the good times we had playing poker at the cons. The best was the time Sean pulled FIVE ACES in a "guts" wild card game––for those not familiar with "guts" games, the pots get notoriously high! Sometimes, and quite often in the $60, $70 and even upwards of $100.00 a pot!––and was extremely excited! Gloating and celebrating! There were five other players at the table with Sean and he didn't seem to notice our complete shock at his joyous celebration. It was very quickly (mere seconds!) after his initial exuberance that I quickly pounced, bursting his bubble with a loud guffaw, pointing out that the pot was at its lowest possible point, as it was the very first hand dealt! Sean's face went from pure elation to stark and solemn as he immediately snapped back to reality realizing the pot was a piteous One dollar and fifty cents! Yep, $1.50! We all had a good laugh(s) on that one. Even Sean.

I had the good fortune to speak with Sean the week before he passed away. I expected a weak, sad, broken person on the other end...I should have known better! For even though he knew his days were short he was the same exact Sean I'd met years earlier. Upbeat, happy and, of course, still knocking out plenty of his patented self-depricating humor. You'd have never guessed how sick he was.I am so glad we had a chance to talk before he died. It was only for 20 minutes but it was a 20 minutes of my life I'll never forget and always cherish.

I mentioned many of the good qualities Sean had up above...I learned he had one more when we had that last conversation...Courage.

Now go give someone you love a hug, dammit!



Megacon Aftermath!

Greetings all!

Just got back from sunny Florida. We went on a little vacation/working trip down there. Visited my little brother in South Beach first where it was quite lovely, and then headed up to Orlando for the MEGACON! But first we detoured over to Heath McKnight's villa for a little pow-wow on the 3 Geeks flick. Heath showed me some of the clips from his upcoming film "9:04 AM" and they looked pretty sweet. Had a great meeting about the 3 Geeks feature film and I am getting ever-so-delighted as filming dates approach. We're gearing up for the start of filming and all involved agree that a fall start is looking good. We also pow-wowed over the script and it's looking better and better! No details yet! I'm a firm believer in "No Spoilers!"

Before the start of Megacon we had a day to go to Universal Themepark. Let me sum up this little outing for you in two words...RIP. OFF. $235.00 for the three of us to get in. Ouch. It was kind of cold that day so attendance was probably a bit lower than on a warmer day, but even still the lines were long. We got the "2 Park Pass" so we were able to go to both parks and still we only got on about 10 rides/shows! Again, RIP. OFF. And! We scurried around the park for a bite to eat and three restaurants in a row were closed without any signs indicating so! The doors were open, lights were on, but no one was home! Huge waste of time spent running around just to get a decent bite to eat. And what has become of the theme park ride? Has anyone else noticed that not only do you stand in line for ungodly amounts of time to go on a 45 second ride, but they seem to think that the more jerky the ride the better! And when I say "jerky" I mean that literally. They just jerk you back-and-forth throughout the ride hoping that you think this was somehow thrilling in some way. It's not. Save your money, folks.

Megacon was great! Except for all the Manga/Anime wannabes. But the crowd was big, the show as big, and the people came to buy goodies (except, again, for the Anime/Manga wannabes who only came to preen). I sold a ton of sketches and had a great time talking with fans. Also got to hang out with my good buddy, Chuck Rozanski and his charming wife Nanette! Played some poker with them and some other fine folks on Saturday night as well. I recommend Megacon for any of those thinking about attending. It is a very nice show.

After Megacon we had a few more days in Orlando for some quality vacation time. So, once again, we decided to try a theme park...I know!...I'm a glutton for punishment. This time it was Disney's Animal Kingdom that violated us to the tune of $202.00. This was just wrong. They should be absolutely ashamed of themselves how they take complete advantage of vacationers! There should be signs outside that park warning people before they come in and pay a lot of money just how big the crowds are on any given day. The place was so packed there were 90 to 120 minute waits for all their premiere attractions. You could barely move through the crowds. There should really be some kind of "cap" on the crowd to be perfectly fair. They should only be able to allow so many people in at one time. It's not like they're hurting for dough, you know! This was just plain and simple taking advantage of people, folks. And they have those handy-dandy "Quick Passes" where you can go and scan your pass so you don't have to wait in line...where you can come back at a later time so you can go and enjoy other attractions...they were all full up and unavailable within the first couple hours of the park opening!! That's how packed it was. Talk about feeling sick over spending $200 bucks just to mill about hoping to get on something, ANYTHING! before the frigin' park closes! After 2 hours there we saw or rode on two attractions. TWO! So we frantically ran around from ride to ride, show to show, for the next few hours trying desperately to get some of our money's worth. We squeezed into a couple pitiful rides and the Tribute To The Lion King show (which was actually very cool) until finally we got into the Nemo, The Musical, show line. This was the last scheduled show of the day. We had to, unfortunately, miss the parade to see Nemo but we figured that given the choice between the two Nemo was the better. After an hour in line and another 15 minutes waiting for the curtain to rise, Nemo finally started. It was great!

20 minutes into the 40 minute show the lights went up, an announcer said, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Nemo show has been cancelled. Please exit to your right!"

That was it. No explanation. No apology. Just get out!

So I marched! Right to Guest Relations! I fully expected a long line ahead of me. There was only a couple people besides myself. But surely they would come, right? Nope. No one else seemed to care. What the Hell? Have people become so blaise when it comes to these things? Don't they care that they're being ripped off? Is it laziness? They don't want to "make trouble?" Hey man, I'm big on principle...I just spent a fortune to go on four friggin' rides and one of them broke! I want some sort of vindication here!

So I complained. I did it calmly but I got my two cents worth in. They credited us with 2 hours of time and told us we could return the next day to see Nemo again. Okay, I guess that's kind of fair. So the next day we returned. When I went to redeem my voucher to get in some chick working the Guest Realations desk acted all bitchy with me like I was trying to scam them or something. So I had to re-explain our situation the prior day and plead my case to this harpy!

Well, we finally got in, AGAIN! And in the 2 hours we were credited we managed to see two whole shows. The Pocohontas show and Nemo. Nemo was cool. I'll give them that. But you'd think that after wasting our time the day before they'd of let us get in without having to stand in line again, right? Nope. Had to stand in line agin for an hour before going in.

So, to summarize. RIP. OFF. BIGTIME!!!! RIP. OFF.

But Megacon was great. And Stella got to go swimming for three hours our last day!



Breast Of The Best! A Year In Review.

Last night at basketball my good friend, Mike Bularz, asked me when I was going to do another column on breasts (he asked with a lunatic's grin) . He's not the only one. It seems that of all the columns, reviews and pontifications I've written in the last couple years, my semi-annual views on the female mammary glands are my most appreciated. Go figger. As they say in the NBA "It's Mammtastic!"

Alright then...give 'em what they want as the old saying goes...

In past columns I have made brilliant observations regarding breast augmentations and the fascination our society has with the female form--specifically the breasts. I confess that this fascination, with me at least, borderlines on a type of...obsession, if you will. I have commented that I, for one, do not care for the over-the-top augmentations that some women seem to feel is necessary--let's refer from this point on to the "over-the-top" augmentation as the "Pamela Anderson." That is NOT a good look! I mean, sure, it looks pleasant when the woman is suitably attired in some semi-revealing, form-fitting outfit which properly accentuates the ravine which now represents their ample cleavage. Yes, it does. I like that. BUT! When the clothes come off and those newly acquired appendages fall free they do not fall at all! Rather they, seemingly, suspend the properties of gravity all-together. Therein lies the problem for me with the "Pamela Anderson". For if these breasts defy the laws of gravity one can only surmise (and properly so) that their density defies the laws of physics as other words, they're hard as friggin' rocks! I don't dig on that. I have seen these "Pamela Anderson" over-the-tops in several films. Do not judge me too harshly here, now, people. I am a self-professed perv, yes, but in a good way. Anyways, when a woman lies on her back her breasts should not retain the same shape they do as when she is standing in the upright position. When they look EXACTLY the same something is not right. Again, the "Pamela Anderson" effect. This indicates the aforementioned "hard as a rock" side-effect that, I believe, most men are really not looking for. They might think they are and say they are, but when the situation becomes "hands on," so to speak, I think they'll decide differently. In other words, most men are idiots, so ladies, please just don't listen to them. Listen to me. I'm a genius, it says so right on my business cards. Bigger, in this case, is not always better! Remember gravity, it has to be believable.

So, to review, lying back they shouldn't retain that perfectly round, gravity-defying shape that they do when standing upright. Make sure to mention that to the plastic surgeon before you start. Take along a picture, if you can, of "film" star Jessica Jaymes when you go to the doctor. This is, perhaps, the most entirely perfect breast augmentation I've ever seen. Perfect size, shape, centering of the areola, their relationship with our friend gravity is natural and believable and no visible scarring. If you cannot acquire a photograph I'll be happy to send you one.

Now, and this is a matter of personal preference, Mike asked me about the areola and nipple area. He wanted my opinion on that and pointed out (no pun intended) that I had not discussed this in prior columns. I apologize as I feel this to be an area of great importance and not to be overlooked at all. I like them. Quite a bit. I tend to like the areola circumference to be in the 25 cents to 50 cents range with the actual nipple protuberance to approximate a pencil eraser--the larger pencils we used as kids not the typical #2 pencil we're most familiar with, that'd be a tad bit too small. This brings me to my other movie person reference which should help and give a solid visual aide. Above I referenced Pamela Anderson when discussing the "bad" in breasts, here I will reference Jennifer Anniston when referencing the "good." More accurately, I will reference her character, Rachel, on Friends. For it seems that either the set was always very cold when filming that show or Jennifer was always in a state of heightened arousal. She was, if you'll notice (and really can't help to), always "on." And for that, personally, I was pretty happy. Anyways, whenever we (my wife and I) see a woman out and about in this "state" of "on-ness" we always comment that "her Rachel's are on." So, the "Rachel's" would represent what I think of as a perfectly sized protuberance in that specific area. Coloring isn't terribly important to me. I've heard some fellows comment that they like them tan or dark but I find that it depends on the particular woman, setting, mood and family history. So I'm pretty open on that.

So, there it semi-annual discussion on the fairer sexes special attribute that drives us neanderthals to lose all our already limited faculties (Look at what it's doing to me right now!). This one's for you, Mike Bularz. I hope that Mike and everyone else appreciates it and I welcome your insights and feedback and photos!



What's News?

Ha ha ha!..."What's News?" That's pretty clever, eh? Get it? I didn't write "What's New?" I wrote What's News?" adding the "s" at the end of the word "New" thereby giving the word an entirely new meaning while still maintaining the integrity of the phrase/question our society is so familiar with, "What's New?"! I am that clever! And, thusly, I give my Blog header a duality in meaning! I now ask the question "What's New?" as in What's New with me/what's been going on lately, AND! I can cover altogether and entirely all sorts of different subjects just by adding that little "s" on the end. It's really quite unbelievable if you really think about it. WOW!

So, what is new indeed? Let's see...Not much, really. Although I have been working like a dog lately. Finished the big Hellboy project with Inkworks a few weeks back, been inking like crazy for Archie Comics, been working for a new firm on some advertising project, been working on some logo designs for an upcoming indy film, been putting the finishing touches on my novel, The List, which will be out this summer and finally been posting and updating this very website with more goodies.

ALSO! And this is BIG!...There will be a major announcement regarding The 3 Geeks soon! Very, very soon. I kid you not. Major. (I'm giggling excitedly as I write this.) 2007 will be marking The 3 Geeks 10 year anniversary (Yes, it's been 10 glorious years) and I have a few things planned to mark the anniversary, one of which is gigantic, the other few merely very cool. So, keep stay tuned for further announcements right here at!


Other than that I have been reading as voraciously as the voluminous Volstag of late! Isn't that the chubby guy's name from THOR? Did I spell that right? Volstag? Is it one "g" or two? Whatever. My intention was to make a comparison that would overwhelm you as to the sheer volume I've been reading as of late. In the days since X-Mas I've devoured the Absolute Sandman Hardcover I got from my wife, Sandy; read approximately 20-30 comics, finished a 450 page novel called The Romanov Prophecy (which was a solid, entertaining read BTW), and am almost finished with Stephen King's book "Cell" about 50 pages to go. Been turning off the tube a bit earlier every night to read instead. Good choice. I highly recommend it.

I would say, that on average, I've been reading about 1 to 2 hours a night since I was around 11 years old (I'm 39). I've always had trouble falling asleep at night. Horrible insomniac. Ever since I was a little kid. It's miserable. No matter how tired I am I just cannot fall asleep! I lay there and think--Think about all kinds of things; new story ideas; how poor I am and why; the usual world crisises; how old I'm getting; is there really a God; all kinds of stuff. And I cannot shut it off. Can't. I've tried counting sheep. Believe me it doesn't work. A few years ago I discovered Melatonin, a natural supplement which has helped immensely, but it still takes me awhile to nod off. SO! In a roundabout way I'm getting to the fact that, as a child, I started reading in bed every night--It was actually my mother who suggested it--And been reading every night ever since. Hundreds of novels, tens of thousands of comic books, and a few assorted magazines and such (yes, there's "reading" in Playboy!). Love it! Can't understand for the life of me anyone who doesn't enjoy reading. I've got many lifelong friends who I've known since we were wee little kids who have never read a novel! Never! What the hell? They've never even read a comic book! And you'd think they would at the very least, out of sheer curiosity if nothing else, at least pick up and read one of mine...nope! Absolutely and apparently no interest in reading anything other than the sports page of the newspaper. I do not get it and never will. Oh well.

Reading is FUNdemental! Maybe they just never heard that one? Next time I see one of them I'll mention it and see if it takes. I'll let you know.

That's about it for this week, I guess. I will mention again that I'll be at Westfields Comics in lovely Madison, WI January 27th from 1-4 pm. And, if the rumors are true (which I cannot verify) they not only have Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance, giving dance tutorials, but have also added a Rosie O'Donnel/Donald Trump backwaxing competition. We'll all witness first-hand who's really the toughest! Be there!

Word! r

The Aftermath!

Well, they are over...for at least the next ten months anyways. Our beloved holidays. I did not get any gift cards! A stunner. BUT! I have a cute little gift card story (in case you didn't know, I ranted on gift cards last column)...

So, I run over to the corner gas station on Christmas Eve afternoon to get myself a 12 pack of Pepsi and some butter or something. While I'm getting my stuff I hear a bit of a commotion near the cash register. I hear the employee softly uttering apologies and the slightly raised voice of an irate customer. Both involved are women in their mid-fifties to early sixties. I look over and see the two women involved and another younger woman waiting in line to pay for her gasoline. I think to myself, "Alright, a little pre-holiday cheer!" I confess that I kind of relish watching people get all riled up during the holidays (aren't they supposed to be stress-free?). So anyways, I get my goods and saunter slowly up to the register where the two women are still going back and forth. The customer is getting more and more irate. Apparently, there's some sort of delay with whatever she's purchasing and she just simply cannot wait any longer and shouts, "Just forget it! I can't believe it's taking this long and I don't have any more time to waste here!" I hang back in the potato chips aisle where I have a nice view of both participants. The employee apologizes again to no avail. Apparently no excuse can assuage the irate woman. Then, all on her own, the irate woman asks if she can leave the money and come back in 15-20 minutes for whatever it is she's purchasing. The employee says, "Yes, sure. Can you give me at least 20 to be safe?" The irate women, calm now, says, "Yes. I'll be back in 20 minutes." So she hands the employye a wad of cash and heads out as I head towards the register and the youger woman finally checks out not saying a word. I 'm next. I ask what the heck that was all about and the employee explains...Apparently the irate woman came in to buy MOBIL GIFT CARDS but didn't have any cash. The Mobil station only takes cash on gift cards. So she had to leave and come back with cash for these well thought out and very meaningful gifts for her loved ones which she so obviously gave so much thought to (yes, you are to read this last sentence with dripping sarcasm). So when she gets back it's going to take a few minutes to ring up the $200 worth of gift cards! Well! She simply does not have the time to wait as she has guests coming over and much to prepare! So she's pissed.

Now that's Christmas, isn't it everybody? Rushing last minute to the corner gas station to get your gift cards for the family. WOW. I wish I was on her Christmas list! Thanks for the tank of gas Grandma! Your the BEST!

I got a couple of pretty cool things this year actually. I got the BAND OF BROTHERS DVD Box Set! An absolutely riveting account of the heroic Easy Company paratroopers who served during WWII and fought at Normandy, helped liberate Holland, fought at the Battle of the Bulge, and were the company who captured Hitler's infamous "Eagles Nest!" This was the most highly decorated, revered, heroic, noble and courageous of the United States troops and suffered some of the highest casualties. Hearing their accounts and seeing the 10 plus hours docudrama is a moving experience and makes you realize just how lucky you have it that these men served our country. You owe it to yourself to see this series. If you watch it and aren't moved to tears you have no soul!

Also got the "Complete Sandman" oversized slipcase hardcover! Very sweet! I'm about halfway through this first of four hardcovers planned and I love it. I've read just about everything Neil Gaiman has written--all his novels--but have never read Sandman straight through in its original sequential order! I know...completely unacceptable. But now I can and now I will and now I see why (again) this clever chap has achieved such success in this biz. Great stuff.

Stella got a kitty, and easy bake oven, a lite-brite, play-doh, books, clothes, stencils, jewelry, Hullabaloo (which I highly dig!), toys, toys, toys, and more toys. I think she had a pretty darn great Christmas.

We also took her ice skating for her first time yesterday and my first time since I was 12! 29 years! Sandy said it's been about 24 for her. The rental skates were friggin' brutal! Hard as a rock. Pure pain. If the goal was to have as sore of feet as possible, mission accomplished. As we took our first tentative steps out onto the ice, and Stella's little legs started flailing this way and that, her body jerking in, out, side-to-side, back-and-forth, I fully realized there would be at least 2-3 dozen spills in store for us. Surprise surprise, didn't happen. There were only a small handful of spills by Stella, and Sandy an I stayed upright the entire 2 hours (I did lean into one of the cushioned barricades, however, and took an embarrassing spill). And little Stella improved a hundred-fold by the second hour. She was absolutely hilarious. And what a brave little trooper. No fear. And, of course, the little social butterfly that she is, she made a friend within minutes (also skating for her first time) and they ended up skating together, holding hands, and having ice cream together afterwards. We'll be making the ice skating a regular feature from now on. Good family fun. I'll be buying better skates, however, first.

One funny aside I must mention on the ice skating. The asian dude who was so uncoordinated and had to helplessly crawl on his belly off the middle of the track to the wooden benches made my week!!! I laughed so hard! I couldn't believe what I was witnessing.

Quick notes...Look for the Hellboy Trading Cards from Inkworks in February. Yours truly was one of the featured "Sketch Artists" chosen for the limited sketch cards that are randomly inserted! Cool stuff!

ALSO!...I'll be doing a signing at Westfields in Madison, WI Saturday, January 27, from 1-4 PM. I'll have books, original art and be doing commissioned sketches. There will be much frivolity, joy, laughter, handsomeness, and, from what I understand, Michael Flatley will be giving dance demonstrations. Be there!

Word! r

Happy Friggin' Holidays!

If I become president I will do my best to pass legislation that Christmas be celebrated once every four years like the Olympics. To make it more special. It'll become a true event once again! Is it just me or does it seem like this special ONE DAY has become more like a 40- 45 day extraveganza?! Let's see...The commercials and build up begins before Thanksgiving now--used to start right after but now we're gearing up a couple weeks before just to make sure we don't, y'know, miss it or something--the radio stations start their 24 hour a day blitz right after Thanksgiving which gives us roughly 24 hours times 44ish days...umm...1000 plus hours of hearing 300 different versions (most bad) of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and White Christmas. By the way, what the hell is up with that Bing Crosby/David Bowie tune?! Can't we officially kill that one off already? For Jesus' sake? Seriously. I am not being irreverant whilst using Jesus' name, here...that song just really, really sucks and I do not think the Lord would dig it.

And we don't stop on December 26th anymore, do we? Nope. There's the returning of gifts, more parties, after Christmas sales to rush out for, and my personal favorite...The errand that some relative gratiously granted me...THE GIFT CARD!

To me the gift card tells me that they didn't really care enough to take a few precious moments of their busy schedules to actually give my gift, or me for that matter, any real thought. Too much effort I guess to actually try and think what Rich might want this year. I know, I know...I'm a real toughy to buy for, what with my not having any apparent hobbies or activities anyone would know about. I mean, God forbid they realize I am a voracious reader of novels (all kinds), comic books (ANYTHING comic book related! Toys, statues, memorabilia, movies!), graphic novels...Heck! I even work in the field...Think that'd tip 'em off?! And have any of them noticed for the past 30 or so years that I dig sports? Both watching and playing them. Guess not. How about the fact that I'm an avid movie goer? Love collecting nostalgic toys from when I was a kid. Food. Wine. Beer. Art. Art supplies. MUSIC! My god I've over 500 cds, records, 45s! I even DJed as a part-time gig for a few years! I'm always talking about music!

So, does anyone take that into account? Does anyone put their little thinking caps on? Do a little digging? Not usually (Sandy does. I'll give her some props or she'll skewer me).

The gift card. What a lazy friggin' cop-out that item is. Come on people! Give it a little effort! Remember! It's the thought that counts. And you're sending us out to have to use this gift card anyways...So if you, God forbid, get us a cd or book we don't care for we're going to have to go to the store anyways to exchange it, right? But at least we'll know you've tried, dammit...We'll know you've TRIED!

I try. I'm a pretty damn good gift-buyer if I do say so myself. This year I got my new brother-in-law's name when my wife's family picked names. I know he's a huge Elvis nut. Very cool, I think to myself, I'm gonna seek out some cool Elvis stuff! And I'm not talking the same old, same old crap anyone can find at K-Mart. I'm talking something really unique! So, for the past few months I've kept my eyes open. Not really too hard a task...Just putting forth the teensiest bit of effort, really, to keep one's Eyes Open. And, voila! I manage to score some pretty kick-ass items. I find an unopened box of 36 packs (all unopened of course) of Elvis trading cards from 1978! Extremely cool! I find an Elvis jackknife...Okay, it's a newer item, and pretty easy to obtain, but still pretty cool and a nice compliment to the cards. But then! whilst shopping at a little record shop/nostalgic toy store here in Milwaukee called Flipsville Records (not at the mega malls people!) I find the coup de grace! An authentic movie poster circa 1958ish of one of Elvis' movies with Nancy Sinatra! And the best part is that I don't know which movie! WHY? Because this poster is from MEXICO! It's an authentic, 1950's Elvis movie poster from Mexico! It's going to blow his mind! It is the coolest thing. I'd really like to keep it for myself. AND!!! I get the darn thing framed to boot. And the frame job is SPECTACULAR (think of Teri Hatcher's breasts! Get it? When she guested on Seinfeld? Aw forget it)!

You see?...That's putting some thought into it. And you know what? I feel good about it. What's that other old saying?...Oh yeah, "It's better to give than to receive." It is. Especially when you know you did good. When you tried.

So my next act as President will be to ban the gift cards!

My fondest personal memories of Christmas as a small boy growing up were the two (back-to-back if I remember correctly) Christamses where my mother totally went bonkers and on the day of Christmas blew a gasket (or two) and tore down the tree, removed all the presents, and all the while (as me and my two brothers looked on in sheer horror) berated us that we didn't know the true meaning of Christmas and should all be ashamed...I was around 10 years old...I just wanted a few toys, ma.

Anyone ever see "Mommy Dearest?"

Yep, we had some real doozies while I was growing up. My wife, Sandy, wondered why I was such a Scrooge about Christmas when we were first dating. I gave her the gorey details about those infamous family gatherings. Since then (we've been married 16 years) she's come to know my mother and more fully realized my Scroogeness. Anyone ever seen "Everybody Loves Raymond?" I could sue Ray Romano for using my mother in his show. I've gone back and scoured my parents house looking for the hidden cameras but found nothing. Apparently Romano has some pretty good connections.

I probably wouldn't celebrate at all if it weren't for my 4 year old daughter. She's innocent. She doesn't have to know the loathing I personally feel inside about Christmas and the over-commercialization. I am making it my mission in life to make all her memories special and good when it comes to these holidays, birthdays, etc. To see the look of joy on her face!...There's nothing better. So I suck it up and do it for her. And you know what?...I couldn't be any happier doing it.

That's what's special about Christmas for me.

Word! r

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