Author Archives: haljohnsonbooks

The House That Jack Built, in Trouble Again

We’re all mad again, and we’re all mad at Marvel. By “we” I mean comics readers, or at least a certain demographic of comics readers, and we’re mad because, and I’m quoting io9’s headline here, Marvel VP David Gabriel “blames women and diversity” for a decline in comics sales. That sounds like a spectacularly boneheaded […]

Kill or Be Killed Theories

[Major spoilers for the comic book series Kill or Be Killed follow. You should probably go read it, it’s been called one of the best comics of last year.] I once read (it may have been in an Anne Rule book) that with serial killers it’s the first kill that “counts.” That is to say, […]

If the Choice Be Mine…I Choose to March!

(More or less continues thematically from here.) We live in an odd time, one in which the past is both readily accessible and consciously avoided. On the one hand, every issue of Life magazine, almost every book and periodical from before early in the last century, and a healthy proportion of legal and illegal copies of […]

Youth Culture Killed My Dog (Part 1)

There was  a time when grown adults would go door to door in crazy costumes on Halloween, demanding treats. It was called mumming.* Now we (we meaning twenty-first century Americans) call it trick or treating, and only children do it. Depending where you live, children might not do that any more, and it’s possible that the […]

The First Time

1. The first time someone got a wedgie: A.D. 96 Whenever you get up out of your chair (I often have been noticing it now), your wretched tunic sodomizes you. And when you go and try to pluck it out —now straining with your right hand, now your left— you only work it out with groans […]

Oscars and the Grouch

Someone told me the Oscars are coming up, so I thought I’d look back at what kind of job the Academy has been doing. Here, therefore, is a list of Who Should Have Won Every Academy Award for Best Picture Going Back to 1930—based solely on the nominees. A * indicates the Academy correctly picked the best nominee, […]

The Meaning of the Cannonball Blues

Here’s a 1936 recording of the Carter Family singing “Cannonball Blues.” I’m not a folk music historian, and I’m not here to unriddle the origin of this song, but it’s clearly a variation of the “Buffalo to Washington” model. There are a lot of songs with a similar tune and chorus, and the subject matter […]