Friday, June 27, 2003

So What does the "T" in BenT stand for, anyway?

I get that from a lot of people. Most of them think it stands for Thomas, or Timothy. Some Trekkers thought it stood for "Tiberius". Nope It's pretty simple, even if it's not a highly common name. TYRONE.

I got it all growing up, from being called "Tyrone Shoelaces" as a kid, to the guys in my Frat who made me the honorary token Black Guy because they thought Tyrone was a ghetto name. Geezus what a bunch of passive-aggressive racists they were. Perhaps today they're shining shoes or waiting tables somewhere. i doubt it, though. I know that one of the guys who was the worst offender there got snapped up by the Republican National Committe right out of school.

Actually I was named for Tyrone Power, who was one of my Mother's favorite actors.

I read something in a volume of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader just the other day that sheds a new, ironic light upon Power being my namesake.
It seems Tyrone Power died of a Massive Coronary following a swordfight scene during the filming of "Solomon" in 1958.
They were using 15-lb swords, and Power, while an accomplished swordsman, was getting older, and started to struggle during the many retakes made necessary by his opponent's lack of skill with a sword. He felt weak, and asked for a break. He had a heart attack in his trailer, and died en route to the hospital.
Who was the other actor, the one who couldn't handle his sword well? George Sanders.

That Doesn't sound Ironic? Do you know my Dad's full name? George Sanders Steckler.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

I can't believe they tried to charge me the Gringo-Tax in my Hometown.
I went for a walk today, and decided to head into the town to get some lunch at our Central Market House, and sit outside in the courtyard at Cherry Lane, where they usually have lunchtime entertainment on Summer Market days.
It was a trio doing celtic folk songs, all in their late 40s to early 50s, two white guys with grey beards and a white woman.
The way they gave a little monologue with a bad joke to introduce each number, i couldn't help but picture Will Ferrel and Ana Gasteyer doing their SNL routine. Thanks to that routine, I'll never be able to take folksingers seriously again.
As i was finishing my salad, and they introduced their fourth song in a row as "here's a little number about an Irish sailor, leaving the port of Liverpool", I wondered, "Are there any folk songs that aren't about Irish People?" I left after finishing my salad, because I probably would have started heckling them.

So, I visited one of the galleries nearby, dropped off a couple of my minis to the girl working there. (mini-comics. what an ice-breaker.) On the way home, I have to pass thru a little ghetto area, then thru a couple parks, a working class single-family home area, and then into my neighborhood, which is bigger workingclass, and smaller middle-class single family homes. I needed a drink, because it was a hot day, so I stopped at a little Bodega in the ghetto area. I got a Sprite Remix (i like this tropical flavor, I just wish they had a diet version) it was clearly marked $1.00, and our tax here is 6%.
The woman working the register, who was having a heated argument in Spanish in the back, came out and rang me up, and tried to charge me $1.09. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, figuring that her argument might have had her distracted, and said that I thought it should come to $1.06, she said yes $1.06 that's right, but she didn't clear the "$1.09" off the register. I gave her $1.06 and left, but it got me to thinking. This was the second time this week that somebody in a convenience store, somebody "of color" too, tried to overcharge me for items.

The other time was Sunday Night, at some gas station/convenience store in Central PA on the way home from New York. That guy was either Arab or Pakistani, and he rang me up for about 15 cents too much.

I'd like to think that this is just a set of coincidences, and that foreign-born operators of small groceries and convenience stores are not in the habit of ripping-off their customers. It does, however, reinforce the stereotype I see of them in the works of so many Black comedians.

It's one thing to mark up your products a bit more than they'd cost at a supermarket. There's nothing wrong with charging for a convenience, and if I pick up the item at that price and bring it to the counter, I agree that it's a fair price. But when your employees ring in items at a higher price than marked, that is a rip-off.

If this is the way they are with their regular customers in the hood , I can understand why they get targeted for robberies and looting so often.

They should just be glad that folks like me who object to the "Gringo Tax" aren't in the habit of rioting and looting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I took a long walk into town on this hot June day, spent about three hours, and my legs are killing me.
I'm thinking of starting a public service campaign, and making up a mini-comic about a Superhero called [b]Walking Man[/b].

Walking man would encourage responsible adults to improve their health, and better their city just by turning off the TV and going for a regular walk around their neighborhood on a nice afternoon or evening. I think neighborhoods would become friendlier places, and crime would be discouraged just by the simple presence of responsible adults on the street.

I wouldn't be asking folks to start neighborhood narc patrols, busybodies with cellphones trying to clean up the neighborhood. No. I think just by getting out, they can quell the mischief that leads to worse crimes.

Now, one thing I'd like to see get taken care of with this project is the pruning of trees, and the mowing of overgrown lawns. My walk is often interrupted, when I have to move from the sidewalk into the street because of a low-hanging branch, or a lawn where the grass is a foot or more tall, and it looks tick-infested.

My idea would be to have Walking Man address this problem in the comic, and what I'd do is attach the comic with a twisty tie to any tree branch that I have to stoop or step into the street to avoid.

What Do You think of that?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

well, I waited until today to go see The Hulk, Because i wanted to see it at a matinee with my pal Eric.

All my fears about the CGI Hulk looking fake were not confirmed. It was a fun movie, and I give it 3.5 stars.
It would get the whole 4th star if only Jennifer Connelly would have got nekkid. But she looked good here. She has one of those faces that looks chubby easily, and with her usual bustiness, she often looks too big for my tastes. (I like smaller breasted women) In this film she looks slender, and her face is narrower.

Nick Nolte plays a wonderful Psycho. I was worried about them changing the back story with Bruce banner's Dad, but they found a way to blend in the abusive dad of the Peter David Hulks, with the Bill Bixby David banner, and throw in a doseof Crusher Creel to boot. The presence in the story of David Banner also gave Thunderbolt Ross more of a Motivation.

I also loved the attention to detail, like the puddles in front of the crumpled Glenn Talbot's face, continuing to ripple even after the Hulk has bounded into the distance, showing that his leaps are still shaking the ground.

One Quibble: As someone who's studied Aerospace, I don't think that an F-15 could have flown that well with the Hulk clinging to the canopy. I think he would have induced quite a bit of drag. And Those were some pretty resilient soldiers, the way they survived all those helicopter crashes, and were able to crawl out alive from a tank that's just been thrown across the horizon. Maybe in an R-rated version, the Hulk would have killed a few soldiers...and Betty Ross might have got naked.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Well, I'm back from the MoCCA Comics show in New York. I made about $50 less than I was hoping to, but I still made a profit on the trip, and I'm happy with my sales. I sold the same number of my "ceci n'est pas un peep" t-shirts as I did last year, I probably could have sold a couple more, if i had XLs available. This year, I actually made more money from the sales of my mini-comics than from my T-shirts. That is a good sign.

I wore the prototype of my "f-ARTjoke" t-shirt, and a lot of people liked it. I gave them all a card with the URL to my Cafe Press shop, where I hope some of them will order one. (My weblinks are over there in the right margin) One of my goals for this show was to let folks know that I now have a web presence. Well, i got rid of almost all the cards I'd printed announcing it.

I saw a lot of my comics and web friends, Tony Consiglio, Alex Robinson, Mike Dawson, Chris Radtke, Jeff Mason, Zack Soto, Bob Corby, Matt Feazell, Suzanne Baumann, Robyn Chapman and Kelli Nelson (The Preview of their new anthology, TRUE PORN looks Great!), Danny Hellman, Sam Henderson, Craig Bostick, Jack Turnbull, Dan Moynihan, Scott Roberts, Nick Bertozzi, Ellen Lindner, Scott Mills, Andrew Zaben, Tim Kelly, Jenny Gonzales, and many more.

I got to chat with Dave Kiersh, and passed along Delaine Derry's recent kudos. I met for the first time several folks whom I'd only known thru message board conversations, like Matt Singer, Ed Matthews, Pete the Retailer, and Saint Tweedy. I passed along review copies of my new material to several folk, including Rich Watson and Tom Spurgeon.
I gave sample copies of my Jack Chick parodies to Kristen from LAST GASP!. I'd love to get those picked up for distro.

It was a good show, and even though my sales were a little lower than I'd hoped, that extra money was what I would have just turned around and spent on some of the nicer new collections debuting at the show, like the new Kramer's Ergot, or the Quimby the Mouse book from Chris Ware, or Adhouse Book's Telstar. Those will be available at a show my future, I hope.

After the show, we drove over to Fairfield, New Jersey, and had dinner at the restaurant my cousin Brett now manages.
It's called 94th Bomb Group, and sits right at the edge of the Runway of the Fairfield Airport. The place is done up like a WW2-era French Country farmhouse, and decorated in a war-time theme, with exhibits dedicated to the real 94th Bomb group, and the Memphis Belle. My meal of marinated Pot Roast with chive dumplings was superb, and the portions are generous. The restaurant is at 195 Passaic Ave in Fairfield, just a hop down I-80, west of NYC. for info, call (973) 882-5660. Sunday Night, by the way, they have an Over-30 Singles night in the Lounge there, and I'm happy to say that I caught several nice looking women checking me out as I walked thru.

Now, today is a Sunny Day, and I have an Air Conditioner to install, and then I'd like to get outside for awhile, so I'm going to stop blogging now.

Friday, June 20, 2003


Here it is, almost to the Solstice, and This Spring of 2003 may possibly go on record as the Wettest Spring Ever here in the Mid-Atlantic States. I think since late April, we've been having at least 5 days of rain a week. I know that there's been only one day dry enough per week to try and mow the lawn. It's a real pain in the ass having to spend the only nice day of the week working on the yard. And it takes longer to mow, because the grass is still damp. You have to stop frequently to scrape off the bottom of the mower.

The funniest part of it is, last Summer we were under Drought restrictions, and the same folk complaining about all this rain now were praying for it a year ago. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.

My Sister-In-Law has mentioned feelings of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) due to the lack of Bright Sunny days.

I know these gloomy mornings have made it difficult for me to get out of bed before 9:30 on many days. Of course, part of that can be attributed to my habit of staying up drawing or surfing the internet until 2:00 a.m.

I really want to try a McGriddle sandwich, but until I'm showered and dressed, Mc Donald's has stopped serving breakfast for the day.

Now the forecasters are predicting rain well into Sunday for the region, including New York City. I worry that means that MoCCA won't be swarming with cute women in skimpy tops like it was last year. I will hold to the hope that the rain won't deter them, and in fact the show will be teeming with cute women in WET skimpy tops this year.

Now to check for the mail, and try to get something done today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Well, I'm sorry if anybody missed me yesterday, but I really couldn't think of anything to post about after I finally found the time to post. Tuesday is usually my Movie Day, but I also had to get all the copies made of my mini-comics, so that I'm fully stocked for Sunday's MoCCA Comics Art Festival in NYC. I'll be there at my Table in the Puck Bldg from 11 in the morning until 7 at night, trying to keep the hordes of fans from trampling one another to get to me.

I made a new mini-comic for this show. It's a Jack Chick parody again. This one is called "FRESH HOT PIZZA!", and tells the tale of Luigi, the boy who delivered Pizza to the Last Supper. It's a parable about how Jesus would want his followers to pay more respect to the Pizza-Boy, and also Tip Better. Keeping the scary nature of Chick Tract covers, the cover illo features the Devil himself, posed like the Chef on a generic Pizza Box, holding a fresh slice amidst the flames, and giving the "A-OK" sign, (which in some parts of the world is "the Evil Eye").

For those who can't make it to NYC for the show this weekend, I will have a preview on my site, and you'll be able to order it thru my ebay shop beginning next week.

Speaking of ordering stuff... I just got a sample of my f-ARTjoke tee-shirt yesterday from Cafe Press. It looks sharp, and the colors on the design came out nice. It's a new rendition of the art from my cover to f-ARTjoke #0. If you go to my site, and check out the f-ARTjoke of The Week page, you'll see a smaller version of the art, with a link over to Cafe Press, where you can order the shirt, ...and the design is also on Mugs and flying discs!

So Yesterday, after making nearly 1700 copies at the local Mailboxes Etc/ UPS store, which has the best price on copies around here, I took my friend Eric over to the Mall to see Dumb and Dumberer. What a piece of crap!
It came in at under 90 minutes, and it seems like a lot of material was edited out that would have made the movie funnier, and more smooth flowing. And this movie really would have been better with an R rating. I hate that the dialogue makes reference to a female character not wearing underwear, but the movie doesn't let the viewer see this.
Not even from behind! It's a VISUAL MEDIUM! Don't talk about it! SHOW IT! And, as you can probably guess, the only boobs in the picture are the two main characters. I'm just glad we saw it at a Matinee, but even at Matinee prices, that's still $5.50 of my money and 90 ins of my life that I'll never get back.

Monday, June 16, 2003

I spent Last Night in Ravenswood, West Virginia, at the home of my Mom's Long-time Best Friend, June. Her new house is in a development right on the bank of the Ohio River. This morning after an unusually large Breakfast for me (biscuits, gravy, sausage, bacon, eggs, OJ, -they like to see you eat in WVa- I saw some cantaloupe in June's fridge, I would have been happy just to have a slice of that for breakfast), I strolled over to the riverbank just in time to watch two barge-trains go floating past. One was headed upriver, toward the steel mills, 15 barges piled high with coal. The Other was coming back downriver empty. Looking at how much deeper the loaded barges rode, the full train must have had a million tons of coal on it.

When you see reports of a barge colliding with a bridge support, and you think of how slow moving a typical tug is when you've only seen them in harbors, you wonder how they could take out a bridge support. But all that tonnage of coal, even on a slow-moving barge, carries a helluva lot of momentum. And this thing was moving at a good clip. Even from the riverbank, I could see third-level harmonics in its wake. I wouldn't want to be in its way.

And all that coal is driving the economy of the State. Down in the southern portions of the State, Like Boone County, where most of my Family there are living, If you aren't working directly in the Mines, you're working at a company that depends on the mine and its workers for its business. As much as it's hard work, with hot, heavy, dirty, and dangerous working conditions, and as much as I hear my more liberal colleagues complain about raping the Earth's resources, and pollution, I'd hate to see what would happen to the area if the coal industry suffered.

Oh, and as far as pollution goes? Those hillsides in the West Virginia Coal Country are some of the Greenest areas I've ever seen, rich in wildlife and vegetation. And Rich in the character of the people, too.

Friday, June 13, 2003

I don't really have much to say today. I'm packing up to go away for the weekend. My Family always spends Father's Day weekend in West Virginia, visiting the relatives of My Mother's First Husband. He was the Father of my Brother and Two Sisters, although my Dad (Mom's Second Husband) fully adopted the three of them before I came along. My Brother, the oldest, was only five when Mom & Dad married, so my Dad is really the one who raised them, and he's the one they call "Dad". I grew up considering all these folk in WV my cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and Granny, as well, although technically, i'm not related. If you've read my comic Unshaven CHI #4 ( see a preview ), then you know about my odd family structure, and my FOUR GRANDMAS.

I don't always go along now that I'm grown up, but since I'm not working now, and I don't have a comic show, and I'm pretty much caught up with my new book and new toons for my next site update, I decided to tag along this year. Otherwise I wouldn't get to be with my Dad on Father's Day.

Right now, for lunch, I'm enjoying a Turkey and ham sandwich on a Pretzel Roll. They make them, along with bakery-fresh soft pretzels at a local place called Epex (formerly Smittie's) Soft Pretzels, not too far from my house. I wish they had a site that I could point you to. If you've never had a Soft Pretzel before, that is reason enough to visit Pennsylvania this Summer. We have many local and regional business devoted to Pretzel baking.

I never liked Smittie's growing up, because they were the ones that you got at Softball Games, or other Sporting and Community Events, and you rarely got them fresh. Often they'd been cold-stored over night and thawed, causing condensation around the salt crystals, and ruining the texture. But when they opened up the shop nearby, and I tasted one FRESH, I became hooked. For a while, their sandwiches were a well kept secret for lunch. For half the cost of a nearby deli, they gave you twice the meat. But word-of-mouth has spread, and now if you wait until noon to go over, you'll be in a line that stretches out thru the door.

And I said I didn't have much to talk about today. I'll be back Monday Night, and I hope I have something to say then.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Today's a nice day, and it's a Market day, so I headed downtown and got myself a Frozen OJ, a Broccoli/Cauliflower Salad, and an order of Chicken Livers and enjoyed being outside.

They're refurbishing the performing Arts Center right next to the market, and building a new ten story Courthouse a block away. With the just opened state-of-the-art office complex a block in the other direction, The little strip of shops tucked into the corner beside the market house is poised for a revival. They all either have new tenants, mostly art and craft galleries, or the current tenants are redesigning, and brightening their appearance. One New Co-Op gallery has opened in the building directly adjacent to the Market. The nice thing is they have a courtyard behind them onto which The Market house has a doorway. This doorway had long been padlocked shut, but it looks like the gallery struck a deal to make something pleasantly useful out of this found space. They fixed up the courtyard into a nice little outdoor gallery, with murals and cocktail tables for Market patrons to sit at, and The market House has opened up the doorway. I enjoyed the scenery, and picked up a nice handcrafted photo frame for Dad.

York, PA is the First Capital of the United States, and if you come this Summer to visit all the Historic Sites Downtown, such as the site of the signing of The Articles of Confederation, drop in to The Central Market for a fresh bite, and see the galleries. There's more info about York, The City and the County here.

After Market, I went to Wal-Mart to get a new printer cartridge, and found the HULK HANDS! on sale there for only $15.09, so of course I got a pair.
Is This The Real Life? Is this Just Fantasy?
I had a weird Dream. Weird because it was so realistic.
First I dreamed that I woke up, and i had a piece of chewing gum in my mouth. I noted to my dreamself that I'd been chewing that same piece of gum for more than a day, and I should spit it out. So I did.

I got dressed in a shirt, tie and dress pants, and went outside into the parking lot of my Old Elementary School, Jacob L. Devers. Apparently this was a College Campus now, and a passing student greeted me as "Professor". Upon hearing this, I remembered that I had a Lecture to give, and it was almost time. But my hair felt grungy, so I went across the street to a Dollar Store to look for some shampoo.

Inside the Dollar Store was an old school friend, Mark, with some unidentified mysterious companions. He said they were taking him away soon to an undiclosed location for an undisclosed purpose. I had the feeling he was some kind of detainee. Mark was stocking up on the essentials for his trip, Soap, Shaving Cream, Razors, toothpaste, etc. He picked out a package that had all of these items, but I told him not to buy the combo-pack. I showed him how it was cheaper to buy all the items he needed individually. I said that the store puts those packs together, tosses in some merchandise that's been hard to move, and then marks them up to take advantage of tourists and customers in a hurry. The cashier gave me a dirty look. All this time I had taken some of the shaving cream and was massaging it into my hair.

I went into a bathroom in back of the store, and was rinsing out my hair in the sink, when another student came in and said, "Hey, Professor, rough Night?"

I went back to the store, and Mark said he needed to go to his Townhouse to get a few items. He asked me to come along. I rode in the back seat of his beat up old maroon Cordoba. When we got to his apartment, he got out, but didn't cut off the engine, and missed "Park", leaving it in gear. As the car drifted forward, i had to climb into the driver's seat, and try to stop it. His brakes were bad, and the Gearshift was locked, but I managed to pull the emergency brake.

"I think something's wrong with the car," I yelled thru the his door, "I'm going to whack the engine with this broom."
I picked up a broom that was on his porch. Despite the fact that it was a mild day, and little kids were in the neighborhood playing in t-shirts and shorts, this broom was covered in ice and snow. The broom had a little button down near the bristles. I pushed it, and the ice and snow shook loose. As I approached the car, it started to drift backward, up a slight hill. I tried to stop it, yelling at the kids to clear the way, but could only grab hold of the side mirror. This did cause the car to veer, though, and it ended up smashing into a dumpster.

The Guy who had the apartment near the dumpster came out, explained he was a mechanic, and looked at the engine.
He found the problem. Apparently part number "90-D-4" was worn out. I looked at Mark and said "90-D-4? When this was your Dad's car twenty years ago, I remember him complaining that Part # 90-D-4 was always wearing out! Didn't you ever get it taken care of?" and that's where I woke up for real.

I wish I could play the number 90-D-4 in the lottery or something.

I'd forward this dream to my Friend and colleague, Jesse Reklaw, who does the Slow-Wave strip about people's dreams, but i don'e know how he'd condense it into three panels. You can check up on Jesse's strip at

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Reasons to love the Internet, Part Three (please don't search my blog for the first two parts, that headline is just a reference to a song by the late Ian Dury.)
I just discovered the webby-award-winning wonder that is What a funny, and well-done personal site! There's lots to look at there, and I've only surfed thru a fraction of it, but I recommend you check out the Toast in a Jar auction story, or the investigative report into those "Lose 30 lbs in 30 Days" and "Work From Home" signs.

That got me thinking about making up a bunch of "Read From Home" and "Get 30 Laughs in 30 mins" signs to promote my mini-comics. I just might do it, if I have any cash to spare after my next trip to the copycenter to print the books I'm taking to MoCCA.

Have I mentioned MoCCA? I would think that most of the folks who have discovered this journal have found it through other comics forums, but Just in case anybody is reading this that doesn't know:

Get Thyself to New York City Next Weekend for the Alternative Comics event of the Summer!

here's a copy of their press release, as I completed it for my local media:
2003 MoCCA Art Festival Provides Showcase for Scathingly Funny Mini-Comics of York’s Own Ben T. Steckler

NEW YORK, JUNE 2003 – The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Art Festival – an event that drew thousands of artists, creators, collectors, dealers, publishers, agents and others to downtown Manhattan in its debut last June -- is back and will feature the work of York native Ben T. Steckler this year.

The 2003 MoCCA Art Festival – which offers fans, professionals and the general public an ideal opportunity to view and purchase a wide range of works from independent, alternative, and up-and-coming comic and cartoon artists -- will be held at New York City’s historic Puck Building (293 Lafayette Street at Houston) on Sunday, June 22, from 11:00am to 7:00pm. The event is open to the public. Suggested minimum donation is $5, with all proceeds going to support the nonprofit Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art.

Steckler will be exhibiting several of his mini-comics, including his ongoing titles “Get BenT!”, “Unshaven CHI”, and “Quincy The Scaredy-Cat”. His comics combine humorous autobiographical excerpts with a cynic’s POV of American Pop Culture. He has been lauded by many comics industry critics for his innovative formats, and was recently featured in two different retrospectives about mini-comics. In 2001, he was nominated for the Ignatz Award, in the category of “Promising New Talent”.

“We are thrilled to have the work of Ben T. Steckler as part of this year’s Art Festival,” says MoCCA Chairman Lawrence Klein. “Whether people are already aficionados of comic and cartoon art or just want to learn more about some of the wonderful work being done today by people like Ben, the MoCCA Art Festival is a great place to see and support these artists.”

Other artists scheduled to participate include Bill Plympton (Mutant Aliens, Hair High), Craig Thompson (Goodbye, Chunky Rice), Howard Cruse (Stuck Rubber Baby), James Kochalka (Pinky & Stinky, Monkey vs. Robot), Jeff Smith (Bone), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), Peter Kuper (SPY vs. SPY, World War 3 Illustrated), and Phoebe Gloeckner (The Diary of a Teenage Girl). This year’s Special Guest Honoree will be Art Spiegelman (RAW, Maus, Little Lit).
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the collection, preservation, study and display of all forms of comic and cartoon art. The museum promotes greater understanding and appreciation of the artistic, cultural and historical significance of comic and cartoon art through a variety of events, exhibitions, and educational programs. For more information about the museum or specific MoCCA events, exhibitions and programs, please contact Ken Wong (212-254-3511,]) or visit the museum’s Website (
For more information about Ben T. Steckler’s comics, please visit him on the web at:

here's a link to the MoCCA site, where you can get all the necessary info.
Hey, Wow! I read that Blogger was being purchased by Google. They must have merged somewhat already, because I just did a search for "Movie Marquees Tombstones" on Google, and my own blog, less than a week old, came up as the #2 item. In that spirit, Let me just state briefly that I do several on-line comics at my website, such as "The Evil Dr. Palindrome", "f-Artjoke", "Hey Lookit What I found", "MODOK The Menace", "Punk Rock Heaven", and other random Gag cartoons. They can all be linked to thru my homepage, "I'm Nobody Famous, Dammit!", to which you'll find a link on the right hand margin of this page.

Let me add, fart, fartjoke, wordplay, humor, art, parody, mini-comics, Joey Ramone, tribute, coffee, small press, independent, alternative, comics, fluffy, cat, pet, Jack Chick.

I apologise for that shameless exploitation of the search engine.

Now let me get back to what I was logging back on to say...

Heres' another site with funny, ambiguous headlines.
Because it's from a teaching reference, of course they dry it up by taking the time to explain why the headline is ambiguous. Still, they're some funny headlines, and if you're not careful, you might learn something, too!
Hey! Hey! Hey!
I shouldn't laugh, because I'm sure I would royally fuck-up anything I tried to write in an Asian Language.
However, i can't resist a hearty chuckle when I look at the items over at

It features photos of packaging, foods, drinks, signs, ads from China and Japan, on which a horrible attempt at english wording makes for some embarrassing double entendres.

So if you liked the old NatLamps true facts, check this out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Finally. It's a nice sunny day in the 70s, after so many weeks of rain, chill, and gloom. A perfect day for a long afternoon walk, and there's nothing like a long walk alone to give you time to sort and distill ideas. My legs are sore, but my mind is brimming, ready to put to paper some of those storylines that pop-up when I'm in the shower. Ideas.
memo to self; waterproof shower-caddy note-pad and pen, for recording ideas as they pop up.

I have an illo on that subject in Pam Bliss' latest issue of
HOPELESSLY LOST, But Making Good Time
It's a digest-sized zine that gives tips on creating and self-publishing comics. It reprints from Pam's Columns at the Sequential Tart website. Pam's a veteran at the self-publishing and mini-comics biz. I first met her at a Chicago Comicon in 1992, and she had been doing minis for a few years then, I believe. Her books are helpful, fun, and kid-friendly. Find out more at her Paradise Valley Comics site.

Sometimes Ideas can be a funny and useful thing like the The Amazing &Versatile Food Suit.
Follow the "hunger artistes" link and read the well-written and humorous saga of the suit's development. Despite the inventors' penchant for baseball, it's still an amusing little story, and the Food Suit could come in Handy. They should think beyond baseball, though. Make them in Black, and Market them to fans of DUNE, perhaps. A Food Suit in bright Caution Yellow would be swell attire to help survive a marathon DEVO concert, too.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Now enough of that drama. I want some lighter fare.

Do you like anagrams? Any body that's seen my Evil Dr. Palindrome cartoons knows I'm a fan of wordplay.

So the other day, I'm over on famous word expert Richard Lederer's site, Verbivore, and he has a link to this on-line anagram generator, Anagram genius

So i put in my name, and heres what I got back:

Rearranging the letters of 'Benjamin Tyrone Steckler' gives:

Jerk not tiny resemblance. Beastly jerk on increment.
Manly erect bonniest jerk. Jerky, notable increments.
Bean torments nicely jerk. Bonny erect manliest jerk.
Recently, am bonniest jerk. Jerkin as recently entomb.
Jerk in as recently entomb. Jerk recently mean snob it.
Jerk sanely entomb cretin. Jerk recently best on main.
Jerk recently best in moan. A jerkins entomb recently.
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I think the thing thinks I'm a jerk. well, you try living with a middle name like "Tyrone"
and not ending up a Jerk.
Sheesh that post took an Hour to write, too.!

Lucky for you readers I'll summarize. I'm a social retard. Since High School, i haven't made friends easily. And when I get let into a circle of friends, I never feel totally accepted, so I tend to overcompensate. I make a lot of jokes, and jibes. I come on too strong, or I lay back too much and they think I'm aloof. People get sick of me, or get offended, and I don't process the message right away, because I'm not good at seeing the polite signs they give.

When i leave a group of friends, I move or get a new job, or whatever, I'm not good about keeping in touch, because I've grown accustomed to doing things by myself. Around my hometown, I don't make friends easily, because I feel smarter than 95% of the folk around me.

So, when I got on the internet, it was wonderful. i could find groups of people with similar interests, people who were intelligent, people whose work i admired. Through e-groups and forums, I feel like I have a community. I value that, and it hurts when that community is threatened. I felt like I wasn't living and working in a vacuum. It is an artificial sense of community, though, i now realize. Sarcasm is hard to detect on the internet. Sometimes things are posted by me in jest that are taken seriously by others. and vice versa. Sometimes things are said by me in all seriousness, that are taken as jokes by others, and vice versa. Feelings get hurt, but among guys, you don't mention that your feelings are hurt.
Well, the offending party might not realize they hurt your feelings. And communities can crumble.

I realize that I post too much on certain groups. more than a lot of people. well I start out innocently. I answer questions where I can. I get positive feedback, I want to return the favor. I joke a little. I get a laugh or a groan. I'm used to that. I feel accepted. Then before I know it, I'm posting 7 to 8 times a day to the same group. I twice as much as the next most frequent poster. I realize that people could get sick of me.

So I'm going into exile for a few weeks or so. I'll still lurk and send signals thru my avatar, but I won't post to the group until my average comes down some.

Now let me get something off my chest. Six months ago, somebody whose work i admired, somebody I had always been congenial with when we'd meet, took upon himself to attack me in a public forum used by the majority of the people in our industry. His attack was unprovoked, and insulted my character and the level of my talent. He took on himself to address the fact that I posted alot, and to, in a very nasty tone suggest I improve my social life and spend less time on-line. This hurt me. In a fit of anger, I posted back, but quickly e-mailed this person an apology for returning fire in a public forum. I also emailed one of the administrators, and in that e-mail, in an attempt at humor, I speculated as to why this person would suddenly attack me, Like Pearl Harbour. I never got a reponse to my emails from either party.

yesterday evening, in another industry forum, before another growing audience of my peers and folks I admire, six months later, this person again attacks me, and insults me, usinng language the admins had to delete. I respond politely, and again I speculate wittily as to why he would make another unprovoked attack.

In his response, he explains quite handily that my speculation cannot be true. And apparently, he had been contacted by the admin from the first site, and my speculation had been relayed to him. And he's nursed this grudge against me since. I immediate apologize for the mistake. But it seemed like a logical reason for his tirade to me. mea Culpa.
But now feathers have been ruffled, and I think I have annoyed folks there that I consider friends. I think i need to spend some time away to let wounds heal.

But i can't help feel that if this person had simply replied to my e-mail six months ago, we could have cleared up this misunderstanding, but now more egos have been bruised, and for six months he built a grudge, and for those same six months I had a mistaken negative opinion of him.

and now i hope that this will post because I'm not writing about it again.
God Damn IT! I just wrote a marathon post, and the blogger burped and lost it. and I'll be damned if I'm typoing all that again! It's past 4 am!
I can't sleep right now because I've got some things to get off my chest.

I was cursed from birth with intelligence. Unfortunately for me, the way the public school systems dealt with fast learners in the baby boom generation was to simply advance them a grade or two ahead of schedule. I spent six weeks in first grade before they determined that I was reading at a Junior High level, and wanted to advance me to third grade. They should have taken a close look at my feet. I probably didn't have my shoes tied that day. Tying my shoes was the one thing I had trouble learning in Kindergarden. I remember having to bring a shoelace home as "homework". Towards late Spring, I managed to figure it out, but that didn't mean I was practiced enough to get it done right in the rush to school every morning.

My shoelaces should have been an indication that I was going to be a little socially retarded.
If I'm thankful to my parents for one thing (other than keeping a roof over my head, and letting me set up this little basement apartment with it's own art studio) it's that they balked when the School administrators wanted to move me to Third grade. They did allow the school to move me into Second grade, though. Grade school wasn't so bad. At that young age, my being a year younger didn't make me too much smaller than the others. And I was more than their match in the classwork. I found friends in the other class nerds, and shared in their encounters with the class bullies. I even found girls in the class to have "crushes" on.

I really didn't have problems until Jr. High. That's when they start to separate the smarter kids into the more academic programs. So I began to lose touch with the few more normally-adjusted kids that I had befriended in grade school, and began to be associated more with the nerds and geeks. As puberty struck, and the difference in age between me and the other kids in my class became more evident, every gym class became a trauma. It was constantly the one course that kept me off the honor rolls, because i was expected to compete with kids who were all bigger and physically stronger than me. And that group showering thing is a real pain when you're the last boy in the class to get pubes. I still had my friends in the nerd group, and I had a lot more crushes, because the girls were really bacoming interesting to look at, but at the school dances, and skating parties, I would feel a tremendous insecurity.

9th grade was the worst for me. My best friend since Second grade, Mark, and I, because of the demands of our other class schedule, they said, were placed in the Gym and Shop schedule with the Special Ed class. Hey, we were solid C+ gym students, but putting the two smartest boys in the class in with the Special Ed kids was a devastating blow to a young ego. Sure, some of the kids were really retarded, and needed much supervision in physical activity and tool-handling, but most of the boys in this class were good athletes, just slow learners, or kids that didn't test well at all. And they took every frustration out on the two "Einsteins". I was thankful that Industrial Arts was only a required course until 9th grade. In 10th grade I was able to fit into a gym class with normal students. But the damage was done. I look back now and ask why I didn't take any Art classes in High School.
I think a fear of getting stuck in an Art class with the special ed students kept me from taking any. (Art wasn't a requirement in our school system after 8th grade) Instead I loaded up on every honors level course I could fit. I isolated myself among the smart kids. Today, I look at my yearbook, and I really only recognise about 40 of the 250 kids in my graduating class.
I had a social life in High School, but it was centered around School functions. I got heavily into Band and Drama and the AFS. I usually had a meeting or a practice 5 nights a week.
That and homework, and a full slate of TV, I had little life outside of school.

The kids my age in the neighborhood either went to the Catholic schools, or were jocks, or both. So i didn't really get along with them. I did get along with the kids who were two years younger than me and about three years behind me in school. For some reason, this group in my neighborhood were smarter than their older brothers, and more into the things I enjoyed, like Comics and TV, and Board Games. I think back then I established a pattern of identifying more with kids younger than me that i still follow today. Arrested development, I guess.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

I posted into a couple Cat owner groups over on Yahoo and Delphi, mainly to find new audience for the comic I drew about my cat, Quincy. Just in case anyone from there ever comes here to see my blog, perhaps I should talk a bit about Quincy. Forgive me if I sound like just another nutty cat fanatic for a bit.
He's a male, fixed, just over 4 yrs old, spoiled, All Black charmer.
I named him Quincy, after the old Jack Klugman show. His full name is Quincy M.E.OW
He's the first pet I ever had that was "mine", as in I was the family member to pick him out and bring him home.
I rescued him from the pound when he was about 8 wks old. He'd been found stray by an older woman who just loved him, but couldn't keep him.
I went to the SPCA and saw three kittens in one cage together, two whites, and one black one. I wanted to check out one of white ones, but they were shy, and wouldn't come to the front. While I was leafing thru the paperwork on the cage, seeing their ages, where they were found, etc. , a little black paw reached thru the wires and grabbed my finger.
I looked into those eyes and changed my mind. I figured if this little guy was going to be the most out-going of the group, he deserved a home. I adopted the black one. Later on, when I saw how he prferred to attack only the white stuffed animals in my house. I realized that he had simply established himself as dominant over the two white kitties. Yes, Quincy was a RACIST! A cute, cuddly, little kitty racist!

BUt he quickly wormed his way into the hearts in our house, despite his character flaws.
He took to his litterbox immediately, and has an odd habit about it. Every time it's cleaned or scooped, he stands by to immediately "rechristen" it. I once tested this, and scooped the box three times in a row after he did his christenings. each time, he gave me a look, went back in, and did more business.
Quincy also has a fascination with the toilet, and how we humans use it. When he was still little, he liked to climb into my underwear and lounge in it like a hammock between my calves as i went "number two". When I had to piss, he'd stand by the bowl and watch. He was intrigued by the swirling waters when i flushed. I think he knows what the handle does.
Often, as I finish, he stands up, and rests his paws on the handle, but doesn't have the leverage to flush.

Sheesh! I just re-read this, and I sound like my Mom, who refers to herself as Quincy's "grandma". NO. I'll stop here and remember my self-admonition. I will not be "owned" by my cat. If Quincy wants to dominate, he can generate his share of the income. So, please, log into my ebay store, and buy some Quincy comic-books.
"blogger" was down earlier, when I had something i wanted to post. Now I can't quite remember it. By the way, it looks like to me the times on these posts are in West Coast time?
well, it's almost 3:00 pm as I type this, don't be misled that I'm blowing my Sunday lunchtime blogging. I'm in the Eastern U.S., so I'm wasting my Sunday AFTERNOON blogging.

If anybody reading knows how to change the time signature here, please e-mail me at
I just wanted to make a quick entry about one of my hobbies.

I collect "Tombstones".

No, I'm not some kind of Grave Robber. A "Tombstone" is a term used in the Newspaper business, for headlines that, when juxtaposed with another headline or a picture, take on another, often hilarious, and sometimes scandalous, meaning.

National Lampoon used to run them all the time in the "True Facts" section. (by the way, I recently discovered that NatLamp is alive and well...on the web. Go here.)

And Jay Leno does them as "HEADLINES", which is one of the few times in the week he's really funny. Here's an archive of them.

I find them in the papers, but I seem to see them the most often on Movie Marquees.
Here's one that I just saw today:


Just last week this same sign said, "What A Girl Wants - Old School - Holes",

and about a year ago, it said, "Josie & The Pussycats - Blow - Tomcats".

I see the most incredible things on days when I actually get away from the computer and leave the house.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

I watched Sixteen Candles again this morning. This is one of those films that I can watch over and over, and each time find something new. There are only a few movies that come to mind that stand up to repeated viewing as well as this one. I don't think it's the performance of Molly Ringwald. Some of her scenes seem forced. I think it's the characters around her that make the movie. Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong steals every scene he's in. And Anthony Michael Hall had the role of his career as Farmer Ted. His dialogue and delivery, particularly in the auto shop scene with Ringwald, and the kitchen scene with "Jake", make him wise beyond his years. He might not have the experience, but this guy's been reading his Playboys, and studying his Sean Connery James Bond films. He comes off like Linus in Peanuts, only less religious, and tinier.

And then in the scenes with his fellow Geeks, Cliff and Bryce (early John Cusack), he's like Moe Howard.

The other movies that I can watch over and over?
Ferris Beuler's Day Off (more John Hughes)
Young Frankenstein
Citizen Kane
Almost Famous
Raising Arizona
Miller's Crossing
The Hudsucker Proxy
Barbarians at the Gate
Kevin Smith's first five films
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
All That Jazz
Eight Men Out
The Usual Suspects
Pulp Fiction
Reservoir Dogs
Judas Kiss (for great performances by Til Schweiger and Carla Gugino)
Risky Business (Tom Cruise's last really great movie, but this makes my list as
the film that introduced Joey Pantoliano to the world, as "Guido, The Killer Pimp.
...and it had an understated performance by Bronson Pinchot, which we
came to appreciate later as a true rarity.)

......another thing about Sixteen Candles....Grandma and Grandpa Baker remind me of my own parents. Especially Grandma. I swear they modelled this prude after my Mom. (wink)

Right Now I'm listening to Iggy Pop's Brick by Brick, mainly because I remembered that one of the songs mentioned Superman. (I got involved in a discussion of comic-book songs yesterday on ) The song I was trying to remember was My Baby Wants to Rock and Roll.

Today, If I can stay off the boards long enough, I'm going to start pencilling out my next Jack Chick parody. I go to the MOCCA Comics Arts Festival in NYC in two weeks, and I need to have something NEW to Show. It's my compulsion, trying to have a new mini-comic for each show.

I'm also going to be dubbing a mixtape I got from Kathy Moseley, who does the zine Semi-Bold. She did a cool tape, all these punk and new-wave songs about names. fun listening.

This post has gone on long enough, so I will now leave you with this apropos line from the aformentioned Sixteen Candles:

"It's really human of you to listen to all my bullshit."

Friday, June 06, 2003

This is my interesting life. It's a mild Friday night in June, and I'm home blogging.

Well I'd go out and find something to do, but the StreetRodders are in town, and that means two things;
1) Lots of Traffic.

2) Crowds at all the best nightspots (all 2 of them) will be very thick.

The "street rodders" are members of the NSRA. Hot-Rod enthusiasts who hold their East Coast regional get-together in York every June. They come in by the thousands, in shiny, candy-colored, souped-up old pre-1950 sedans and roadsters. They are fun to watch, but they choke all the roads in town as they cruise along under the speed limit, being gawked at by the throngs of cheap York Countians who line the curbs in their lawnchairs, watching the traffic. Anything to avoid the admission charge at the Fairgrounds. My Aunt always warned me about the Thrifty York Countian. "You need to give them Two dollars worth of Service to separate them from their Dollar," she'd tell me.

It was a lesson I recalled every day in 1993 to 1996, when I ran my Comic Shop, Hey, Kids! Comics! ( I forgot to mention that in my last post, that I'd also been a Comic Shop Owner.) When you're a Retailer in the Comics Industry, you learn quickly how hard it is to get a customer to read something different, let alone get them to actually PAY for it.

Apparently, it's not a lesson I learned well, or I wouldn't be spending my life now Creating and Publishing comics. Especially Mini-Comics.

I promised I'd explain why I live at home now. At the end of 1992, the Air Force cut it's Officer Corps in half. Despite the fact that they'd just paid to send me to Grad School for the last 18 months, they decided to let me go , since I was always too close to my max weight.
(you know, it was less than a year before my 30th birthday. At age 30, I would have been allowed about 15 more lbs. More than enough to give me breathing room. I had grey hair already then. I started getting greys at age 14. I tried to convince them that my body was convinced it was already 30, but I couldn't squeek out another 8 months.)

That previous Spring, my Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. She had 5 to 10 years of continuing decline coming, the doctors said. I decided to return to York, even though it would make finding a job in Meteorology near impossible, so that i could be around if needed. I took my savings and a start-up loan, and opened my Comic Shop, putting my own collection up as the initial inventory. To keep living expenses low, so i could devote more funds to running the store, and to be even handier, I moved back in at home.

Well. It's been more than ten years, Mom's still around, they keep changing her medications every several months, and now the doctors are giving newly-diagnosed patients
at least 15 years. Mom has as many good days as bad now. But at least Dad is retired now, still healthy, and available to assist her, so I'm not needed as often.

Sometimes I think the doctors are just using Medicaire patients as Guinea Pigs for the new medications. I keep telling Mom when she freezes up that it's 90% mental attitude. I try to get her to visualize herself taking a step. To imagine herself at the end of the hallway, and tell me what she needs to do to get closer to it. I've asked Dad to request sessions with a physical therapist instead of new medication at the next Doctor visit.

Okay enough of that depressing stuff. Howabout some typical blog info?

last Movie I saw? Finding Nemo. Liked it. Don't want to wait until 11/2004 to see The Inevitables, though. I want it NOW!

next DVD I want to buy? Adaptation

last CD I got? Do You Swing? by The Fleshtones

listening to now? A mix tape from Ian Carney, writer of SLG's "Where's It At, Sugar Katt?", and "Pants Ant Trousers Hour". Lots of Glam, and punk, and cartoon songs. I just got it today. We're winding down our latest Mix-Tape Circle in an e-group I belong to for contributors to the anthology, "Not My Small Diary" check out Delaine's site

I'm also listening thru all the cool Halloween music I've gleaned in the past year, trying to decide what will make the cut for my annual Howl-O-Ween party-mix tape. My Special friends get copies of this, usually towards the end of Sept.

and this has become a big ramble of me typing to myself. I really need to log off now and spend the few hours before bed-time drawing something.

Howdy! I'm BenT! If you're reading this, you must be one of my two fans, because my Mom isn't computer literate. If i find a third fan, maybe someday we can all get together and play four squares some nice afternoon. I've got the balls for it.

You've probably linked here from my site. good.

If you haven't, go visit it now at I'm Nobody Famous, Dammit!

It's okay. I'll wait.

You're Back? Good.

I'm Ben T. Steckler. I'm 39. I'll be 40 July 10th. I'd like a Hooker for my birthday, please.

I'm 6-foot 2, about 210 lbs, with blue eyes, and preemie grey hair.

I'm into oddball music, obscure movies, Monster stuff, Pez, Tins, the Simpsons, kites, Terry Pratchett and Harlan Ellison, and cartooning.

I've been an Engineering Student, a meteorologist, a playground counselor, a T.V. salesperson, an Air Force Officer, a temperer in a Caramel Factory, a House Painter, and a Pizza Delivery guy. I'm now unemployed, and selling my mini-comics, which I've been creating since 1993, via conventions and the web. You couldn't make a living at it, but it gives me pocket money.

It's a good thing I'm single with no children. I am available, though, as long as the girl knows what she's getting into. I might be brilliant and handsome, but I'm almost 40, and
I'm back at Mom and Dad's house, where life is uncomplicated, and I won't be made into your fixer-upper project.

Hey-these blogs are for being open and honest, right?

I'll post more later about why I moved back home.