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Feel free to send me a copy of your zine for review.  Please e-mail me for my mailing address.  muzikman84@hotmail.com
We review all types of zines.

"Media Junky"- Issue 13- $1 or stamps- Jason Rodgers, PO Box 8512, Albany, NY, 12208, USA
 
Media Junky is basically a straightforward one-sheet deal that reviews various zines.  It's mandate is to provide "interconnections between the multitudes of points in the underground".  Zines reviewed have such titles as "Crazed Nation", "Vampiric Cold Blood", and "Miss Badass Peacock and The Phoenix".  A very mixed bag, to be sure!  Jason's reviews are intelligent and honest, and you can tell he has a real passion for all things underground.  If you want him to review your zine, send it to him, but be warned...he has no interest in websites, only print zines with a physical mailing address.
 
"Mind Bloating (And Everything Along With It)"- Volume 2, number 1, free, corenski@gmail.com
 
I was so happy to see that Corey had returned to zine making.  After putting his Mind Bloating zine on hiatus for a few years, it has made a triumphant return.  This is the 10th anniversary comeback issue, and as usual, we are treated to some great poetry, lots of cool clip art and some intriguing short stories.  I was very honoured to have one of my short pieces included in this issue!  The work of several writers is featured within, including Jordan Trethewey, Kyle B. Peters, and Corey himself.  I really respect Corey's passion and talent.  As he writes on the first page: "Zines are NOT dead, they are NOT a lost art".  Well said, my friend!
 
"The Tempest"- May 2010- $1- tempest.magazine@gmail.com
 
Discovering The Tempest was a huge joy for me.  Not only is it a great zine in general, but I was ecstatic to see that zines were actually still being published in my hometown of Saint John, NB.  Several issues have been published so far, and each one has a different theme.  For example, this is the "ocean issue", yet other copies have had themes like "the mall issue", "the lake monster issue", etc.  The writing within is always top-notch, and editor JW does a consistent job of keeping things whimsical and smart.  Usually a variety of writers are featured.  In this issue there are features about Partridge Island, and fables related to the sea.  The layout is very creative, and overall this is just a very cool, fun to read zine.  Keep an eye open for the next issue!
 
"Dysthymia-Mania"- poetry book- $?- corenski@hotmail.com  www.vagabondtrust.com
 
As I mentioned above in my review of Mind Bloating, Corey has a very impressive talent with words (and he is also quite prolific!).  This is a collection of his poetry, and in usual fashion, it is very quirky, intelligent and thought provoking.  Corey states in the introduction that the main theme of this collection is mental illness, and he warns the reader that much of the work is very dark and depressing.  Indeed, there does seem to be a recurring theme of sleep (and the lack thereof).  Being a nightowl for most of my life, I could certainly relate with this topic.  The word choice that Corey uses is often vivid and provocative.  For example, in "Yawn Inducer", he writes:  "So to speak, so to sleep...oh so weak/Wiggling loose the link, docile, meek./Go to work my yawn inducer machine".  We also are given images of someone who perhaps deals with social anxiety (yet another topic that myself and I'm sure many people can relate to).  We can see this in poems like "Fear of Her Warmth":  "Reclusiveness./Just how I like it./Jones-ing without caller ID./No contact with this realm or the next".  I always love the sheer honesty that Corey employs in his poetry.  Very well done.
 
"Psyonic Plastic Joy"- issue 15, Winter 2010, $2, Jason Rodgers, PO Box 8512, Albany, NY, 12208, USA
 
I recall this zine once being a much simpler, smaller affair, but it seems to have grown quite a bit over time.  This issue is published on newsprint, and resembles a small newspaper.  It remind sme of those arthouse publications that you often stumble across in big cities at various galleries and cafes.  There is a lot to take in in this issue, including lots of good artwork, a piece on cell phones, an interview with a performance artist named Reverend Billy, and some cool collage work.  This is as counter-cultural as it gets.  A very good zine that remains true to what zines are all about in the fist place:  being independent and doing your own thing.
 
"Some Misplaced Joan of Arc"- Leah Angstman- $5- Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.  alt.current@gmail.com 
 
I am always pleased to receive the latest work by Leah Angstman.  She is a poet par excellence, and her pen captures everyday people and places with a striking clarity.  Indeed, there are many poems about cats, bars, airports, and everyday debris.  Most of the poems are very strongly constructed and show the eye of a true observer.  I loved "America's TV Graveyard".  It perfectly captures the throwaway mentality of our society, and how permanence is a rare commodity these days.  "Stealing Some Time" is another excellent reflection on the modern citizen, and how we all are alone and yet at the same time, we bare a certain sense of uneasiness and tension.  In a sense, we are all being stalked, if not by a physical presence, an imagined one.  This is truly the work of a very gifted writer.
 
"Poiesis"- number three- $5- alt.current@gmail.com
 
Alternating Current always does a fine job of purveying some damn good poetry, and nowhere is this more evident than with their publication called "Poiesis".  This is a collection of poetry by a variety of poets from all over the world.  They are always seeking submissions, so why not send them your work?  Many of the poems included are very well done, and they cover a wide range of subject matter.  A couple of my personal favorites include "April First" by David L. Tickel (a nervous ode to intrusion) "Killing Time In A Diner" by Paul David Thomas.  This poem does a fine job of reflecting that fine art of killing time, something we have become all too familiar with in modern society.  We're all just waiting for time to run out.  "Poiesis" is an awesome collection of poetry by a fascinating blend of poets.
 
"Wide To Receive"- issues one and two- free- wide2rec@gmail.com
 
This new zine, subtitled "Pop and Retro Culture In Review" is absolutely wonderful.  Of course, being someone who has an infinite passion for all things retro, this is right up my alley.  Within these colourful pages, we are treated to a highly entertaining mix of television, film and music reviews.  And I love how this zine embraces the obscure, and doesn't make fun of it.  In issue one, we are treated to pieces about "In Search Of..." (remember this show, hosted by none other than Leonard Nimoy?), Swatch watches (anyone who grew up in the 80s certainly remembers this fad), and a great article featuring readers' recommendations for various TV shows, music, films, video games and shopping.  There are also some very well written rviews of various comics and graphic novels.  Issue 2 is also excellent.  Here we have a superb article about "Dark Shadows", a fun piece about Doc Marten boots, a loving tribute to Harvey Pekar, great CD and book reviews, and some very cool recollections of Fan Expo 2010 which was held in Toronto.  And did I mention that they even include a bag of Earl Grey tea inside the back cover?!  This is undeniably an outstanding zine made with passion and a refreshing acceptance of fandom.  One of the best zines I've seen in ages!!!
 
"Twice The Terror: The Horror Zine"- Volume Two- edited by Jeani Rector- $17.95-
 
Wow.  I was incredibly impressed with the first volume of The Horror Zine, yet issue two is even better.  Again, the reader is treated to a selection of short stories and poetry written by various talented writers from around the globe.  Jeani states that the misson of this publication is to "promote struggling writers, poets and artists".  Make no mistake, this is exactly what this book does, and it does it amazingly well.  Jeani should be awarded for all her hard work and dedication.  There is not a bad piece of writing in this entire collection, and there are also many examples of fantastic artwork.  The tone of the work is eerie, dark, and frightening, and the quality of the work is just about professional.  As I mentioned before, I would hesitate to actually call this effort a "zine", since it is so professionally produced (and long...this issue is almost 400 pages!).  If you are a fan of Stephen King and other writers of that ilk, do yourself a favour and order this book.  You will not be disappointed!
 
"Le Bathyscaphe"- June 2009- $5- le.bathyscaphe@gmail.com
 
This is an interesting journal published in Montreal.  The contents are arty, with lots of little pieces of rococco art, and this comes across as basically a very professional zine.  The articles and poetry are written in both English and French, and I believe this is the first publication I have ever seen that is actually bilingual.  I liked the piece "100 Neckties" by Sarah Gilbert, and "Tout va Bien" by Romy Ashby is also very good.  In essence, this kind of reminds me a bit of a bilingual Broken Pencil, except there are no zine reviews.  This is a very intelligent publication which appears to be written by a very talented group of young writers.
 
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"And Now The Nightmare Begins:  The Horror Zine".
Edited by Jeani Rector
 
As stated in the intro to this publication:  "The Horror Zine's mission is to provide a venue in which writers, poets, and artists can exhibit their work".  Without question, this is a work of great passion.  Jeani has poured her heart and soul into this.  In fact, at first glance this doesn't even look like a "zine" at all.  It is very slick and professional, and well worth the cover price of $16.95.
 
Inside there are several short stories and poetry by a variety of authors from around the globe.  And overall, the quality of the writing is top-notch.  There are also many examples of exquisite artwork interspersed amongst the written word.  As I read this, I couldn't help but notice an old-school horror influence (more specifically, the late 70's/early 80's brand).  If you grew up reading "Fangoria", you'll love this.
 
Works inside volume 1 include "Folks Don't Always Come Out of Ratwitch Cave The Same" by Lawrence Barker.  This is a good piece to open the volume.  It is realistic with good characters, abounding with a sense of rural myth and a rich country folk lexicon.  "I'm Coming To Get You" by Jason D. Brawn is an example of art intruding on life.  This reminded me of my own larger-than-life childhood fears.  And I had to smile at the charming ending.  "The Silent Years" by Trevor Denyer is short and concise.  It too does a very good job of tapping into our primal childhood fears of the dark.
 
Editor Jeani Rector also does a fine job with "The Bus Station".  It is immediately captivating and pulls the reader along a voyage into insanity.  It is stylistically intense.  As proven before, the road less traveled can indeed be a perfect setting for horror.
 
This publication offers an excellent mix of styles, and is very well assembled.  It features the well known and the not so well known.  They are always accepting submissions, so why not send them your work?  If you are a casual fan of the horror genre or a downright fanatic, this zine is guranteed to please.

"Political Prisoners"- Raymond Sapienza    Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    www.alt-current.com 
 
This is book 6 in a series of miniature pocket books called Pocket Protectors.  I really respect Propaganda Press- they've built an impressive body of indie literature in a relatively short period of time.  And much of this work by Sapienza is very heady, serious stuff.  It's good to see poets who are not afraid to engage in the difficult.  Certainly, many of the poems are concerned with political injustice, and Sapienza handles this subject with a very able, intelligent pen.  I also applaud Sapienza for placing a sharp eye on sociological error.  His poetry tends to be blunt yet informed, especially with a work such as "One":  "the suffering of/millions is but a number,/a statistic on the evening news;/till that of a friend forms the/common denominator."  Very well said.  This is the work of someone with a firm pulse on the modern dilemma, exposing it in all its ugly glory.
 
"The Light of Fields"- Michael Kriesel    Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    www.alt-current.com 
 
This is book 7 in the Pocket Protector series.  What caught my attention right away is the fact that this was originally printed in 1982.  I am always intrigued by past works being given a new breath of life.  And in this case, the rebirth is sincerely deserved.  Right away, the tone is set by a quote from the author himself:  "The measure of a soul is its ability to love against the world's impermanence".  Kriesel is evidently very gifted at taking his observations and distilling them into heartfelt, resonant poems.  It should also be noted that a recurring motif of nature seems to play a key role in his poetic ruminations.  A winning vulnerability is at play here.  For example, in the title poem Kriesel states:  "I love you/ and lie down in your fields/unafraid of grass rising to cover me".   Fans of Emile Zola will no doubt love this work.
 
"No One Gains Weight In The Shoulders"- Leah Angstman      Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    www.alt-current.com 
 
Leah Angstman should be given a medal for all her hard work.  As the head honcho at Propaganda Press, she has worked tirelessly championing the works of countless very talented writers.  As a poet herself, her work is captivating and honest.  As I read poems like "A Bronchitis Story", wherein Leah tells her audience about her dealing with that affliction at a very early age, I was vividly taken back to that time myself.  Her imagining that she had super powers was something that I (and I'm sure many people) could relate with right away.  Her take on "Airports" is also fascinating and funny:  "(Airports) are the ultimate local television show/the cartoon people not realizing/they are on the screen".  Indeed, like many great poets, Angstman finds inspiration in everyday people and places, from "The Bored Wife", to a girl named "Lizz", to a wonderful peek at a bar in Boston called "Bukowski Tavern, Cambridge, Massachussetts, Spring of 2008".  I thoroughly enjoyed her portraits of such places and people.  Her style is real, vivid and beautifully true.
 
"Poiesis"- Number 2- Various authors     Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    www.alt-current.com 
 
This is a fascinating collection of poetry, culled by Leah over a six month period.  A real variety of authors and styles are represented.  Apparently Poiesis is published twice a year: January and July.  This is a real "mixed bag", but that only makes the overall book that much more interesting.  As I have come to expect, the poetry within is top-notch.  Angstman seems to be very adept at selecting high quality poems.  Several poems are bound to leave an impression on the reader.  One in particular that I enjoyed was "The Rosebud" by Jason Fisk.  In it he recounts an encounter with a girl who was a part of his life years previous, but now in the aisles of Target, he admits to small talk being "our armor".  Other poems such as "An Artist's Night Out" by Joseph Veronneau paints an accurate and funny image of artistic snobbery.  "Bargains" is another excellent selection by David S. Pointer, bound to appeal to thrift store junkies like me.  I could go on endlessly about countless other exceptional poems in this publication, but why don't you just do yourself a favor and order a copy from Propaganda Press.  Oh yes, I also must give Leah two huge kudos, one for her rendition of Gwen Stacy on the cover, and her nod to Hayden Carruth on the final page.

"[untitled]"- justin.barrett   $7.00- Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    alt-current.com 
 
justin.barrett seems to be a poet with a penchant for crafting perceptive and quirky observations of modern relationships.  He is indeed a writer with a keen eye for subtleties that perhaps other poets may take for granted.  "after the lull" is a prime example, as it illustrates a lingering magic that stands, despite "a wall that separated us".  This preoccupation with relationships continues in "C. called last night", in fact it is here, and in many other poems included, that disfunction runs rampant.  Most of the poems provoke thought, whereas some simply pass by on a whimsical breeze.  "outside my back window" is another brief glimpse of brilliance, sporting an economy of words yet so much feeling.  barrett also seems to enjoy using dialogue in many of his works, and he does a fine job exploring the understated meaning that is often implied with the spoken word.  barrett, in fact, seems to sum up his own unique approach best in the final line of the final poem, "what matters most", concerning William Carlos Williams and his famous red wheel barrow: "it's the fact that he noticed".  barrett also does a great job of noticing.
 
 
"Sweet and Sour"- Ed Galing- $6.00- Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    alt-current.com 
 
Every so often, a book like this will come along and have a very profound impact on me.  Mr. Galing is a 90 year old man who professes in his introduction, "I have a lot to say and don't have time to be cutesy about it".  This sums up his approach perfectly; his work is honest, to the point and refreshing.  This collection of poetry is punctuated with memorable moments from a long, vivid life.  He writes about his first sexual encounter at 16 in "Sex and Pity".  Here, as with many of his poems, Galing hits you directly in the face with his utter truthfulness.  "Calling My Son" says more about family disfunction and tension than anything I've seen in a long while.  "Sweet and Sour" is full of unforgettable imagery from a forgotten New York cityscape, replete with stoops and street corners.  I am absolutely honored and delighted to have experienced Galing's wisdom.  I feel like I understand life a little more every time I read this.
 
 
"These Poems Are Not Pink Clouds"- Timothy Gager
Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    alt-current.com 
 
Gager writes poetry that is often cryptic and ambiguous, and thankfully open to multiple interpretations.  I was immediately taken with his great craftsmanship with words, and his manipulation of highly imagistic lines, such as those used in "Harvard Square":  "the used clothing store existed right there and a beaded dress made you more beautiful than a haunted gypsy".  I also appreciated a sense of mystery that ran through many of his poems.  They are often dream-like and fascinating.  "bull" possesses a beauty (and frankness) that depicts an ultimate truth that is ultimately hard to accept:  "We don't know we are alone at birth after the cord is cut".  Very well said.  Gager does an exceptional job of capturing and commenting on places, times, memories and people with grace and skill.
 
 
"Portraits"- B.Z. Niditch  
Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    alt-current.com 
 
Each poem in "Portraits" is dedicated to a different writer, artist, or musician.  This collection has no shortage of beautiful wordplay.  Each poem is a snapshot (a highly evocative image, at that) of that artists' world, at the peak of their creativity.  And to Niditch's credit, he does an uncanny job capturing the feel and mood of said artist's work in his own poetry.  No small task indeed.  For example, I was quite delighted to read "Kurosawa", as I have admired this filmmaker's work for years.  Niditch captures the feel of the Japanese master's films with an undeniable tangibility.  The author is obviously incredibly well read, and his love for each artist's style comes through undeniably.  Wide in scope and abundant in literary respect, this is a unique and engaging work.
 
 
"A Sound To Drive Away The Coming Darkness"- Christopher Cunningham.
Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    alt-current.com 
 
Cunningham's poetry often features a descriptive analysis of day-to-day surroundings.  The words are simple and direct, with an overall lack of any sort of poetic fancifulness.  But perhaps that was intentional.  There is without question an inherent beauty and candidness in many of the poems, yet several works simply do not leave a distinct impression.  Once in a while, a perceptive and profound streak will come seeping through in poems like "many things are the same":  "two thousand years and the blood still flows while we wait".  Subtlety in poetry can be a very useful tool, but there tends to be too much of it here.  Some poems definitely tap into thought-provoking territories, whereas others seem to be pointless.  After reading this, I get the impression that Cunningham is a very good poet on his way to becoming an excellent poet.
 
 
"Nowhere, Utah"- justin.barrett
Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge, MA, 02139.  alt.current@gmail.com    alt-current.com 
 
This is a miniature pocket book of poetry that comes from a series.  Here we have more of barrett's poetic portraits of young folk in love.  Throughout, there is an abundance of grasps, embraces, glances, and unspoken thoughts between supposed lovers.  In fact, the muse for barrett's writing is more often than not a member of the fairer sex.  I appreciated barrett's embrace of fragility, especially in poems like "interstate accident".  We all manage in our own inexplicable ways to elude death, some of us with more luck than others.  Poems like "sometimes, even sunshine" are brilliant.  Any 30-something could relate with this theme of how things change.  "your best childhood memory" is another brief yet well crafted poem.  barrett's observations of his world and its occupants is so well done and intriguing.
 
 
 
 
 
 

"Eighteen: The Horror Movie Magazine"- volume 3- $3.00- jayanxiety@yahoo.com- 14 Kingsway Crescent, St Catherine's, ON, L2N 1A6 Canada

Eighteen is an excellent zine for anyone who has an interest in horror films. Jay's strong interest and love for the genre is evident on every page. In this issue we have an interview with Gaylen Ross (star of Dawn of the Dead), Judith O'Dea from Night of the Living Dead ("They're coming to get you Barbara!!!"), an article on zombie films worth seeing, and numerous other goodies. This was put together with so much passion. I loved this zine from start to finish. Highly recommended for fans of the horror genre.

"Cause and Effect"- issue four- February 2008- $5.00- PO Box 15329, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93406-5329, USA

Cause and Effect is "a journal of art, pop and words". I was very impressed with the high caliber of work included in this journal, plus the overall excellent quality of the layout and look. Inside there are numerous works of art from various contributors. Included is poetry, photos, artwork, short stories and various other materials. The theme of this issue, as indicated by the illustration of the cross on the cover, is religion. The talent offered here is top-notch, and I get the distinct impression that a great amount of painstaking effort and passion went into this publication. Cause and Effect is insightful, intelligent and thought provoking. Very well done.

"Instant Pussy"- #13- April 2007- no contact information given, just this URL: ebulliencepress.blogspot.com

I've seen many, many zines like this over the years. Basically this is a hodgepodge of random clip art (much of the clip art being of a pornographic nature), short stories, reviews, etc. I'm not sure if there's supposed to be any sort of unifying theme to this. Raunchy, illicit sexual encounters? Perhaps its randomness is supposed to be the theme. Some of the poetry within is good, others not so good. Certainly not a bad zine, but not really my thing. Check this out if you like your zines a little on the seedy side.

"Rotten Life"- issue 5- $3- I Press On Zine Distro, PO Box 1611, Santa Cruz, CA, 95061-1611, USA

This is a punk rock zine. After reading many punk rock zines over the course of several years, I can say that this is one of the better ones. First of all, I would really like to applaud this zine for taking the time to type almost all the text within. I'm so sick of punk rock zines with illegible hand written text! This one is rather clean with an eye friendly layout (although that's not to say that the design has no edge, it does). I loved the real, honest tone that shows up in many of the articles, for example, Philip Knowles' piece about The Fuck-Ups. There are many interviews, zine reviews, book reviews, and plenty of DIY attitude. The spirit of this zine can be summed up in one line by the publisher Bran Scam: "I live in Tuba City, AZ, which is a small town with a shitload of punk girls". I look forward to future issues of this zine!

"Psychlone"- #12- April 2008- $2 for postage/trade- Steve Marlow, 733 Gleneagles Drive, Kamloops, BC, V2E 1J7

It's alway a great pleasure to get the latest issue of Psychlone in my mailbox. Steve is one of those characters from the fascinating zine world with an able pen and a knowledge of music and pop culture that is impeccable. This is called the "Godless Roommate From Hell" issue (one of the stories featured being by yours truly). This issue also features a lengthy article listing wrestling obituaries (wrestling being a subject Steve is quite fond of), an article entitled "How Trent Reznor Killed Industrial Music", and a lengthy article on atheism versus Christianity. Steve has a style that is all his own, and Psychlone does a great job reflecting that. A very smart, unique zine.

"In Between Zine"- #3- January 2008- $3 or trade- James N. Dawson, PO Box 613, Redwood Valley, CA, 95470, USA

Here we have another excellent zine from James, a man who has done immeasurable work in the zine community over the years. I am always fascinated by the ramblings that emanate from James' mind. One example of this would be his suggestion for an underground post office, as a method of bypassing the hefty fees currently offered by the official postal service. James and I also share a mutual fascination for the unexplained and the downright bizarre. He writes about his memories of the Rebbie Jackson video for "Centipede" (I remember that one!). As usual, there are plenty of reviews of bargain bin movie finds, zine reviews, music reviews, and a general leaning towards the obscure. Another fantastic zine by an auteur of the field.

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"Gettin' Somewhere Is For Slackers"- (random story book 5)- $2.00- Christopher Robin, PO Box 1611, Santa Cruz, CA, 95061-1611, USA.

I found the title of this little zine a bit misleading, especially when I started to read the contents. If anything, Christopher Robin strikes me as anything BUT a slacker. Inside we are basically presented with a series of journal entries, in which Christopher fills the reader in on what he's been up to lately. And it seems like he's been up to A LOT! Seriously, I thought I was a busy guy. From what I read in this zine, this guy never stops. And I applaud him. We are treated to detailed accounts of his involvement with protests, how he cultivates seeds, his adventures on the internet, poetry readings and his lucrative day at a flea market. I've read many of Christopher's zines in the past, and he always manages to keep me enthralled. He has a very honest, to-the-point and "slice of life" style that I can appreciate. I look forward to more of his work.

"Fuzzy Lunch Box"- issue #1- $?- Fuzzy Lunch Box, 309 Cedar Street, #34, Santa Cruz, CA, 95062, USA.

This one is a real winner. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end, and during most of that time, I had a big goofy grin plastered on my face. One thing that always rubbed me the wrong way about many zines was the fact that many of them tend to be so jaded, bitter and self-pitying. But this one is none of that. Inside we are treated to amusing and honest stories regarding plastic surgery, adventures at summer camp, internet dating, and Disney. Yep, it's a real mixed bag (yet another reason why I love it). Plus, I adored the lists that are smack dab in the middle of the zine ("Favorites", which includes "finding CDs you thought were gone forever"). Plus, I could totally relate with Deborah's "Why I Don't Go To The Movies". I don't go that often either! All in all, a very likable zine.

"3160"- issues 1 and 2- $?- Allen Barnes, J-50888, 2B 507/ PO Box 715071, Represa, CA, 95671, USA.

Initially, I liked the look of this zine. It has that classic zine look to it....all cut and paste, hand written, no computer fonts to be found. Nice and raw. Much of this zine purports to be all about the punk lifestyle, which I also find very cool, but to be honest, after reading both issues of this zine I was struck by how amazingly angry much of the writing is. I'm not kidding, the people behind this zine strike me as probably some of the most caustic and vitriolic people you could possibly meet. Then again, looking back on my own involvement in punk music many years ago, I tended to be pretty hateful as well. I think the thing is, I've grown up, and even though I still carry many of those ideals, I'm just not as ready to break out my brass knuckles as I was back then. Having said that, this zine is definitely worthwhile. Lots of little rants, zine reviews, clip art, and a definite punk rock attitude. Not surprisingly, issue one begins and ends with a firey diatribe about who the writer hates. I guess I'm just too laid back at this point in my life to find an excessive amount of hate that interesting, but that's not to say that this zine isn't worthy. If you pride yourself on being a true punk, you'll probably love this.

"Zen Baby"- issue 18- $2.00- Christopher Robin, Po Box 1611, Santa Cruz, CA, 95061-1611, USA.

Here we have another issue of Christopher Robin's venerable zine, and as always, it proves to be a powerhouse. This zine is PACKED with attitude, life, intelligence and ziney goodness. It is a smorgasbord, loaded with clip art, letters from folks who read his zine, poems, drawings, and a ton of contact information for other zinesters from all over the nation. What I enjoy most about this zine is its unpredictable nature...it jumps from subject to subject, and presents a variety of writing styles from a wide array of writers. I also applaud Christopher for making the layout nice and clear and easy to read, which is not always the case with zines like this. It is a very visually appealing, full size A4 zine. This tends to be a fascinating, multi-textured read. Highly recommended.

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"Fibre Optic Entrapment"- Corenski Nowlan corenski@hotmail.com

These days, it goes without saying that we are ultimately at the hands of technology. In this poetry book, Corenski Nowlan takes a look at the omnipresence of fibre optics, and how we have become slaves of the technology. This is a collection of poems which addresses this issue with a skeptical and questioning tone. There is an underlaying sadness (however subtle) at work here; a chilly exposition of the fact that technology has served to disconnect. The emptiness of modern society is implicit in this book. The contradiction is that these brave new devices were thought to bring us closer together, yet actually it has brought about the opposite. Nowlan writes with a quirky intellectualism...he essentially takes the initial observations of Marshall MacLuhan and updates them. MacLuhan may have made a faint prediction about a thing called the internet, yet Nowlan exposes it for all it's up-to-date ugly glory. This book is indeed a twisty, obscure and jarring journey through the modern technological landscape. Nowlan does not hand the reader the answer to this curious fibre optic problem. At times the poems are non-sensical, yet they always stand as thought provoking. The work is multi-layered and open to numerous interpretations. Keen observations of a changing landscape can be seen throughout, especially in "My Land": "Burial ground cremations to make way for multiplex" and "Map made easy, satellites stubborn to surrender". Yet despite this chilly tone, the book manages to end on a positive note. The last line of the last poem ("That's Why") illustrates this: "That's why love can be free and maybe forever...". Maybe there is hope after all. This is the work of a brave soul and true poet.

*A note about zines: (October 2nd, 2007)

I can't help but notice that over the past year or so, the amount of zines that I find in my mailbox has dropped DRAMATICALLY. There has been much talk recently that zines are dying a quick death. At first I just ignored all this talk, as I've heard such rumours many times in the past. But I fear that this time there is truth to the rumours. Many zinesters (including myself) have made the move to the internet, which is much cheaper and easier. This also makes sense to me, since it is also a more environmentally friendly move. Anyway, I'm sure there are still many great zines out there, and maybe the fact that I have been receiving fewer zines is due more to the fact that I am much more distanced from the scene now than I was in the past. Who knows. Anyway, I don't have many zine reviews to report, yet hopefully that will change the next time I update this website.

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"Thin Little Arms Build Castles"- Valerie Webber- Big Baby Books- 2006- bigbabybooks@videotron.ca

I was so happy to recently re-connect with my friend Val, whom I hadn't spoken to in ages. It was a pleasure to run into her, unexpectedly, at a theatrical production in Fredericton that was being put on by my other friend Corenski (the three of us go way back). :) She handed me a copy of this small publication, and I was severely impressed, as always. As some of you may know, Val has been doing independent publications and zines for years, and her poetry is vividly profound. She addresses topics that are infinitely pertinent, and there is always a wisdom underlaying her work that is unforgettable. Her perceptiveness and talent with words is evident in poems like "I Have Been Colonized", where she writes: "I have been colonized. Everything has your flag stabbed into it, and I can't move the way I used to". Val is a modern folklorist; her poetry speaks volumes of the modern age and all its victims.

Lignin Diadem- Genevieve Dellinger and Valerie Webber- 2005- Big Baby Books- bigbabybooks@videotron.ca

This is a collection of poetry by two very talented writers, Genevieve Dellinger and Valerie Webber. As mentioned above, I have known Valerie for quite some time and have been a fan of her work for ages. Yet the work of Dellinger is new to me. Sometimes, when two artists are featured in one publication, there is the risk that neither one compliments the other very well. But that is not the case here. Both of these poets deliver truth in a delightfully obscured package. These are essentially reports from an interior landscape. Val delivers her typically strong and evocative way with words: "...but big open fields break loose (or rather, their captives) who dance at the base of trees where the snow has begun to melt". Dellinger also displays a knack for addressing an inner truth, and presenting those observations with poignancy and style: "If we could swim in their rivers, if we could compose their songs". This is without question a heady collection of well crafted poetry that will stay with the reader for a long time. The collected work of both of these poets induces ruminations, and, quite rewardingly, new insights on this condition known as "being human".

"A Mix Zine"- James N. Dawson, PO Box 613, Redwood Valley, CA, 95470, USA. One-off? Trade?

I was ecstatic to get this curious, hand-made publication from my good friend James. I had no idea what to make of it at first, but upon closer inspection I was delighted. This is basically something that James put together by hand, which features a hodgepodge of photocopied magazine articles, letters, comics, and e-mails. The end result is very amusing to read. Within we have an article about the marketing of hip, another article detailing problems with the music industry, a reprint of a classic 1971 DC horror comic, plenty of correspondence, and much more. I will cherish this "mix zine" for years to come. It is one of those things that you can tell was assembled with lots of passion and care. Make a mix-zine for someone today! It is such a perfect representation of who you are!

PS I would also like to mention that James sent me a copy of "Junk Zine", which is essentially a few pieces of paper stapled together. It features more reprints of letters that James has received, as well as contact information for numerous other zinesters.

"Weirdness Before Midnight"- issue 5- $?- Dave Szurek, 505 North F, #829, Aberdeen, Washington, 98520-2601 USA

I was very happy to find this zine in my mailbox. Basically, it's primary focus is on horror films, especially b-grade, low budget, forgotten and obscure horror films. I was never a huge fan of the horror genre, however I can totally appreciate the obsessive passion that Dave exhibits for this subject. There are many clippings of various low budget movie posters, and Dave also seems to be fascinated with UFOs and aliens. There's also a perzine element to the zine that I liked, in which we are treated to memoirs from Dave's past as well as his ongoing medical issues such as pancreatitis. I hope Dave feels better soon, and I hope he keeps giving us this excellent zine.

"Media Junky"- issue 3- $1/stamp/nice letter- Jason Rodgers, PO Box 138, Wilton, NH 03086 USA

I have been in touch with Jason for quite some time now, and I have really grown to like his zines. He consistently presents a writing and visual style that is highly worthwhile. His zine reviews are concise and honest, and I find that his zines are a great resource for discovering other people's zines as well. Media Junky is a brief affair, just a few pages, consisting of zine and music reviews. Yet it acts as a fine compliment to his much longer zine "Psionic Plastic Joy". Jason is one of those intelligent, open-minded and conscientious people that make the zine universe such an interesting place.

"Junk Zine"- issue 2- trade- James N. Dawson, PO Box 613, Redwood Valley, CA 95470, USA

This is a side project by my friend James N. Dawson. James' main zine is called "JND Pseudo Zine", which I have been a fan of for many years. James has stated before that the space between issues of that zine are getting wider and wider (I can certainly relate), so every so often he will produce mini zines like this one to fill in the gaps. Here, we are treated to correspondence that James has received, as well as his reply, as well as a very interesting piece by R.D. Scull called "Soldiers". There is also some contact information for various zines and publications. I always love getting something in my mailbox from James, even if it is quite brief like this. I sincerely enjoy (and relate with) his focus on the obscure and the underground.

"Zine World"- issue 23- $3 US, $4 Canada- PO Box 330156, Murfreesboro, TN, 37133-0156, USA

I had heard about Zine World from numerous people over the years, but I had never actually gotten around to picking up a copy. I finally decided to take the plunge and order the most recent issue. I must say that I was quite impressed. In all honesty, I haven't been very enthused about the last few issues of Broken Pencil, and neither have many of my fellow zinesters. So, I felt obligated to seek an alternative. Zine World fits the bill perfectly. It is comprised of many articles, often written with a highly critical tone, and often focusing on political issues. I was actually not very used to this at first, since it seemed to me that Broken Pencil is more concerned with art shows and underground film fests in the Toronto area and less concerned with a political agenda. There are loads of reviews, which, for the most part, strike me as being very frank and well written. Also, the editors display a direct honesty, yet they are not rude, which I really respect. This is an excellent publication for anyone interested in keeping up to date on all the latest zines.

"Zen Baby"- #16- $2- Christopher Robin, PO Box 1611, Santa Cruz, CA, 95061-1611 USA

Every so often I get my hands on one of those zines that displays an utter honesty and warped intelligence that totally interests me. "Zen Baby" is just that kind of zine. Of course, we've seen a lot of this before in other zines: weird clip art, collages, articles dealing with politics and pop culture, and loads of obscure poetry. Yet the difference with "Zen Baby" is that it pulls it all together without being passive or wishy washy. Christopher is constantly "in your face" with this zine, even during articles and submissions that he himself didn't write. I got the impression that Christopher (and most of his contributors) are a brave young bunch who are not content to sit on their laurels. They do not hesitate to ask the big questions, and I applaud them for that. This is a great, free spirited zine that celebrates the joys of being utterly independent.

"The Sound of Slack"- $2- Christopher Robin, PO Box 1611, Santa Cruz, CA, 95061-1611 USA

Christopher hesitates to call this a collection of poetry, rather, he prefers to call them short stories. Whatever you decide to call them, this is an excellent, off beat view into Christopher's world. And it is a fascinating world indeed. We are treated to quirky interpretations of his personal life: "You'd think after 14 and a half years of not being kissed A man would be less picky". I was also fascinated about Christopher's examinations on the aging process: "my six year old friend asks me: are you a kid or a grownup? What does that technically mean?". By the end of this, I felt like I knew Christopher for years, and I felt like I was part of his circle of friends. That, I think, is definitely the mark of a good writer. Christopher speaks with a brilliant honesty and perceptiveness that is awesome. I look forward to reading more of his "stories".



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In Between Zine- Number 2- $2- James N. Dawson, PO Box 613, Redwood Valley, CA, 95470

There's a certain quality to James' zines that makes me feel very much welcomed and relaxed as I read them. Kind of like slipping on an old pair of comfortable jeans. There are no airs in James' writing. He doesn't try to be hip or cool. He doesn't try to hide the fact that he has a mistrust for computers and the internet. He is up front about his love for obscure, low budget, forgotten movies and his love for outdated technologies. There's lots in issue two of this great zine to enjoy. There's an interesting little piece about the supposed death of zine culture, lots of reviews of discarded bargain bin finds, many letters he has recieved from his fellow zine pals, and a piece called "Incident at Albertson's" that made me laugh out loud. Thank goodness for humble, sincere zinesters like James who aren't afraid to be a bit nerdy. Plus, an even bigger bonus with his zines is the fact that the man can write very well, with the voice of someone who has a true passion for the obscure. This zine is great.

"The Curmudgeon"- #1- August 2006- trade- marlsj23@yahoo.com

Here we have a new zine from Steve Marlow, the force behind the excellent Psychlone zine. As Steve explains on the first page, he felt it was necessary to create a new zine strictly for reviews, since Psychlone takes almost a year to produce, and by the time it is released many of the reviews are outdated. I think many zinesters can relate!
This zine follows pretty much the same layout and look as Psychlone. But again, it's pretty much just reviews. I like Steve's writing style a lot. He is very upfront, and he pulls no punches. There are several zine reviews, book reviews, film reviews, CD reviews, etc. And I really enjoyed the "Retro Reviews" section, which is right up my alley. Steve writes with a voice that is intelligent and well informed. Excellent job.

"DeHondenkoekjesfabriek"- issues 17 and 18- $?- tellab@xs4all.nl

I'm not sure who the forces are behind this collective, but they seem to be highly creative and open minded people who happily reside in the valley of the avant-garde. Everytime I get items from this Netherlands based artist, I know it will be wildly off the beaten path.
These are two issues of a zine loaded with a little bit of everything. Lots of ultra-weird hand drawn illustrations, plenty of photocopied contact information for zinesters around the world, poetry, clip art, and typical underground weirdness. Much of it is written in Dutch, so I have no clue what is being said, but if you are into this long-standing tradition of cut n' paste, abstract zines, then pick up a copy. I'm not as into this style as I was, say, 7 years ago, but I can still appreciate it. Doing zines like this is often a thankless job, and typically most folks have no idea how much hard work and passion it takes to do this sort of thing, so for that alone I give this person my utmost respect.


NEW ZINE REVIEWS COMING SOON!!!

OLD REVIEWS:

Breakfast- issue 4- $3- Vincent Voelz, 575 12th Ave, #3, San Francisco, CA, 94118

I was pleased as punch to get this zine in the mail. The title says it all...basically what we have here is a zine dedicated to Vincent's favorite meal. And this is so lovingly assembled and written, I think I may just have found a new appreciation for breakfast! (I was never a big breakfast eater, in fact to this day my breakfast typically consists of a granola bar and a glass of juice. I just don't have a big appetite in the morning). In this issue we have extensive coverage of donuts (they even allude to the Krispy Kreme invasion of Canada, and how important donuts are to us Canucks!). There's lots of cool photos of various diners, a farmer's market review, recipes, and a detailed guide to the best places to eat breakfast in San Francisco. This is written in a very friendly, disarming style, and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Check out this great zine!


In Between Zine- #1- $1.50- James N. Dawson, PO Box 613, Redwood Valley, CA, 95470.

Here we have a zine that James decided to put out as a stepping stone between his usual zine "JND Pseudo Zine". As usual, I enjoyed this zine (and just about anything James puts out) immensely. From the cool, retro 1950s cover image of an astronaut walking on the surface of some far-off planet to the rococco image on the back cover, this pulled me right in. As usual, James likes to discuss his politics, his love of old technologies, plus I love how he discusses weird, obscure music videos that he caught in passing. There are also lots of zine reviews, music reviews, and more than a few nods to the supernatural and the unexplained. There's also lots of ads and contact information for a variety of zinesters.

Xeens and Things- #17- $3- address same as above.

This is yet another of James's great zines. Luckily, us in the zine community who are big fans of James's work have been blessed with some great output over the past year or so. This zine is no exception. I like the old typewriter look in this, it just has a very "old fashioned" and welcoming quality to it. I also like how James shares stories about the plight of getting zines printed at a decent price (much of this was all too familiar to me!). Of course, we get the usual healthy dose of zine reviews, music reviews, reviews of bargain bin videos, and tons of correspondence that James has received from readers around the globe. Seems I'm not the only one who loves getting mail from folks!

Psychlone- #10- trade/$1-$2- Steve Marlow, 733 Gleneagles Dr, Kamloops, BC, V2E 1J7, Canada

This zine also proves to be a consistent favorite of mine. Steve writes in a very honest, to-the-point style that I appreciate. In this issue we have all the typical elements of interest that seem to fascinate Steve: pro wrestling, politics, travel stories, literary, film and music reviews, plus a great feature on the awesome band They Might Be Giants. Psychlone always proves to be a very intelligent, well written and well assembled zine. Recommended.

The Morning Dew Review- #1- $2.50- PO Box 938, Lewisporte, NL, Canada, A0G 3A0

The Morning Dew Review is a lovingly put together zine that is a delight to look at. This publication basically consists of "haiku and other Asian poetic styles". The poetry is indeed very engaging, and you can tell that the contributors of the work (and the editors of this zine) are very passionate about the styles featured. There's also a funny cartoon that made me laugh (it's title is "You know you're a Social Right-Wing Extremist When...") and I also loved R.W. Watkins biting open letter to Broken Pencil. Overall this is a very artsy, intelligent zine that any poetry enthusiast should check out.

October Twilight- R.W. Watkins, PO Box 111, Moreton's Harbour, NL, A0G 3H0, Canada

Here we have a very well produced, self published collection of work by Newfoundland's R.W. Watkins. Watkins has a specialty for writing Tanka and Haiku, and he does it in a very thought provoking and accessible fashion. There's lots of cryptic undertones running throughout this publication, such as the dedication at the beginning that states "for Someone, I'm not sure who anymore, but Someone...". This aloof, ambiguous style only adds to the interesting nature of Watkins's work. I was especially intrigued with "Hitchcock Presents", which made little sense to me, but I was still fascinated none the less. I am looking forward to further work by this poet.

Various Sweaters- #1- $1- Dec 2002- lucybluestocking@mailodic.com

What a delight! This small, breezey zine had me from the moment I read the caption on the cover. It is written in such a cute, fun and innocent fashion that I was immediately won over. Kirsty (AKA Lucy Bluestocking) basically writes about her adventures while she goes away to university for the first time. I could so relate with everything she said! Many of us have been there at one point or another. It's all here....the trials of boarding with a Barbie Doll roommate, the anxiety of separating from parents for the first time, and how hard it can be to "fit in" at a new school in a strange town. Lucy comes across as a helpless observer who tries the best she can to deal with these strange new adventures, and I couldn't help but sympathize with her. This is a great zine for anyone who remembers (or is currently going through) their freshman year of university. A very sweet read.

Synthetic Vision- issue 15- March 2005- synthetic97@hotmail.com- 47 Brookhaven Drive, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, Ireland.

It is always a great pleasure to see a new issue of Synthetic Vision in my mailbox. It's been a while since the last issue, but the same thing can be said about Nightwaves! I was pleasantly surprised to see a change in format (Danny is now doing his zine in A4 format). In all sincerity, this issue looks fantastic. Danny has a very stylish way of putting together his zine and it always looks great. The layout is very clean, in fact it could almost be classified as "professional". This issue is loaded with features for everyone who can't get enough synthpop. There are many interviews with several modern synthpop acts, plus I really enjoyed the 25th anniversary nod to Depeche Mode. And there's also some coverage of Erasure's recent live shows in Ireland. This zine is assembled with lots of passion and hard work. A definite must for any synthpop fan.

Second Life- issues 1-3- Free- second-life@telus.net- David J. Widmann, 1022 Bloor Street West, Unit 35, Toronto, Ontario, M6H 1M2

Ah, if there's one thing I love about Toronto, it's the fact that the city harbours an absolute plethora of second hand book stores, record stores, clothing stores, you name it. Any trip I take to this great city MUST include some scouring of said shops. So, needless to say, I was absolutely floored when I heard about "Second Life". This is a zine dedicated to people like me, those of us who could spend hours upon hours sifting through thrift stores, looking for that elusive treasure. This zine is great...it's loaded with articles on topics such as how to keep your collection of vintage vinyl sounding great, reviews of funky boutiques, reviews on goods that were found in various second hand shops (I can think of someone else who likes to do this....), notes on what to look for when buying a used air conditioner, and so much more. I absolutely love this zine, and chances are if you are also a flea market fanatic, you'll love it too!

One Story- defactodolly@hotmail.com

I can't quite recall how I came in possession of this zine, but I'm glad I did. Seems I received so many zines over the past year that it's kind of blurry now as to who sent me what. Anyway, this one is very good. This was done by someone who's ancestors immigrated to Canada from Antigua. Apparently, the author felt inspired to show that there are many immigration stories, and not everyone came to their country in the same fashion. I liked the down-to-earth quality of this zine, and how the author shows us that her heritage comes from a variety of sources. But after a while I got a little confused. It didn't help that part of the story seemed to be told through drawings, and in a very ambiguous way, so I was a little lost at times as to what exactly the author was trying to say. But never mind. This was still a sweet zine that is full of pride and a friendly quality that more zines should have.

The Family Geek- issues 1 and 2- May/August 2004- stamp- messyelephant@hotmail.com

This is a joyful little zine that is very sincere. I like the fact that Danny is very honest and to-the-point. He doesn't try to clutter what he is saying with big words and ultra-introspective poetry. He just says what he means, and I appreciate that. The Family Geek is essentially a review zine. Danny likes to give exposure to ultra-obscure bedroom indie bands, plus there are many reviews of zines that you have probably never heard of. I liked what Danny said in the intro of issue 1: " I'm your (stereo)typical zinester: introverted, socially inept, bookworm, friendless and nerdy, relationship-ly challenged. I make friends through the mail system". You're not alone my friend! Thank goodness for shy souls like Danny. This is a fun, humble zine.

Weird Chapbook- Francois Marceau, 7375 Louis-Hebert, Montreal, Quebec, H2E 2X5

My buddy Francois sent this to me. I always knew that he had a great passion for zines, and this chapbook is proof that he can also make some great zines. Together with Mark Sonnenfeld of New Jersey, this duo has produced a very intriguing zine that is basically an assortment of "found art" clippings, poetry and lots of weirdness. I have no idea what this about, nor do I know if there is supposed to be a message to this. But I don't think that's the point. Just taking it at face value, it is a work of art that takes several unrelated elements, juxtaposes them in an unconventional fashion and presents us with a visually interesting work. It seems odd, but this zine proves that two totally unrelated objects can have relation and can create an entirely new hybrid. There's something about that picture of the elderly man that says "my isolation" over top of it. Again, I have no clue what the authors were trying to achieve, but I like the results anyway.

Temperance in Moderation- 2002- Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge MA 02139, alt-current.com, alternating-current.blogspot.com, alt.current@gmail.com.

This is a collection of poetry by Leah Angstman (is that her real name?...sounds like a pen name if I ever heard one!). From what I can tell, every poem in this book is dedicated to Andrew McCauley, whom I'm assuming is very special to Leah. In fact, after a while this sort of became a bit too obsessive for my tastes. Poem after poem dedicated to the greatness of Andrew. I'm sure Andrew is a swell guy, but come on, this sounds like the gushing of a 14 year old with a severe crush. Don't get me wrong, this poetry is far from stupid, in fact Leah does show an able pen, but the subject matter is just too one-sided. I mean, there's one poem called "Andrew is Everything"!!! On one hand, I do hope that Leah and Andrew get married someday, they have kids and spend the rest of their lives happy. But I also think it is very possible that this young lady will one day regret the fact that she ever wrote this zine. I get rather leery whenever I see anyone being put on a pedestal.

Danny Edwards- issues 1-8- $1 each- Curtis Kilfoy, 72 Fleming St, St. John's, NL, A1C 3A5 curtiskilfoy@yahoo.com

Once in a while a zine will come along that will leave a lasting impression on me. It may not be great, it may not be earth-shatteringly revolutionary, but it still has "something" about it that sets it apart from the rest of the pack. I can honestly say this about Danny Edwards. This is a comic by a young man named Curtis Kilfoy from St. John's, Newfoundland, that really caught my attention. What impressed me the most about this was the intelligence that seemed to contantly run underneath the proceedings. Basically, the title character is a lonely misfit who tries to survive the day to day tribulations of the eleventh grade. Many of his misadventures are covered, from the first day of school, to his Halloween experiences. And I busted a gut laughing when Danny revealed to Sylvia what he truly thought about Nirvana. Well said.

Action in this series is sparse at best, the storyline pretty much centers on everyday, mundane things. But what I like most is when we have a glimpse into what is going on inside Danny's head. It is here that the true perceptiveness of this comic comes shining through. The characters in this story are the people we all knew in high school. Those background characters that we may not have been friends with, but they still all helped comprise the rich fabric of that tumultuous period. The drawing is a tad crude, but that doesn't matter. This is a smart, perceptive and honest series. I look forward to future issues.

Root- issues 2 and 3- Sarah Evans, PO Box 33129, Halifax, NS, B3L 4T6. sevans@riseup.net

Root is basically a neat little perzine in which Sarah writes about what she truly knows: zines, school and travel. I liked this zine a lot, simply because it is so affable and charming. Sarah seems like such a nice, intelligent and non-pretentious person. And she does seem like your typical vagabond wandering spirit that are not a rarity in the zine world. Issue 3, in particular, is a great ode to the art of travel. It is lively, colorful and full of heart. Root displays Sarah's huge curiosity for the world around her. She writes "I am still just interested in too much at once. I am curious about so many things, how they fit together and spread apart, contradict but help to explain". Very well said. I also liked her sincere comments on feeling a part of the zine community. There's lots of neat clip art throughout Root, and a spirit that is warm and humane.

Psychlone- issue 11- May 2005- $1/trade- 733 Gleneagles Dr, Kamloops, BC, V2E 1J7

Issue 11 of the great zine Psychlone is even more of what I've come to expect from Steve. We have Steve's savvy comments on the current political situation (with much emphasis being placed on the buffoonery of George Bush), some wrestling obituaries, a funny compilation of silly messages that Steve read on signs outside of two churches, a great feature on the band Curve, and a very well written rant concerning the current state of music. Steve is not afraid to voice his opinion, and his rants do tend to be very sharply written. Throw in some strong movie and music reviews, and issue 11 is one fine edition of a very fine zine.

"Cellar"- issue 1- $?- Box 111, Moreton's Harbour, NL, Canada, A0G 3H0

Now this is a very curious zine. It must also be said that it's probably one of the best, most interesting zines I've seen in a long time. This zine, dedicated to writer Laird Koenig and actress Jodie Foster, is one of those zines that I quite often secretly wish for. Watkins goes into great detail concerning one of his all-time favorite films, the cult classic "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane". I've heard much about this film over the years, and whispers about it in the underground have become the stuff of fable. Thank goodness someone like Watkins has paid tribute to this classic in just the right way. Watkins explains in his intro that he is aware that this zine does not feature your typical zine subject matter (but perhaps that's exactly why I love it so much). Watkins even goes so far as to include a letter to Astral Media, the distributor of the film, and he also includes the reply letter he received from them! Watkins evens goes so far as to suggest that a scene in which Foster coughs in the film is a metaphor for pregnancy. I tip my hat to anyone who would analyze a film to the point of suggesting such thought provoking theories! I , too, have had times in the past where I had whimsical thoughts regarding movies that I have been obsessed with. This is a great zine for anyone who regards films as more than just "entertainment". Now, if only I can track this movie down on videotape!

Vox- Volume 4- number 1- $4.00- The Falstaff Society, c/o Humanities and Languages Dept., University of New Brunswick Saint John, 100 Tucker Park Road, P.O. Box 5050, Saint John, NB Canada E2L 4L5

This is a literary journal put out by the Falstaff Society at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John (my hometown). It is always very well assembled, and it usually features an abundance of fine artwork, poetry and short stories. I was lucky enough to attend the launch of this publication, and I got to hear many of the featured writers read their work in person. I enjoyed pretty much everything in this edition. The writing here is really top-notch, you can tell that alot of work is put inot the selction of the writing, and I like how all the work isn't heavy and serious. They wisely include some moments of levity too. Vox is always seeking submissions for their next issue, so be sure to drop them a line.

ZRO- Volume 1, number 1- $? - zro_esoterica@hotmail.com

To be honest, this one went way over my head. I saw a copy of this sitting near the doorway of one of the buildings at my university, and I just had to pick it up and check it out. "What's this?", I thought, "a zine in the hallways of UNBSJ?". This is subtitled the "Official Organ of The Esoteric Society". Which I'm assuming probably only consists of one member and he probably doesn't get out much. This is loaded with a bunch of "earth child" mumbo jumbo, the kind of thing that would have made hippies think deeply for hours back in the 60s. A typical line in the zine would be "Zero symbolizes the Unmanifest which is the source of all Manifestation". What the hell??? There's an article on the rights of man, and I must admit I did think the article on the nature of genius was interesting, but otherwise this was just not my cup of tea. If you're an ultra-spirtual star child who wished the 60s never ended, maybe you will like this. But it just left me perplexed.

Miramichi'ers Like it Their W.A.Y.- free- one off- corenski@hotmail.com

I had been wanting to get my hands on this zine for ages. My good pal Corey Nowlan, probably the biggest zine supporter and enthusiast in New Brunswick, told me about this zine he made in a reaction to the poor treatment he observed that young people in Miramichi had to endure. Apparently he plastered this zine all over local businesses, and even at the local police station. I guess the results weren't pretty. Anyway, I salute Corey for having the balls to do this. It wasn't that long ago that I too was a skateboarding "hoodlum" (as many of the local adults probably dismissed me as), so I know how frustrating it can be. This is a great zine that clearly states how contradictory and unfair the powers that be can be. Even the local paper apparently published many stories with a decidedly biased and negative view towards people under the age of 25. I was also saddened by the article that stated that punk shows no longer happen in Miramichi, and I'm guessing the conservative hand of those in control (ie-the police, town hall, etc) had alot to do with this. This zine proves that people under the age of 25 are not all vagrants, nor are they thugs. They are intelligent and they do have something to say. I remember the boredom of those years vividly, and I sympathize with any of these kids who are really just looking for something to do, not terrorizing old people.

Reddog Review- issues 2 and 3- $2.00 each- PO Box 1436, Gardenville, NV, 89410, USA, zines@ashabot.com

I can't recall how Asha heard about me, nor when we first got in touch with each other, but I am so glad to have made the acquaintance of this talented writer and zinester. Reddog Review is a lovingly produced zine. The layout is very clean and easy to read, and things never get too cluttered or hard on the eyes. Little bits of clip art add a stylish touch to this zine that is very nice. In issue two, we are treated to a travelogue of sorts, in which Asha tells us about a trip to the Hawaiian Islands. The writting style has a pleasant flow, and never gets too showy, which I appreciate. At times things even get slightly poetic. Issue 3 has nice bits of engaging poetry, and I'm always happy to see any zine that features a play for two people. Overall this zine is lovingly produced and I can tell that Asha puts everything into them. Highly recommended.

Push My Buttons- pushmybuttons01@hotmail.com

This is one of those great, once-in-a-while zines that really opens your eyes (and hopefully your mind). Push My Buttons was created for online sex workers. These are the people who are also known as chat hostesses, cam-workers, what have you. I honestly didn't know much about this world, especially what goes on behind the scenes. Nor did I know much about the actual women who choose this path as their career. I have to say that I learned ALOT from this zine. It is written in a very informative, frank and honest fashion. There's even some great poetry, and lots of interesting clip art from who-knows-where. I loved the interview with the anonymous online sex worker. It really gives you a new perspective on this much misunderstood trade. There's even a list of definitions relating to the online sex trade, and the drawing of a girl with coins covering her intimate body parts really left an impression on me. It pretty much says it all. This is a very intelligent, thought provoking zine.

XYZed- issues 16 and 17- $2.00 each- xyzed@sprint.ca- J. Anxiety Stewart, 6 Haig St, St. Catherines, ON, L2R 6K5 Canada.

It is always a great treat to get an issue of XYZed in my mailbox. This zine has shown alot of growth over the years, and it seems like it just gets better and better. Much like myself, Jason has some very quirky and obscure interests, and his love for films that most people have forgotten about is wonderful in my opinion. Issue 16 features a profile of the classic film "Harold and Maude", plus a focus on the great actor Bud Cort. Jason also writes about the woes of saying goodbye to your old TV set. I can relate! I also always love his old and rare record reviews. Issue 17 is also very good...there is a very funny article about Joe Jackson that rang all to familiar with me. I also like how Jason gives exposure to some very obscure and underground musicians. Bravo! This is a great zine that any pop culture fanatic should not be without.

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DVD REVIEWS

"Renegade Homecoming"- Directed by Jason Stewart
 
After many years, here we have a sequel to Jason Stewart's first film "The Trespassers".  Many of the characters from the first film return in this second part, including Tasker, and the evil Lord Holec.  Much like its predecessor, this film is loaded to the hilt with a comic book, sci-fi, Star Wars-esque appeal.  There are good guys, bad guys, a classic struggle for power, and the introduction of the "MC5 Project", a modern variation on the sacred microchip that so many characters sought in many "cloak and dagger" films of the 80's.
 
The film kicks off with a good intro that does a great job of immediately pulling the viewer in.  The last line spoken by the narrator during the intro pretty much sums up the underlaying plot: "The past has a way of coming back to haunt all generations".  There is a good use of music in the film, which helps sustain the atmosphere, and in general this film is quite a bit more slick than the previous one.  On the downside, the sound of the film was a little disappointing (often sounding muffled, faint and hollow), however the visuals often compensate for this.
 
It was very intriguing to see the same sets appear in this film that were used in part one.  Shots of the ruined "fortress" are very dramatic and engaging, however they seem to drag on for a bit too long.  The same can be said for the scene involving a Mustang being driven recklessly while "Thunder Express" plays in the background.  Fun, but too lengthy.  The scene in the cemetery involving the tune "All The Things I Wasn't" is also a victim of this dilemma.  Nice, but it needs trimming.
 
In terms of acting, for the most part this film overall delivers fine performances.  Chris Drysdale does a commendable job playing Dr. Robert's son, while director Stewart does a great job portraying Tasker.  On the downside, the performance of Karl Sawyer as Dr. Roberts is undeniably stiff.  He seems very uncomfortable about being in the film.  Also, overdubbing his lines may have been necessary, but it may have been better to overdub his voice from the very beginning off his speech, and not completely change his voice after a few lines.  I also thought it was a bit of a casting faux-pas to use such a young boy to play a prison guard, but in a way that only added to the "handmade" charm that was such a benchmark of the first film.  I also liked the fact that we got to see Holec's face in this chapter. 
 
In general, this is certainly an improvement over the previous film.  You can tell that Stewart and his friends have learned much over the intervening years.  The lighting and the editing are still a bit rough, but I noticed that the camera work was much smoother.  This film has a lot of heart and passion running underneath it, and that is very endearing.  I have to applaud Stewart again for pouring so much blood, sweat and tears into this project.  It is obvious in every frame that he holds this story and these characters very close to his heart.  I should also mention too that the bonus features such as deleted scenes and commentary are a very nice addition.
 
I highly recommend this offering to anyone with an interest in indie filmmaking.

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"The Trespassers"- Directed by Jason Robert Stewart
Star Theatre Video
geocities.com/trespassersmovie

When I was a youth, there was nothing more exciting to me that getting my hands on a video camera and making my own little films. My dream at the time was to be a film director, and I had visions of one day making huge, lavish Hollywood productions. Ah, the naivete of youth.

It seems that Jason Stewart and I had similar goals. "The Trespassers" is essentially a movie that he made back in 1991 with a group of friends and any talent that could be wrangled together. This film is pretty much what you would expect when a bunch of kids get their hands on a camcorder. However, that's not to say that this movie is sloppy. Not by any means. In fact, at times it is downright impressive.

The story, which is very comic book-esque, centers on characters with names like Tasker, Roberts and Kurtz, and the development of a new form of energy, an energy so revolutionary it would make nuclear power look like "a cherry bomb". Also present is the evil Holec, the quintessential bad guy whom we never actually see. The plot of the film follows the grand tradition of sci-fi films featuring good guys and bad guys. Again, a comic book appeal is very evident.

The film starts with a very smooth intro, complete with a fine narration job, but then it very quickly gives way to numerous scenes with bad lighting and amateurish acting. Again, this is pretty much to be expected considering the ages of the talent involved and the conditions under which the film was made, so I don't really hold this against the director. For the most part, the camera work is very fluid and steady.

When keeping in mind that this is the work of creatively inclined youths, a lot can be forgiven. Laughable lines like Holec stating "I'll make you fudge!" are sort of to be expected, as are scenes that were shot in laundry rooms (with washers and dryers very apparent in the background). Again, this is not classic cinema, rather, it is the charming work of a bunch of kids who probably had nothing better to do on some long ago summer afternoons.

I must mention the extras that are included on this DVD version of the film. I enjoyed them a lot. One featurette called "Trespassers House Revisited" has Stewart going back to the site where the film was originally shot back in 1991. It is genuinely eerie to see what has become of the house and the yard where much of the film was shot. The deleted scenes are fun too.

I applaud Stewart and his friends for being very ambitious and imaginative. I sincerely miss those days when I used to shoot fun little movies in my backyard. This was definitely a suburban tradition that numerous creative young people indulged in. This film reminds me of the purity of just creating something for the fun of it. Stewart's passion is evident in every corner of the DVD.

"NY's Village Halloween Parade 2006"
montecristorecords.com

This is essentially a 25 minute video, without dialogue, focusing on the notorious Halloween party that happens every year in the "Village" of New York City. The video is basically a random assortment of the wild and crazy characters who showed up for 2006's party. Obviously, much fun was had by all who attended. Images from the festivities ramble by as an electronic score percolates in the background. After watching this, I felt like I had sat through one long music video. It gets kind of predictable after a while. I also think that actual interviews with some of the party goers may have also been a good idea, just to break things up a bit. This is primarily the stuff of video blogs (are they called vlogs these days?). You've seen countless stuff like this before on numerous video blogs....sort of interesting, yet ultimately forgettable.

hlliveatthedome.jpg

"The Human League Live at the Dome"

This is a concert DVD which captures the classic New Wave band in concert. The performance featured on the DVD was recorded at The Dome in Brighton, England, in December, 2003. This marked the end of a very successful tour in 2003. Overall, this is an excellent document of what it is like to be in the audience of a Human League concert. I was lucky enough to see them in Boston in 1998, and this footage brought back many good memories. It is well photographed and very well put together. All their hits are included: "Don't You Want Me", "Mirror Man", "Human", and all the rest.

It was often stated in the past that the Human League were not a very good live band. They were notorious for poor live vocals, but I think this was strictly in their very early days when they were still quite inexperienced. This is certainly not the case now. In this concert footage, it is quickly apparent that they have assembled a very tight live band, and their vocals sound awesome. There are many nice features on this disc, including a photo gallery, an hour long interview with the band, and an "all access" featurette that gives us a behind the scenes glimpse at many shows on the tour.

All in all, this DVD looks and sounds great, and if you are a fan of The Human League, you have to have it. Typically, I have never been a big fan of live concert videos, and if I had to choose between owning this DVD or owning the DVD compilation of all their music videos, I would choose the latter. However, having said that, this DVD does an excellent job showcasing the band live, and provides a good compliment to the "Greatest Hits" DVD.

"Live Without A Net"

Live Without a Net, the recent DVD release of a previously released VHS tape of Van Halen's performance at the Coliseum in New Haven, Connecticut, on August 27, 1986, is awful, blech, yucky -- one of the worst live concert DVDs ever released. Do not buy this DVD! For the love of any god, do not buy this DVD.

From the band's childish and inane banter with the audience, to the constricted and limited vocal talent of Sammy Hagar, mediocre songs with the odd exceptions, the worst and silliest bass solo ever recorded, a boring drum solo, ugly red guitars and white basses, blurry video, a DVD jacket with incomplete information, no commentary nor interviews, red cowboy scarves, muscle shirts, and vile orange, pink and yellow pirate pants (the band looks like poorly dressed tourists from Florida who just crawled out of bed), it is a great disappointment. The only pleasure is thanks to Edward Van Halen's marvelous but rather repetitive guitar licks, although his chain smoking is very distracting.

Basically, the DVD represents everything that was bad about the 1980s music scene. At least the band did not adorn big teased hair.

This DVD must be returned to the vault from whence it came
to be locked away forever. Now, let us never speak of this travesty, again.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Robert Speirs, reviewer

"LIVE AID"- This is a sprawling, excellent document of a great moment in rock history (regarded by some as the greatest). Unfortunately I didn't pay much attention to this back in the day, so I'm glad that I can enjoy it now on DVD. The picture quality is really clean- it almost looks like it happened yesterday. Some folks on the net complained about the sound quality, but it sounds fine to me. Besides, what do you expect for something that was taped 20 years ago and never intended to be shown again? There's loads of highlights on this multi-disc set: Madonna when she was still a baby-fat sporting brat, Elvis Costello doing an awesome rendition of "All You Need Is Love", Adam Ant rocking out in his prime, Ultravox's Midge Ure delivering his terrific vocals, and so many others. Add some previously unseen footage and some interesting documentaries, and this adds up to a must-have for all rock enthusiasts. The glittery excesses of the 80s were not all in vain.

"THX 1138"- Finally, this sci-fi classic (albeit an overlooked classic) gets its release on DVD. After seeing grainy copies of this film on late night TV for years, it must be said that the quality of this DVD is pristine. Plus, as we have come to expect from George Lucas, the sound quality on this is excellent. There are some great featurettes too, including an odd promo film from 71 called "Bald", plus an interview with a very young Lucas conducted by Francis Ford Coppolla. There's also a documentary about the rise and fall of Coppolla's American Zoetrope production company, and interesting audio commentaries.

My only complaint about this is the slight overabundance of CGI effects. Lucas has become notorious for doctoring his older films with new CGI effects, but this is a case of overkill. The modernized interior shots of the factory are impressive, yet the CGI "shell dweller" just looks silly. Is it just me, or should a film made in 1971 look like a film made in 1971? Despite this, this DVD is still an exquisite release of a very intelligent and visually imaginative film.

"Made In Sheffield"- I reviewed the VHS version of this film quite a few issues back. This is a documentary that focuses on the music scene in Sheffield, England between the late 70s and the mid 80s. Of course, many of my favorite bands came out of this period. Heaven 17, Human League, ABC, Cabaret Voltaire, and many others. So needless to say, I was ecstatic the first time I saw this film. It still remains my favorite documentary. Director Eve Wood should be commended for finally bringing attention to this fertile period in pop history. We are treated to interviews with all the key players from the scene, and the selection of live footage and photos are a treat.

The DVD version only makes this film even more of a delight. There are extended interviews, a photo gallery, and lots of excellent concert footage. I was particularly taken by the live footage of Vice Versa. This DVD is loaded with rare treats such as these which makes the disc absolutely essential for any diehard New Wave anglophile. This film was made with lots of passion.