Friday, September 05, 2003

I apologize for the poor syntax in the sentence below:

THis issue brings back Steel's neice as the new FEMALE STEEL WITH TITANIUM TA-TA'S, a really lame ghetto-slang slapping teenage witch named Traci THirteen, and the latest incarnation of Supergirl (who is not Kara Zor-El).

this is what I meant:

Action Comics 807 brought back Natasha, the niece of John Henry Irons (AKA: Steel) as a girl in a metallic suit who also runs around in a 30 story robot body which looks like her armored robot body (one wonders where the builder found the storage space, let alone how this thing was built without her knowledge and a budget larger than NASA's). Natasha is joined by Traci Thirteen (Girl 13), a teenage witch with a penchant for lame hip-hoppy slang, which never translates well to the written page, yo. And there is a new Supergirl who claims to be Superman's daughter (Cir-El), but will turn out not be, or will be from a "possible" future timeline. Either way, it doesn't matter. There are already 3 contenders for Supergirl running around (Linda Danvers, Kara Zor-El and Power Girl (Karen Starr)), and all of them are less annoying than this new, dopey character.

So you can see there was a lot to say there and how I might have botched the phrasing.

I apologize.
I feel bad about not blogging, but I have been a busy comic geek. Actually, comics have nothing to do with it, but stupid graduate students do.

At any rate, left with little to dwell upon, I can say that you would not be interested in my work woes... so I'm going to complain about how AWFUL Action Comics #807 was this week.

You know, I don't have much going on in my life but job, wife, dog and my funnybooks, and so when I get a funnybook which is, let's be honest, pretty dumb, I get a bit irritated I lost my $2.25. Yeah, $2.25. That's what a comic sets you back these days. (65 cents when I started, dammit!)

A while back they ditched one of my favorite supporting Superman characters, Steel (a man with the ability to create astounding advances in technology, allowing him to create a powerful suit of armor he wore as Superman's high-flying buddy). THis issue brings back Steel's neice as the new FEMALE STEEL WITH TITANIUM TA-TA'S, a really lame ghetto-slang slapping teenage witch named Traci THirteen, and the latest incarnation of Supergirl (who is not Kara Zor-El). Oh, and Lana Lang. Blah.

I read the issue cover to cover, and I think all that happened was some people went "blah! WOW!! BAM!!!" If people think comics are overly simplified tales of female exploitation and male power fantasies, by jiminy, this issue would only enhance that notion.


I am looking forward to the changing of the creative guard on Superman in the coming year. If you've thought about delving in to Superman, I'll keep you posted and tell you what to look for. Oh, and look for big (but kind of unneeded) changes at the Batman titles, too.

And since reading the latest storyarc in Detective Comics, I have Alan Scott Green Lantern on the brain. A few years ago The Onion ran an Op/Ed peice where a guy bitched about the new Green Lantern and how inferior he is to Hal Jordan. And it was supposed to be a joke, only I found myself solemnly nodding my head in agreement. Kyle Rayner sucks. But, lately, it's all John Stewart Green Lantern for me.

I dig the idea of the Green Lantern Corps (a space-faring police force granted the power of a weapon which is only as strong as their own will!). I think it would make a nifty cartoon. It's kind of like Intergalactic UN Peace Keeping Force with kooky aliens and lots of cool outfits.

Anyone who can name the space sector which Earth is located in (as designated by the Guardians of the Universe) and who sends me their name and the Sector will be eligible for having their name listed at The League! Triple points if you can remember the Green Lantern Pledge!

See, and here I thought I had nothing to talk about today.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

One of my favorite parts of being an American is being really snarky about weird superstitions and mythologis people go by in other lands. For example, Iraqis seem to believe Saddam has a magic stone which protects him from the Americans (something we can snicker at, but I don't see Saddam in a cell either...). Ground Rhino horn been used as an aphrodeshiac for generations in Africa, and in part of Asia, I think it's shark fin they think makes you more of a man.

I take Mel for walkies bright and early (around 5:20am), and upon my return to sofa and coffee, I get to see some choice programming just before the last informercial twinkles out at 6:00am.

Today was the second time I saw the Infomercial for Alzare. Alzare is some sort of herbal supplement promised to increase size, and increased confidence. I did note in the total of minutes I saw of the front and back end of this infomercial that they never really say "This herbal supplement will increase the size of your weiner." They just say "increase size," but maybe I missed the part about bigger weiners. But one wonders if you sue for false advertising they will say, "no, we meant increased size of your PASSION!!!" The web site does state very clearly that it will increase penis size. I guess they were trying to be subtle on TV.

What I do know is that this is the best infomercial ANYWHERE. Shot against a stark white backdrop with several Cinemax Late-Night rejects as hosts, several "model/ entertainers" speak of the fantastic effects of Alzare. The women simply GLOW in their discussion. The men smile knowlingly, or perhaps their faces pulled back that way after their hair gel dried. It's hard to say. Now, the men on the show don't really claim to need the very product they're pitching... they're REAL men, the kind of sport coat and slightly unbuttoned red silk shirt men YOU WANT TO BE (if you're going to be in soft-core). They seem to be part of The Big Weiner Club (standard dress code including unbuttoned silk shirt), and they have the ticket for you to get in, buddy! The women are feigning sexy class, but are really pretty trampy looking, which is okay, because it just adds to the sleazy ambience of the whole affair. I'm not sure, but I think one woman was wearing a bright red plastic pantsuit thing which we were to determine is what people who have good sex must wear. I am ordering one for myself for Christmas.

All "dialogue" is "completely unstaged", and doesn't sound as if it's badly delivered lines from a hackey, throw away soft-core script at all. Each statement is filled with weird pauses, the kind of pauses one gets when one is trying to remember the rest of their line, and one is, say, an unemployed stripper or "spokesmodel."

The capper is the Q&A wherein several "spontaneous" and flaccidly delivered questions are asked by people the rest of the audience realizes all too late were planted there to actually get to ask questions, leaving them, and any questions which might thrust a little objectivity into the video, on the cutting room floor. Luckily, they do leave in one very Joe Schmoe looking guy to ask out the girl in the red pantsuit thingy. They all laugh at him because he is cute, but he is not wearing a sportcoat with an unbuttoned silk shirt, and must not have a big weiner.

I honestly don't know if this product works or not. I assume it's ground parsely put into a gel--cap. But I also haven't tried it. I also thought the penis enlarging pump was an invention of Austin Powers or a novelty item of the 70's, but saw one on the shelf one day at Walgreens. "THose things don't work, do they?" I asked aloud one day. "Yes," a friend of mine assured me. "They work very, very well." So I dunno. I also know I don't have the $200 it was going to set me back.

So I encourage you to seek out this informercial on your own and make your own decisions. Just remember the weird Japanese guy downing shark fin soup in the hope he will please his lady, laughing at you as a stupid Yankee for thinking parsely in a pill is going to make a man of you.

UPDATE (Dec 1, 2003): Much like my "Ann Coulter Nude Hits", of which i continue to get around 2-3 a day, I also get a lot of hits for people trying to find out who the girl is in the Alzare Infomerical I mentioned here months ago.

In an effort to help my loyal readers, her name, according to this site, is Jenny Richards. This is all I know. You're on your own now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Randy has asked me to update on the cat pee smell of earlier today. In truth, the smell is now either gone, or I have become accustomed to it. I think it's gone. I also think it was probably more to do with the insanely strong coffee my boss brewed up this morning just as I arrived. The coffee is gone, and so is the smell. I will also check to see if it was the scent of the dry cleaning chemicals on the shirt I wore this morning, but changed out of when the people from the UK left.

I kind of hope I smelled like cat pee to the people from the UK. That would really impress them.
My office smells vaguely of cat piss this morning. There is no cat at my office. However, Jeff the cat may well have taken some liberties with my computer bag. I will need to investigate.

Monday, September 01, 2003

In 1995 or so, Jeffrey Cash Shoemaker introduced me to the sounds of Chicago area formerly homeless schizophrenic musical wunderkind, Wesley Willis. Wesley's songs were all fairly short songs which spoke directly from within, and were, perhaps, the most personal songs I'd ever heard. Let me qualify that with, these were the most personal songs I'd ever heard from a paranoid schizophrenic with access to a $200 keyboard. The rumor was that Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys had been the one to discover Willis, but I don't know if it's true. It makes as much sense as anything else.

My personal favorite Willis tune was "I Whupped Batman's Ass", but I came to understand later that, most likely, Wesley made up most of his songs on the spot, and in order for him to remember them later, somebody was writing the songs down.

A common theme of Willis's struggles with mental illness runs through Willis's songs. The tune "Nerve Shattering Hellride" perhaps best exemplifies Willis's struggle with schizophrenia, describing a ride on the Chicago public transportation system, and his struggles to not give in to the voices in his head during the course of said ride.

In order to keep the voices out, Willis often wore a walkman and listend to music, even when playing his own music. Including during live performances, I discovered, when I saw him play at Emo's on Austin's 6th street in the Spring of 1997. Willis was sick with the flu, we were told, and began his show late. By the time he had taken the stage, out of boredom, we had downed numerous bottles of a dollar beer, whose identity should spring to mind, but, perhaps rightly, does not.

Willis was chugging from a bottle of Chloraseptic in order to perform, sweating profusely and swearing a lot. Sensing a kindred spirit, I pushed aside any misgivings I might have had about the quite possibly exploitative situation in which I was participating. Willis went on to perform for what I estimated to be at least an hour and half, a time during which I was fairly certain he never noticed whether or not the audience was present. Further, all of his songs were in a binder, and he took considerable time out between songs to select his next tune. All of the songs, I might add, were pretty much the same song.

Eventually I tracked down my ride (we'd left directly from my RTF animation class), and I went home and went directly to bed, the tunes of Wesley Willis laying down a seed in my plowed and freshly tilled mind.

It took days for the show to get out of my head. Dozens of people joined together and, honeslty, not laughing at this guy, but listening to whatever the hell it was he was putting out there, because, you know... you honestly just hadn't heard anything like it.

Wesley had a video on MTV for a song called "Alanis Morrisette", which was pretty good by Wesley Willis standards. He wrote a lot of songs about people he liked, and more songs about people he did not like. But he liked music, and he was having a pretty hard time of it, and in the mid-90's, I think all you could really say was, "there but for the Grace of God Go I." Honestly, I haven't thought much about Wesley in years. He was an anomaly, and you hoped his earnings from record sales were enough to keep him off the streets and in good condition.

On August 21st, 2003 Wesley Willis was called home by The Maker. Rock over London, Rock on, Chicago. Wheaties, the Breakfast of Champions. Rock on, Wesley. May the nerve shattering hellride come to an end, and may you be welcomed to your seat among the great ones. You truly did manage to rock the hell out of us.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

66-7, and more than 5 minutes left. Man, and this is after a completely abysmal 1st quarter.
Holy COW!!!! They scored again! It's now 45-7. Dusty Mangum must be getting sick of going out there.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Right now Mars is closer to earth than it has been in 60,000 years. Pretty cool stuff, but I'm a little disappointed that we're not being invaded by three-eyed monsters.

BBC has some photos posted.

And here is a picture of my favorite Martian: J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter of the JLA

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Jamie was confused by my post about Batman saying "damn." I was in 2nd grade, she tells me, in 82-83. Haude Elementary, Spring, TX. (Haude sounds like "Howdy." I believe it is German.) All I remember is my 3rd grade teacher was trying to get us to read and she brought in comics for pleasure reading and I knew already from my traumatic prior experience that those comics had dirty words. I believe, safety nazi that I was, that I told the teacher about the bad words and all DC comics were removed from the class. Cursing was strictly forbidden in the Steans house at this time. Then, in 1986-87, my mom said "shit," and it's been downhill ever since.
Apparently this occured here in the Valley of the Sun.
Jim sent me two fantastic articles regarding the state of comics.

The only thing I would argue in the NY Times article is this excerpt: "The Sopranos" take on the world has spilled into comic books.

I guess the idea is that comics are reflective of a harsher trend in mass media. But this isn't news, kids. Comics got gritty in the 70's with the rise of stars like Neal Adams, etc... and guys like Moore and Miller cemented the necessity of "real" consequences in comics. It's a slow evolution, but it's safe to say that most comics are not aimed at children anymore, nor has it been so for a while. As a note, all that profanity, etc... has been in comics since I was in 2nd grade (1981?), at least. I remember picking up a Batman comic and being horrified to see Batman say "damn!" This wasn't something I thought I would be allowed to read, so I sought the safety of Marvel and it's bizarre use of colloquialisms native to the Marvel Universe. EVERYBODY in Marvel comics said "blazes" instead of "hell." As in "What in blazes?" or "Go to blazes!"

Superhero comics are struggling with maturity and keeping a balance of being escapism and fun. But they are also attuning themselves to an audience which skews ever older. Most comicstry to succeed as readable fiction for at LEAST teenagers, but many do not succeed to really work as readable fiction. I refuse to name names... everyone has their opinion. The problem is: writers, editors and artists do not always seem to have fundamental grasp of adulthood themselves. At other times, when genuinely adult relationships occur in comics, many readers do not know how to react. Sex must be tawdry, violence must have no consequences, and the very real presence of sex, religion and politics is usually treated with the delicacy of a blunt instrument.

Jim also included articles on the late, great Jack "King" Kirby. I say nice things from time to time about Kirby, but I rarely say too much as it can be difficult to understand Kirby's relevance on pop culture. But I think this article does a fine job of explaining it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


Work is kooky. We just started a new semester at the University, and I have been trying to get many a class up and online. I am not what I would consider to be a detail oriented guy. I like broad strokes when being told technical issues and whatnot. Any explanation longer than a minute, and I'm pretty much zoning out thinking about Superman. So all the issues that keep coming up are not entirely a surprise, because I heard OF the problem before. Now it's time to fix the problems. Luckily, I have assembled an amazing staff, and all I have to do is know of a problem, and usually it's 70% fixed before I even hear about it. I love these guys.

I am probably a software engineers' worst nightmare of a manager. I don't know anything about the specifics, and I could really give a damn. I just want to hear what the problem is, how it will affect faculty and students, and how long it will take to fix. If there is money involved, I like to know that, too. But, as I said... broad strokes. Luckily, all the tech guys around campus are aware that I am incompetent and know to call my staff instead of me. Life is sweet.

I also am taking a single grad class this fall. I am very skeptical of the course, instructor, and, indeed, the entire department, but it has relevancy to my job. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Hey, kids!

As described previously herein, I recently made a mistake regarding Superman, the Arizona Department of Transportation and general good taste. The lesson, kids, is just because something seems funny at first, doesn't mean it's going to be funny later. And this, Leaguers, is why vanity plates and tattoos should be avoided. Both are permanent, and both may look a little stupid in the cold light of day.

what's Jamie standing next to?

the plate of shame itself

The World's Finest look over the Forester from the Garage of Solitude.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Thanks for the link, Randy! No one will enjoy this more than my own Hobbit lovin' wife.

I likeses the Hobbits, but Jamie loveses the Hobbits. It gives me license to give her noogies and call her "nerd."
I work at a fairly major University and the Fall semester begins on Monday. I am going insane. I apologize for there not being much here yesterday or today.

The Arizona gas crisis is already pretty much ending. No lines last night on the way home, though the price of gas has spiked to $2.15 or so (it was at $1.80+ last week). Not bad, all things considered. All in all, the fuel crisis was pretty much sound and fury, but it's going to leave me thinking for awhile about the power held at all ends of the petroleum industry.

I asked Jamie to go see "Freddy Vs. Jason" this weekend and she thought I was kidding. I think my chances of getting to see it are pretty slim.

Yesterday I received the much ballyhooed "vanity" license plate which I described about a month and half ago. I hope to update with pictures soon. I'm both embarassed for myself and totally ecstatic at how goofy it is to have plate reading "Krypto" on a grown man's car.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

From the outside, it does not appear that people are taking the Phoenix fuel shortage terribly seriously. They should be. Seeing a key ingredient to the American lifestyle suddenly dry up is really, really spooky. You don't think of the all pervasive way into which cheap, accessible fuel is seamlessly integrated into the fabric of everyday American life

It's not that gas ISN'T available, because it is, in very small quantities. The small quantities provide a sense of unease instead of the throw-your-arms-in-despair sort of thing that would probably make people actually behave. There are lines for gas. Lines for freaking gas! I don't remember the shortages of the 70's , and I wasn't around during gas rationing in WWII, so the context of a very wealthy city, suddenly choked of it's fuel supply, is a little strange. But it's not a crisis, and it hasn't been painted in the stars and stripes yet, forcing folks to do their best to work with the situation.

In order to avoid the lines, I filled up last Friday. But the lines are still there, and by sometime on Friday or Saturday, I will need to fill up again. I can't wait until the light comes on, because I might run out of gas looking for a gas station which actually has gas. I can't run any errands because that would burn gas, and I can't even go out to eat, because then we'd be burning gas.

People talk about it in the halls at my office. THey've been getting up at 4:00am to find gas stations without lines and hot tempers.

But we all live too far apart to car pool, and we some of us live in neighborhoods which make it impossible to actually just walk to get to the store. There are no buses where I live. No alternative means of transportation.

And this is just from a minor burp in the usual supply.

This isn't a nice blackout in New York where everyone quits working and everybody stays home and finishes the tub of ice cream before it melts. You can go get ice cream, if you want to burn gas to get it, but be careful with that gauge, because you can't skip work or be late to work because of gas issues. Nothing has slowed down or really been checked by the gas situation. In fact, people are following gas trucks around town to see where they're going to deliver their tank loads.

An air of paranoia is becoming prevalent.

The ten second spot Phoenix is getting on headline News doesn't begin to do the situation justice, because it is not just long lines at the pumps. Everyday life has a cloud hanging over it uncertainty. There's an uncertainty of freedom, of a threat of immobility, and nobody really knows when the damn thing is going to be over.

I've heard anecdotal evidence of flared tempers, but it's a matter of time before something genuinely bad happens. Before a car stalls on the freeway and causes a disaster, before fights break out at a gas station, before something goes wrong with one of hundreds of fuel trucks working overtime to fill the pumps...

It's a spooky situation. In order to avoid burning extra gas sitting in traffic, every day this week I've left after 6:00pm. And they say they don't know when things will get better.

I've got half a tank left, maybe a little more.
Some things just seem so fantastically absoludicrous, it just seems like there's just no way you'd forget them. But yesterday when I got home from work, there was a commericial on TV for a DVD which collects nothing but nude scenes from standard Hollywood movies. I was immediately thrilled and excited, because for $19.99, you got both this DVD AND a DVD of sex scenes from regular Hollywood movies. These videos star your favorite actresses in the early days of their careers in scenes which just didn't seem that odd back in the 80's (you don't see that much nudity anymore in R movies. It used to be required.), and drifts into some stuff right up to Demi Moore's StripTease. How the creators got the rights to the footage, I will never know. I do know that they will probably get a decent return on their investment.

But by the time I woke up today, all I could remember was that I had been hopping up and down like a monkey and telling my beautiful wife Jamie that I had a blog topic for today. I couldn't remember the topic (only that it was sordid), and that it was a surprise to see it on TV. I had to e-mail Jamie and ask her what I had been so giddy about. She responded with no small amount of disappointment. I expet the annullment papers any day now.

Anyhoo, I'm trying to figure out why this was blocked from my memory, and why I can't remember the URL for the videos to save my life. Normally this is the kind of stuff that finds it's way into my brain and latches on for eternity. But I have a multi-part theory.

I've had to reduce my Purine intake in order to prevent further outbreaks of the Gout. Purine causes uric acid, which my kidneys aren't keeping up with, and then you get uric acid crystals which deposit in your joints and cause pain. Okay. So I need to reduce purines, which means I've had to change my diet. So, for a week, I've become a vegetarian. It will be a longlasting effect of my ailment and will prevent me form eventually getting kidney stones. It's okay. I am starting to hate eating, which is good, because I am fat. But, last night when the ad came on, I was making dinner, and last night's dinner for me was an Organic vegetarian pizza. I think I was, for once, so distracted by what I did not want to eat for dinner, that I failed to fully internalize the most awesomest commercial ever. The pizza was awful, discarded, and substituted with a Boca Pizza. The memory of the commerical was placed in my temp files instead of my RAM.


If anyone has the URL for these videos, please let me know so I can post it.