If I had my druthers I’d completely ignore Christmas altogether.
Yes, it’s that time of year where the old “X” slaps us in both our secular and non-secular faces alike for all too long of a period.
I’ve probably talked about this before but the commercialism of the season has far overwhelmed its religious connotations so I’m no longer offended by Christians and their symbolism slapping me in the face over and over again every year of my life. But the whole commercial aspect gives me the heebie jeebies. Halloween wasn’t even over when Canadian Tire was already putting up Christmas displays… MID-FLIPPIN’-OCTOBER!
Seriously, not cool.
If I had my druthers, which I don’t, my participation in X-Mas would be, well, nil, as would my family’s. I think the glut of stuff (and in general about one or two-thirds of it is shit we either don’t need or want or both) we receive is atrocious, and then there’s kids who are these days doused with things they will never give each enough attention to really be worthwhile….
So in the spirit of this discussion, I thought I’d mention that I picked up the gifts for my stepson that I’m going to get him. He’s a toy car nut, so I got him a die-cast helicoper, because he doesn’t have a helicopter yet. He’s also getting a big Tonka dump truck, because his little plastic one has been used to pieces and really isn’t going to last the winter.
He keeps jawing about a table-top train set he’s seen in the Toys-R-Us catalogue but we’ve no room for it to start, and he’s already got enough tracks and trains and accessories that there’s not much more he really needs anyway. The other thing he’s been agawking at is some Lego-town stuff he’s seen on TV. The problem is this delightful child is so incredibly finicky and he won’t just build stuff with Lego, no, it has to be built EXACTLY like it is on the box, which he can’t do himself. And he’s a little too young still to understand Lego’s fragility, so he’s rough with them and they fall apart quickly, and Aden or I or Uncle B (the “B” stands for Basement Dweller) are left to put the pieces together. So yeah, none of that.
It sounds kind of cold hearted, but this well-loved child is surrounded, sometimes literally, with toys. Not only does he have a closet full (literally) of stuffed animals, a couple drawers full of small cars, shelves full of big cars, action figures galore (thanks to Aden and I), giant Star Wars vehicles, three baskets full of trains, three big baskets full of tracks and accessories, and still more stuff arriving all the time (recently the Richard Scarry Busy Town playsets my sister and I had as kids), which isn’t to mention the plethora of kid-friendly cartoons and TV-on-DVD I have and books and comics which he’s going to at some point soon be able to read himself (recently added the Sesame Street Library vol. 1-12 plus a half dozen issues of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew to the stacks, which he’s loving). He’s got plenty to keep him occupied and happy, so you’ll forgive me if we don’t spent hundreds of dollars on him just because advertisers tell us we should.
If I had my druthers I’d completely ignore Christmas altogether.
Superlady statues… are they cheesecake or offensive, or both. Powerful and attractive or pornography and ugly. Being a red-blooded male who likes to look at women (but LOVES women for their personality and character) I’m not likely the best person to answer these questions for everyone, but I shall try to look at these as objectively (and not as object-ly) as possible.
MILD - eh, really, nothing to get too worked up over, acceptable for most
MEDIUM - okay, you’ve got a point, they could have changed a few things
HOT - it’s just about tits and ass and bad art
HAWT - well, I like it.. sue me.
Catwoman vinyl statue: Unfortunately it seems that Selena forgot to zip herself up when she went out for a night on the prowl, and wearing that leather catsuit without anything on underneath, skin to leather, well, she’s going to fill up her boots with sweat, I’m sure. By the Japanese sculpting co. Kotobukiya (who has done such respectable designs in the past as featured on the inside back cover of Previews this month…NSFW)
Batgirl bust: the classic costume, classic Barbara Gordon, a powerful pose, and hot… reminds me of Aden (probably because she uses Batgirl as an avatar on occasion). Beautiful without being flaunty.
Big Barda bust: I’d much more appreciated her in her classic costume rather than the Kirby-thong Adam Hughes put her in (I was informed that this is what she wore in the Justice League Unlimited episode she appeared in). Quite obviously she’s posing as the escape artist’s assistant, judging by the hand positioning, but, I don’t actually recall Barda ever being Mr. Miracle’s apprentice, so it’s more inaccurate rather offensive that she’s holding his cape. That’s Oberon’s job.
Black Canary bust: scary. I normally find Black Canary pretty foxy… I mean bustier and fishnets with that 1/4-length coat, the sensitive but tough as nails character… and yeah…when she’s in her “canary cry” pose, you’re in for a world of hurt mate. But are we supposed to see this as insinuation? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Accurate but slightly bothersome.
MILD - eh, really, nothing to get too worked up over, acceptable for most
Supergirl vinyl: UHGLEE. Disturbingly so. It’s all disproportionate and tacky and, well, Supergirl is a teenager. Leave the dirty teen statues to the anime nerds. Gluh.
Wonder Woman vs. Superman statue: rock on, Wonder Woman looks very powerful and Clark seems to be on the defensive. She looks great and in control. Perfecto. From a purely practical standpoint though, I just wonder how she’s supposed to stay in the air like that.
Donna Troy bust: I was walking Aden through the various “Women of the DC Universe” busts yesterday, and when I told her that this is the one that most reminds me of her, and she was offended, because she LOATHES Donna Troy. But it’s true. Though Donna’s perhaps got way too much makeup on, the hair and the body just remind me of my special lady. Red spandex sweetie… :) I don’t know why Aden hates Donna so much. I’m a little fond of her because Phil Jimenez likes her so much, and Phil’s a cool guy.
Power Girl and Huntress Legacy statue: well, Huntress looks fierce and Power Girl looks… well, not so much like her usual tough-girl self. I’m bothered by the position she’s found herself in because it doesn’t seem like her at all.
Wonder Woman Lynda Carter statue: oy, they tried but failed to properly capture the likeness and Lynda is painted up something ugly. Not offensive, just bad.
Supergirl statue: ACH. Michael Turner… GROSS GROSS GROSS. Bad, bad art.
Catwoman bust: Actual conversation:
me- “Well, another cleavage intensive Catwoman statue. Why is she unzipping herself…”
her- “…or zipping herself up…”
me- “That’s unnecessary, really.”
her - “Yeah. What’s that in her other hand…It’s a diamond!”
me- “But wh… oh, she’s sticking the diamond into her cleavage…”
her- “…because she doesn’t have any pockets…”
me- “Clever girl.”
Harley Quinn bust: that girl’s going to bonk you on the head with a mallet, she will… totally Harley
Hawkgirl bust: you know, this is just ugly. The whole “innocent girl holding the mace behind her back” thing is out of character, and well, it’s ugly.
Poison Ivy bust: bust is right… there’s quite literally nothing holding her in. Seriously, what were these people thinking when they sculpted her. Yes, Poison Ivy is always portrayed as a temptress, but she’s also sensible enough to wear an outfit that will keep her boobs from spilling out if she bends over or… moves… at all.
Supergirl: this is…sexy. I’m trying to justify that this is the old Kara, the 1980s Supergirl, to get over my conflicted pervy feelings. Just shows, though, that it’s not always flesh that makes things attractive.
Zatanna bust: Actual conversation:
her- “nothing wrong with that”
me- “well, she is sticking her tongue out, that’s kind of suggestive”
her- “oh come on, she’s concentrating. I stick my tongue out when I concentrate all the time.”
me- “oh, like Michael Jordan.”
Wonder Woman bust: OH COME ON! Seriously? Why does it look like her bustier, which is supposed to be metallic armor, is painted on? And her metallic belt is shaped around her abs? And her boobs are contained only slightly better than the Poison Ivy statue. Sheesh. Demeaning.
Wonder Woman action statue: A powerful pose and she looks in complete control of the situation. But she’s way too busty, and again, her bustier-armor looks painted on.
Cover to Cover Wonder Woman: striking a powerful pose with her sword standing atop a skull.. decent.
Wonder Woman mini-statue: a little too super-model-esque. The original Brian Bolland cover this is from looked more powerful and strong, where as here she’s been legged out and softened to be more ladylike, which I don’t like.
Animated Zatanna statue: Okay, I get the stage outfit, I get the box, I get the cuffs and chains are all part of the magician thing, but still this bothers me slightly. I suppose seeing a real female magician being handcuffed and chained and locked in a box would bother me too, but if it’s what her male counterparts are doing as well, then surely she can too. Confused.
Note: I noticed that many of the “Women of the DC Universe” busts varied slightly (or greatly) from the original Adam Hughes illustrations, in some cases making the women either bustier or revealing more boobage that the design called for. Stupid sculptors.
Further to the statue
The MJ statue is still on my mind (and not for the obvious reasons). But I think what makes the statue such a heated issue is that - unlike many statues of women that are quite flagrantly demeaning or disturbingly sexualized (like the many manga/anime statues of little girls holding their skirts up) - this one tells a story. What that story is, however, is what you bring to it.
If you want to see that she’s being objectified and denigrated by wearing a pair of jeans with a fray in the bum and a thong, then you will see that. If you think she’s being subservient doing Peter’s laundry, then you will see that. If you think she’s a passive and unwilling participant in whatever the scene is, then you will see that.
I’ve stated previously what my view of this is, and there’s a few others scenarios that do come to mind. Some comments I’ve read about it (below: from 1 man and 3 women respectively) had this to say:
“she’s glancing over her shoulder, somewhat cheeky looking in the face. Maybe she’s planning a little late night role-playing session where she gets to be Spidey and Petey gets ‘rescued’”
“who does laundry in a bucket with a pose like that? Its a set up for ‘Spidey and the naughty laundress get wet’ IMO.”
“Granted, it’s a cheesy pin-up pose, and I too would like to think she’s being playful.”
“And I agree that’s totally what the set up is. Its a peek into Peter and MJs home life, and if they’re flirting shamelessly while doing laundry, power to ‘em.”
To say that MJ would never do or wear something like this is denying her any sort of sexuality. To believe them as fully fleshed out characters but then say that her and Peter don’t have some kind of fantasy life (”Go get ‘em Tiger”) would be naive. To argue that a statue representing this quite obviously private moment is tacky is valid, but to say that it’s porn is denying that sexuality exists, even for comic characters. Again, my point, as always, is just keep it out of the books… (radioactive sperm, sheesh). Comics are, at least DC and Marvel would like to have you believe, accessible, but when you have a lack of minorities (or tokenized ones), thinly characterized and objectified women, and all too often extreme violence or overly mature situations that kids shouldn’t be exposed to, then you’re not being very open to the bulk of the entertainment audience.
But if something with a production run of a few thousand (actually only 900 of these things are being made) and niche-priced as a $150 statue is targeted solely at older men (at that price point it isn’t going to the kids), then fine. I’m not buying it, but I don’t really care if someone else wants to, but it’s not what the industry is built on. I think there should be statues and models that are targeted at all different groups: sexy stuff for men and women, generic stuff for everyone, silly fun stuff appealing directly to kids….
It’s okay to target different markets, everything doesn’t have to be for everyone, but at the same time, don’t just target one market continually. Of course there isn’t a diverse range of target markets because of a perceived lack of interest from certain markets (and we know why there’s a lack of markets, because DC and Marvel have failed to attract or maintain those markets). Clean up the comics, make them (it doesn’t have to be all of them, but the bulk of the mainstream lines should be) accessible for all, and then there will be a lot less need for these types of uproars.
And realize that even if your female fan base is only 10% of the market, and supposing the superhero readership is only 200,000 fans that’s still 20,000 women out there that might like to see some beefcake. I’m telling you, you could easily sell 900 statues of Nightwing in mid-dress (or mid-undress). Or how about Captain America in a pair of Speedos and nothing else but his helmet and shield. I know one lady who would buy one of each, at least.
On the Mainstream and their problems
While most of the discussion as of late centers around gender issues (because the “When Fangirls Attack” crowd is the loudest and most organized group addressing them), thats only one part of the puzzle that comics is missing. Race, sexual orientation and younger readers are all under-represented or under-targeted by the industry who has, by and large, made the claim that there isn’t a market there, basically because they don’t want to try hard enough to reach it, or they don’t know how and they don’t want to learn. It’s pretty pathetic.
Back in the ’80’s, when I grew up, DC and Marvel comics were fairly accessible. Not to say that they didn’t tackle dramatic issues or mature themes, but they weren’t riddled with exploding guts or perky nipples either. As an 8 year-old I could pick up almost any comic with the DC bullet or the Marvel masthead and simply and easily escape. This isn’t to say the 80’s were perfect, but that kind of storytelling, where it allows young new readers to come in, easily, is where the mainstream needs to return to, by and large. The constant focus on company-wide crossovers, while healthy for maintaining your 100,000 core readers, only ostracizes the entire remainder of the possible audience. For an outsider to come in and try and approach a Crisis or Civil War, a whole lot of priming must happen, and most people would be easily dissuaded, not having or interested in investing the time to understand what’s so important about these events.
Of course, pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, minorities were often tokenized and women were thinly characterized (if not nearly as drastically objectified as they became in the 1990s) and that needs to change too. Whenever some strides are made to have a title centered around a black or female character, and it fails, the execs use that as an excuse to say “look, they don’t sell” without ever really examining WHY they didn’t sell (lack of support, doomed to failure from the beginning, bad writer, inappropriate artist, etc).
These days, DC and Marvel do things like: “lets make Captain America black”, or “maybe the new Blue Beetle can be Latino”, or “how about a female Punisher”, and “we have Scoobie-Doo comics for the kids” and then dusting their hands and saying, “there, all done, something for everyone.” Well, as appreciated as the gesture is, you still have to introduce characters who will connect with the audience, whatever age, race, gender, or age.
This is a nice write-up from former DC staffer Johanna Draper Carlson, much better thought out and in the most part reflects exactly my sentiments on the matter.
I’d be interested to see existing superhero comics change to be so girl-friendly that they’d have a majority female audience… but to get there, I think you’d have to remake so many levels of the current direct market (creators, superhero company executives, distributors, retailers) that the world would no longer resemble the one we know…
…I would really like to see what some of them thought about Go Girl!, the only comic I know of that’s unquestionably a superhero comic made by women for girls. But we’re not really talking about superheroes; we’re talking about DC and Marvel superheroes, because many of those requesting more girl-friendly superhero comics want them with the familiar characters they have a love/hate relationship with.
So true. But at the same time, I don’t know that the push is ostensibly “superhero comics for women” but making those comics less outright offensive. Has anyone seen if there’s a list from the Fangirl Rampage out there of what’s routinely offensive and also the conceits they’re willing to give their superhero comics?
And for Aden, and any of the other “dissenters” that get immediately ostracized for not sticking with the herd on every point, Johanna also isn’t one of the gang.
P.S.: I wrote this two days ago, and I’ve since reading many of Johanna’s blog entries like this one, I’ve made my peace with the MJ statue business (her masters in sociology studying fan behavior gives her some pretty good insight, as does her experience as a fan and industry insider). This is the last I’m going to address it unsolicited. Still willing to discuss it in my comments if someone wants to, but no more posts.
Also, had this thought the other day when thinking and typing about this issue so much: That’s not my only opinion, just my first.
Meaning, essentially, I’m not close minded. I don’t always make up my mind and hold fast to that opinion. Reading, discussing, debating, watching, thinking, understanding, examining things beyond just your first assessment means your initial conclusions aren’t your only conclusions. As big-brained humans (as Vonnegut would call us) we have the luxury of processing and storing a gluttony of information, and to hold fast on one opinion for eternity would be denying the influence of our communal existence. It’s why I don’t get religion, because so much of it asks that you hold fast to one belief while denying so much evidence or information outside of it. There are people that can juggle the exterior information and still have their faith, and more power to them, but sheeping your way through life is no existence at all.
One final quote
My worst fear is that what many male comics readers will take away from all this is the unfortunate idea that most fangirls will find their erotic desires to be demeaning regardless of context or circumstance. Given the astonishing number of truly risable images, characters and stories out there in the Direct Market, seizing upon a harmless bit of cheesecake like this only reinforces the notion that there’s no way to win against such complaints — that male sexuality is somehow offensive by definition — and that the only reasonable thing to do therefore is to ignore them altogether. And that truly would be a shame.
Have you seen the BINGO card? It’s a pretty clever piece of shut-them-up-quick anti-argument propaganda. Does it have merit, well yeah. Because when fanboy clash with fangirl, oft times fanboy argues with basic blunt statements, the old “put up or shut up” or “well that’s just the way it is”, which contribute nothing to the discussion. But are all of these fanboy statements valid to ignore? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s explore:
Just read manga like the rest of the girls.
Well that’s just dumb. Manga is more riddled with offensive material than mainstream superheroes are. The Japanese tendency to mix sex and violence is highly disturbing, and the abundance of subjugation and rape is probably 100:1 compared to American work. And the child-like appearance with adult body parts is just disturbing. Not saying this is all manga, but it’s more rife with that kind of stuff…
But doing martial arts in high heels is perfectly reasonable!
If “What Not To Wear” taught me anything, it’s that flats are ugly. A little bit of heel is needed simply for appearance sake. Not stilettos though, that’s completely impractical. Sometimes though, aesthetics do need to win out in the fantasy world of superheroes.
No one wants realism in comics!
Not true. There’s a dividing line between reality and fantasy. For any story to work the fantasy has to have some grounding in reality, and in superhero comics, a large part of that is the visual realization of heroes and heroines with some anatomical correctness and realistic movement and quasi-plausible wardrobe, as well as naturalistic dialogue and some semblance of real personality.
If you don’t like it, shut up and write your own.
Erm, it’s not about what’s available, it’s about what’s prominent. Making your own comics isn’t going to change much (but it does help). Doesn’t mean you can’t still try and get the bigger companies to change their tune, though.
Sexism is a convention of the genre!
Not even worth examining. Whoever tries to argue this point is missing the point.
You’re only jealous because you don’t look like that.
We’re all jealous that we don’t look like that. We all have our insecurities, and for some the buff man and buxom woman play into that, for others it’s just a reminder of what you don’t have or what you don’t look like. But the point is more that the women are drawn as sex objects from a by many artists when it’s completely outside the scope of the story being told. It’s not a jealousy thing, it’s about the necessity of objectification…
But super-strong women don’t need bras!
I agree. Bras, unless they’re worn on the outside like Superman’s underwear, has no place inside spandex. I don’t want to see undewear lines on the Flash’s tights, nor bra lines under Batwoman’s. That said, nipples really don’t need to be represented under the spandex either.
But rape happens in real life too!
Exactly, but do we really need to have it perpetrated or insinuated within the pages of escapist material? The answer is: sometimes. But rape as character motivation is tired, and as “character building” is insulting. It can be a story point, yes, but in superhero comics, which *should* be intended for all ages, it’s really not appropriate.
Why are you complaining about comics when women in Muslim countries are oppressed?
The same reason you’re complaining that the continuity between 52 and Justice Society of America aren’t in synch instead of worrying about kids in Sudan. Women can care about comics too.
Are you calling me a misogynist!?
Are you one? Take a good look at yourself, and answer that on your own. If you think the question is even being asked of you, do you have an answer?
So you want comics full of ugly fat chicks?
Some women I’m sure do, but no, I think what is needed is respect of the female characters beyond sex objects and rape bait and character builders for the male characters. Women should look just as good kicking ass as men should, but naturally good, not “sexed-up” good.
But she’s from an alien culture with no nudity taboo!
If there are alien men around also sporting a mostly nude aesthetic, then great. But if it’s simply an excuse to draw a tarty woman with no characterization, then bleh.
But men are drawn unrealistically too!
See also: No one wants realism in comics!. Yes, the men are drawn as an ideal, just like the women, but they’re not put in pouty lipped, suggestive poses all the time. It’s an artistic and editorial decision to allow such conduct, and that’s what needs to change.
This is just fanboy entitlement… from women!
Damn skippy, only it’s not. It’s a matter of respecting the audience, not just women, but all readers. Fanboy complaining is usually about inane plot points and discrepancies in characterization: this is about treating, en masse, the readers and characters with a different level of respect and consideration.
My girlfriend never complains about this stuff.
Mine neither. My girlfriend will argue “but there’s the men for the ladies, too” on occasion, and she’s right, but also acknowledging that the men aren’t sexied up in the same way the women are… in other words, either sexy up the men or tone the women down…
If you don’t like them, don’t read them.
But they do like them, they’re just assaulted by imagery or characterization that tries so very hard to push them away. Imagine if you’re, say, a big fan of NASCAR, and suddenly they start making the pit crews wear thong underwear instead of coveralls. Doesn’t mean you hate NASCAR, just, really, what the hell? That’s inappropriate.
But girls often wear skirts. Why wouldn’t they go flying in them?
See But doing martial arts in high heels is perfectly reasonable!… again, it’s aesthetics and I don’t have a problem with it. A sensible superheroine will have some trunks or shorts on underneath.
Men can’t help themselves! Why are you punishing us for our biology?
Not sure what angle this argument is coming from. If this is a rape arguement, it’s disgusting.
There aren’t many women working in mainstream comics because they’re just not good enough.
Well, considering how awful so many of the male writers and artists are, I’d call bullshit on that. Yes, there’s a sexist attitude towards women in hiring them for the big projects, but they really need to get their foot in the door the same way most other writers and artist do these days: by doing something else first. Whether it’s publishing their own comics (Jill Thompson) or writing a TV show (Johanna Stokes) or film or book that has comics crossover appeal (Laurell K. Hamilton or Jodi Picoult), or just proving your as big a continuity nerd as the boys (Gail Simone). You can’t just expect a free ride. Yes, the men and women in charge need to take greater strides at identifying the right talent (male, female, black, white, asian, latino, gay, straight) and putting them on the right books.
But male characters die too!
Uh huh. But male characters die for the sake of saving the world or in the heat of battle. They die as heroes for honor and valiance. Women tend to die to give a male character motivation or “depth”. There’s a heavy and unfortunate disparity there. I think the only male character to die for this purpose was Terry Long, Donna Troy’s husband.
In a sense, yes. But what’s being pushed for isn’t censorship, but decency and good taste in how characters are written and drawn.
But that costume suits her personality!
That can happen, sure. But sometimes it’s just flagrantly skin exposing for the sake of titillation. A little thought behind the practicality of some wardrobes is necessary. Bad character and wardrobe design, however, is not exclusive to female characters. Check out the bulk of what Rob Liefeld created. Even the legendary George Perez doesn’t really make very good costumes. I’d accept Phanom Lady over Jericho any day. In large part the problem is artists aren’t costume designers or fashionistas. Perhaps DC and Marvel should have a few trained designers on staff whose responsibility it is to design new wardrobes and hairstyles and whatnot for the characters…?
Women just don’t get comics.
That’s a blanket statement about a very large population, and is stupid to argue. Yes, there aren’t a lot of women who buy comics, and there aren’t a lot of women (by and large) who like comics, but when they female characters are objectified the way they are and when comics are so abjectly written and/or drawn for a post-pubescent male audience, it’s not really any great surprise they’re not interested. However, if superhero books didn’t focus their stories and art so much on male power fantasies (often to the denigration of women) then they would so immediately drive so many women away.
…I mean, because they’re just not interested.
Which isn’t wholly true and you know it. I’ve gotten many women (friends and girlfriends alike) into comic books, on many occasions even superhero books. They’re interested but obviously easily off-put.
Comics are never going to change. You’re wasting your time.
And with that attitude they never will. Imagine if all black people said “things are never going to change”… sure there’s some people who would like that, but we make fun of those people and their level of intelligence and their incestuous parentage.
I see why the BINGO card exists. Those, en masse, are some pretty dumb sentiments, and I too would get tired of having to reply to them over and over. However, not all of them are easily dismissed, and they can have a deeper argument behind them, provided there actually is a deeper argument behind them when they’re made.
Aden pointed this latest fangirl rampage out to me yesterday, with the statement of “what is all this furor over the Mary Jane statue? …I agree its tasteless, but I don’t know if its worth getting that worked up over.”
I have to agree.
You know, I’m all for making fun of the horribly disfigured “women” Michael Turner draws, because really, he’s a shit artist… and you know when they apparently sexify a teenaged superhero, well, yeah, that’s unnecessary and wrong (considering it was a Jim Lee drawing I’m just numb to his artwork as is, so I didn’t really think of it one way or another at first)… and then you have the inclusion of, well, traced pornstar images appearing inside the books (see: Greg Land)… and when “women in refrigerators” is deemed “character building” I understand why there is a fangirl rampage… and I really do approve of it.
Superhero comics are, historically, an all-ages medium. I grew up reading them, as did millions of others, but, somewhere along the way the audience outgrew the medium. Blame cable tv, video games, the internet and other recreations that have attracted the young’un’s attentions in the past 30 years. In that time, let’s call it the 1990’s shall we, the mainstream comic book makers (read: DC and Marvel, the big two superhero producers) were swayed by two outside trends: sex and violence, which a lot of smaller press publishers were having some success with. With this, and understanding that their audience had started to dwindle and that the bulk of readers were teenaged or 20-something hangers-on from the 70’s and 80’s, comics decided to “grow” with their audience. Some good did come out of it… Vertigo and some smaller press companies that cater to a non-superhero audience with smartly written and decidedly spandex-free stories still exist and are a haven from the spandex hype that’s perpetuated by the success of superhero movies like the Spider-Man and X-Men trilogies.
Back in the 90’s, though, the mainstream, geared towards teenaged boys, became littered with not so much sex, but rather “bad girl” T’n'A art, where the artists drew women in skimpy or skin-tight costumes posing and posturing rather than being in movement. It was pretty unseemly. What made it worse was the violent nature of the time, where movies were pushing the limits of violence, and everything was going “Extreme” and “Grim’n'Gritty”. It was not a good time to be a comics fan, and I’m sure the ugly, busy art with big breasts and big guns was off-putting to many a parent who wished to buy their child a comic or two. And mixing sex (not the physical aspect, but the illustrative “sexy”) with violence, subjugating women, in essence certainly isn’t the what most of us want out of our escapist entertainment.
Since the crash of the “Grim’n'Gritty” and “Bad Girl” era of comics (which also coincided with the “Speculator Boom/Bust”), the big two (DC/Marvel) haven’t yet fully recovered. They’ve made some strides at trying to capture a new audience, but they’re still obsessed with catering to the late-20’s to early-40’s fanboy demographic that they’ve been stringing along for all these years at the expense of building a new fanbase.
This leads us to my point, comics need to cater to more than just an existing fandom. I don’t like seeing women posturing unnaturally in my comics when they’re supposed to be punching someone in the face, and using a cheesecake illustration for the sake of a cover, especially when it has no relevance to the contents inside, isn’t really essential. I also don’t care for on-panel exploding guts and decapitated heads, voluminous blood splatter isn’t really acceptable for the spandex crowd, especially when there’s ostensibly no ratings system in place for readers or parents to evaluate an individual title by. And i don’t want to see superheroes girlfriends ballgagged and tied up and made to look like they’re enjoying it, or murdered for the sake of giving Green Lantern something to get all emo over.
But, I do realize that comics are fantasy. Superheroes are supposed to represent an ideal, in physicality, in attractiveness, in capability, and in character. There’s a reason there’s very few ugly men or women running around in comics (the same way that the big film stars are generally quite attractive), and that’s because it plays into the whole pastiche of reader fantasy. The bad ass vigilante or the noble neo-god, the meek reporter or the billionaire playboy, the superhero and their alter ego give the reader a gateway to a different, much larger, more diverse fantasy life.
Teenaged geeks are, generally, outsiders, unpopular with the cool kids, often with body issues or confidence issues. The fantasy of comics, the buff or buxom unattainable bodies are part of the attraction to it all. The power, quite obviously another part. And identifying with a character who represents both strength and attractiveness brings the reader well into that realm and, in some (many) cases, these fantasies can extend beyond just the printed page.
To find the tight, muscular, spandex-clad men and women of comicdom alluring isn’t altogether unseemly, in fact, unintentionally that’s what they’ve been for years, and moreover, it’s part of the attraction, part of the fantasy of comics. It’s only really since the 1990’s that the obviousness of this aspect has reached the production stage of the mainstream books, and it just hasn’t left since. I would like to see a return to a more willfully oblivious superhero world, where within the pages of comic books the superheroes and superheroines by and large are drawn from an unobjectified perspective and they move in a manner that isn’t reminiscent of a Sports Illustrated photo shoot.
But that doesn’t mean the fantasy can’t extend outside the page. Yes, there’s slash fiction and plenty of fan-created materials on-line to feed this, but “official” stuff is always going to be of a better quality and more attractive, if only because it’s legit. If DC or Marvel wants to print a cheesecake poster of an Adam Hughes-drawn Power Girl or Frank Cho-drawn Spider-Woman, then why not? If they want to make cheesecake bust of Batgirl or Vargas-esque statue of Mary Jane then hey, go for it (it’s when the Michael Turner and horribly anatomically incorrect artists are allowed to do it that I’m offended). Just keep it out of the comics that are intended for a general audience. Though a poster isn’t all that expensive, an alluring portrait on the wall of a teenaged boy’s room is still subject to the scrutiny of his parents. A $50 to $300 bust or statue with a production run of a few thousand are going to be snapped up by fanboys who can afford it, taken to their basements, and rarely to see the light of day beyond that (especially considering most comic book stores don’t order many statues unless requested by a patron, because they’re pricey inventory to hang onto if they don’t sell). If a cleavage-intensive, thong-wearing, ripped jeans Mary Jane bending over a wash basin is going to give a fanboy a few dozen nights of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Parker fantasies, I really don’t see a problem with it. Like I said, just keep it out of the pages. And it’s not like low-cut t-shirts, ripped jeans, and thong underwear don’t exist in everyday life (my girlfriend will tell you that she owns all three, and, from sheer observation, whenever a woman bends over or even sits down in jeans, the jeans move down exposing the underwear… I tease Aden about this often… and apart from moving to wearing, ugh, the “mommy jean” [I watch way too much "What Not To Wear"] that kind of thing isn’t going to stop). I’m not saying that the statue shouldn’t be offensive to some, and I’m not saying that it isn’t kinda tacky, but at the same time it’s cheesecake, and there’ll be 5000 (or so) lonely guys who will enjoy the hell out of it. I say let ‘em have it.
I’m personally much more disturbed by the proliferation of Anime statues and figures which have childlike-but-buxom anime women[?] in submissive [or worse] positions, especially considering how Anime and Manga is more in line with what the kids are actually reading and watching these days. This model is MJ washing Petey’s tights in a skimpy, yet, really, everyday outfit. It’s not like she’s in her underwear bowing down at the heels of Electro or anything. Looking at the statue my imagination conjures that Peter is there with her, having just shucked his costume, his (supermodel, remember) wife decides to wash them (and I know personally that spandex is handwash only) and put on a little show. The statue is a peek into Peter and MJ’s private life, don’t real couples do this kind of thing in the privacy of their own home? Some may think that’s distasteful, others will find it appealing. I’m not purchasing it, I don’t need it, but I’m not angered or even offended (This Supergirl statue is so much more offensive, primarily because it’s so absurdly unrealistic, and secondly because she’s a flippin’ teenager). In fact, I think it’s kind of nice, showing that yes, even married couples can still have sexy fun. They should do a similar statue with Sue Richards, mother of two, to show that a wife and mother can still be smoking hot.
You know, straight fanboys aren’t the only ones who have these kinds of fantasies. The delightful website Living Between Wednesdays has been Rating the Super-hunks, and more power to her (I think it’s great), and a few of the links incoming to Rack Raids are from gay fanboys, containing pictures of pinup men and comic book discussion, which I think is rad. There is a large contingent of female and gay comics readers who I’m sure would love some equal opportunity beefcake happening. A statue of a hunked out (bulging) Nightwing or an “all-hammock” posterbook of the super-men I’m sure would be appreciated by many a gayfan and fangirl.
To say there shouldn’t be cheesecake - or beefcake - as ancillary by-products would be ignoring the demand for it, and obviously there is demand, however niche. But as witnessed by the Commander Steel incident, there’s obviously some ingrained homophobia in the comics industry, which just like sexism, needs to be beaten out before equal-opportunity fan-service will happen.
None of this is to say that there aren’t problems with sexism (or racism or homophobia) in the comics industry, because it does abound. I just think that the battles that need to be fought should stick to the source material: the comics and the people who make them. The ancillary stuff is so niche (most statues only get a couple thousand made) that it’s not the stuff of consequence. Like an actress who goes from 7th Heaven to the cover of Maxim, you can easily watch the show and ignore the peripherals. It’s when her character start striking porn-star poses while having an argument with daddy that you need to get upset. I don’t think a statue or a poster should detract from a title or story or character, they’re fun fan-service that has their place (just a little equal opportunity would be nice).
(note: Fangirl Rampage is not meant in any way as a derogatory sentiment, in fact more rampaging fangirls would be a definite boon to the industry)
Aden and I came up with this nifty way to get people to give up or at least accept their role as the dregs of modern society. We call it the asshole tax. While we haven’t thought of every variable, this tax would, at the very least, be municipally instigated. It doesn’t take into account if you’re a nice person with a decent blue collar job, or a genuine scum-of-the-earth, shyster lawyer feeding off other peoples misery, it merely takes into account your choice of vehicle and it’s impact on the people around you.
Yes, if you decide to buy a sports car or SUV or something equally impractical (read useless) then you, my friend, are subject to an off-the-bat asshole tax. Really, in the society we live in, a sports car is genuinely useless. There’s no storage, transport or passenger capacity (so you can write out carpooling from the equation), and all that the vehicle is really good for is speed, of which you need very little on the slow-moving streets of Toronto, and even less on the gridlock-stalled 400-series highways. Similarly, are you ever going off-roading? Not likely considering 95% of what an SUV commercial will show you a vehicle is doing is either CGI fantasy or illegal. If you live in the city, even if you live out of the city, an SUV serves very little purpose other than to suck up gas like a Dyson does dirt. For most SUV drivers, there’s nothing you’re toting in your vehicle that you couldn’t fit into a Honda Civic.
Now the “Asshole Tax” is generally a one-time only deal. It’s basically a point-of-sale hit of $3000 - $5000 (depending on the make of your vehicle, a BMW SUV is going to get a max hit), and its you, as customer, acknowledging that you’re buying a vehicle that isn’t in any way suitable to your needs, and/or is overcompensating for some… deficiency. If you don’t like it, go buy a hybrid, which grants you the “Good Guy Discount”. A regular vehicle, like a VW Jetta or a mini-van has no additional discount or tax (I’m still contemplating pick-up trucks, as there are way too many people driving them around that never make use of the bed space).
So, you will notice that I said it’s “generally” only a one-time deal. That’s because the Asshole Tax will come back to haunt you if you drive, well, like an asshole (this is actually the genesis of the name). Every time you, in your sports car, get nabbed for an infraction, like speeding, red-light running, tail gaiting, etc, that’s another $500 - $1000 tax on top of the ticket (hey, if you can afford an $80,000 car, you can afford a $1000 tax on your traffic infraction). If you in your SUV are caught skipping curbs, chatting on your cel-phone on the highway, failing to signal, cutting off other drivers and the like, you too get an additional $500 - $1000 taxed on top of your fine. Sure that’s steep, but that’s the price you pay for buying a vehicle you can’t handle and don’t really need. Take heed, though, SUV drivers, if you’re carrying a load that can justify your SUV use (ie. back end packed with camping gear or towing a boat behind you), then no Asshole Tax will apply, you just get the shame of being nabbed by the police for whatever stupid thing you did.
It’s not the perfect solution, but I know it will make me happier the next time I’m cut off by a Beemer when I’m biking through Forest Hill knowing that the nimrod got dinged an extra tax for his obviously prickish nature. Apologies to all the nice people who just wanted to own a pretty car.
entertainment “news” programs
(Like “Entertainment Tonight”, “E!”, “Access Hollywood”, ect.)
As if these shows aren’t annoying enough simply because they exists, but also in the sheer number of them that seem to be penetrating TV. Vapid and soulless, lacking any sort of insight or integrity, these shells of entertainment programming exist only for celebrity idol worship and gossip mongering to continue.
I’ll admit, I used to watch ET religiously back in the 80’s and early 90’s with my mother, embarking upon me a depth of trivial knowledge that will only find itself useful on the simplest of board games. But back then, pre-internet, there seemed to be a bit of merit to entertainment reporting (behind the scenes reports, rumours of upcoming movies, analysis of the fall season, reviews) and not just sensationalism and lurid celeb gawking.
But now days you have these entertainment shows hosted by people who think they’re doing something important, that they have merit, and delude themselves into thinking they have established and valid relationships with celebrities (”our friend Kevin James from King of Queens is stopping by”). The film For Your Consideration (for all its mediocrity) hilariously had Fred Willard and Jane Lynch acting as these vacuous shells of humanity, devoid of everything but a smile and ability to read a teleprompter. Willard especially, with his Ryan Seacrest hair-dos, overdoses of make-up and use of “hip street slang” isn’t far off from what we see today, epitomized by the nipped, tucked, and still trying Mary Hart, who I heard refer to someone’s pregnancy as a “baby bump” which still, to this day, makes me a little ill to my stomach, and kind of angry.
What’s more, I was flipping between channels yesterday and came across one of these shows, and the host was doing a big profile on… herself! Good god, there’s really not much more pathetic than when an entertainment news show thinks their host’s weight loss battle is a story, and it’s made even sorely stupid when the host in question reports her own story. At least back in the day when John Tesh would do an appearance somewhere, ET would have the graces to have Mary Hart do the report. But entertainment hosts should never consider themselves celebrities, and entertainment shows should never encourage this kind of thing. It always strikes me as bad forms when the interviewer thinks they’re as important as the actors/directors/musicians before them, talking to them as if they a) know who this person before them is and b) actually care.
One word for you “entertainment news”: pyjamas!
Okay, I’m tired of reading these comments about 300 that dub it as “anti-gay” and homophobic because of one line which a Spartan refers, derogatorily, to those “philosophers and boy lovers” from Athens.
Yep, it’s a machismo crack on the part of the Spartans, lifted directly from Frank Miller’s comic (as was the bulk of the dialogue and narration), and while it’s not shown in film, it’s quite readily acknowledged that the Spartans were routinely privvy to their own homosexual escapades when resting from battle, though they would likely never admit to it.
I’m not a fan of Frank Miller, but I’m not anti-Miller either. When his comic was first published, he received the same “you’re a homophobe”-type comments from some readers, within the letter columns of one issue he addressed this by provided pretty much the above explanation. While, yes, he didn’t show the Spartans venturing into that man-love territory, there was nothing homophobic about it. Jibing or ridiculing your adversaries and bolstering your own troops in the process was no doubt common (and still is). It’s a way to feel superior, and to keep morale up when approaching battle.
But, my sticking point is this: the boy-lovers comment isn’t about men having sex with men, as the Spartans did as well, it was about “weak” (non-warrior) philosophers and their cherubic, pre-pubescent concubines. The Athenians were, in fact, BOY lovers, and not just into man-man relations. With all this outrage at the one throw away - though chuckle inducing - line in 300, I’m really wondering when it became acceptable to say that “boy loving” was okay. We have laws against that sort of thing these days, and with the exception of NAMBLA, we try and champion against such things in the world at large. Do the same people expressing outrage over the comment in 300 get as equally upset every time Jon Stewart makes a NAMBLA crack on the Daily Show?
In a post-opening weekend interview with Comic Book Resources, director Zack Snyder had this to say about much of the controversy surrounding the film (which also includes people reading political/anti-Iran motivations):
You know, when I see that, when I see someone use words like “neocon,” “homophobic,” “homoerotic” or “racist” in their review, I kind of just think they don’t get the movie and don’t understand. It’s a graphic novel movie about a bunch of guys that are stomping the snot out of each other. As soon as you start to frame it like that, it becomes clear that you’ve missed the point entirely.
And that pretty much sums up my thoughts about anyone who looks waaaay too deeply into this movie. It’s not a treatise on anything, it’s not intending to provoke “War in Iraq” thoughts, it’s not intending to push forth any sort of pro- or anti-gay sentiment, and it has no agenda other than looking pretty and entertaining. It’s the viewer and their agenda that reads these things into it.
The CHUD.com 300 review expends many words trying to extract messages and allusions to BushGov and Iran/Iraq conflict and comes out completely baffled, unsure of which side of the battle (the Spartans or the Persians) are supposed to represent the Americans
But what’s funny about the whole film is how it is unable to control its own metaphors because of the ambiguity of the Iraq situation. Is Leonidas a stand in for Bush? Or could Xerxes be Bush?”
The answer, quite simply, is neither. Miller nor Snyder intend this to be metaphorical (especially noting that Miller crafted well 300 before the war in Iraq) . It’s a pretty, pretty underdog power fantasy with (insanely) buff men battling overwhelming odds. Whatever you read into it is really your issue and not the film’s.
This is going to be short, although it deserves more of an explanation but I’m getting “text-drain eye-strain” from staring at a computer monitor too long today so there’s only so much I actually feel like writing that’s going to make sense especially considering I’m not feeling punctuation friendly as I channel a little Kerouac for a second and spit out words all streamoconsciousnesslike and sometimes strung together in formations that don’t really make much sense and yet do if you read it properly but that’s difficult considering how hard it is to “get” intonation via text but some people are super keen at understanding it and others just scratch their heads and move along. But I’m rambling.
I used to big a big-big-big (Honeycombs!) fan of the music. I used to absorb it constantly, looking to be on top of the next great thing, trumpeting the newfoundglory (not the band) of some new band (not New Found Glory) and making cd compilations (yes I know, I still owe a bunch of people some compilations and yes, I’m tardy, but well, that’s what happens when you don’t give a shit anymore… and that’s what happened, I don’t give a shit anymore… almost. I’ve now written myself in a corner in this bracketed sub-statement so I’m going to close the bracket now) but continue as if the bracket were still open and not ignored.
Anyway, yeah, I’ve lost the flavour. I don’t care about being on top of the latest bands. It’s hard enough to care about the bands I claim I do like. I’ve just gotten tired of the whole scene, man, and whatever people are calling “fresh” and “new” all sounds like the same old shit from maybe last year, maybe 5 years ago, or maybe 30 years ago. There’s this band I found via CBC radio that sounds, basically like Queen, only a bit more modern in song structure, but I like it, cause it sounds like Queen… why don’t I listen to Queen instead? Well, Queen’s been overplayed. Oh certainly, I haven’t heard all Queen songs, but of the Queen songs I have heard I’ve heard them lots and lots and lots of times (FLASH! AH-AWWW!), so it’s gonna be hard to collect a bunch of queen songs that are a) barely played out or b) good (As there’s a reason most of the stuff I’ve heard from them is played out, because it’s their best stuff). And so I listen to Bend Sinister downloaded from the internets. But I make no further delusions for myself that this shit (it’s good shit mind you) is fresh… it isn’t. It’s retreading familiar ground as so many “new” “hot” “blog favourites” do… it doesn’t matter if that ground is 2 years or 20 years old, it’s all been done before.
I just came across Holy Fuck today, again, for the first time (and by that I mean I’ve heard them before, probably seen them in concert even… well, actually just missed them one time) and I love them. They’re doing this “analog dance music” (ie. computer free) thing which sounds all innovative but !!! has been doing it for a few years now (their new record, that is !!!, sounds hot) and even The Hidden Cameras were doing analog dance music a few years back, before Joel Gibb got all cute and decided he wanted to do more sugary bubblegum early-60’s pop effect (which I like too, but it’s not quite as stimulating as the big church organ repetitive danceable grind that he kicked off his career with).
So maybe this isn’t so short, but shut up, you know. I can ramble with the best of them, but only once in a while… I don’t ramble so good on a regular basis… you have to have a lot of free time to do that and free time is something I have but also something I cherish and waste it doing important things like building snowmen and being in love with my girlfriend and stuff like that (you didn’t just wretch there did you? Dude, that’s sick).
And what would you say to a lovely cup of tea?
Feck off, cup.
But i’ve lost my train of though, which isn’t so much like losing a train because really, how does one lose a train as they are rather massive and heavy and we all cannot have brilliant Bluthy-like powers of GOB or David Blaine. So yes, Music is the heart of life, or groove is in the heart or some contrivance of some sort like that (I used to write like this all the time, what happened to me) and yet, my heart is lost. Perhaps it’s because my iPod went AWOL sometime in January and has yet to rear its ugly head. As traumatic as that may seem, I’ve actually been kinda okay with it, as I still have music, when I want it, as I’ve begun to embrace the power of the podcast… although they can be too talky talky sometimes, but oh schnell, that’s the way gloves go.
But in the end (and not the ass) I look at my musical obsessions from the periods of 1993 to 2006, those which are tucked into four under-the-bed totes back at BOBTown, and I don’t see any excitement anymore… stones and dead weight for the most part. I wouldn’t be upset if they were gone, but I’m not going to be party to losing them either. Perhaps some day those six hundred (!!!) discs of happiness, tedium, envy, disappointment, love, infatuation, groove-shim and bitter fruits will be skeet, but collecting dust as they do does no one any harm (I never meant any harm).
But what? Really, is this sensical, in as much as sensical is not a word on its own and yet nonsensical makes it all better, wholly complete without the red underlining of the word-check-spelly thing. Channeling Dib there for a second. Will music ever regain its favour in my life? Probably not. The deliciousness of concert (gig) going is gone, as the mundane between set shenanigans rarely ever engaging. My verve for such things has departed… and I realize that my favourite music is Now, not Then. I like it new, I like it fresh and then I like it gone… I don’t like to go back, I’m not fond of revisiting. To many music is something to keep, I think to me it’s disposable. I’d rather reread the New Teen Titans that revisit the New Pornographers. That may not be entirely true, since sometimes Bejar and Case and Newman (spelling all go bad) write less badly than Wolfman… okay most of the times I’d much rather listen to A.C.’s whine than Raven and Starfires… this was a bad example brought forth by the use of the word “New” in both these titles. Let’s just say that this day, and most days that preceded it (recently at least) I’ve been enjoying the comforts of sequential art rather than the speaker crumbs of song.
But yes, there is new music to be found (just as I found old New Mutants in Aden’s long boxes), and though either might not be the bestest thing ever, perhaps like Seinkiewicz’s stunning art, we’ll find a funky drumbeat that gets me excited and back in the business of giving a damn about what’s the music of the month. Will I get the latest x or will I seek out the first album of y or will fond memories of MM and National at least get me into the record store twice this year?
How ’bout you?
Aden got free passes to see an advance screening of 300 last night at the Scotia Bank Theater (formerly Paramount). The show was a late one, expected to start at 9:00, but knowing the fan frenzy that surrounds the film I thought it wise to go early. We stepped in line around 7:30 but even still we were at least 150 people back. The waiting game, in all it’s suckage, commenced.
The two people ahead of us were chatting away for about 10 minutes when some obvious acquaintances of theirs stopped by. They pulled apart the flimsy nylon barrier and let their friends into line. It irked me, certainly, but I’ve been privvy to a butt-in or two in my lifetime, and being one or two people behind doesn’t hurt all that much. It was when a crowd of seven or so other people arrived 40 minutes later, and then the original guy who’d been standing there started letting them all into the very confined space they had in line that I, Aden, and the two ladies behind me got very vocal.
“You can’t just be letting a half dozen people in line,” I said to the guy.
“It’s okay, he said, “we all work at the same store.”
“That’s not an excuse,” I said back.
“They should have gotten here earlier,” Aden said.
“Well, we’re all together,” he retorted back.
“Back of the line!” One of the ladies behind us yelled.
And then the guy just laughed and turned and ignored us, proceeding to let this cluster of people in.
I recognize these assholes. They work for 1,000,000 Comics on Yonge Street. I don’t shop there often, but I do shop there… or I did, but not anymore. A little decorum and tact in society goes a long way, and that includes being respectful of others, whether it’s getting in line at a movie theater or dealing with customers in your store. It’s a minor thing, but it does make a difference.
Just thought I’d also note I saw much of the crew from Silver Snail there as well, and they waved at each other and said hi to each other when they arrived, but they all took their proper places in line.
So yes, effective today, no matter how in need I am of a comic, action figure or other geek junkie related crap I am, I’m not shopping at 1,000,000 Comics anymore. You bypass the “On Notice” board and head straight for the “Dead To Me”.
It was the wee hours of the morning when most people are asleep when I was discussing favourite films with my special lady. She was telling me how much she liked some chick flick and I said “you’re such a girl” when she said “yeah, but Jaws is also one of my favourites so I think that balances it out.” “Oh, come on,” I said, (not impersonating GOB from Arrested Development for once), “Jaws is such a chick flick. A big old feminist rallying cry about the power women have over men, and man’s desire to destroy or subdue the ‘vag’.”
Yeah, it was said tongue in cheek and I managed to expand on it further, going deeper and deeper into lunacy (shoving a phallic air tank into an orifice and exploding, men being cut in half at the torso = emasculation, etc). When asked about the early scene in which the shark eats a woman, I said it’s just the feminist going up against standards of beauty and attractiveness that the media forces upon them.
Then I started to do the same thing with Raiders of the Lost Arc, but was too tired and had a much harder time with it… something about man reclaiming his masculinity by stealing his sack back but then being overwhelmed by the power of his own testosterone represented by a giant ball rolling after him…
I dunno, goofy diatribes at 2am aren’t my strong suit anymore.
Aden called me last night after having an hour-long “discussion” with her Ex. She was audibly upset and it didn’t take rocket science to figure out things didn’t go well. I didn’t ask her what happened, I knew what happened already. I’ve dealt with people like him before, the kind of person who is always right and has an answer for everything. So she had essentially spent an hour on the phone with him listening to him beat down every answer to his questions, every statement she had to make, and invariably listen to him state his solution to his problem… a solution which isn’t any solution at all.
His argument generally was that it was wrong of her to bring me around the little one and that by doing so he’s become attached to me, and that, should things go wrong, he’s going to get hurt. In other words, he thinks it was a bad judgement call on her part and, essentially, that she’s a bad mother for it. He stated he went out with a girl for seven months but never introduced her to the little one, because he knew it wouldn’t last. He asked Aden if she could say unequivocably that we would still be together in six months and she said she cannot say 100% yes that we will be, and that was his point.
All of this is bullshit. All of these statements he made come not from the perspective of a concerned father, but of a control freak who no longer has control. From our perspective it was not just Aden’s call but mine as well to meet the wee one. We understood fairly early on that this was definitely a relationship and not just dating, and that if we were going to move forward than I was going to need to be a part of her life, her whole life and not just a fraction of it. We decided together that when I was ready and she was ready for myself and the little one to meet, that we would do it under the pretext of a party, where there would be other people the little one already knows and other children around as a distraction if need be… it just so happened that at the party the wee one took a shining to me and we had a great first interaction.
I wasn’t really concerned that I wouldn’t like him… I like kids, always have, and have had a good rapport with them, generally, for decades. No, what I was worried about was that the wee one wouldn’t like me, and that would be a strain on Aden and my relationship. But it’s been the exact opposite. The little one always seems happy or excited when I’m around. I play and I answer questions and I interact without patronizing or condescending. The little one’s a smart kid, and in general adults don’t give them enough credit for how intuitive and insightful they can be. The little one doesn’t talk much about what goes on at daddy’s when with mommy, an it’s obvious the reverse is true since the Ex didn’t know I was around until this week. It goes to show that the wee one understands that mommy and daddy don’t really like one another all that much and that they keep separate lives. Similarly, the little one understands that I make mommy happy and that we’re happy together, and the wee one genuinely seems to enjoy having that around.
The Ex says that if this relationship doesn’t work out it’s going to be hurtful to the little one. What the fuck does he know about it. I have friends who come from broken marriages and single parents, and honestly none of them are damaged from any of the relationships their parents brought into their lives. Yes, I’ve heard the stories of awful boyfriends or girlfriends and how the parents put their new relationships first over the children, but that’s not the case here. To accept Aden into my life meant accepting her child as well, and honestly, it wasn’t a hard decision to make at all. If the Ex is worried that his child is going to be hurt if I exit Aden’s life, well, you know what, it’s a fact of life that every person has to get used to. People come and go from others lives: friends, teachers, family… people move, people die, and people break up, and it does the wee one a real disservice to think he needs protecting from that.
The Ex asked Aden if she could say for certain that we were going to be together in six months? She could’ve said yes, and he would have called her a liar, because there’s nothing certain in life (save death and taxes). She’s smarter than that, so she said she couldn’t say for certain, and he then said that proved his point. The only point it proved is that he’s an irrational asshole who is using his child to try and get the better of his ex. That’s not concerned parenting, that’s just being an immature dick.
Aden and I aren’t dating. We were only dating for about three weeks before we both understood one another, and we both understood what we were in with each other. A relationship unlike anything either of us had experienced before, a relationship that not only met our greatest hopes but exceeded them, a relationship built on trust and honesty and, yes, love. To call me a skank, a fling, or a rebound is offensive, and not to me but to Aden. We’ve both had a couple long term relationships under our belt (aka, serial monogamy), enough to know what doesn’t work and what kind of relationship is not worth being in. We have nothing but the utmost respect, trust and love for one another, and how can you explain that to someone who doesn’t understand it? How to you explain it to someone that only sees what they want to see? How can you explain that to someone who is so self-involved that all they can do is project their own thoughts and habits upon others. He may have been in a 7-month rebound relationship, but that’s not what Aden does and that’s not what I do. He should know that, at least about her, but he doesn’t care. He wants to bitch and argue until he gets his way.
His way? He wants me to not be around the wee one anymore. For some reason in his illogical head this makes sense. His child is too attached to me and the little one is going to get hurt if I leave, so he wants me to leave. Yeah, that makes sense. And what’s Aden supposed to say when I’m not around anymore? We’re still going to be in a relationship. There’s not a reasonable lie to tell the child, and saying “Daddy said Graig isn’t allowed to be around you” isn’t a positive thing either. If I leave, and eventually come back (in six months time, I guess, which seemed to be his measure for a lasting relationship or something) the little one’s only going to be more confused, and perhaps even a little hostile towards me (which, I see now, might be part of the Ex’s little plan).
Well you know what? Tough luck, it’s not going to work. That option just isn’t an option. I said to Aden that if his concern is a stranger being around his child, then I’m willing to meet him so he can get to know me. We don’t need to be friends, but then he can at least understand I’m not a threat. The other option is we can keep going about things the way we have and we get to listen to the Ex bitch for another couple months until he gets tired and shuts up about it.
Aden and I would never dream of using the wee one to get to him, we’re not that spiteful. The way I figure is, over the next ten years, the little one will learn all about daddy’s character and he can make his own decisions. Neither one of us would even think of interfering in the Ex’s life to this degree, and Aden says she trusts him to make choices about whom he brings into his life with his child, and she asked the Ex why he can’t do the same. He said, basically, she hasn’t given him any reason to trust her. Ten years together and she never earned his trust. That makes me ill, especially since she earned my trust within the first week that we were dating. If anything is going to harm the little one it will be the Ex pursuing this any further. Maintaining hostility towards Aden and myself will only make the little one feel caught in the middle, and that’s a lot more damaging to him than if I ever left.
No, Aden and I aren’t getting married in the immediate future, and no, we’re not moving in together tomorrow either. But barring me getting hit by a car (most likely the Ex’s car I’d imagine), I’m not going anywhere. Aden and I have made long-term plans for travel and just life stuff. We are indeed happy even with him trying to interfere in our lives. He told Aden he wants her to be happy (which is complete bullshit) but that she has to keep her love life and her parental life separate. For her to be happy, they can’t be separate. She can’t compartmentalize her life like that. For him to ask that of her only shows how immature he is about relationships and how little he understands his ex.
I didn’t mean this to be a tirade against him, but I’m angry… I’m angry (but not surprised) about how he gets to Aden and I’m angry because I’ve dealt with people like him before. Statements like “I want you to be happy” are little gives, little lies that they use to make themselves sound like good people, when they’re just using such sentiments to try and justify their irrationality. You can talk to these people and answer their every question but they’ll twist and manipulate every statement and every answer into something that “proves” their point, twisted logic that need only make sense to them. The only way to deal with it is like dealing with a tantrum child, short, blunt statements that you don’t deviate from. Not succumbing to argument and not acquiescing is the only way to get through to them. They won’t like it, but they’ll come to understand that they have no power. I mean, there’s definitely a deeper seeded issue here than the wee one, I think it’s a control thing, it might be something else (I’m not a psychiatrist), but whatever it is, it’s annoying, but it’s nothing Aden and I (and the wee one) won’t overcome.
The Ex doesn’t get a say in this. That’s just how it works.
I should be going to sleep right now. It’s midnight as I type, I’ve been exhausted all day, and now I probably couldn’t fall asleep if I tried. It’s the drama, I know it is… and perhaps that nap I had when I got home from work, and the chocolate bar I had an hour ago. So I’m here, to talk about drama, but also to talk about the relationship, as I noted yesterday I would.
Those not in my inner intimate cadre might not know that the love of my life is also a single mother. I won’t go into detail in this post the thought processes that one goes through as a single, childless man when faced with an interesting and interested woman who also has a child, but suffice to say it’s not a frivolous decision to make: not for me, not for her. A friendship base of more than 8 months meant we had a good measure from which to make our choice, and neither one of us is one to let our hormones overcome our good sense (well, not initially at least).
I also won’t go into much detail right now about the pressure one goes through in meeting the child, but let’s just say that it’s not a frivolous encounter either, and that a lot of time was spent and conversation had, just Aden and myself, to make sure it was something I, she and the wee one were ready for when it would happen.
In short, as you might guess, Aden and I are getting along fabulously, and you might not know, but let me say that the little one took to me immediately and we became fast friends. I see his mother in him, so naturally I’m going to like him, and I’ve always had a great rapport with children (it’s not talking down to them that does it… that and being a big kid as well).
As you funnel through this info dump, you may wonder about the drama I speak of, and of which of these two it relates. Well, the drama relates to both, and myself, and yet stems from none of us. It’s the wee one’s father that’s causing the ruckous. I don’t want to bad mouth anyone, especially since I’ve never met the man, and this isn’t intended as an assault, believe me. You can bet I’ve heard enough of him to form an opinion, and it’s not the most positive one, but it’s not that negative of one either. Aden had a relationship with him that didn’t work out and there were reasons for that. The man isn’t a threat to me, if that’s where you thought I was going with this.
Recently, the little one was performing in a school sing-song, and I was invited along if I wanted to go. I wasn’t sure I did initially, but after a while it sunk it that it truly was something I wanted to be there for, and not just for Aden, or the little one, but for myself as well. To this point, Aden hadn’t mentioned me to the Ex at all, and we weren’t really sure whether he knew about me or not, or whether the wee one had talked about me or not. Aden called him to let him know I would be coming and he flipped his shit. Wigged right out. (Along the way I was referred to as a skank.) Essentially, he accused Aden of being irresponsible by having me around their child, which, for any who know me, is complete b.s. But he doesn’t know me, and he doesn’t want to know me, instead he wants to freak out about it.
But what it comes down to is this: I can see him being concerned about a stranger being around his child, but just because I’m a stranger to him doesn’t mean I am actually a stranger… or strange. I can also see him feeling threatened, thinking that I’m out to replace him as the wee one’s father, which isn’t the case. What is the case is I’m in love with the little one’s mother and I will do anything for her and therefore I will do anything for him because, obviously, he’s that important to her. He has a father, I know this, and I have no intentions of trying to take that away. But what gets me is that the Ex basically accused Aden of being a bad mother, which is utter rubbish. You may think I’m biased, but there’s no excusing bad parenting, and I wouldn’t keep shut about such a thing. Aden is a fantastic mother, and she AND the Ex (though separately) are raising a wonderful child. The fact that he doesn’t trust her just goes to show that he didn’t learn a thing about her in the 10 years they were together, he didn’t pick up on all those wonderful things in her character that I came to understand within a few weeks of meeting her. And that’s the saddest thing of all. Actually no, what’s sadder is the wee one expressed to him that he liked me which only seemed to make him more angry about the whole thing. It’s sad when you can’t even trust your own child.
Anyway, there’s more psychological analysis to be had, but not for public consumption. It’s not fair to anyone to air deeper dirt in a public forum. This is about the biggest issue Aden and I have faced in our relationship yet, but what we both understand is that a) this is the Ex’s issue and not ours, b) that the Ex has no say in what goes on between us, and c) no matter what, we’re all looking out for the little one and if we were having any negative impact on him at any point during these early stages of our relationship, we wouldn’t be together right now. But we are together, and we’re happy. The wee one’s even picked up on that and he’s happy to have me around, I’m sure mostly because I make Aden so happy. If the Ex doesn’t like us being together, that’s fine, he doesn’t have to, but for the wee one’s sake, he’s going to have to get used to it.
The holiday sing-song, by the way, was adorable, and myself, Aden, the wee one, all had a lovely time. Can’t speak for the Ex though, but he didn’t look very holly or jolly, and he took absolutely no initiative to approach or even look at me. I’m not saying we need to be friends, but you’d figure if he was so concerned about who this person was around his kid, he’d make the effort to know. But, I can’t say or do anything about it, it’s not my place to do so at this time. Aden’s handling it, and hopefully dude can relax and move along, but I guess we’ll see.
More for me to clear out my own brainmatter than actual interesting blogging (believe me, I’d much rather be continuing my GI Joe theme week), I’m feeling tired and stressed and irritable. Thankfully Aden’s keeping me grounded, and I’m resisting flying off the handle most of the time at work.
Top of the list is my health and the fact that discovered what it was that was making me so tired with a visit to the doctorb last week. They pumped me up with some antibiotics which have been irritating my stomach all week and not easing up my crankiness. Everything’s fine, really quite minor in the scheme of things, just highly annoying. It’s hopefully gone away, and I’m feeling mostly better but I’m worried that the drugs didn’t get rid of it all yet. Another round of anti-biotics would not please me. I’ll find out some news tomorrow.
But as a result of my slowed metabolism and my messed up anti-bodies, I’m still feeling a little off, and havn’t been sleeping well. I’ve been yawning all week and need more rest, relaxation and sleep. As much as I love the bands playing tonight, I think I’m going to skip out on the Parkas and 6ixty8ights to have a tub, catch up on some reading and a few ZZZs. You all should go though, because they are awesome.
I also need to call my hombre up in TBay before he goes under the knife on Halloween (yeah, spooky), which I will definitely do shortly.
The London trip is barrelling down on me and I’m freaking out because I’m in a rotten financial situation at the moment. Hotels are expensive and I need to pay for some accommodations which will be expensed upon my return. I’m hoping I have enough room on credit card to pay for the full thing (damn London is expensive… I’d been told, but I didn’t believe it) but I’m getting nervous since the Pound is very strong at the moment. Yes it’s only a temporary expense, but it’s going to hurt. I do have a payday between now and my departure, so that’s definitely going to help make sure I’m in the clear on it.
On top of that I’m looking for a new bit of luggage. I have no idea what I need and I have no idea how much to take with me. I’m not much of a traveller. The Winners down the street from me has a whole bunch of luggage on sale, so I can definitely pick something up, but I worry it won’t be big enough.
On the bright side, the lovely Canadian ex-pat Lizvang has set me up with some wonderful hostel accommodations which are suprisingly easy access to everywhere including work if necessary. The accommodations situation isn’t 100% resolved, but it’s just at the “needing confirmation” point, so hopefully soon.
I still havn’t heard back about my Space Ghost costume return (if you will recall they sent me a children’s medium instead of an adult) and I’m still missing 1 of my 2 boxes from a order that was send at the end of September. Will need to follow up about that too. AND I’m nervous that a benefits return didn’t make it to its intended destination, meaning I’ll need to get new receipts drawn up from my optomotrist and massage therapist, and it also means I won’t be getting that return back in time for the trip. Major sighing going on re: the postal system and on-line transactions.
Work is dishing out the stupid right now. I’m dealing with everything but it’s irking me off and getting progressively worse every day. I’m feeling curmudgeony this week. Could be the drugs.
I just did my credit card checks and got my on-line stuff set up and addresses changed so that’s all in its right place, but I don’t think I’m going to have enough money for the Scotland jaunt I was planning… but I still need to investigate. I think the flights from London to Glasgow are going to wind up being too much with the translation from GBP to CAD… it sucks not being rich. I’m not poor by any means, but I’m living just slightly oustide my means every month and I need to stop. I need to cease the debt spiral.
(I say that once a year, make an effort for a month or three, and then go through a purchasing frenzy which cocks up any of my good debt-payoff work).
The apartment isn’t a disaster but does need a tune up and a clean up. Sunday will be cleaning day, long overdue. Sometimes it seems like I don’t even live there though. I guess that’s part of settling in and time sharing between your place and your girlfriends.
Thor’s Comic Column is still on hiatus, but we have some big news, and it’s going to be cool. More control means more fun. But it’s going to be some work first, which I’m worrying I’m going to have no time for until at least I get back.
And yes, BOBTown party in December. Details to come after Rooms and I have a tete-a-tete, and then consult the party grandmaster Accordion Guy and the king of contacts, Photojunkie. I’m thinking Dec.9, but I need to find out if/when the work party is happening.
And finally, the Silver Snail costume bash is tomorrow night. My Nightwing costume is with Aden who’s stitching on the crest. It’s a bit of a rush job so it’s not going to be perfect, but it does actually look damn good, if I do say so myself. I’ll need to work on my gloves tonight, but once that’s done, it’s party time, and that’s two of my impendings out of the way.
I havn’t felt this weighted down since … last month with the moving debacle.
Jamming Culturejamming down your larynx
Banksy is often described as a “guerrilla artist” because of his socially satirical and often imposing manner of art which includes but isn’t limited to highly detailed stencil tagging. His latest project is “remixing” the Paris Hilton album packaging and sneaking it onto store shelves for unsuspecting sheep to purchase. Not only that, but DJ Danger Mouse - who first came to prominence as the mixer of the notorious “Grey Album” which mashed Jay-Z’s “Black Album” and the Beatles “White Album” (and is currently 1/2 of both DANGERDOOM and Gnarls Barkley) - has contributed a full remixing of the Hilton tragedy in the modified package. Some unsuspecting but lucky 500 Hilton guppies in Britain are going to have their mind blown.
Meanwhile, Banksy has a video (nsfw) showing the making and execution of this latest project.
The NHL is NiHiListic
The Hockey News, via ESPN, analyses the NHL satire in Bon Cop, Bad Cop. It’s a good article about how the NHL doesn’t have a sense of humour about itself, nor does it know how to really breed superstars like football, baseball, or especially basketball. What isn’t explicitly said is how “cult of celebrity”-centric America is, and that perhaps if there was more focus on creating off-ice star personalitiess as well as on-ice (as wrong as it sounds, and is) it might actually work as draw south of the border.
The article isn’t exactly sharp on the details of the movie, though, as the writer gets wrong who died in the film, how they died and in what order, but that’s just my nitpickyness. And then there’s the ignorant, but forgivable “genuine midget” comment. (Remember class, the m-word is offensive and not funny).
update - I was thinking a little further about why turning NHL players into media stars wouldn’t quite work the same as NFL or the NBA, which is that the bulk of NHL players aren’t homegrown Americans, and for even more English isn’t their native tongue. American sports lovers can get behind a good “homegrown” story, and America in general is also quite xenophobic, so making a media celeb out of a mumbling Czech player, not likely to happen. The bulk of NFL and NBA players are cultivated from high school and college athletic programs, and while Major League Baseball has accepted some foreigners into their game (mostly Cuban and Dominican) it’s still primarily an American-played sport. Hockey isn’t nearly as international as soccer, but it’s also no where near as isolated as NFL/NBA.
While I agree with Proteau’s statement that “Where other leagues have learned to cultivate and accentuate their star personalities, the NHL’s culture strongly encourages its stars to (a) shut up; and (b) get back in the corner while you’re shuttin’ up,” perhaps it’s because Americans aren’t ready to make champions out of subtitles. Unless NHL players are willing to go for speech therapy and media management courses, I don’t think we’re going to be seeing much change. Who was the last widely recognized (in the public consciousness) hockey player? Wayne Gretzky. Baseball, basketball, football, hell, even tennis and golf have had more prevalent newsmakers and media penetrating sportiers over the past decade.
Despite my statements, though, maybe Proteu is right: the NHL should promote their talent as not just good athletes but also interesting and visible entertainment figures in order to increase interest in the game. To add to my generic statements, if there’s anything the Bush government has proven, American love good spin and rhetoric. Maybe the NHL should poach some of the WWE’s marketing team, or Bush’s many ex-press secretaries(?).
Some New Newsom
Zoilus has received Joanna Newsom’s new album, which is heading for release in November. I was quite agog over Newsom in ‘04 but havn’t really listened to her debut, “Milk-Eyed Mender”, much since. Her latest album, “Ys”, apparently is 5 tracks, each clocking an average of 11 minutes. What intrigues me most, as Zoilus reports from the album press release, is (famed producer Steve) “Albini mic’d the harp in an insane and never-before-done manner! I’d love to describe it further but I don’t want to give away his ideas, in case he wants to do it again sometime.”
While I don’t have much music blogging cred, I too get my own share of pre-releases. Recently I got a demo copy of the first recorded Duloks tracks, which are all skookum, and later this month I’ll be getting a sneak peek at the Parkas studio recordings for their sophomore effort which, from what little I heard in July, should be very exciting.
And finally in music, I Am Spoonbender, the SanFran art-pop group, on 9/11 just released a < ahref="http://www.buyhiddenpersuaders.com/index2.html?checkYes=on">FREE album on-line called “Buy Hidden Pursuaders”. I havn’t given it a listen or digested really what the deal is behind the project, but apparently it’s pretty socially and politically charged. It “is absolutely free because it is the ‘only album that cannot be bought’” states the Agreement clause.
All files are avalable as crazy huge .wav files, so they take some time in obtaining.
Free-form blogpost. Stream-of-consciousness-like.
I’m often what they (”they” being nobody in particular) call a “perpetual thinker” (okay, I doubt the non-existant “they” actually call anyone that, but stick with me here). My brain is constantly engaged, rarely ever shutting down. I’m often thinking so many thoughts I’d rather not think that I wish sometimes I were a tad simpler so I could find enjoyment in dormancy, alas it is not to be. So when my mind is kicked in full gear, thinking about girls and music and comics and work and bills and a few dozen other things that constantly niggle away (I was checking to make sure I was using “niggle” in the right context and answers.com asked me “Or did you mean: niggardly” - with lack of question mark, no less - to wit I most certainly did not!) it often creates a very distracted and extremely restless me. I don’t remember the last time I had a really good, full night’s sleep. When I was in Windsor two weekends back, I was able to escape much of my routine life and also sleep in a house with air conditioning, so I did get a better sleep, comparatively, but still not a good sleep. Two of the big things that have been taxing my brain was a quandry about love and the other, oddly enough, was The Futureheads (see sidebar review). I know it’s weird to exhaust so much thought on a band, especially considering it really wasn’t me thinking about the band, but rather just being unable to get their songs out of my head. It was odd how often the chorus to “Fallout” would push every other thought aside for tens of minutes (”After days in the dark/The light broke through/And it was beautiful to see you/And sit in the warmth with you”), or to sort of enter a fugue state with the chorus from “Favours For Favours” (”But there’s something that you do/I just can’t help myself/and I wish that I could move more in time with you/I watch you step and I watch you turn/I watch you move like a knife in the water/As you move across the floor/Over to me/For all to see”) only to snap out of it and find I’ve been staring blankly at my monitor at work for an undetermined period of time. It’s really mildly insane how fixated I became with the Futureheads recently, so last night was the climax of this whole build-up, and mercifully it did the trick. I slept last night free of thoughts of sound, instead dreaming of… well, i dunno, bunnies and Wonder Woman or something. I don’t remember. The night before, however, I dreamt that a friend had turned into a demon, so I asked her if she is now or has ever been a demon. Peanut butter before bed will do that to you. So anyway, one major distractor resolved, and the other is resolving itself in a happiest circumstances as well so now my thoughts are less cumbersome. Well, Rooms and I are now in the apartment hunting market after the neighbours said that they’re not moving for another year and are likely selling the house, so that one other worry off my brain but a whole new one on it. And I’m trying to figure out what’s happened to my initiative and motivation, as it seems like all my little projects are nagging my brain and yet the rest of me can’t be bothered to deal with them. This post is disjointed, like Ragdoll in Secret Six. I’ve also lost weight, which isn’t good, considering I’m now on the 100lb dare-to-be-Wolverine thing. I’ve toned up quite a bit, which is nice, but dropping a belt size wasn’t part of the deal. (”Everything was ready but he had to run away/Shot for the money on the very same day/ Le Garage/ Le Garage-rage”… I don’t even understand what that means). VAAAH.
Anyway, this kind of ramble randomness is tiring and I’m hot and sweaty in the priests collar. I think I shall read some comics.
I realized this morning that for the past four days I’d been refreshing the Weather Network webpage for Stratford, Ontario, rather than Toronto (I went to Stratford on Sunday, see, and it was delightful… I have a fun idea for adapting Coriolanus to modern times… plus, Colm Feore).
I think I finally figured out what that wonky smell is in the basement sometimes… it’s the ages old dehumidifier (that overflowed this morning, by the way, since the duct-tape floater-thingy ain’t working none good so much anymore) overheating or something. Maybe. Good to know at least.
If the kitchen smells like hummus, that’s ’cause I made hummus. Help yourself, there’s lots there. It’s kinda tahini heavy.
I really thought I’d enjoy this rhubarb-ginger jam, but, you know, not so much.
My new pants make that snowsuit sound when I walk. You know what I’m talking about…
Speaking of sounds, new concert review to the left. JMac took me out for a great belated birthday evening of food and song. The music wavered between acceptable and interesting, with the performances varying between bored and spectacle. I was, however, completely amused by the plethora of black & white horizontal stripe shirts in attendance (hell, there were two of them in the Two Koreas alone!).
When did the sailor shirt make a comeback, and why do so many people think they’re cool? Is the Robin Williams Popeye movie the next retro pop-culture phenomenon? Are we going to see a bunch of flapper-style dresses floating around the alterna-scene? Are canned spinach and hamburgers the next big food craze? I guess indie doesn’t stand for individuality.
Ah, I really don’t care all that much, but a couple gin’n'tonics in it did entertain me greatly.
I was talking with a friend a few weeks back about our respectively crappy computers:
He: I was looking at some boobie sites a few weeks back and I got a virus
Me: Dude, you mean you weren’t wearing a condom? How many times do I have to tell you to protect yourself…
He: Well it was just a worm.
Me: Ewww. Well, thankfully it wasn’t anything more serious. You might not be so lucky next time.
There’s you have it kids, if you’re trolling for on-line sex, play smart and play safe. Because when you visit boobie sites, you’re not just visiting them, you’re also visiting all the ads and pop-ups they’re in bed with.
I’ve never objected to paying my taxes, and I do not object to owing the government money at the end of a year (which I probably will this year). What I do object to is former employers submitting their taxes late, never giving me my T-4 slip, and claiming they paid me more than they actually did, causing my taxes to be reassessed with higher wages earned, lower taxes paid and then dropping a slew of interest charges on top of it, meaning I have to dispute with RevCan how much exactly I paid and got paid a few years back with no paperwork to back it up save for sketchy (and moldy, thanks to the basement flood) bank deposit records.
She’s screwed me again, my ex-boss has. For a year in which I survived by being in debt making a paltry allowance, I now have to pay even more for. There goes my England trip money. Sonuvabitch.
My only hope is that RevCan audits their books and sees that nothing is really very copacetic..
In other equally unhappy news, local comics publisher Speakeasy Comics is closing its doors effective immediately.
As a comics fan, a Canadian, and a semi-pro comics reviewer, I certainly appreciated Toronto-based Speakeasy as a company and its output, even if I was mixed on the majority of the titles they published. What Publisher Adam Fortier was trying to do was admirable, respectable, but, invariably, somewhat flawed.
I got the chance to sit down with Adam for an interview last summer, and he’s an incredibly intelligent, personable and knowledgable man. We had a great conversation if it became only a relatively good published interview (which was pushed out the door a month later and a lot of information was already outdated). I kept on top of Speakeasy, and felt even a sort of allegience to the company, to try out the books even if I didn’t like them (which, to be honest, I rarely did).
Adam was running both Speakeasy and a production arm called “Hawkes Studios” which was responsible for the titles “The Grimoire”, “Beowulf” and “Spellgame”, and in late ‘05 he announced a deal with Adustry Entertainment that would change the face of Speakeasy’s operation as well as secure its future. The problem was that the deal never happened, unbeknownst to most until now.
It was this, coupled with low sales, too much output too soon, long delays between issues, and, as Warren Ellis pointed out on his “Bad Signal” mailing list, a sorry effort at marketing that combined to signal the end. The books, unless you were following closely, were rarely advertised or announced, and they hit the stands relatively undistinguished from all the other titles available.
It’s sad to me mostly because of my conversation with Adam. I have a pretty good sense of what he’s like as both a person and a businessman and they’re both top notch. Most other things I’ve read about him on-line confirm that (though some do have their druthers). I also knew what Adam was planning for Speakeasy and it would have marked a positive change for the industry, in terms of creator rights and equity, exposure, integration with digital distribution, and the potential for cross-media endeavours. I also knew a lot of projects in the pipeline that were leaps and bounds above the bulk of what Speakeasy had already published, which hopefully will find homes elsewhere.
Adam has stated he’s taking some time away from the industry (although I highly doubt he’s quitting it altogether), reverting to just being a fan again. It seems the progress he made in terms of creator’s rights were heaviest tax on him, which is unfortunate since they were ultimately philisophically positive, but will now be seen in a negative context by future independant publishers of creator-owned work.
I wish Adam the best and hope to see him around the shops sometime. Geek chat and beer (I’m buying) are a standing offer…
Word from Warren Ellis is that Seth Fisher died yesterday.
If you don’t know who Seth Fisher is, he was the genius artist behind such works as Green Lantern: Willworld, Happydale; Legends of the Dark Knight: Snow; and Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big In Japan - the final issue of which came out yesterday.
He was brilliant, and he will be missed.
the not shit
In less non sombre news, Genndy Tartakovski is directing a sequel to the Dark Crystal. Before Henson purists get up in arms, I would like you to explore Tartakovski’s creations of Dexter’s Lab, Samurai Jack, and the Star Wars:Clone Wars cartoons, and then try to not be excited.
the just plain weird
If you remember my new year’s story, well, apparently, word from my friend is she wants my number. Actually, word from my friend was:
Friend - (Big smile) “Did you get a call recently?”
Me - (Noticing his shit-eating grin) “Nnnnoooo… why.”
He - “I gave (her name) your number.”
Me - “Did you now.”
He - “She said you had exchanged numbers and that she lost yours, so I gave it to her.”
Me - “Didn’t happen.”
He - “Oh, well, sorry then.”
Me - “That’s okay, you probably don’t have my current number anyway. 647?”
He - (Checks blackberry, reads number).
Me - “That’s disconnected.”
He - “Well do you want me to give it to her, or just tell her you said ‘fuck off’” (laughs)
Me - “Well, don’t say that…”
He - “She’s a nice girl. You should go for it. (Her brother) won’t mind, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Me- “Uh huh. Uhh, how about I get back to you on that?”
Earworm - 02/02/06
“I look good and you look good but not as good as me”
learn something new
I hadn’t realized Chris Penn died too…
We have an election next week. Far be it for me to tell you who to vote for, all I know is that I don’t like Stephen Harper’s cold demeanour, I don’t really trust Paul Martin’s used car salesman smile, and Jack Layton is a handsome, handsome man.
To get in deeper into my perceptions, the Conservative agenda is 4/5 counterproductive to how I’d like to see this country move forward.
I don’t like the American way the Conservatives are running their ad campaign (focusing more on attacking the Liberals than really saying what they’re going to do in power, then again, in fairness, the Libs and NDP ads aren’t much better) (oh sod it, they’re all doing it), and Harper is just too high on his horse to really understand a lot of the ground level issues (his thoughts on gun violence miss the point completely). The Conservatives still promote a money-earnin-Mt. Vernon sensibility, interested more in what’s going to keep the working class jobs, and what will help the elite stay cushy, rather than explore new frontiers of hemp farming, alternate sources of energy and other innovative avenues which Canada could be forerunners in. Plus, Harper wants to be Bush’s pal, and that just don’t sit right.
I don’t really have much of a problem with the Liberals, generally, but they represent staus quo. The Liberal party is too concerned about keeping things politics-as-usual, and most Liberal politicians (same with Conservatives) want to stay professional politicians. This means they’re out to play the game, monitor polls and approval ratings, and do whatever it takes to keep themselves and their buddies employed. They’re all into Bureaucracy and inefficiency for the sake of “thoroughness”, and as a result they’re unwilling to take chances. They’re too guarded and protected to affect any real change. They have, though, come in with a balanced/surplussed budget for the past chunk of years, and Canada’s had some of the lowest unemployment rates during that time.
The NDP are always the most in alignment with my sensibilities. My only hesitation is that they push too much for social programs, and I’m not sure that the numbers have been accurately crunched to balance it all out. Taxes are moderate, and probably at their peak at the moment. They could be a little lower but it would be unfair and unappealing to have them any higher. If we want to get the most out of our social structure we need to have tighter control but less bureaucracy in the process of getting the money to where it’s needed. Maximizing dollars seems to be the NDP’s plan.
Now, I’m fully aware that the NDP isn’t going to win this election, but they have a shot at being a very strong position player. Strategically voting Liberal to stop a Conservative government sort of bastardizes the purpose of having a multi-party system. As much as I don’t like Harper and his gang of money grubbers, I don’t think that four years of them would do as much damage as people are expecting. I think if the NDP and the Liberals put in a strong showing they’ll have enough to keep the Cons in check. Plus it’ll give the people a chance to see what kind of damage the Cons would actually like to do, in case they’ve forgotten the Mulroney years.
But really, voting the Canadian way isn’t supposed to be about who’s leading the country or what party is in power, but rather, who you want to represent you and your community in Ottawa. But, the problem is we’ve gotten away from being a community-centered society (I’ve talked about this before in a different context) and I’m not sure that having community representation still holds the same way as it did when first introduced.
In my riding, which is the same as Accordion Guy’s (and he’s been very helpful in taking notes from the all-candidates forums), we have a strong NDP and a strong Liberal contender, with a moderate Conservative throwing a monkey wrench into the works (Green, Marijuana, and Marxist/Leninists are also represented). The High Park/Parkdale riding has an interesting issue presented to it which has, as Joey’s been covering, a scope well beyond the community they’re representing. Our current MP, Sarmite Bulte (or “Sam” as she’s known on her posters…) is taking campaign money from big business to help usher through American-style copyright legislation that would severly restrict what could be legally uploaded and downloaded in the country. Joey covers the topic in depth, and the subject has reached the bloggerati-at-large, making my riding one of the most visible in the country… depending on your audience.
Barring the fact that I associate Bulte with a yeast spread which I find repulsive (Sarmite = Marmite), the fact that she’s taken contributions that have put her on a crusade I’m sure she could otherwise really care less about is politics at its worst. If there was one thing I’d like to see across the globe, it’s the removal of politicians’ hands out of big businesses pockets, getting back to the idea of Governing for the people, not governing for business or self.
Politics depress and anger me, which I why I generally avoid it.
Sam Bulte on proportional representation (as per the Accordion Guy)
* It was part of our February 2004 Democratic Reform Action Plan!
* We had cross-country roundtables
* The provinces are looking into it
* There’s academic research into the issue
* We’re talking to people about it
* Proportional representation [in and of itself] is not always the answer — you need political will
Oh, look! “Action plans”, “roundtables”, “looking into it”, “research”, “talking”, hyperbole.
This is what I call “playing it safe while cutting a cheque to your buddies for a couple hundred grand to conduct a pointless survey”
This is exemplifies what I was saying about the Liberals. Yes, there’s checking with the populace to see if what you’re doing is warranted, but we put you in power to make decisions, not to spend hundreds of thousands/millions of dollars to make horrendously long documents that are invariably ignored. More action, less talk. If it’s unpopular, we’ll vote someone in in the future to reverse it. Yes, that will mean you lose your seat, but being an MP isn’t a career, it’s a temporary position. You sign a four or five year contract with the people and when it’s up we decide if we want to renew.
I’m starting to Hulk out.
I’ll leave this now.
I’ve been holding back on blogging about New Orleans, the disaster that it is and the trouble that remains and the speculation of what’s going to happen. I have a lot to say, but once I get going it’s hard for me to stop because, well, the whole situation is a little incredulous, and yet it’s all too real.
A lot of people I know are avoiding, intentionally, news and reports on what’s happening in the wake of Katrina, because a) it’s depressing and b) they can’t really do anything about it. Yes and yes, but at the same time we’re granted opportunity to witness history, we can observe, we can learn, we can think…
Initially I found it fascinating. As a fiction writer I know that, well, the truth is even stranger than fiction, and what’s happening, the reports that are coming in, there’s things going on I couldn’t even conceive of in my brain, and yet there they are. I’m not going to say something as trite as “it’s like a movie” because it ain’t nothing fucking like a movie. It’s real, the struggles people are going through are real, and each and every story coming out of there has something amazing, inspiring, disgusting, angering etc going on which tells you the highs and lows that humanity can achieve.
I’ve got this knack for detachment. It’s how I survive sometimes, and it can make me seem like a cold fish. But it’s what I do, I watch, I observe, and it’s not like I’m completely unaffected… The Mayor Ray Nagin’s radio interview on Friday was perhaps one of the most powerful unprepared speeches I’ve ever heard. Screw Guiliani and his team of speech writers post 9-11, this is real, this is reaction, this is raw (disbarring the fact that Nagin himself isn’t without fault in some of the evacuation issues). And I’m angry about Bush, and his less than acceptable reaction (last night’s Daily Show made their usual inspired jabs, but they were even more poignant than ever… sobering as much as amusing) and I sincerely hope that the people of America take a good, long look at the Vacationing President (as he will be derogitorily/affectionately be known as in textbooks of the future) and decide that he’s doing a completely unacceptable job and boot him out.
(,em>ASIDEDo impeached Presidents lose all the luxuries of regular ex-Presidents, such as secret service security, some sort of pension, a library and the like? I think Bushy-bush should be forced to shell out for his own security and live in the fear state he’s so readily inflicted on the country he’s supposed to be serving.)
Aside from Bush-hate, I continue to ponder what’s happening in New Orleans and have decided that race is definitely not the issue, class is. Now in the regular discussion of class - as in upper and lower and middle class - race does factor into it, and in the larger picture it is an issue, but in the specific instance of what’s gone wrong in New Orleans it’s this: the lower class people couldn’t get out. Sure there are stubborn people who refused to leave their homes but generally, the people that have been left behind - and they were left behind - are the lower class people who had no way, no means by which to leave the city or else absolutely nowhere to go. They were optimistically told that the Superdome would be a viable safehaven for them, and it was for a brief time, but it’s not a shelter, it’s not housing, it’s not meant to sustain life. And Barbara Bush’s priviledged ignorance during a visit to the Houston Astrodome housing thousands of Katrina’s victims speaks volumes about Bush family values.
I have a whole diatribe alone on the priviledged politicians’ viewpoint that the meager support they provide the nation’s ever growing underpriviledged population is perfectly acceptable… but I’ll leave it for now, sitting beside my long expected rant on the evils of the Stock Market.
But it’s not just the poor who are hurting. People who did manage to evacuate the city have maxed out their credit at hotels and are forced to live in their cars, which who knows what left to survive. The price of gas it is now they’re in for rough living. The richest country in the world now has half up to a million refugees to deal with, and they are their own citizens. That’s friggin crazy.
My good friend Ryan has a cousin who managed to get out and be safe, but like so many others her life and future is shattered in many respects. She’s doubtful of salvaging anything.
And that poses the question of what to do. America loves their “strong and proud” kind of “we will rebuild” and I’m reminded of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the king tells his princely son the story of building their castle that sank into the swamp so many times before the fourth one stayed up. I was also just reminded of the Tragically Hip song “New Orleans is Sinking” which is probably the lamest thought that’s popped into my head today. I don’t think the money should be spent to rebuild. I think the rebuilding should be done elsewhere, where the land is high and not a bowl floating in water. New Orleans should be scavenged by the people that lived there, but it should just stay underwater, perhaps as a monument to nature’s superiority over man.
I have too many thoughts, and inevitably it all comes down to this… I hope everyone’s okay, in the short and long-term. It’s ignorant to think that way, what with the continuing gap between the rich and the poor and the sudden addition of newly poor people added to that list, but I do hope people are okay.
If you’ve got it to give The Red Cross could use it to help.