Friday, March 31, 2006

Goodbye, Kitty
A year ago to the day, we had Sammy poisoned to death as an act of mercy. I love you, Sam.

Samuel Bubbles Sink Cat Wilson
August 1986 - March 31, 2005

Please do not leave any comments.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A pride of lions.
A crash of rhinoceroses.
A skulk of foxes.
A pack of wolves.
A murder of crows.
A gaggle of geese.
A school of fish.
A pod of whales.

A narpod of narwhals?
O Israel
If the present exit polls are correct, Likud will be replaced as the largest right-wing opposition party by Yisrael Beitenu... a somewhat crazier party dominated by people born, like me, in Soviet Russia. Obviously, Ariel Sharon's creation last year of the Kadima Party as a center-right party took away much of the reason behind Likud's existence, but still, I'm surprised. (Of course, I say that as a Gentile outsider who views Israeli politics as cacophonous and bellicose absurdity.) If I had to explain Likud's pathetic performance in one word it would be Bibi. Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu was prime minister in the late '90s, succeeding Shimon Peres who had taken over for the assassinated Itzhak Rabin, may he rest in peace. Bibi's a loon, and Likud was crazy to contest a general election with him as their standard-bearer.

Let us hope that Ehud Olmert is worthy of the faith Ariel Sharon, a complicated man who is both rightly loved and rightly detested, had in him.
My mom and dad are looking to buy a new car to replace my mom's '95 Lumina. This afternoon (Monday), the Goldbricker told me that he's probably not going to trade-in the Lumina as previously discussed, but will instead get rid of the Mousemobile and let me drive the fucking Lumina. Mom has wanted to get rid of the Mousemobile for years; so, talking to her was useless. I'm not sure I've ever been more lonely than I am tonight.

For years, my dad has spoken of the first car he ever owned, a '63 Super-Chevy that started its life as a police cruiser. How can he have spoken wistfully of Super-Chevy for all these years and then sell/scrap the Mousemobile for purely pragmatic reasons? Bog, where in the hell am I going to get the money to buy the Mousemobile from him? I have to try. I'd never be able to live with myself if I didn't at least try. I can't afford a car. Oh, God, they're going to get rid of the Mousemobile.

What does it say about me as a person that I didn't cry when Grandma Wilson died two years ago, but I'm bawling now? All the monstrous things my father has said in his life that I'll either forgive or forget, but I'll never be able to forgive him for this.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Club That Seal!
Homo sapiens sapiens is the most devastating predator the earth has ever seen. Our habitat covers a more diverse range of conditions than that of any other species. We have no claws, only laughable teeth, and are, pound for pound, one of the weakest members of the class Mammalia; yet, so deadly are we as a group that we must legislatively restrict our hunting activities lest we easily drive to extinction any species we wish (witness international prohibitions against whaling and national prohibitions against killing wolves). It is a testament to our lethality, and potentially to our ruthlessness, that we are the only surviving example of the genus Homo. By contrast, there are hundreds of species of sharks (organized across eight different orders), three extant species of elephants (and many more extinct species), and even two different species of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes and Pan paniscus). I say the following in the biological sense, not as any kind of political imperative: we are conquerors, born and bred. Killing is a central tenet of what it means to be human. And so, the time has once again come for one of my favorite annual events: Hyperlink! Club that seal!

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Magic of Shazam!
I am considering titling the Scion of Shazam's attempt to establish an empire in Central Asia neither "The Great Khan" nor "The Wrath of Khan," but "The Golden Horde." Historically, the Golden Horde was the name of the Tartar state (quasi-Mongolian) that ruled large swaths of European Russia and Central Asia for a few centuries following the Mongol conquests of the 13th century.. Now, the Golden Horde's dominion was substantially weakened by Tamerlane's depredations, among others; so, "The Golden Horde" doesn't really make sense as a title in that the Scion's name is Xia Timur, after Tamerlane, a dread foe of the real Golden Horde. On the other hand, an argument could be made that in a work of fiction historical accuracy is less important than producing a work that is both true to the creator's vision and entertaining to the audience. On the gripping hand, I would never make that argument, believing historical truth to be nearly sacred. And yet, I am still tempted by "The Golden Horde."

Quite the conundrum... surrounding the title of a fictional story in a comic book that is completely theoretical.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Greatest Hyperlink in the World
My sincerest thanks to The Watergirl. In Soviet Russia... Here in America, bag buys me!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Superman/Action Comics
Should I ever have the opportunity to write Superman, currently supporting two monthly solo books, Action Comics and Superman*, I will of course make a mockery of the priceless opportunity by using only titles featuring words with the prefix "super-." Current ideas:

"Superstar" - Starro the Conqueror is spreading his mind-controlling drones through the crowds at large events. I haven't yet figured out if the events will be the huge arena concerts of some pop idol or the giant self-help seminars of a Dr. Phil stand-in. I know Starro is a villain of the Justice League of America, not specifically Superman, but I love the very idea of a giant starfish being an interstellar despot so much that I'll use it anytime I can. If I'm not allowed to use Starro, I'll just make the pop singer/Dr. Phil guru the brainwashing villain instead of just another dupe.

"Superconductor" - I love that Livewire, a villain from Superman: The Animated Series, has been introduced into the DC Universe, but I found her appearance in a recent issue of Action Comics disappointing. As a sidenote, John Byrne doesn't draw as good a Superman as he used to; his art on 1986's The Man of Steel and the subsequent launch of the new Superman series was vastly superior to his recent work on Action, including the lackluster Livewire issue. Anyway, electrically powered villains abound; so, Livewire might even recruit some superpowered henchmen. Hmmm, maybe a new Revenge Squad...?

"Superficial" - Either Superman versus Bizarro, a flawed clone of the Man of Steel, or Superman versus Ultraman, his evil twin from the antimatter universe. Lots of fighting, and an exploration of the much more than superficial differences between Clark Kent and the many pretenders to his throne.

"Superego" - A journey into the psyche of the Last Son of Krypton (not so "last" anymore since the reintroduction of Supergirl, but whatever) courtesy of an evil, probably alien, psychoanalyst named either The Alienist or Egotripper. Probably The Alienist.

"Supertown" - The story to accompany this title would have to depend on the oft-changed status of New Genesis and the whole Fourth World gang at the time it was written, but I like the idea of establishing a new Supertown hovering above India. I realize "India," isn't a very specific location, but to my mind the New Gods would fit in harmoniously with the polytheism enshrined in Hinduism and the ethnic, economic, religious, and social diversity of the Subcontinent.

"Superstition" - Superman hates magic; so, I just need to decide which magical villain I would most like to use. Also in the same vein: "Supernatural."

"Supercilious" - As I've sought out/thought up villains to augment Superman's great-but-not-numerous-enough rogues gallery, my favorite creation is Phantom Tom. Tom Cardy is a fucking bastard, a plagarizing, fabricating reporter for the Daily Star (if the Daily Planet is The New York Times, the Daily Star is the New York Post) and a batterer of women. Asshole. While Cardy and Clark Kent are covering an experiment at S.T.A.R. Labs for their respective newspapers, an accident obliterates Tom's body. Being comics, Tom doesn't actually die, instead waking up in the Phantom Zone. Thing is, he's not just in the Phantom Zone, he kind of is the Phantom Zone. He doesn't have a body, but he can appear in our world and communicate with the people therein and can also access all the detritus that has been dumped in the Zone over the years, as well as the individuals imprisoned there.

Tom Cardy was a genuinely bad guy to begin with; so, my hope is that Phantom Tom will outlast my particular tenure as a Superman writer and go on to be a recurring menace. The Phantom Zone was first discovered by Jor-El, Superman's genetic father, and a lot of Kryptonian jetsam and affiliated flotsam has been ditched in the Zone. Tom develops a pretty serious hatred for all things Kryptonian, namely Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, the Eradicator, and Krypto the Superdog. Eventually, he forms an organization called Black Zero, dedicated to the extermination of all things Krypton, starting with the Supers but extending to all the known pieces of Kryptonite, including the newly-created Kryptonite Man. (A Kryptonian terrorist group named Black Zero was responsible for the planet's destruction; so, Phantom Tom describes his Black Zero's activities as merely finishing the job they started.)

Anyway, before I fixated on the super- prefixes, I was going to call Phantom Tom's grand assault "Krypton Must Die," but "Supercilious" comes pretty close to how Tom the wife-beater regarded goody-goody Clark Kent even before Tom knew he was Superman.

Other possibilities include "Superfluous," "Superimpose," "Supercollider," "Supernova," "Superlative," "Supervision" (not to be confused with Superman's power of telescopic and microscopic "super-vision") and, if I get desperate, "Superb" and "Superior." Oh, and "Supercycle," another tale of Superman and the New Gods, presumably the Supercycle-riding Forever People.

*Originally titled Superman, the book was retitled The Adventures of Superman (starting with No. 424) after Crisis on Infinite Earths and a new Superman was launched with issue No. 1. In the aftermath of Infinite Crisis, the interregnum Superman has been cancelled (last issue No. 226) and Adventures has returned to its original title, Superman (No. 650).

Action Comics
The Adventures of Superman
Superman: The Man of Steel
Superman: The Man of Tomorrow

Action Comics

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I missed opining on the third anniversary of the Anglo-Australian-American invasion of Iraq. Saddam Hussein's rule was monstrous. The stable, pluralistic democracy Iraq is on the road to becoming will be the best answer to both Iran's Shia radicalism and Saudi Arabia's Sunni jihadism. If you were against the war from the start, I disagree with you, but such are the joys of a free society; if you supported the war at first but soured as soon as the first IEDs were detonated, I suggest you a) grow a backbone and b) stop reading this blog now, you waffling piece of shit.

I missed opining on the first day of spring. I'm actually glad spring has sprung, because the recently concluded winter was a disgrace to the very word. Worst. Winter. Ever. Good riddance.

I missed opining on the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birth... back in late Janurary. The Marriage of Figaro is offensively moronic, but the music is sensational. Don Giovanni is growing on me. The kid was good.

I missed opining on the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birthday around the same time. He invented the public library, for crying out loud, a solid for the whole human race.

Accuracy and Precision
Here, then, is the proper quotation of a line I recently paraphrased from Jhonen Vasquez's incomprable Invader ZIM:

Dib: "Your stupid plan won't work, ZIM. You'll never pull this off."
ZIM: "You speak craziness, Earth boy. More organs means more human. It wiiiill work."

Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Paddy's Day
Today is the feast day of Saint Patrick, venerated in Roman Catholicism as the Patron Saint of Ireland (the whole island, not just Eire a.k.a. the Republic of Ireland and not just Northern Ireland, the whole kit'n'kaboodle). Can someone please explain to me what dyed-green Budsweiser and cheap plastic hats have to do with an Irish nationalistic/religious festival? By Lucifer's beard, I hate St. Patrick's Day!... as it is celebrated in America.

If you wore green today, you can go to hell. And I say this knowing full well that my sweet mother, whose heritage is 50% Irish, wore a green sweater today. I love my mother dearly, but in so many very ways I will never understand her or the way she thinks.

The Magic of Shazam!
During the year-long story of "The Red and the Black," "The Revenge of Theo Adam," and "From Here to the Rock of Eternity," I will be introducing a character named Xia Timur. A direct descendant of an ancient coupling between the Wizard Shazam (long before he took that name) and a sorceress named Xia Wei, Timur will style himself as the Scion of Shazam, the rightful heir to the Wizard's power. First, he tries to destroy Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Kid Marvel, and evict the Wizard from the Rock of Eternity, obviously meeting with defeat (Billy, Mary, and Freddy are the stars, after all). Later, the Scion returns to the secluded monastery where he was raised and sets out to create an "empire of justice" in Central Asia, based around the city of Samarkand, capital of the medieval quasi-Mongolian Timuric Empire and home to Tamerlane's tomb (Tamerlane a.k.a. Timur the Lame). My dilemma is this: both "Tamerlane" and "The Great Khan" are good names for the story, but a part of me really really wants to call it "The Wrath of Khan."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Never-Ending Scopes Monkey Trial
The President* of China, Hu Jintao, has promulgated a list of eight virtues he would like all Chinese to incorporate into the conduct of their lives. Among them is "Uphold science; don't be ignorant and unenlightened." We should mass-produce large bronze plaques emblazened with that motto and hang them next to every copy of the Ten Commandments displayed in any school, courthouse, and public building.

*I am uncomfortable with the application of the title of president to non-democratically elected leaders. The President of Germany's job is purely ceremonial, but it is still an elective office. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, is an anti-Semitic asshole of the highest order, but he's a more or less democratically elected antim-Semitic asshole. No one outside of the Chinese Communist Party** voted for Hu Jintao; so, I am irked that he is described as the President of China.

**China is no longer an economically Communist state, but no one should doubt the absolute power of the CCP over the Middle Kingdom.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Today is the Ides of March. 2,050 years ago Gaius Julius Caesar, dictator-for-life of Rome, was assassinated on the floor of the Senate by men claiming to represent Rome's anti-monarchical instincts. Say what you will about Caesar's life, two thousand fifty years after your death, will people remember the day on which you died? That, my friends, is immortality.

Vote For Kodos
Hyperlink! It is bitterly ironic that after being denounced as a unilateralist monster throughout his entire first term, President Bush is now one of the few voices in American politics speaking out against the rising tide of xenophobia in our great republic.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Death Spiral of the Blogosphere
The internet is a stupid, stupid place. People talk about the democratic nature of the internet compared to "old media" outlets like the newspapers and book publishers, but they fail to mention that it's the bad kind of democracy. Not the enlightening mass Socratic dialogue of our idyllic daydreams, but the inane prattling of the mob. The internet embodies the democracy of the lowest common denominator. For instance, I posted that for the first time in my life I was ashamed of being an American and was greeted by the silence of a tomb. I opined about the etymology of the word "burrito" and people just couldn't wait to chime in. Don't get me wrong, I like talking about etymology more than anyone else I know and I'm a fan of almost any excuse to mention burritos. Still, I felt compelled to take a moment to reflect upon the fact that no matter how technologically sophisticated our devices become, we're still just drooling, hairless apes.

And yes, when They Might Be Giants divided the crowd into "Humans" and "Apes" for their musical ruminations on The Planet of the Apes, I was one of the Apes. "Apes! Apes! Apes! Apes! Apes! Apes! Apes! Apes!"
Putting the Angry in The Last Angry Man
You know what? Fuck Bryan Singer. I hope that piece of shit chokes to death on a really delicious burrito. Superman Returns is going to suck hind tit.

Also, what the fuck is with the word burrito? The Spanish word for "dog" is "perro," meaning "perrito" is the word for a puppy or little dog. "Burro" is the word for "donkey." So, does "burrito" mean little donkey? Were the earliest burritos made from jackass?

Monday, March 13, 2006

If I ever get a chance to write the Justice League of America, I know I'd want to pit the world's greatest superheroes against everyone's favorite starfish-shaped interstellar despot from beyond the Moon, Starro the Conqueror. And now I ever have a neato mosquito title for such an adventure, "All-Starro Comics." It's so horrible that I have no choice but to love it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

With The Newsletter finally back on schedule, I feel like a particularly obnoxious monkey has been persuaded to vacate my back. Since being freed from this monkey, I've been on an unexpected tear. I thought I'd enjoy taking a week off, not thinking about The Newsletter nor doing any writing, but instead in the last two days I have written three "Less Artsy, More Fartsy" submissions, a "Hollywoodland" film review, an "Autobahn" automotive tale, and an "I Ate the Whole Thing" eatery review. Woot, I guess.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Slobodan Milosevic, the Butcher of Belgrade, is dead. It's a good day for the human race. Now, if only we can find Karadzic and Mladic; I'd hate for those two monsters to die as free men.

Vote For Kodos
This week on This American Life... so what if the Geneva Conventions stipulate that in order to be categorized as prisoners of war combatants have to be uniformed soldiers in a state-sponsored army with a definite command structure, the Bush Administration was wrong not to extend Gevena protections to al Qaeda operatives and Taliban troops, despite their lack of uniforms, their stateless allegiance, and the amorphous nature of their command structure.

I hate it when Ira Glass stoops to Bill O'Reilly's level, distorting the truth to serve his own agenda. I expect that from O'Reilly and his ilk, they're villains and snake oil salesmen. But Glass? I don't think I'm wrong for expecting more from him.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dubai Ports World
I have been ashamed of my country before, most notably I was ashamed of our inaction in the face of ongoing genocide in Rwanda and Darfur, but today is the first time I've ever been ashamed of being an American. I just want to cry.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

"You'll never get away with this, ZIM!"
"More organs means more human. It wiiiill work."

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

The English language is a fickle mistress. Remember, Samaria and Sumeria were entirely separate places and Thebes (Egypt) and Thebes (Greece) had nothing in particular to do with each other, but Nanking and Nanjing are two different names for the same town (ditto with Peking and Beijing).

Fun fact: people from Sumeria were Sumerians, but people from Samaria were Samaritans, not Samarians. Fickle.

L.A. Story: The Sequel
Life is more fun with a fake Russian accent. Go ahead, try it out. Also, for extra bonus fun, trying randomly transposing letters in words; thus, the staid Sylvester Stallone become the always festive "Slyvester Stallone." And it drives the Mountain of Love nuts; he fucking hates it, which is always hilarious.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Do you believe in antidisestablishmentarianism? As a "papist" (the word used in the applicable laws), I am barred from sitting on the British throne. If the disestablishmentarians had succeeded and the Queen had given up her power as the head of the Church of England, Catholics would no longer be discriminated against as a matter of British law. Odd, isn't it, that there has been so much talk about Blair's legislation outlawing "the incitment of religous hatred," yet the British still celebrate Guy Fawkes Day and we papists are still barred from the throne. Do you believe in antidisestablishmentarian? I don't.
Lenten Shenanigans
So far, I'm having just an awful, terrible Lent. My sense of timing was distorted by my sojourn in southern California; as a result, on Friday I ate a delicious ham and cheese sandwich. Only hours later did I realize I'd eaten meat on a Lenten Friday! Curses! My Lenten sacrifice (no eating outside of meals) failed abyssmally as I spent all of yesterday on my arse either reading for pleasure (The New Teen Titans: The Terror of Trigon) or watching TV (MythBusters and Law & Order, both SVU and CI). Last but certainly not least, I'm bloggy blogging instead of attending noon Mass; both Mom and I felt like skipping today.

The Christ spent forty days in the desert before Pilate nailed Him to the cross, but I can't keep my greasy mitts out of the Goldfish box? My favorite part of the song "Amazing Grace" has always been the words, "a wretch like me."

The Iron Curtain's 60th Anniversary
Churchill! I am a great admirer of the late Sir Winston Churchill and his ability to see the inevitability of Hitler's aggression and Stalin's repression when most of his contemporaries were convinced those two monsters could be easily intimidated.

That said, Churchill was a man and like all men prone to making mistakes; for those of you who know your history of the Great War (or have seen the movie starring a young Mel Gibson), Churchill was the chief proponent of the disastous Gallipoli campaign. The debacle cost him his post as First Lord of the Admiralty. The Goldbricker has tried to sway me to his bigoted view of Islam by quoting some remarks of Churchill's that betray a less than flattering view of "Mohammedanism." As a counterpoint, I have mentioned that though I admire Churchill, he was in favor of keeping hundreds of millions of Indians under Bitain's imperium without giving them a single vote in Whitehall. I am something of an Anglophile, and I appreciate the grandeur of Rudyard Kipling's poetry, but the British Raj was morally indefensible.

History proved Churchill right about both Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Likewise, it has proved him wrong about the Raj specifically and the British Empire in general. Perhaps he was wrong about the "nature" of Islam and Muslims. On this sixtieth anniversary of the "Iron Curtain" speech, let us remember that Winston Churchill was a great man, one of the greatest men of all time, but not a perfect man.

Friday, March 3, 2006

L.A. Story: The Sequel
With five Blue Tree Whackers gathered at BTWest, a truly great time was had by all. That said, when the Mountain of Love and I stepped out into the bitter cold of last night, fresh off the aeroplane from Los Angeles via Denver, I was so moved by the chill I declared, "God, it's good to be home." The Mousemobile was completely covered in a thin but nigh-inpenetrable coat of ice from an ice storm on Wednesday night. We had one day of rain out in California, but otherwise it was all blue skies and sunshine. Horrible, horrible sunshine. There's a chance of snow on Monday, and highs are going to be inthe mid-30s. It's good to be home.