Sunday, April 30, 2006

Return of the Dead Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are going to be eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the lowly Edmonton Oilers. Even if the Wings manage, by some miracle, to force a Game 7, we all know how this debacle is going to end. Before the playoffs, I said that my biggest concern about the Wings was Manny Legace, the goaltender. Soft as Legace's goaltending has been, it would be on overstately to say his play has been sieve-like. Still, the primary blame for this disaster should not rest on Manny, but rather on Pavel Datsyuk.

In his career with the Detroit Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk has scored exactly three goals in the playoffs, all during the 2002 playoffs, the ultimate result of which was Detroit's third Stanley Cup in six years. In the 2003 playoffs, he scored zero goals. In the 2004 playoffs, he scored zero goals. There were no 2005 playoffs. In the 2006 playoffs, which are not yet technically concluded, he has scored zero goals. For the 2005-06 season, Datsyuk was paid $3,900,000, 1/10th of the Wings' entire payroll. One full tenth of the payroll, and he hasn't scored one mother-lovin' goal; that would be fine if the s.o.b. was the blasted goalie, but he's a forweard. At least, in theory he's a forward. From his play on the ice, he might be the NHL's first official observer.

Speaking of goaltenders, Manny Legace is the league's best backup goalie. The problem for the Wings is that they have Legace in the starting positon. If the organization had not squandered a tenth of the payroll on Datsyuk (and since he's useless inthe playoffs, G.M. Ken Holland would have been just as well off burning that $4 million inside an effigy of Patrick Roy), they would have been able to afford a quality goaltender and hung on to Legace as the best back up in the NHL. Instead, Mike Ilitch is paying outrageous sums of money to Pavel Datsyuk for absolutely nothign in return and the NHL's new salary cap does not leave sufficient funds to sign a goaltender capable of dealing with the pressure of the playoffs.

The Red Wings have exited the playoffs in either the first or seconds rounds in each of the three seasons since winning the Stanley Cup in 2002, despite posting three excellent records in the regular season. Fortunately, as a lifelong Detroit Lions fan, I am well prepared to deal with such routine failure: There's always next year....

Honolulu Blue Forever
Speaking of the Lions, I can't help but feel a little bit sorry for new head coach Rod Marinelli. Reading his comments about yesterday's NFL draft, the poor beggar doesn't seem to have realized that he's compeltely and irrevocably doomed. Or maybe it has dawned upon him and he's just in denial. Hmmm. Either way, he really is doomed. Matt Millen is still in charge of the Lions; so, the entire organization is still doomed. Doomed. Doomed. Doomed.

In the hilarious words of Dr. Hee-Haw, "I'm doomed."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wonder Woman
I have very strong opinions, but I am also a highly impressionable person. I've recently read the first three collections of George Perez's post-Crisis relaunch of Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals, Challenge of the Gods, and Beauty and the Beasts. (The fourth, Destiny Calling, is to be released in June.) As a result, I have been thinking about what stories I'd like to tell should I ever have the opportunity to write Wonder Woman.

Among my all-time, desert island top five favorite books is Mythology by Edith Hamilton; so, anything I'd write for the Amazing Amazon would be as rooted as possible in the mythology of the ancient Greeks. That said, the Gods of Olympus and many other bits and pieces of Hellenic mythology have already been featured in past runs on Wonder Woman. Frustrating as it might be, I'd feel honorbound to be more attentive to the DC version of a particular Greek myth than the historical version.

Early ideas include "The Antikythera Mechanism" about an ancient clockwork monster set loose to wreak havoc on the modern world; "Orion the Hunter," guest-starring the New Gods; and a villain named Jack Ajax, a kind of evil Batman. I've had a Magic of Shazam! story called "Wonders and Marvels," involving the villains Xenophon and Ares, sitting on the shelf for a while. It could be a crossover between Wonder Woman and MOS!, or either the Wonder girls or the Marvel Family could guest-star in the other's book. (I've got The Magic of Shazam! loosely plotted out to about issue No. 86; so, crossing over with Wonder Woman would give "Wonders and Marvels" the impetus needed to muscle into the line-up.) Of course, a thousand potential titles leap to mind, any number of which might yield a qaulity story, including "The Black Sails" (myth: Theseus, the Labyrinth, and the Minotaur), "Eureka!" (Archimedes), "The Thirty Tyrants" (the aftermath Athens's defeat in the Peloponnesian War), "The Midas Touch" (myth: King Midas, duh), "The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships" (myth: the Trojan War), "Dragon's Teeth" (myth: Cadmus and Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece), and "The Seven Wonders of the World" (guest-starring the Seven Wonders, because who says learning can't be disguised as entertainment?)

I'm thinking of a couple of different ways to cast Wonder Woman as Achilles in a story called "The Iliad," though when all is said and done it might be easier to do as an Elseworlds tale, JLA: The Iliad.

{1} The Magic of Shazam!
"Giant Atomic Robots" - "May Day" takes us from No. 1 to No. 86, give or take an issue here or there, with plenty of other stories lying around waiting to be fleshed out and placed in sequence. Eighty-six issues and I still haven't introduced The Perfect. I love The Perfect, there're just a lot of Captain Marvel stories that need to be told. Not to mention Mary Marvel, Kid Marvel, Uncle Dudley and Mr. Tawky Tawny, Robot Marvel, Bulletwoman, Spy Smasher, the W.H.I.Z. gang, Mr. Scarlet and Cardinal....

{2} Action Comics / Superman
A whole gaggle of "super" stories, everything from "Superego" and "Supertown" to "Supercollider" and "Supertaster." And the still-so-vague-as-to-be-meaningless idea for "Lex Talionis." The Man of Steel is fetile territory, which goes a long way to explaining why his adventures have been continuously published since 1938.

{3} Jack Kirby's Fourth World
Preliminarily, I've got "The Never People," "The Inheritance," and the (all's fair in) war and love story "The Forever War." Like Captain Marvel, there are countless tales of the New Gods to be told, I just haven't invested the same time in them as I have in The Magic of Shazam! If I am ever fortunate enough to write for DC Comics (though lately I have been thinking of adopting a more assertive attitude, "One day, I will write for DC Comics..."), my plan is to use the New Gods in every book I work on until they finally let me write a Fourth World miniseries, and perhaps if it is well-received an ongoing series.

{4} Wonder Woman
I'd love to imagine myself capable of writing a story worthy of the title "Go Tell the Spartans," but until then I've got a solid idea in "The Antikythera Mechanism," which combines my love for giant robots with the oft-used MOS! device of ancient menaces born anew. And I think this Jack Ajax bloke has potential, though of course I couldn't neglect Wonder Woman's not widely known but none-too-shabby rogues gallery: Ares (yep, the God of War), The Cheetah, the witch Circe, Dr. Psycho, the Silver Swan (now that I've read some of Perez's issues, I'm determined to save the soul of Vanessa Kapatelis), Giganta, Dr. Poison, and maybe even Angle Man, who's currently getting his butt kicked on a monthly basis in Catwoman. Plus, I'm sure I could figure out how to resurrect Deimos, Phobos, Medousa, and Decay.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Given the meaning of the expression "snow job," I'm a little surprised President Bush has appointed Tony Snow to be his new press secretary.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Nauts and Naught
The suffix -naut means "sailor." Thus, American astronauts are "sailers among the stars," whereas Soviet and Russian cosmonauts are "sailors among the universe." Jason's Argonauts were the sailors on his ship, the Argo. So, would the crew of Captain Nemo's Nautilus have been Nautilusnauts? Nautinauts?


Persistance of Whining
Again, I cannot explain why exactly this bothers me as much as it does, but the fact remains that it pisses me off to no end: the Goldbricker hasn't been to work since Thursday, April 13, the day before Good Friday. If he is at all representative of his co-workers, it's no wonder Delphi is bankrupt. Lazy dung sack.
The Pro-Bear Agenda
It can't be good for ursine morale that the two most adorable members of the bear family, panda bears and koala bears, aren't bears at all. "Wait a second, this isn't a bear. This isn't a bear at all!"



Monday, April 24, 2006

Democracy or Bureaucracy?
Hyperboliclink. On The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, a former CIA analyst named Ray McGovern argued that because, in his opinion, the policies of the Bush Administration "are not the America [he] pledged to serve," CIA officials had a moral obligation to leak classified information to the press and to do everything in their power to oppose administration policy. Take a moment to think about the implications of that position.

If CIA employees disagree with the policies set by the President in consultation with the Congress, they have to right to undermine said policy. That's an extraordinary statement and, coming from someone who used to "serve" in the CIA, a profoundly frightening one. Tell me, who exactly elected Ray McGovern and Mary McCarthy to decide the best interests of the American people? Which article of the sacred Constitution gave the ultimate power of governance to the civil servants of the Central Intelligence Agency and not to the President of the United States, the United States Senate, and the United States House of Representatives? What about the bureaucrats of the Department of Agriculture? If they disagree with farm policy as set by the Congress, do they have the right to implement a contrary policy? Can the agents and special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATFE, formerly the ATF) decide what is and is not illegal, regardless of what the courts say? Should the military alone decide what missions the military undertakes and to hell with the civilian leadership?

Ray McGovern was not arguing for the end of civilian control of the military, but that is the logical conclusion of his advocacy of allowing CIA agents to pick and choose which presidential policy directives they will or won't follow. Bog knows our democracy is not perfect, and attentive readers will recall that in this very blog I have only half-jokingly (meaning I was halfway serious) called for the repeal of Article I of the Constitution, otherwise known as the Congress. The Constitution places checks and balances on all three official branches of the federal government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. What sends a chill up my spine is McGovern's suggestion that the bureaucracy should have the power to determine for itself when and how to check and balance the power of the elected branches. Those powers not specifically delegated to the President and his cabinet, the Congress, and the courts by the Constitution are reserved to the several states and the people themselves. (You know, a "government of the people, by the people, for the people" in Honest Abe's phrase.)

Many of you may not like President Bush's policies and you may lament the harmony that has existed between the executive and legislative branches due to the Republican control of the Senate and the House, but that fact remains that George W. Bush was, in accordance with the laws of the United States, elected to the Presidency in 2000 and reelected in 2004. And the Republican Party, for all its glaring flaws, has managed to gain and defend a majority of the seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives through six congressional elections. In this country, if you wish to influence the direction of governmental policy, you do it through the democratic process. In a democracy, bureaucracy must be a means of governance, not a form of governance; there would be no more sinister a dictatorship than a government of the bureaucrats.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"There's a picture opposite me,
Of my primitive ancestry,
Who stood on rocky shores
And kept the beaches shipwrech free.
Though I respect that a lot,
I'd be fired if that were my job,
After killing Jason off
And countless screaming Argonauts."
--They Might Be Giants, "Birdhouse in Your Soul" from Flood
It is vitally important to bear in mind that nationalism, socialism, and National Socialism are three discrete political philosophies, almost entirely unrelated to one another.

Also, for this week's diction assignment, I would like each of you to work feign, deign, and reign into regular conversation. Best of luck.

The Fourth World
Here then is a nearly complete, not to be confused with complete, list of the New Gods of New Genesis and Apokolips. I am not quite so egomaniacal as to include my own embryonic creations Solon, Oceon, Zaladin and the Never People.

@ = dead as of this writing
# = born of Apokolips, but now loyal to New Genesis; I am aware of no defectors to the side of Apokolips
* = from the dreadful New Gods series of the late '80s and perhaps best forgotten

The Black Racer (the Racer is loyal to neither New Genesis nor Apokolips and is more akin to a force of nature)

{New Genesis}
@ Highfather (Izaya the Inheritor) - the husband of Avia, the father of Mr. Miracle
Highfather Takion (born Josh Saunders, a human)
Orion # - the adopted son of Highfather, the son of Darkseid & Tigra
Mr. Miracle (Scott Free) - the son of Highfather & Avia
Big Barda # - the wife of Scott Free, the former leader of the Female Furies
Mark Moonrider - the leader of the Forever People (FP)
Beautiful Dreamer - FP
Big Bear - FP
Vykin - FP
Serifan - FP
The Infinity-Man # (born Drax) - the brother of Darkseid
@ Forager - a New God raised among the Bugs
Thunderer - the steed of Lonar, the last survivor of the Old Gods
Atinai - the Architect of Supertown
@ Avia - the wife of Highfather, the mother of Mr. Miracle
@ Tigra # - the second wife of Darkseid, the mother of Orion
@ Valkyra - the mother of Vykin
Stanga the Hermit
The Commander*
Madame Nature*
The All-Widow - the queen of the Bugs, not a New God
Prime One - the chamberlain of the All-Widow, not a New God
* * * * *
the Forever People

Darkseid (Uxas) - the husband of Suli & Tigra; the father of Orion, Kalibak, & Grayven
Desaad - the brother of Bernadeth
Granny Goodness
Kalibak - the son of Darkseid & Suli
Dr. Virmin Vundabar
Dr. Bedlam
Mortalla - the concubine of Darkseid
@ Himon - the mentor of Scott Free
@ Queen Heggra - the wife of Yuga Khan, the mother of Darkseid & The Infinity-Man
@ Yuga Khan - the husband of Heggra, the father of Darkseid & The Infinity-Man
@ Steppenwolf - the brother of Heggra
@ Suli - the first wife of Darkseid, the mother of Kalibak
Lashina - the field leader of the Female Furies (FF)
Stompa - FF
Mad Harriet - FF
@ Bernadeth - FF, the sister of Desaad
@ Hellga - FF, the wife of Canis Major, the mother of Canis Minor
Canis Major - the husband of Hellga, the father of Canis Minor
@ Canis Minor - the son of Canis Major & Hellga
Glorious Godfrey
Amazing Grace
@ Sirius - the Hound of Orion
Slig - the leader of the Deep Six (D6)
Jaffar - D6
Shaligo - D6
Trok - D6
Gole - D6
Pyron - D6
Pythia - the groundskeeper of the Garden of Hope
Grayven - the bastard son of Darkseid
Tyrus* & Tracker*
* * * * *
the Female Fury Battalion (there are more Female Furies, those listed above I have encountered in my readings)
the Deep Six
Soldier Boys
Dog Cavalry
Aero Troopers
Suicide Jockeys

Of my own creations...

New Genesis

Dark Sunripper - the leader of the Never People (NP)
Dreadful Nightmare - NP
Big Boar - NP
Sazin - NP
Cherub - NP
The Anti-Lifeguard ("Sonny Sumo" Shimura, a human) - a slave of the Never People

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Fourth World
I've come up with a few ideas for New Gods, denizens of both gentle New Genesis and harsh Apokolips: Solon and Oceon of New Genesis, young lovers and Monitors-in-training, and Zaladin of Apokolips, a young officer of Aero Troopers. Solon is named after the ancient Athenian lawgiver, though unlike her Greek counterpart Solon of New Genesis is female. Oceon (derived from ocean) is as at home beneath the seas as he is in New Genesis's lone city, Supertown. Zaladin is derived from Saladin for no other reason than I've thought Saladin was a cool name since Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves first prompted me to study the Crusades. While on a distant world, Solon's patrol is ambushed; she alone escapes Zaladin's Aero Troopers, though they are soon on her trail. Solon's Mother Box is grievously wounded and thus unable to summon a boom tube back to New Genesis. Back in Supertown, Solon's unit are given up for dead, "They have all been claimed by the Black Racer." Oceon's Mother Box insists that she has made sporatic contact with Solon's Mother Box; Oceon resolves to rescue his love if he must move heaven and earth to do it. Zaladin hunts Solon, resulting in some most ungodly warfare, while Oceon assembles a search party, eventually recruiting the second fastest of all the New Gods, Fastbak. Since the war of skirmishes between New Genesis and Apokolips seems to be as eternal as the New Gods themselves, I quite like the name "The Forever War."

Plus, I have an idea for a tale about the legacy Izaya the Inheritor, the late Highfather, has left for his two sons, Orion and Scott Free, but "The Inheritance" just occured to me this afternoon and details are less than sketchy.

So, "Supertown," "The Never People," and "The Forever War." By Steppenwolf, I love Kirby's Fourth World!

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Great Firewall
I am not a fan of the People's Republic of China's efforts to restrict the Chinese people's access to ye olde internet and the censor what information is then available via ye olde internet, but I am a fan of the nickname "the Great Firewall," a reference, of course, to the famed Great Wall of China.

Contrary to popular myth, the Great Wall is in fact not visible to the naked eye from space. Astronauts (and cosmonauts) have been orbiting our charming little sphere for forty-five years now and have spent a great deal of that time over China, reporting that, nope, they couldn't see a cursed thing. Additionally, the idea is ridiculous on its face. The many walls and towers that comprise the Great Wall are thousands of miles long, but on most case only a handful of yards wide. The mammoth Silverdome is not visible from space, nor are the gigantic dishes of the Very Large Array radiotelescope. The empty, twenty lane highways in North Korea aren't visible from space, nor is the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Lies, Damned Lies, and the News
Remember after 9/11 how many of the most famous newsreaders swore that they would do a better job of covering the world? Of rooting out stories beyond the coasts of shining America? Hyperlink! Now, there are a brazillion little tiny islands in the South Pacific and it is difficult to keep track of what is going on on all of them, but why is it that extensive coverage has been given to rising gasoline prices, but nothing about the turmoil in the Solomons? Gasoline is more expensive than it was last week. ABC's World News Tonight devoted several minutes to gasoline prices on both Thursday and Friday evenings. Lots of words were spoken, but little was said. Besides, of course, "Wow, jefe, gas is, like, not a cheap as it used to be!" No shit. Thanks for the scoop, Ed Murrow. Dear Bog, I hate modern American journalism.

Credit where credit is due, however, I applaud the self-obsessed pricks of the media for recognizing that Kathmandu is more than just a Bob Seger song (though the title is "Katmandu"). And kudos to The Plate for being ahead of the times with one of his most recent "The Hot Plate" columns.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why do I hate the summer? Because I've been doing nothing more than my usual morning and afternoon driving, as always avoiding nature like the plague, and already my arms are getting tanned. Cursed, more directly overhead Sun.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Out of the clear blue sky, the Mountain of Love dropped by this afternoon after getting his hair cut. We hung out for the next six hours. It was super rad.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Orion of New Genesis sez, "May the Astro-Force be with you."

This is the second time today I've had hiccups. What in the high holy hell is going on?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The New and Improved Crucifixion: Easter Climax
My sister is agnostic, my brother is agnostic with a large dose of atheism, my father used to denounce Christianity as primitive superstition until he decided it could be wielded as a weapon against jihadist terrorism, and my mother subscribes to that vapid branch of Roman Catholicism that believes everyone who isn't an axe murderer or child molester gets into Heaven. This weekend, my mother is in Ohio visiting her mother; attending Mass alone is always lonely, even more so on Easter. If I am ever fortunate enough to sire children, I hope we will all attend Mass together even after they are no longer munchkins and ankle-biters.

The Last Angry Wife and The Last Angry Brats. You know you want to meet them.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Anti-Life Equation
Anti-Life Saver
Anti-Lifeguard (or Anti-Life Guard, as a reference to the British Army regiment, the Life Guards)

Friday, April 14, 2006

The New and Improved Crucifixion: Good Friday Edition
Jumpin' Jack Pratt, I love Good Friday Mass! It's so beautiful. The silent processions; the long, theatrical Gospel, during the course of which the parishioners stand in for the angry, crucifixion-hungry denizens of Jerusalem; even more kneeling and standing than the normal Catholic Mass; the Veneration* of the Cross; the Body but no Blood; and of course, that fact that while so gathered we are thanking the Christ for saving Mankind. Woot!

*Because of the Catholic distinction between veneration and adoration, adoration being the love and worship reserved exclusively for the three persons of God, the Holy Trinity, the Veneration of the Cross is not idolatry, as some of the more fundamentalist Protestants would suggest.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Fourth World
I have now read all of Jack Kirby's initial Fourth World works in a series of trade paperback collections, four in black and white: Jack Kirby's New Gods, Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle, Jack Kirby's Forever People, and Jack Kirby's Fourth World - Featuring: Mister Miracle; and two in color: Jimmy Olsen: Adventures by Jack Kirby volumes one and two. Additionally, I have collected the lion's share of Walt Simonson's Orion, the most recent ongoing series devoted to the adventures of the New Gods of the sister worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips. I am in love with the entire Fourth World.

I already have the germ of a Superman story, "Supertown," involving the New Gods taking a more active role on Earth. The most likely players are the original odd couple, Orion (bad cop) and Lightray (good cop), and the husband and wife team of Mr. Miracle and Big Barda. Additionally, I've a title for a quest with the Forever People, "Super-Cycle," though exactly for what they might be questing has yet to be determined. I also have an idea for an excellent story with the Forever People, though I cannot see how "Super-Cycle" would be an applicable title.

The Fourth World is full of awful puns and other wordplay. For starters, the shadowed world of Apokolips (apocalypse) and it's lord and master, Darkseid (dark side, years before George Lucas wrote Star Wars). Among Darkseid's minions are his oldest friend, the torturer Desaad (after the Marquis de Sade); Desaad's sister Bernadeth; Kalibak (whom I've always assumed is partially named after Caliban from The Tempest); the wicked Granny Goodness (her personal minions are called Soldier Boys); the Prussian-obsessed Dr. Virmin Vundabar; Bernadeth's fellow Female Furies Lashina (she uses whips and other lashes) and Stompa (guess what she does); the evil psychologist, Dr. Bedlam; and Apokolips's elite six-man underwater commando team, the Deep Six. The worst slum on Apokolips is called the Armagetto (Armageddon plus ghetto). Apokoliptians created after Kirby include the deadly Mortalla, the young Justeen, and Amazing Grace, the sister of Glorious Godfrey.

Anyway, I think I'm about ready to join the fun. One of Darkseid's chief aims is to acquire the Anti-Life Equation, a scrap of knowledge that enable he who possesses it to control all living beings (the Equation allows for instant and absolute brainwashing). During Kirby's The Forever People, the eponymous team of young gods from New Genesis met a human named, regrettably, Sonny Sumo. Sonny possessed almost all of the Anti-Life Equation; in the course of helping the Forever People escape Desaad's fiendish "Happyland," Sonny was thrown through time. All's well that ends well and Sonny ended up in ancient Japan, where he lived a life of virtue and became a hero of mythic proportions. Good for him.

Another human named Billion Dollar Bates had the entire Equation, but he was killed before Darkseid and Desaad could extract it from his mind. (Clones of Bates played a grisly role in Orion, eventually meeting the fate of their progenitor.) My idea is that someone from Apokolips will travel to ancient Japan and retrieve Sonny. He will be twisted by Apokoliptian science into a fearsome warrior for Darkseid, the Anti-Lifeguard.

The Forever People - Mark Moonrider, Beautiful Dreamer, Big Bear, Vykin the Black, and Serifan - will attempt to rescue Sonny/the Anti-Lifeguard, a task infinitely complicated by his wielding of the Anti-Life Equation. Set against the Forever People will be another new Apokoliptian abomination, the Never People - Dark Sunripper, Dreadful Nightmare, Big Boar, Sazin the White, and Cherub. The Forever People summon their friend and champion the Infinity-Man by simultaneously touching their communal Mother Box and saying in unison, "Taru!" The Never People will control the Anti-Lifeguard by touching their shared Father Box and together intoning, "Urat!" I think it's all just corny enough to pass Fourth World muster.

The Forever People
Mark Moonrider
Beautiful Dreamer
Big Bear

The Never People
Dark Sunripper
Dreadful Nightmare
Big Boar

The New and Improved Crucifixion: Holy Thursday Edition
Happy Maundy Thursday, everyone. Do you think at any point during the Last Supper any of the Apostles turned to Christ and said, "Rabbi, I know this is going to sound a little weird, but, about this bread you gave us? Don't take this the wrong way, but you're delicious."

Also remember, if you are the leader of a nascent religious organization and one of your followers is always talking about how he could really use thirty pieces of silver to get hooked up with some new Ikea, and if when you are having a big formal dinner called the Last Supper this same dude slips away, casting shifty glances as he goes, whatever you do do not go to a garden and count on your other disciples to stand guard. Those jerks are going to be sleepy from all the bread/flesh and wine/blood you just fed them. Run! Get on the bus, Gus. Make a new plan, Stan. There must be fifty ways to not get your ass nailed to a cross.

Though I, for one, am really grateful that He didn't follow my advice. More on that tomorrow. For now, holy Toledo, Batman, it's Holy Thursday. Enjoy that Last Supper; we had sloppy joes, French fries, and spinach salad. Mmmm, tasty!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The New and Improved Crucifixion
This Lent has been a disaster from the word "Go": I was in Los Angeles at BTWest on Ash Wednesday and despite the assumed large number of Catholic churches in a city with such a prominent Latino population, I did not attend Mass on that holy day of obligation. I love Ash Wednesday. Easter and Christmas are great holidays to be a Christian, but Ash Wednesday is my favorite day of the year on which to be a Roman Catholic. (Though I am fast learning to love hating Guy Fawkes Day, November 5.) I love Ash Wednesday, and I missed it. After that, I just never found my footing. Not realizing Lent had started, I ate meat on the first Friday after Ash Wednesday ( a lovely ham and cheese submarine sandwich), I never decided on any Lenten sacrifices above and beyond the Friday prohibition against meat, and my attendence at Mass has been abyssmal. Lent in 2005 was awesome. I was in hardcore Catholic mode, at least as much as I am able. I went to confession (three cheers for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a joy denied to those heretical Protestants) and I said several Rosaries. I made an active effort to love the faith and it made me fan fantastic. For forty days, I walked on air. This year has been a shambles. Still, I am trying to salvage some value here during Holy Week, and come hell or high water I am going to attend Mass on Good Friday as well as on Easter Sunday, even though Mom will be in Dayton visiting Grandma, meaning I'll going solo. I've done it before and I'll do it again.

Good Friday and Easter celebrate two of the three best days in the entire history of the world; it's time to make a big deal out of days that are a big deal.

Hooray for Double Standards
At dinner, the Goldbricker was once again railing against GM as a corporate sponsor of terrorism (he agrees with Arianna Hiffington's logic, always a sign that you've gone off the deep end), mere days after he and my mom purchased yet another vehicle from, of all companies, GM. If GM supports terrorism (a premise I reject) and he supports GM, and since we know that if A=B and B=C then A=C, by his own reasoning is not he in fact a supporter of terrorism? Hooray for double standards.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The New and Improved Crucifixion
Everything good inside me comes from the Holy Ghost. I'm rotten to the core, selfish, hypocritical, greedy, and just plain mean. Every charitable and moderate impluse inside me is a result of the Almighty's love. For me, for you, for the collective us. My moments of cruelty and pettiness are the result of my base nature outshouting His gentle counsel. Monster that I am now, I shudder to think what I would be without His Grace.

My favorite part of Mass, "But only say the word and I shall be healed." I shall be healed.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The New and Improved Crucifixion
As yesterday was Palm Sunday, Holy Redeemer was festooned in the traditional red ornamentations: the altar skirt had been changed from Lenten purple to Palm Sunday red, likewise for the curtain obscuring the large statue of Christ behind the altar, and both the visiting priest (Father Whatshisname) and Deacon Corder were wearing red. Many of the parishioners were garbed in similiar hues. Christianity is rife with dark humor, the day of Christ's crucufixion and death is called Good Friday, after all (good for us, bad for Him), but even so this has always struck me as a macabre choice. At the start of the last week of the Son of God's life, we wrap ourselves in the color of the blood He is about to shed for us? Love that gallows humor.

In any event, I didn't wear red, but not as any kind of conscious gesture; I had no idea yesterday was Palm Sunday until we were in the car on the way to church. Had I known, I doubt I would have worn red, but then again I might have.

Speaking of blood, I've had a great new idea for a tattoo. On my chest, I want to have written the words, "I am an organ donor. Take what you need." And somewhere in the same area have a large red teardrop shape with my bloodtype, B+, written on it in white. That way, if I'm ever horribly mangled in an car accident and/or other miscellaneous catastrophy, the doctors will have confirmation that, yes, I really did mean it when I checked the organ donor box on the back of my driver's license. I have to finalize the design and placement and then be certain of both for six months, and after that I'll be free to get the ink applied whenever it strikes my fancy.

By the way, have you checked the organ donor box on the back of your driver's license? If not, I am curious as to why and would be most grateful for comments explaining your position.

By the time organ donation becomes an issue, you certainly won't need them anymore, and whatever organs survived whatever it was that killed you intact could be the key to saving someone else's life, or multiple lives. If you needed or organ, or more importantly if you mom or your wife needed an organ, wouldn't you want someone to step up and save her life? Thousands of Americans die every year waiting for transplanted organs that never arrive. You could help to save half a dozen lives or more. Donating your organs is probably even more important that regularly donating blood. Be someone's hero; check the box on the back of your license.

Bartering Salvation
Not right now, both because honestly right now I am a physical wreck (I am fatter than I've been at any other time and my muscles have all atrophied away from disuse) and because I have only minimal health insurance, but someday in the future when I'm healthier and have more comprehensive health care coverage, I think I'd like to donate a kidney. I'm willing to donate all of my organs, but I need most of them to live. So, I'll have to wait until I'm sixty (I'm going to die at sixty) before most of them will be of any use to folks who aren't me. But you only need one kidney to live; so, I could help save someone's life right now (or, not right now for the reasons stated above, but you know what I mean). It's a hell of a thing giving up a part of thine own self, and I'm not trying to be a braggart, but I've thought about it and I think it's something I'd really like to do.

On the other hand, the dark bastard has suggested that I'm only saying I want to donate a kidney because I am a braggart who's trying to make you all envious of my altruism, which kind of nullifies the point of altruism. Alternatively, he suggests that even if I go through with donating the bloody thing, it's only because I'm a damnable sinner who's trying to save my own benighted soul, which is all fine and good, but once again I shouldn't try to dress it up as something noble since my paramount motivation is primarily selfish.

On the gripping hand, the dark bastard can stick his head up his arse because it doesn't really matter if I am just a braggart playing at being a martyr or a lowly wretch trying to barter his way in the Almighty's Grace, my kidney would help someone in the real world; so, my internal reasons are, at best, a secondary concern or, at worst, an egomaniacal indulgence.

In the Invader ZIM episode "Dark Harvest," ZIM tries to more convincingly blend in with the filthy humans around him by stealing human organs from his fellow students (the sign above the door identifies the building as a SKOOL) and replacing the organs with common items like a half-pint of milk or a GameSlave mobile video game system. At the end of "Dark Harvest," the skool nurse remarks to ZIM, "Why, you're one of the healthiest little children I've ever seen. And such plentiful organs."

ZIM was right, "More organs means more human." It did work. What I'm planning is basically the opposite of what he did. Will I be less human after I give up a kidney? Quite possibly, but the important part is that I'll have a viable excuse to constantly bring up Invader ZIM and convert more people to believers in ZIM. "It wiiiil work."

Meanwhile, Back at the Church...
We had a visiting priest yesterday (the aforementioned Father Whatshisname) because our pastor, Father Bill, has been sidelined by a recurrent hernia. Sounds unpleasant. I hope that Father Bill's life is in no way endangered, but I would also be quite pleased if it took him a while to recover. I just don't like Father Bill. Lousy hippie. I think I'll enjoy having someone else giving the sermons on Sundays. Get well, Father Bill, just don't hurry back.

The Immigration Debate
Regarding the Senate's recent, unresolved debate on immigration reform and today's massive pro-amnesty demonstrations in many of our major metropoleis, let me just say this: in the museum that is the base on which stands the Statue of Liberty, there is a bronze plaque emblazoned with the poem "The New Colossus," written in 1883, though the plaque was not installed until 1903. All most people, yours truly included, know of "The New Colossus" are the final lines:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
You huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

We are a nation of immigrants. To pretend otherwise is asinine. We must remain forevermore a nation of immigrants or else we will have betrayed that which made us great in the first place. We are a nation of immigrants.
I just watched Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures, "Voyage to Kure," on PBS. Sweet fancy Moses, the ocean is awesome! The natural world is just astounding. There weren't any narwhals, but as we all know narwhals, like The Last Angry Man, prefer colder conditions. Science!

Sunday, April 9, 2006

The Passionless Passion
Those little rat bastards screwed up the Passion play! For ages, between fifteen and twenty years now, the highlight of Palm Sunday Mass at Holy Redeemer has been a brilliant staging of the Passion by the youth group. The kids act out the Passion, dressed in black and wearing mimeface, while another youth group member in normal church clothes narrates. The play begins and ends with a description of Christ and the Apostles' entry into Jerusalem, "What a week it was to be for Jesus...," and a single line of a song, beautiful and melancholy, repeated again and again, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." The triumphant entrance into David's City, the Last Supper, the betrayal, the release of Barrabas, Pilate washing his hands, the crown of thorns, the march to Calvary, the Crucifixion... it's majestic. My heart aches when the narrator intones, "What a week it was to be for Jesus..." after the actor playing the Christ has been carried out of the church on his fellows' shoulders.

This year, the youth group cut out most of what was beautiful and powerful in the Passion, beginning with Christ already in Pilate's custody and presenting a greatly abbreviated version of events from there. The best parts of the entire performance, the one-two combination of "What a week it was to be for Jesus" and "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," were entirely omitted. Normally, the Passion brings tears to my eyes; this year, I oscillated between boredom and fury. This isn't just my habitual resistance to chance, either, the changes took much of the impact out of what had been a brilliant Passion play. Little twerps.

Anway, today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the holiest week of the year; so, here's a photo gallery coutesy of our friends at the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Friday, April 7, 2006

I watched a biographical film about Martin Luther this afternoon and it's got my sectarian ire up. Sure, sure, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, but what ever happened to the good old days when we referred to Protestant heresy as heresy? Lousy Mary-hating jerks.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Netflix Queue
1. To End All Wars
2. House of Flying Daggers
3. Kissing Jessica Stein
4. All the Real Girls
5. Roger Dodger
6. Richard III (Sir Laurence Olivier, I've already seen the Sir Ian McKellen film)
7. Rabbit-Proof Fence
8. Blindspot: Hitler's Secretary
9. Downfall
10. Triumph of the Will

Yes, Triumph of the Will is Leni Riefenstahl's famous/infamous Nazi propaganda film. In a similar vein, I read Mein Kampf when I was in ninth grade. I was not a Nazi sympathizer then and I am not a Nazi sympathizer now. I felt it was important to read the book then, and to watch the film now, on the theory that the best way to prevent history from repeating itself is to understand how such terrible events came to pass in the first place.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

The Middle Kingdom and the Land of the Rising Sun
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Chinese people suffered horribly at the hands of the Japanese from the start of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894 until the end of the Second World War in 1945 and there is no excuse for the atrocities and crimes against humanity the Imperial Japanese forces committed. But it's more than a little hypocritical for the Chinese to cry "Foul!" over Japanese ministerial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine when there are ridiculously gigantic portraits of Chairman Mao hanging over Tiananmen Square at this very moment. Hyperlink! Between the 30,000,000 who starved to death as a direct result of the Great Leap Forward and the 500,000 to 1,000,000 who died during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Mao killed far more Chinese than Tojo, whom I am happy to say died at American hands, ever dreamed of.

Women's Liberation and Islam
Hyperlink 2! Unsatisfactory progress to be sure, but progress nonetheless. In contemplating the sad gulf between the role of women as described in the better passages of the Qur'an and the barbaric way women are treated in almost all Islamic societies, we must be steadfast in our denunciations, but also mindful of the fact that women were denied their God-given right to vote in this country until just eighty-six years ago. Steady progress is the surest route to victory.

War and Liberal Democracy
In a democracy such as ours, we must all bear some measure of responsibility for the actions our government takes in our name. We must all look inside ourselves and determine to what lengths we as a nation should go to win the War on Terror. Hyperlink 3! In the end, it is a war between civilization and barbarism, and we must not allow the line between the two to become blurred.

Monday, April 3, 2006

A is for Anthem
B is for B-sides
C is for Crackhead
D is for Dumbass
E is for Effort
F is for Fatass
G is for Geezer
H is for Hooker

The Means of Production
Hyperlink. One would think that the pitiable GDP and standard of living of the now-defunct Soviet Union, China before Deng Xiaoping, and the "worker's paradise" of Cuba would have taught Senor Chavez the folly of command economics. Of course, Chavez is a democratically elected leader; so, the Venezuelan people have no one to blame but themselves. Idiots.

Mr. Scarlet and Cardinal
Mosley Oakes was a prosecutor in the Fawcett City district attorney's office who began to wonder if he might better serve society by joining the ranks of the masked men who serve justice by operating outside the strict confines of the law. Of course, Mose was no fool, and he reckoned that lacking superpowers or the superb athleticism of non-powered heroes like Batman or Green Arrow, he was quite likely to get himself killed before he stopped a single mugging. Then one day, he met Rose Pham (or Sally Pham?).

Rose was an English major at Ivy University who loathed the chemistry class she had to take as a graduation requirement. One day, Rose was showered in volatile chemicals and electrocuted due to an accident at Ivy U's power plant. After spending six months in the University medical center on the brink of death, Rose made a miraculous recovery, and soon after discovered that the accident has given her the abilities of super-speed and flight. Degree in hand and powers a secret, Rose returned to her hometown of Fawcett City, content to live off the settlement money Ivy agreed to pay to avoid a lawsuit.

After Little Saigon was targetted during the neo-Nazi "Kristallnacht" riots, Rose decided to use her powers to beat the living snot out of every racist she could get her hands on. The impulsive vigilante soon ran afoul of the law, which is how Rose Pham met Mose Oakes. Mose recognized in Rose's speed the advantage he would need to embark upon his career as a mystery man. Rose jumped at the opportunity to continue her crusade, glad to have an advisor who could help her avoid any further legal difficulties. Mose dropped almost all of the charges against Rose and allowed her to plead to the remaining misdemeanors, for which she was sentenced to a hundred hours of community service. Mose could not justify operating outside the law while remaining a prosecutor; he resigned from the DA's office and entered private practice, becoming the in-house counsel for Labyrinth Security Innovations, the company founded by Dr. Daedalus Broadstreet, who would later be revealed as the villain The Maze.

Taking their inspiration from Bulletwoman (Deanna Barr) and Spy Smasher (Avi Ducret), Mose and Rose looked into the history of Fawcett heroes and modelled their new alter egos after the dynamic duo of Mr. Scarlet and Pinky. Because Rose can fly and "Pinky" is a stupid name, they settled on Mr. Scarlet and Cardinal, wrapped themselves from head-to-toe in red, and set out to rid Fawcett City of the common, street-level crime that sometimes escaped the attention of demigods like Captain Marvel and company.

I'll probably drop hints of their activities and maybe even give them cameo appearances before the brouhaha "The Red and the Black," possibly properly introduce them during that story, and then give them some time in the spotlight in "A Study in Scarlet," a tale set amidst the Marvel Family's absence during Billy's search for the missing Wizard in "From Here to the Rock of Eternity."

Saturday, April 1, 2006

The Magic of Shazam!: Mr. Scarlet
I'm still trying to get a handle on Mr. Scarlet. What is his function in Fawcett City? Detective? Gritty avenger? Comic relief? No, that's Uncle Dudley's, Mr. Tawny's, and Robot Marvel's job. Right now, I'm leaving toward Mr. Scarlet and Cardinal as detectives, since the Marvel Family don't do too much sleuthing, but the trick is to make sure Mr. Scarlet and Cardinal aren't just cheap retreads of Batman and Robin. (One of the few positives to come out of DC's "One Year Later" stunt is the seeming restoration of Batman and Robin as the Dynamic Duo.) But, character schmaracter, the truly important thing is that I already have a bunch of Mr. Scarlet titles ready to use:

"A Study in Scarlet"
"The Scarlet Letter"
"The Scarlet Pimpernal"
"The Vermillion Millions"
"Masque of the Red Death"
"The Red-Headed League"
"Crimson Tide"
"Paint the Town Red"
"The Red Menace"
"Cardinal Virtues"
"Red Handed"
"Seeing Red"
"Red Rover"
"Rose Red"
"Eric the Red"
and if I get truly desperate:
"The Scarlet and Gray" (Booooo! OSU sucks!)

"The Red and the Black" has alredy been reserved for a story pitting Captain Marvel (whose costume is primarily red) against Black Adam and the his Monster Society of Evil, but it might also serve as an apropos time to introduce Mr. Scarlet and Cardinal.

Superman/Action Comics
As it presently stands, here is the complete list of "super" titles, in no particular order:


The one none super title I really want to use is "Lex Talionis," Latin for "the law of retaliation." This would of course be my Lex Luthor magnum opus, though I haven't a clue as to what the story would actually be about.