01 October 2007

Sean Hannity - Black Mask Anarchist!

On the September 28th episode of the Sean Hannity Show, Mr. Hannity gave extensive shoutouts to Rugged Individualism and not relying on the Government constantly for handouts. He was speaking out in response to the Democrat's claims that the Government should fund programs to provide health care and pre-school to children free of charge, but then he just started riffing, man...

Rugged Individualism is the only way to go! The government is inherently evil and corrupt, and will take over like Big Brother if we just give it an inch! All the great heroes refused government handouts! X-PRIZE FOR LIFE!

And c'mon, he's got a point; what kind of society allows children to expect education or health care for free? I for one wish my parents and the social structure of this country hadn't filled my early years with HANDOUTS: when I have children of my own, they are certainly going to work for every meal, doctors' visit and book they get, from birth. Don't tell me that's not possible, I've watched nature documentaries. Okay, maybe a week of breastmilk, and then I'm cutting them off -- no child of mine will get a free ride on his or her mother's teat! They'll be outfitted with tiny bootstraps, but only so that they can pull themselves up using this other small concessional handout.

Now, a lot of this may sound harsh, but listen to Mr. Hannity's point: isn't this just a slippery slope to letting the government own everything? If the government subsidizes things, how can we possibly be proud of those things, or value them? This is a horrible government, everyone knows it, they ruin everything they touch! Hannity is always quick to jump on all of the lying bureaucratic fatcats who work for the Postal Service, the Department of the Treasury, the FCC, the United States Military, and all those other scumbags when they do our nation dirty. I haven't checked this personally, but I assume he's stopped using US currency, broadcasting his show on the radio, or accepting mail -- can you imagine the same assholes who ran those groups (and of course the Keystone Kops involved with protecting our nation domestically and abroad) running HEALTH CARE? Better stock up on Robotussin alongside you gold bullion and semi-automatic weapons -- another one bites the dust! I never really thought ill of any of those groups (especially our troops, who like Hammer, I unconditionally support) but after listening to Hannity constantly remind me of how shitty the government is at doing things, I'm a believer. I still support our troops, but only if they slough off the evil yoke of THE GOVERNMENT and start doing the damn thing on their own, Conan the Barbarian style. I bet those horsemen worked for a GOVERNMENT. Me, I have no tongue for government!

So, having been converted to Sean's belief that the government is good for nothing, I was shocked to hear Mr. Hannity praising massive government-funded undertakings like NASA's Apollo 11 or the royalty-funded trips to the New World. He has to be joking, right? It's a wonder we didn't blow up the moon with those government yukaluks involved! Clearly, there's only one solution to this: topple the United States government, and all other governments. That way, only INDIVIDUALISTS will survive, and people will be going to the moon, like, all the time!

04 July 2007

Independence, Exploding

This is going to be the first 4th of July in several years where I have not personally blown up something. Not even a couple of bottle rockets or Roman Candles. Hopefully I'll be able to rectify that this weekend. To keep me from getting the shakes, I've tagged and labeled a set of photos of oddly named fireworks I took in New Hampshire last summer. I ended up buying "New York Street Legal" and a little "Pinball Madness" fountain, and they were both a satisfying part of 4J2K6.

Of course, looking at these pictures led me to find the manufacturers' websites for these bootleg, non-Black-Cat pyrotechnics -- Brothers Pyrotechnics and Phantom Fireworks, where you can see higher quality images of most of these and many other fine explosive devices. Personally, I am a huge fan of Phantom's current sales promotion:
Two Great Tastes...
Speaking from experience, a little coffee can full of gasoline (or paint thinner) mixed with tossing "Water Dynamite" or other waterproof-wicked firecrackers makes for some truly awesome little mushroom clouds, and now with this coupon, you've got an excuse to stock up on the gasoline!

Sentinel of Blowing Shit Up
And what's more American than gratuitous usage of petroleum products? About the only thing I can think of is an unlicensed Captain America fireworks display. I used to think this was only an awesome hypothetical, but the fine folks at Brothers Pyrotechnics have proven me wrong; in death, Captain America's unauthorized fireworks are a reality!

So let's all forget about what a mess, both domestic and worldwide, shit is right now, stop worrying about how we don't have an iPhone, and kick back and enjoy watching things blow up in situations where they don't harm people. You know, like in Judd Winick comics.

12 June 2007

Betrayal, thy name is Staaaaaaaaaanleeeeeeeey!

"They talk of a man betraying his country, his friends, his sweetheart. There must be a moral bond first. All a man can betray is his conscience. "
-- Joseph Conrad

So MC Hammer, who rallied a bunch of Congresspeople to stand behind him in a mock control-center shortly after the events of September 11, 2001 and made a stirring call for war with a Zapp-styled "U-S-A, U-S-Ayeaaaaaaaaay!" chorus in his video "No Stoppin' Us (U.S.A.)", has made an ABOUT FACE -- I am surprised he does not look like his former contemporaries Kriss-Kross, with his clothes on backwards!

Granted, it's been five years but Hammer has released a follow-up, "Bring Our Brothers Home", as seen below:
Apparently, just like fellow patriots such as Lee Greenwood, his musical request to be on the front lines of the War on Terror was turned down, and seeing so many other troopers dying, he has Warmonger's Remorse or something. Who knows? Hopefully he will speak on this subject on his blog, either before or after he finally weighs in on his "internal thoughts about my friend and brother (Tupac) of the eternal struggle."

Hammer is totally Web2.legit2quit!

01 June 2007

Summertime Interest!

I have not been sharing items of potential interest of late, and for this I apologize. I attempted to do so a few times in recent weeks, but technology conspired against me. But it's a new month!

Here are some things I will mention out of self-interest:

Some of my friends run Funnybook Babylon, a blog about comic books. I've been sitting in on their podcasts lately, so if you want to hear me make dumb comic jokes, complain about sexism and worry about being too mean when talking about people who create comics for DC and Marvel, here is your big semi-weekly chance!

Also in the interest of self-interest, I will point out that I did a reading at the 826NYC Knight of Time event this past Wednesday. Here is the essay I read beneath the cut which I should point out I cannot figure out how to do with the new Blogger:

Awhile ago I taught a workshop about professional wrestling, and a lot of people seemed surprised to find out that I enjoy professional wrestling, and not just in a “I thought Andre the Giant was cool when I was ten” way. I still follow wrestling as a nominal adult, and even pay to attend live events a few times a year. Professional wrestling is kind of great. Here are two things about wrestling that the kids in the workshop said they enjoyed:

  1. It is violent.
  2. It is scary.

Both very valid points, but I’d like to add a few of my own:

  1. It is guilt-free jingoism.

Wrestling’s target demographic is probably still pretty “red state”, two chestnuts of “automatic villainy” – foreigners and homosexuals – have largely gone by the wayside as primary character traits. This makes me feel good as an American, and with those stereotypes in the dustbin, wrestling is one of the few venues in which you can join the mob mentality, booing and hurling invective at someone or something with no sense of shame. When people boo the wrestler Edge, they’re not booing an actual person, or a Canadian, or an avowed Democrat, they’re booing “Edge”, who is a huge jerk and totally cheated to beat the Undertaker. There’s no discrimination, no dehumanization, there’s not even that lingering guilt that you’re disrupting someone’s performance – Edge wants to get booed, it’s his job. As long as you don’t think too much about that, going to a wrestling event is great and cathartic. Alternately, you can cheer the bad guys, which usually only intensifies the reaction of people “playing along”, and you get a bunch of little kids yelling at you. That’s kind of great too.

  1. It is its own fascinating fictional construct

I’m really interested in longform serialized narratives on an academic and creative level, and wrestling is a very long-running narrative. It’s also traditionally been a fractured narrative told between dozens of corporate storytellers, and a transient televisual narrative – performers would jump between companies, and promoters would have to sell spectators on the idea that Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan is a big star without actually admitting they had been working for another company for the past 20 years, because that company “didn’t matter”. They could also repackage characters, taking, say, an evil dentist (Isaac Yankem), growing out his hair and putting a mask on him to make him the gothic monster Kane. Now that 90% of American wrestling tape libraries are owned by one company, and that company is aggressively repackaging that material for DVDs and other use, they’re not able to cherrypick so well, which forces them to admit that, for instance, Edge used to wrestle as a deaf-mute vampire/vampire hunter, which creates a lot of really weird moments, considering that the WWE alone has been pumping out in excess of 400 hours of on-the fly television every year for the past ten years. Life’s vagaries – injuries, contract disputes, crowd sentiment – preclude any sort of longterm planning, so trying to force some sort of coherence to the narrative is a fascinatingly quixotic task. I admit this is incredibly wonky and detracts from the visceral joy of watching people inhabit a world whose rules dictate Kane can wrestle Matt Hardy for the right to Lita's hand in marriage, but it’s really appealing to me anyway.

  1. It is in some ways the “realest” entertainment out there

Obviously, wrestling is “fake”. The wrestlers are performers, who plan their matches and interviews in advance, and their disputes are fictional. People still like to trot that out. “You know wrestling is fake, right?” Of course it’s fake. So is James Bond, so is the Simpsons, so is The Apprentice. Anyone old enough to read can see it. But within the realm of “fake” entertainment, it’s as real and visceral as anything. When two guys fight in wrestling, there’s no CGI effects, tape editing or stuntmen, it’s just two guys hitting each other and throwing each other through wooden and metal structures. The fact that they can (sometimes) make this seem realistic and exciting is kind of great. It’s also one of the most participatory entertainments – sometimes it’s not just me and my jerk friends who are cheering the bad guys, or booing the good guys, so when enough people decided that the late Eddie Guerrero wasn’t just a jerk, but a hilarious jerk, and when he cheated to beat the Undertaker it was brilliant, they rejiggered the narrative so he was a good guy. All he had to do was stop insulting the local sports teams, and start cheating to beat the bad guys, and he was a hero to thousands of kids. That sort of mob democracy would be troublesome if it happened to The Sopranos, or James Joyce halfway through Ulysses, but let’s be honest, wrestling is not high art, and a lot of other entertainment might be improved if the bar band actually did play Freebird when people yelled it out, or if the Simpsons stopped stopped overusing Disco Stu. But when the masses speak out, and decide that they want to cheer on Hulk Hogan even after he gets two of his cronies to help beat the Rock bloody with a wrench, and then rams a semi-truck into the ambulance escorting the Rock to the hospital, and then does a victory dance in front of the flaming wreckage, it’s kind of amazing. And violent. And scary. But a lot of other things, too.

17 March 2007

Holiday Quiz Time

Just got a rejection letter for this from somewhere else, so here is a tricky quiz for your weekend perusal. NO CHEATING!

Rappers, Superheroes or Old Tyme Baseball Players?
1. "Dummy" Hoy
2. Skull Duggery
3. Ol' Aches & Pains
4. "Stinky" Printwhistle
5. LA Sunshine
6. The Big Train
7. Hobie "The Prowler" Brown
8. Dusty Rhodes
9. Sweetface
10. Lefty Grove
11. Snapper Carr
12. Birdie Cree
13. Sleepy Brown
14. The Rawhide Kid
15. Bonecrusher
16. Mr. Terrific

BONUS: Superteam, Rap Crew or Baseball Team?
1. The Gas House Gang
2. The Treacherous Three
3. The Solution
4. Murderer's Row
5. The All-Winners Squad
6. Niggaz with Attitude

09 March 2007

Friday Fun!

It is Friday night, and while I am not having an active and fulfilling social life, I don't want to dwell on why some things are not very good. I would rather dwell on FUN. Funnybooks can often be a lot of fun, as the cover to the right suggests; but it's not some sort of aw-shucks FUN that people seem to think superheroes used to embody. During their earliest years, superheroes were busy beating the crap out of people in a bloody World War, or barring that dropping people out of windows and shooting them. And yes, post-Comics Code things were a lot more sanitized but at their core they were still stories about life-and-death struggle and crazy things like jumping out of airplanes and faceplanting on the street.

Luckily, nostalgic parents can now cater to their children's desire for brightly colored warriors with the Spider-Man & Friends line! While the "adult" Marvel heroes are in the midst of turmoil - the Hulk exiled on a foreign planet, Spider-Man mourning in his black costume as he runs from the cops, Captain America dead -- Spidey and Friends show how allll the Marvel heroes can be pals, run a charity car wash and hang out in an awesome tree-house. Even bloodthirsty loose cannons like Wolverine get to hang out in the treehouse, and despite the posted "NO VILLAINS ALLOWED" policy, lovable scamps like the Green Goblin and Rhino get to tag along. Just remember, it's the Spider-Man & Friends Green Goblin, not the other one, the one who killed Spider-Man's first love after seducing her and forcing her to bear his lovechildren. This little fella has never kidnapped and tortured Aunt May, trying to make Spider-Man go insane with grief at his aunt's apparent death, and he's certainly never strangled nosy reporters with his bare hands and thrown their corpses into the street as a "warning"! No, this is the sort of Green Goblin you can be comfortable letting your kids play with!

Undoubtedly the finest product from the Spider-Man & Friends line is the "Cuddlin' Time" Thing plush doll. I really do think it's adorable, but I wonder what market research led Toy Biz to decide that nothing says "cuddling" like a huge rock-covered curmudgeon. I suppose they couldn't resist the pun.

Sadly, recent real-life discoveries suggest that The Thing would not be very cuddly at all.

Conspiracy Theory #1 - Captain America

By now I assume pretty much anyone who has ever heard of Captain America has also heard that he has been killed. Big name superheroes die all the time; in the fifteen years since a slow news day made the Death of Superman into a mainstream news phenomenon, the following Big Name Funnybooks Figures have been apparently killed or permanently incapacitated/replaced: Batman, Robin, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, the Flash, every member of the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Professor Xavier, Magneto, Doctor Doom, the Red Skull, Lex Luthor, the Joker, Doctor Octopus, Galactus, and probably anyone else that anyone has heard of. If you count Marvel's crazy "Onslaught/Heroes Reborn" thing as a 'death', this is Cap's third one since 1994 or so.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Ed Brubaker and the rest of the talented team that has been putting together Captain America's book for the past couple of years; it's been a really good run that has (alongside the groundwork laid in New Avengers and Civil War) made Cap a really compelling character recently. Captain America #25 (available now on eBay for some insane amount of money) is a solid story and pretty accessible on its own. It quickly establishes all the players' relations and feelings about Captain America, and shows them react in short order to his courthouse sniping. I'm personally excited (inasmuch as I am willing to be getting excited about superhero funnybooks on a blog on the internet) about where Brubaker's run on this book is headed. It should be a lot of fun.

At the same time, I worry that when Cap inevitably emerges from beyond the grave, it will somehow be seen as a "betrayal" from any new fans who may wander in on the news of his historic death. I think that most hardened fanboys realize the drill by now, and realize that Brubaker has already managed to resurrect Bucky (dead since 1963) in the pages of Cap, along with fakeout 'deaths' of the Red Skull in Cap and another big fakeout death in his first storyline in Daredevil. This doesn't diminish the stories at all, it's pretty much a genre convention at this point, and Brubaker has handled all of his faux-deaths to this point in his career really effectively. But the doe-eyed optimist in me thinks maybe some of the newly interested people might approach comics with something other than rubbernecking or short-term speculative greed in mind, and the cynic in me says this is the sort of big attention and then deflation that contributed (but by no means created) the horrific crumbling and near-death of the funnybook industry back in the 1990s. All because of a couple of slow news days.

Of course, I may be unduly doubtful here; perhaps Marvel's being 100% sincere when they claim Steve Rogers, Captain America is truly dead. If that's the case, that sadly opens up an entire new dark path of cynicism. If "The Sentinel of Liberty" has been killed off, it is likely just to get one Kenneth Eng off their trails.

I somehow managed to overlook the spectacular career of Mr. Eng until very recently; apparently he's been getting a lot of attention recently for his Coulteresque column about how he hates black people. To be fair, he seems to hate literally everyone but Asians (and anthropomorphic dragons, which I realize sounds like a racial caricature but is apparently very, very true) and believes that all other peoples of this Earth hate and envy the Asian for their obvious superiority.

What does this have to do with Captain America? Well, guess who used to work for Marvel? That's right, Kenneth Eng! He doesn't have many nice things to say about the whites, blacks, Jews, Italians, homosexuals and women that populate the House of Ideas, and in details physical challenges and protests against their citadel of hate. And let's be honest, what figure at Marvel most effectively embodies their hatred of the Asian Man? Why, the World War II veteran and former Jap Slapper himself! Who is conveniently dead now, just as Eng's profile is on the rise. Well played, Marvel. Well. Played.

(Seriously, Eng was apparently at the New York Comic Con a few weekends ago and took the time out of his busy and superior schedule to harangue Brian K Vaughan for being a racist. I thought maybe BKV had fucked up some culturally sensitive topic in his dealings with Dr. Mann in Y the Last Man or something, but apparently it was just someone who is crazy. Good to know that no White Liberal Guilt for liking the book is neccesary!)

Oh, and I almost forgot, Eng puts forth an even more boneheaded defense of ______ as Art as Mr. Chris Hecker, who is already backpedaling, lest he fall victim to assassination-by-Wii-nunchuck. More on that later.

A new conspiracy theory tomorrow, this one potentially more sincere.