November 2006 Archives

Comments return

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I've just turned comments back on, so please feel free to comment if you would like to. As you may recall, I turned them off several weeks ago in order to do some upgrades. My regular commenters have been hotly complaining about this outage, and I am happy to again provide them with this outlet. For those of you lurking, I hope you enjoy the contributions of some of the regular commenters.

Convention for Weirdos

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Archie wears a patched jacket.Mike Sterling wrote up an entertaining account of the Archie Comics' character Jughead's conversion to punk in Jughead #327. The comic script dialogue is great, but Sterling's commentary is even better. As you'll see in the illustrations, the Mohawk cut is really nice on Jughead. It's also a haircut that actually makes sense for him, because Jughead was always the iconoclast of the group.

At the end of the post, Sterling gives a pointer to an Onion A.V. Club article that shows the Archie gang's changes over the decades. All the comics images in the piece are pop-ups, but I went through every one of them. There are some media that are especially good at showing how idiotic the fashions and trends of previous decades are, and after reading this article, I now add Archie comics to that list.

I picked out the image of Archie wearing a patched jacket during the 70s to show here because I confess to sporting this very same look at around age 9. I think I saved up the money I would have spent on candy and Wacky Packs for several weeks so I could buy the Mickey Mouse patch that you see Archie wearing in this panel.

Masked memories

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The masked head of HawkgirlI've been enjoying the short origins stories at the back of DC's weekly 52 comic. In week 26, however, I was stopped short by the opening image of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Quite unexpectedly, in looking at the two figures, I got an overwhelming sense of something pornographic.

Now there are many people, both comics fans and detractors, who make snarky jokes about "super underwear perverts" and think that all superhero comics are in some way pornographic, but I am not one of them. I was surprised by the mental association I had and tried to figure out what was behind it.

I started with Hawkman's bare chest: could that be the trigger? But I immediately thought of other bare chested heroes, like Warlord and, in some cases, Aquaman. My mind wandered to Sulu appearing shirtless in an episode of Star Trek. These images were indeed sexual but not exactly pornographic.

I then checked out Hawkman's gear. There was a bit of bondage imagery in the chest harness, but didn't Green Arrow wear something similar? If anything, the chest harness combined with Hawkman's ball-heavy mace seems to have more of a camp sensibility than a pornographic one. Examining his expression, I noticed that Hawkman definitely has a feral look about him, but it doesn't seem much different from Aquaman's latest scruffy incarnation.

I couldn't figure it out. I was stumped.

That is, until my last visit to my local comic shop. Gliding down the aisles, I stepped past the cover of the current Hawkgirl and came to a halt as the answer came to me. It was the combination of the close-up with the kneeling position that recalled it for me: The Story of O. The owl mask that O. wears to the party, while otherwise completely naked. That was the connection.

Eat it


I am a naughty blogger. Since this blog has been active, I've made a concerted effort to be aware of and adhere to web standards. However, since upgrading from Movable Type 3.2 to 3.3, many of my efforts have gone out the window. I'm in the process of trying to set things right, but certain things are broke and, sad to say, they are staying broke.

I have recovered most of my lost archives, though some posts from 2006 are still missing. In the process of recovering my archives, I chose to use Movable Type's new archive naming scheme. As a result, the permalinks I had have changed. That's one of those unfortunate elements I've decided to live with, though I realize it's not recommended practice.

Another thing that changed is my rss feed. I turned off my rss feed during the transition and have only just turned it on again. If you would like to subscribe, the link is: Several Movable Type default feeds were turned on when I upgraded to 3.3, including an Atom feed, and I have since turned those feeds off and they will stay off. Please switch to the above link if you would like to stay subscribed.

Reading in Sync with History

By coincidence, I am reading The Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK today, on the 43rd anniversary of JFK's assassination. It's not a book I ever expected to read, as I've never been particularly curious about the Kennedy family or the various mysteries surrounding JFK's death.

Earlier this year, however, I picked up a copy of Don DeLillo's novel Libra, a fictional recreation of the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. I was attracted more by the author's name than by the promised storyline, but as I read I became increasingly involved with the personalities, motivations and unanswered questions behind JFK's assassination.

Not long after finishing Libra, I downloaded several audio lectures offered by the New York Sound Posse. One of these was called Who Planned The Murder of JFK, Who Carried It Out, and Who Covered It Up, delivered by Joan Mellon. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

If you don't do audio, the transcript of the lecture is also available online, where it is presented in article form under the descriptive title How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy. The title pinpoints what interests me in this topic and why I started reading The Ultimate Sacrifice.

Although the foreground topic, the question of who killed Kennedy, is an absorbing one, it is the background topic--deception and its consequences--that ties past to present. Mellon discusses how the United States refusal to deal with the death of JFK reinforced patterns of institutional dishonesty in the press and in government and created a tolerance for such dishonesty among the American public.

I was born almost a year after JFK was killed. As a result, I never thought I could really grasp what his death meant to those who lived through it. It was as though the distance between the start of my life and the end of his created a gap I could never get past. It is strange to think that as more time passes, I find my understanding of the meaning of his death growing so much deeper.

Oh ye gods of pleasure and abandon

Did I just say something about these tests being accurate? I guess I did. I have Chris Puzak to blame for these results; he's the one that got me started with this infernal quiz in the first place. But look, the interpretation says "not really 'Satan.'" However, I'd be less troubled if this card didn't continually come up in my readings.
A dragon on a Tarot card.You are The Devil
Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild--or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

The accuracy of these tests is remarkable

Your results:
You are Batman

You are dark, love gadgets and have vowed to help the innocent not suffer the pain you have endured.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Road to Hell: A Case Study

Pastor Ted amidst the Wii in flames.Over the last week or so, I've been closely documenting an individual who, despite good intentions, appears to be headed down a dangerous road. I'm now releasing these notes so that you may grasp the tiny, seemingly inconsequential steps that nonethless lead one directly into fiery temptation.

October 23: The Subject appears strong, even casually dismissive, in the face of the coming Novemebr console debuts. On this evidence, we can predict that the Subject will not be purchasing a new console come the end of November.

October 27: The Subject has shown sporadic interest in the new consoles and has spent time surfing for new console information on game sites. However, the Subject was overheard saying to several peers that new consoles aren't worth the premium price.

October 29: The Subject came home from the grocery store with a copy of the magazine Nintendo Power and proceeded to read its 23-page Wii launch guide.

November 3: The Subject was observed writing an e-mail to her Sister, requesting help and support regarding an impending purchase decision. In the end, the e-mail was never sent.

November 6: The Subject carefully examined online data regarding expected console inventory levels, taking notes in the process. A certain listlessness was observed in the Subject that we attribute to feelings of helplessness.

November 9: The Subject spent several hours at reading previews of the Nintendo Wii launch titles. Later she was observed eyeing her checking account balance and then sat in silence for several minutes with a far off look in her eye.

November 13: The Subject's behavior is furtive, uneasy. We hesitate to guess what actions may come next.

Now More than Ever

Retro watch with digital recorder.I voted this afternoon and I am left with a feeling of profound dissatisfaction. I hope the returns will bring good news, but I'm not too optimistic about that.

I wanted to offer something lighter to my readers, yet still in the elections vein. This week, I was entertained by Rolling Stone's cover story on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, penned by Maureen Dowd. I was especially delighted to read that Colbert has a soft spot for Richard Nixon, as do I. In fact, he even voices my own generational reaction to the Watergate trials: "I didn't like the Watergate hearings--they interrupted 'The Munsters'."

This morning, Gizmodo called my attention to the Nixon "Dictator" watch, which has a digital recorder built in. In addition to the black watch shown here, there's also a brown version that has more of a retro flair.

Bless You, My Slime

Screenshot of a slime-filled shrine.I'm in that brief window of the year between my October birthday and Christmas where I actually get to enjoy first-run games. I'm too cheap to pay for them myself, but I always ask my family for them as gifts. Because this time period coincides with some of the best game releases, I get to choose from a great crop.

For my birthday, the sister got me a copy of Dragon Quest Heroes Rocket Slime for the Nintendo DS, which she knew I wanted. Since opening the game, I've fallen into a slimehole where it's hard to think of anything else. The premise of the story is that you are a tiny adorable ball of slime named Rocket whose home town of Boingburg has been wrecked. All the other slime inhabitants have been kidnapped, and it is up to Rocket to save them.

Rocket's main move is to stretch himself out and then rocket himself forward very quickly. It's like he's both the slingshot and the shot, pulling himself back, then snapping forward. The controls make this maneuver very easy, like flicking a rubber band with your finger, only with more control. This is one of Rocket's main fighting moves.

The first slime that Rocket rescues in Mother Glooperior, who plays an important instructional role in the game. Mother Glooperior cheers Rocket on throughout the game, offering blessings from the Goddess and other prayerful sayings. All the Catholic elements are given a loopy and irreverent expression. At the end of each gaming session, Rocket saves his place in the game by visiting Mother Glooperior in church. As shown in this screenshot from GameSpot, the slimes celebrate this moment with song, accompanied by organ music and the parting words of Mother Glooperior: "Bless you, my slime."

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