Tuesday, January 31, 2006


In previous articles, we've looked at the strange sexual hijinx surrounding Superman, Batman, and various other superheroic icons of the early 1960s, and we even gave a passing glance to Superman's adorable little teenage cousin from Krypton, Supergirl. Now I think it's time to take a closer look at the Last Daughter of Doomed Krypton, and a couple of her more deeply disturbed relationships:

Superman & Supergirl -

That's right, you non-comics geeks, you read it here first. Much though you may wish I'm making it up, the June 1962 issue of Action Comics (#289) made it pretty explicitly clear that Superman, the Man of Steel, is warm for the form of his barely nubile jailbait cousin, Supergirl. (And let's be clear, here; Supergirl's origin story in ACTION COMICS #252 tells us quite explicitly that Supergirl's father is the brother of Superman's father, so they are first cousins by blood, related in exactly the same way as you are to that total babe of a first cousin you used to practice making out with and caught total hell for from your and his/her parents when they walked in on you when you were 12... like they never did it when they were kids, the hypocrites).

Of course, there are some states of our fine Union where first cousins can legally marry and even gestate together (and I think Florida may well be one of them) but incest isn't the only issue here. (There's some fine wordplay potential in the phrase 'State of the Union' as combined with the concept of regional laws allowing first cousins to marry, but it's early and I'm too tired to come up with it. Sorry.) All through the 1950s and 1960s, National's super-characters were pretty much frozen in age. Superman, in fact, remained thirty-something from 1939 on up through the late 1960s, when someone declared he was 29 (an age he remained at until around 1985), and Supergirl, while her age was never really specified, was pretty clearly around 13 or 14 years old in her debut, and in the manner of comic books, she remained pretty much that age for most of a decade, until the early 1970s, when abruptly she was old enough to go to college (an age she remained, apparently, until 1985, when she died heroically during the pretty much appalling CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS).

So even if the whole kissin' cousins thing doesn't trouble you overly, let's keep in mind that ACTION #289, in which Superman offhandedly remarks that he "could only marry a lovable superwoman like [Supergirl]", and then sighs heavily as he mentions that 'unfortunately', Kryptonian law forbids first cousins to marry (yeah, buddy, Metropolis law, too), Superman is basically making a pretty direct pass at a 14 year old.

Between this and all the super-powerful jewelry Supes kept giving to Jimmy Olsen all through the Silver Age, you really have to wonder exactly what weird lizards were living in The Head of Steel. You also have to wonder why neither Superman nor Supergirl ever happens to mention what Kryptonian law thinks about a 30 something year old man putting the wood to a vulnerable, dependent 14 year old girl, but maybe Krypton is like Colorado, where you can legally have sex with a 12 year old as long as you marry her first. (This is actually true; and I think it's true in Georgia, too.)

Now Supergirl, perhaps thrown into a panic attack by the notion of her groaty dirty old perv of a cousin hauling her into the coat-room at the next Legion of Superheroes reunion and feeling her up thoroughly, instantly decides, in the manner of meddling female relatives since time immemorial, that Superman desperately needs to get himself a non-Kryptonian date, and lickety damned split, too. Since the Silver Age super-types could pretty casually travel in time, she first lures Superman back to Ancient Greece in the hopes he might get a raging woody for Helen of Troy. When that doesn't work, she apparently reasons that if Clark likes her, he must prefer blondes, so she then gets him to fly into 2972, where their future pals the Legion of Superheroes have grown up into adults, so she can try to fix him up with the now fully mature Saturn Woman. (Supergirl just doesn't seem to understand that Superman likes 'em young, or she'd have sicc'ed him on the 14 year old Saturn Girl back in 2962. But then, I'm sure she loves her cousin and she's doubtless trying hard to give him the benefit of the doubt.)

Supergirl's plan seems to work at first, as Saturn Woman and Superman commence to mug it up quite steamily underneath the mistletoe... only to be embarrassed when Lightning Man (hey, I don't make up these names) comes roaring out of the next room to demand what the hell Superman thinks he's doing, making out with his wife for twenty minutes, druidic herb sprig or no frickin' druidic herb sprig. (A better question might have been exactly what the married Saturn Woman was doing playing tonsil hockey with the Metropolis Marvel for nearly half an hour, but Lightning Man never asked that, I suppose because the defense "Well, if Superman wants to stick his tongue down my throat, what can I do to stop him" is pretty irrefutable... plus, Saturn Woman has telepathic powers, and if I were married to her I'd try pretty hard not to piss her off overmuch, too.)

It's about this time that Superman makes his rueful confession regarding how he could only ever really marry someone like his sweet little cousin (good thing Lana and Lois aren't around listening to THAT or they'd just jump off the Daily Planet building in despair) and so, Kara (Supergirl's real name, non-comics fans) then proceeds to try to get Superman shacked up with her final candidate... a totally hot blonde super powered chick who lives on a distant planet and who is pretty much a dead ringer for, as the story notes, Supergirl herself, with a few more years of maturing secondary sex characteristics under (and over) her belt.

This particular candidate, Luma Lynai, Superwoman for her entire world, does indeed fall madly in love with Superman, and he with her, while Supergirl clenches her hands together next to her cheeks and beams at the success of her wily manipulations, in which she has finally managed to get her older cousin fixed up with a woman who, well, looks pretty much exactly like his younger cousin, albeit with somewhat larger boobs. (And yes, the phrase 'what the HELL were the editors and writers THINKING' does indeed leap firmly to mind at this point.)

However, the romance is eventually thwarted because Luma Lynai can't live under a yellow sun (she SAYS the radiation will slowly kill her, but I think she just doesn't like the color it turns her hair) and naturally, Superman, being a complete control freak who always has to be the master of his own domain, can't even consider moving to HER place.

At the end of our reasonably twisted tale, having utterly failed to successfully foist her randy old cousin off on some other unwitting dupe, Supergirl decides to 'let him handle his own love life from now on', a phrase I myself tend to think is probably a pretty straightforward euphemism for 'fine, then, if he doesn't like any of the girls I found for him, the sonofabitch can just jerk off!'. Which, when you think of it, brings a whole new meaning to the term 'Fortress of Solitude'.

However, it should be noted that if Supergirl occasionally decided to give her poor horny old cuz the occasional mercy hand or blow job while they were both all alone in their insanely isolated arctic retreat, who would know? And if anyone ever found out, who's going to bitch at the most powerful humanoid beings in the entire universe about it, or anything else, for that matter?

Besides, if you take Larry Niven's "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" seriously, you'd have to admit that Supergirl is pretty much the only safe lay Superman is ever going to have access to... at least, until DC buys up Fawcett's characters in the 1970s and Mary Marvel suddenly appears on Earth-National.

Now, disturbing though this particular romantic near-relationship was, it doesn't hold a candle to perhaps the sickest chapter in Super-romance ever published by a mainstream comics company, which is to say, the time that Supergirl dated her own pet horse, Comet.

You think I'm kidding, but honestly, we're not that lucky. Comet the Super Horse, who was one of Supergirl's favorite pets, was in fact a centaur from ancient Greece who had, through magical misadventures, been transformed entirely into a horse, and then, to kind of make up for it, had been given the 'powers of the gods', which were pretty much the same powers as Superman and Supergirl have. Biron (his original name as a centaur) was then trapped on a distant planet for a few thousand years and only freed when Supergirl's Kryptonian escape rocket came tearing by and serendipitously shattered the radiation bands holding him imprisoned. He then followed her rocket back to Earth and decided to team up with her and help her fight crime, in gratitude for her saving him.(See Adventure Comics No. 364, January 1968, "The Revolt of the Super-Pets").

What makes this even weirder and more potentially sicko is that in a later story, Comet gets the ability to regain his human form whenever a comet is visible in the Earthly sky. Naturally, they had to do one Supergirl story where a comet comes buzzing through, Comet (the horse) regains his human form, takes on the name "Bronco" Bill Starr, rodeo rider, accidentally runs into Supergirl, and the two of them fall in love. (See Action Comics No. 301, June 1963, "The Secret Identity of Super-Horse", later reprinted as "Supergirl's Cowboy Hero" in a Supergirl All Romance Stories 80 Page Giant, which was where I first read and goggled at it unbelievingly when I was around 10.)

As you'd expect, Comet in his human form couldn't quite bring himself to tell the Maid of Steel that he was actually... er... her horse... (not to mention a tiny leetle bit older than her, like, a few millenia) and although they did a fair amount of tongue wrestling given the editorial constraints of the era, eventually the comet (the one in the sky, fella) continued on its path and Supergirl's latest paramour went all four legged again. Supergirl never knew what became of the poor goop and I fairly distinctly recall the story ending with a panel showing Supergirl snuggling up to her big white superhorse, petting him while sighing something like "Gosh, I wonder if I'll ever see him again", while Comet thought something like "If only I could tell her... but even if I could, it could never be!"

Or if it could, it would be the sort of thing you can only ever find footage of on underground European websites.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


...I've caught a case of troll-itis, so I've had to reactivate 'comment moderation' for a while. I know it's aggravating, but, well, it's been made necessary by some numbnuts shit for brains who simply doesn't have enough self respect to stay out of places where they're neither invited nor wanted.

I suspect it's the man-child formerly known as Lord Corwin of Amber, and/or Gandalf the Grey, and the reason he won't sign even one of those names is that he sent me an email a while back telling me he was done with bugging me, and now he's unwilling to admit in public that he's a lying turd, as well as a gutless, pointless, loveless, desperate for attention one.

Whatever the case, comment moderation will stay up as long as it needs to.

In one of the many many many gnatlike, hissing, venomous little hate notes this skulking comment thread molester has posted over the past afternoon, he threatened to start posting his comments to other blogs as well... which would probably mean, he'll post them to any blogs that belong to my more friendly commenters. So, if any of you should catch troll-itis from this blog, well, I express my regrets.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Everything under the sun

Watching SuperGirlfriend in the early morning of a workday when she's running late is interesting. The stress pushes her onto a click on her dial where she has HyperSonic Speed, and there are after-images everywhere. Since she's a lovely woman, this isn't a bad thing, but it's a little unsettling, because you never know which one of them might be the real her. ;)

As I only own the first two seasons of ANGEL, and the fifth, she's used them all up now and reluctantly switched to BUFFY. She thinks BUFFY is okay, but it's not ANGEL. I'm hoping as she moves more fully into the second season, she'll get more into it, as, of course, the second season is pretty much all about Angel and his back story, as well as being arguably the best season of BUFFY there is. Having said that, ANGEL is the more adult themed of the two series; a great deal of the teen age high school angst in BUFFY can be tiresome to grown ups who aren't particularly nostalgic for that era of our lives.

Although I said I wouldn't do it until at least A DANCE WITH DRAGONS was out, I couldn't stick with it. I broke down and started reading A FEAST FOR CROWS a few weeks ago. On the positive side, although it looks like an absolutely slender volume compared to its preceding installment, A STORM OF SWORDS, it's actually quite lengthy, weighing in at 547 pages of new text, I think.

On the negative side, though, well, it's not finished, goddamit. As I'm seeing all over the Web at this point: "Martin has explained that the book was becoming too long, and could not be published as a single volume, so he decided to tell the full story of half the characters, rather than half the story of all the characters. The remaining plotlines will form the foundation of A Dance with Dragons, which is now half-completed."

There's only one problem with that oft bruited bit of paraphrasing; it's all horseshit. This book doesn't tell the full story of anyone. It ends with every single character in it at a cliff hanger... a cliff hanger we now know will not be resolved until Martin finishes, not the next book in the series, but the one after that. And since it takes Martin five years to finish a fucking book, well, we're looking at somewhere around 2016 before anyone gets a chance to find out whether Brienne actually got hung by outlaws or not, whether Cersei or Margaery (or neither) gets out of the clutches of the Church Militant alive, and what Jaime does about Cersei's summons to be her champion. Not to mention getting any more on Sam, seeing any more of the Mage heading off to join Danaerys, or receiving any kind of explanation for why the hell Pate is apparently still alive when we saw him die at the start of this book.

That may give you an idea of just where it is that this fantasy series has gone so badly wrong -- it simply has too many characters, and all of them are fascinating and three dimensional, and they all have their own very intricate, often interacting storylines. The back of the current volume contains 64 PAGES of appendices, all of which do nothing except list by name and very brief description all the characters we've seen so far in the book. SIXTY FOUR GODDAM PAGES OF BRIEF CHARACTER NOTES. When, in all honesty, the only characters we really care about all that much are the Starks and the Lannisters, and shit, there are too many of them, too, despite Martin's noble attempts to thin the herd a bit over the course of his story.

The worst part of all this is that Martin clearly has no ability to impose discipline on himself or his story, and none of his editors are willing to, either. This series has made Martin a force to be reckoned with in the realm of fantasy publishing; A FEAST OF CROWS has been fifteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. When you can pull down those kind of sales figures, you have the ability to simply tell your editors to shut the fuck up, and most editors, realizing this, will simply sit there more or less happily and wait for the next book, no matter how long it takes, because by now this series has a guaranteed audience numbering in the hundreds of thousands so there's a big payday whenever Martin manages to get a new volume out, regardless of how little he actually manages to advance his plot in 500 to 600 new pages.

So, with no one to tell Martin "Hey, George, you really don't need to open your latest installment by introducing half a dozen brand new characters when you already have about a thousand on the boards", well, he's going to just keep making the shit up as it occurs to him to do so... and in all honesty, I get the very bad feeling that Martin himself has no idea what he's going to do with all these fascinating fictional people and plot threads. Brienne with Jaime's sword Oathkeeper? That has to be going somewhere, right? Theon must still have some part to play in all this, yes? That ancient cracked horn Sam Tarly is carrying around with him as he wanders the earth is going to be an important plot element at some point, surely? What about the enormous trumpet that supposedly summons dragons that the new King of the Ironmen has? We're going to do something with that, right? And the way Jon Snow switched the two kids up on the Wall, that must be important. And... well...

This is the problem. Martin is throwing story elements and possible plot devices out like a deranged boiler worker shoveling coal into the furnace, and I find it impossible to believe that he actually has more than the vaguest idea where all this is going to end up. I wouldn't mind so much him creating all this cookie dough if I thought it was all going to get baked by the time the series finally finishes, but I have little faith it will. Even assuming Martin lives to finish the series (and recent photos of him don't show a guy who exactly looks hale and hearty), I have a bad feeling that a lot of this stuff is simply going to get forgotten, dropped off along the way side, or peremptorily tossed out.

For the immediate future, then, life is bleak once again in Westeros, at least, for those of us who like to live there part time. Martin's site has a post no more than a few days old indicating he's less than half done with the next book (which is, in fact, the other half of this book). That means, regardless of how optimistic he wants to be, that it will be probably three years, at least, before we see A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, and then another five, at least, before THE WINDS OF WINTER, and then another five or six after that before A TIME FOR WOLVES, which hopefully will be the last of it, and, if the title holds true, the best of it as well, as whichever members of the Stark family still survive by that time finally emerge triumphant over their many enemies.

It should be noted, I suppose, that A FEAST FOR CROWS is as good as any of its preceding installments, but dammit, I'd like a time machine so I could skip ahead to 2040 or so and pick up the entire boxed set.

Although that would be depressing, too, because the music will suck worse than it does now, everyone will be wearing filter masks, we'll be living under a constant Code Orange terrorism alert, and George W. Bush will still be the Commander In Chief, 'pending the end of the War and the resumption of temporarily suspended elective procedures'. And I'll probably have to steal a copy of the boxed set, anyway, since I won't have a Federal I.D./Citizen's Work Credit Card, and thus will have no way to make a legal purchase.

Hmmm. Maybe I need to get in that time machine and head back to 1999, instead... with enough newspaper headlines and videotaped evidence to convince Ralph Nader to stay out of the election.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I wanted to note, because it's important to me, that SuperGirlfriend and I had a pretty bad weekend a few days back. Why? Because on Friday, during a routine check up, her doctor discovered what she called "a pretty significant heart murmur".

And then, because we aren't rich, said doctor scheduled SuperGirlfriend to see a cardiologist the following Tuesday... giving us three days of fretting and worrying and general stress that would have been completely avoided if we were billionaires, or related to Dick Cheney, or both, because in such a case, we'd have been in an expensive private clinic and the doctor who found the murmur would have immediately wheeled in a million dollar diagnostic array (or just whipped out one of those whistling salt shakers from the first STAR TREK series that Bones always had) and done whatever tests needed to be done right there on the spot, while slaves (or interns, whatever) fed us truffles and caviar and played us soothing harmonies on their gigantic golden harps.

Or something like that.

So, anyway, we worried and fretted and stressed and my head, at least, was filled with all sorts of gloomy visions of cardiologists grimly telling us that immediate open heart surgery would be needed and even then without a transplant the love of my life only had at best a few months to live.

And this all seemed very plausible to me, because, you know, if there is one thing I've learned in this life that is an absolute certainty (besides "if he or she is a Kyle Rayner fan, he or she is also pretty much a complete waste of highly organized living tissue") it's "the good stuff never lasts". I mean, why should I get this lucky? After 43 years of mostly solitude occasionally interspersed with not particularly great relationships, why should I suddenly find True Love and as close to Perfect Happiness as anyone gets down here on Paradise Planet... and having found these things, why should I get to keep them for any length of time?

Julia, over at One Odd Goose, didn't make it to her own first wedding anniversary. She didn't even get a Christmas with the love of her life. And she's a pretty cool person. So why should I expect anything more?

I don't know. Here's what I do know (besides, for some strange reason, that liking Kyle Rayner seems to be a reliable litmus test for utter personal worthlessness):

Every day... every hour... every minute, every second, every immeasurable moment... is a gift.

We went to see the doctor, and after an excruciating half hour or so hooked up to a large beeping piece of equipment run by perhaps the coldest and most unpleasant woman on the globe, and another fifteen excruciating minutes waiting for the doctor to show up and tell us what the test results indicated (because Cold Unpleasant Bitch, who certainly had to know what the results she was looking at indicated, simply said, in a monotone, when we asked "It's not my place to make diagnoses, you'll have to speak with your doctor when the tests are done", throwing SuperGirlfriend and I into a near panic because we couldn't believe anyone could be so brutal as to say something like that if everything looked fine), the guy finally came back in and said "You're fine. It's just an innocent murmur."

So SuperGirlfriend is sleeping well again, which is good, because it means I can, too. And we're relieved; the only surgery in her near future is some minor outpatient stuff which she's already referred to over on her own blog, which we can pretty much take in stride.

But it's a gift. It's all a gift, every passing instant. You never know when it's going to suddenly come crashing to a halt... so appreciate it while you have it.

30,000 pairs of sweat sox

I have $1,425 in plastic.

Or so it seems:

Adam Warlock $10.00
Amazo $20.00
Anthony Stark $25.00
Apocalypse $17.00
Ares $47.00
Arnim Zola $4.00
Arthur Curry $10.00
Atom $20.00
Baron Mordo $6.00
Baron Zemo $12.00
Batman (Green Gloves) $5.00
Batman (Vampire) $20.00
Beta Ray Bill $20.00
Bizarro $12.00
Cain Marko (FF LE) $7.00
Captain Marvel $15.00
Catgirl $9.00
Catwoman $4.00
Commissioner Gordon $5.00
Count Nefaria $24.00
Crimson Cowl $8.00
Crystal $5.00
Cyclops (IC) $4.00
Deathbird $6.00
DeSaad $1.00
Despero $10.00
Dormammu $10.00
Elektra $10.00
Enchantress $8.00
Fantomex $15.00
Flash (GA) $10.00
General Zod $12.00
Giant Man $10.00
Gladiator $24.00
Goblin Queen $10.00
Hecate $5.00
Hulk (CM) $20.00
Hulk (X-plosion) $15.00
Hulk LE $12.00
Iron Man (Unique) AW $6.00
Iron Monger $5.00
Jane Foster $35.00
Jocasta $3.00
KC Bat Sentry $15.00
KC Batman $27.00
KC Flash $47.00
KC Magog $27.00
KC Shazam! $10.00
KC Superman $50.00
KC Wonder Woman $20.00
Key $1.00
Kilowog $10.00
Leader $7.00
Lex Luthor $8.00
Loki $30.00
Longshot $20.00
Mad Thinker $5.00
Madame Hydra $6.00
Magneto (Armor Wars) $12.00
Martian Manhunter $30.00
Medusa $10.00
Metallo $12.00
Mimic $7.00
MODOK $10.00
Moondragon $14.00
Mordru $9.00
Mr. Bones $6.00
Namor LE $3.00
Natasha Romanov (U) $5.00
Nick Fury $15.00
Nightcrawler (CT) $50.00
Nightmare $3.00
Norman Osborne $4.00
Oracle $20.00
Parasite $1.00
Patsy Walker $5.00
Professor X $17.00
Prometheus $15.00
Quasar $7.00
R'as al Ghul $5.00
Red Skull $6.00
Ronan $8.00
Samadahl Rey $6.00
Sauron $12.00
Selina Kyle $5.00
Sentry $13.00
Sersi $5.00
Shadowcat $10.00
Shathra $4.00
Shazam! $10.00
Siamese $2.00
Silver Surfer $30.00
Silver Swan $6.00
Simon Williams LE $5.00
Spider Man (CT) $10.00
Spider Man (FF) $15.00
Spider Man (IC) $10.00
Spider Man (Xplosion) $10.00
SpiderWoman $6.00
Steel (Giant) $5.00
Sue Storm LE (FF) $14.00
Super Skrull $15.00
Superman (black) $5.00
Ted Kord $5.00
Terra $6.00
Thanos $12.00
The General $10.00
Thomas Oscar Morrow $3.00
Ultra Humanite $4.00
Vindicator $12.00
Vision $10.00
Warbird $14.00
Witchblade $10.00
Wolverine (Armor Wars) $8.00
Wolverine (FF) $10.00
Wolverine LE (IC) $10.00
Wonder Woman $20.00

TOTAL "$1,425.00"

Ranging from a pathetic low of $1 (poor Desaad and Parasite don't get no respect) to an impressive high of $50 each (Nightcrawler and the Kingdom Come Superman), these prices are culled from recent searches on Ebay. I essentially simply took the lowest Buy It Now! price I could find on each figure. If I knew how to actually search on auction results, I'd average the most recent three final auction prices, which I'm sure would give me a much more accurate price on many of these.

Still, it's a place to put my feet.

At this point, it's simply an exercise in curiosity; I'm not planning on running any HeroClix fire sales any time soon. Still, it's nice to know that there's a grand or so in silly little plastic figures sitting around the apartment if we need it.

Focusing only on Uniques (including the upcoming Collateral Damage set), here's stuff I'd still like to have:

Adam Strange
Brainiac (Icons)
Captain Boomerang
Captain Marvel (CD)
Crimson Avenger
Darkseid (Hypertime)
Dr. Psycho
Eclipso (Cosmic Justice)
Felix Faust
Green Lantern (KC)
Jonah Hex
Kara Zor-El
Lex Luthor (Icons)
Professor Zoom
Superman (WOW)
Superman (Son of Darkseid)
The Flash (Icons)
Hulk (Ultimates)
Thor (Ultimates)
Iron Man (Ultimates)
Morgan LeFay
Mr. Fixit
Natasha Romanoff (CT)
Nova (both)
Phoenix (Ultimates)
Rupert (Mole Man LE)
Shadow King
Silver Dreadnaught
Silver Surfer (Defenders TA)
Spider-Man (Armor Wars)

Also, I totally forgot to add Terrax and the Scientist Supreme to the list of Uniques I own. I can't find an Ebay listing for the Scientist Supreme, but Terrax seems to go for around $15, so that will bring me up to around $1,440 and change.

There are, of course, other clix I both own and do not own but would like to that are REVs, but that's a whole 'nother effort to make, at some entirely different time.

Moving on from that...

Those of us who are both opinionated and outspoken will receive responses, and since there are a lot of foolish, emotionally retarded, and cowardly people out there who feel empowered by distance and anonymity on the Internet, many of those responses will be silly, irrational, childish, hypocritical, and gutless.

Sometimes, though, you hit the Internet equivalent of a trifecta, and while idly ego seaching on the net last night, I found one of those... but before we get to that, let me further exposit: one of the most common criticisms that people post about me, and my work, runs something as follows: It's really, really long.

I get this a lot. Okay, I tried to read that insane thing he wrote about Busiek, and I couldn't even get through the first couple paragraphs, but you're right, he's nuts. Or I'd read your blog, Darren, but I only have so much time to read blogs and the blogs I read I can read all the new stuff on in five minutes or less. Or My God this guy just goes on and on and on and on!

Etc ad nauseum.

It seems evident that, according to the vast majority of people out there, everything I write is too long. My novels. My short stories. My essays. My blog posts. My comments to other people's blogs. All of it, every last damned bit, is simply too lengthy, too voluminous, too massive for the larger audience out there to be able to encompass within their tiny little minds.

I love this. No, I really do. What people are essentially saying here... well, no, what they are actually sniveling, or wailing like three year olds, here... is We have no attention span! And... it's HIGHLANDER's fault!

I will also note, just as I go by, that the majority of folks who seem to hate my work the most... have, by their own admission, never actually read any of it in its entirety.

And, again... somehow or other... this is my fault. They can't spend more than five minutes reading something. They feel free to formulate and spew toxic, insanely personal opinions in response to things they can't be bothered to read completely. And yet, in the end, in what passes for these people's minds... all of these profound mental failings on their part somehow, in some way they cannot clearly articulate, add up to me being an asshole.

It's... you know, delightful... to have so many people dislike me and my work who are so obviously and irrefutably moronic.

And, speaking of that, here's a comment thread I found recently, over at some blog whose name I can't remember, but I think it was something like sayimagiganticdroolingfucktard.blogspot.com, or something close...

Ragnell said…
Pally, you forgot that the whole ADD diagnosis is yet another sign of parents not wanting to believe they just have annoying, ill-mannered children who need proper discipline.

Drugs! Ludicrious! They need some freaking attention and for someone to teach them right from wrong.

Jon said...
Yeah, but I remembered that posts over eight hundred words drags me into Doc Nebula/Highlander/John Jones territory, and that's something I'd just rather not be.

Besides, ADD, while certainly overdiagnosed, at least has the backing of a few honest-to-god doctors, not just crystal-reading hemp-wearers that stink of patchouli.

It's totally a crutch, though, you're right.

And now that I've invoked Highlander, he will no doubt appear here and make my life a living Hell of thousand-word responses. Damn me.

Ragnell said...
Just don't link to him. He'll never notice you that way.

Jon said...
I have five bucks he Googles his nom de web with a "- swords" or "- there can be only one" in an effort to find more people he can mock based on the unfortunate timing of their birth.

Highlander said...
"Yeah, but I remembered that posts over eight hundred words drags me into Doc Nebula/Highlander/John Jones territory, and that's something I'd just rather not be."

Yeah. God forbid anyone think you have an attention span.

Say. NOW you're linked to me. Isn't that fun?

Just a few final notes. Jon, whoever he is when he isn't launching ad hominem attacks on someone he doesn't know and has had no interactions with at all, has two blogs. One of them is called Face Down In The Gutter.

Honestly. I couldn't make stuff like this up.

Now, as to Ragnell... this is someone whom I have not only never said a bad word about, but have, in fact, said many many nice things about over the past few weeks, on my blog and over at hers. And, you know... this is what I get for that.

But, well, I suppose it's foolish to expect anything else, from anyone who would ever open a paragraph with the non-word 'pally'.

Not to mention someone who likes Kyle Rayner's butt.

POST SCRIPT: Wait! I just noticed! The Idiot's other blog isn't actually called Face Down In the Gutter. Its real title is: Facedown in the Gutters.

So, you know, he's not only a gutless whiney wank with no attention span who thinks that people who can actually focus on something for more than 800 words are hateful and evil... he's also, pretty much, subliterate.

Well, you know, he fits right in with the rest of them...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A cool exec with a heart of steel

We got a lot done today... picked up a new bed frame (something we've been trying to do for a few months now), did the laundry, got groceries. All of it mundane, but, you know, it's nice to cross things off the list.

While we were running around, SuperGirlfriend got me two boosters of ARMOR WARS. As always, her aim was true; each booster yielded up a Unique -- one had Crystal, the other, Jocasta. Of course, I already have both of them (bought as singles) but the older two SuperKids will be happy to see the figs on their dresser when we get them back next weekend.

While I'm far from having a complete set of ARMOR WARS, I have gotten things narrowed down to a few maddeningly elusive figures, mostly Vets. This is pretty much where I was at around this same period after the FANTASTIC FORCES release, and in the end, a trade deal with Mike Norton and some careful selection from the local game shops' singles bin got me where I wanted to be. Hopefully, I'll have enough money at the end of the month to pick up another brick of AW, and that will fill in the holes.

It troubles me a bit; even more so than with FANTASTIC FORCES, distribution seems remarkably and consistently uneven. To date, for example, I've gotten a plethora of certain figs, even ones that are supposed to be quite rare, like Vet Iron Man, Wendigo, and Quicksilver, and the Unique Shathra, while I've seen few or none of other REVs -- I got a rookie Cap after buying nearly a case of ARMOR WARS in one way or another, and to date have only seen one of the new Ultrons (an Experienced). I'm drowning in rookie Psylockes but the existence of higher REVs seems pretty much apocryphal in this area. I've never even laid eyes on a Cannonball or a War Machine, although I honestly coudn't care less about the former and could really only care slightly less, with great effort, about the latter.

For now, though, here's what I'm looking for, after opening probably close to a case of boosters over the past several weeks:

Firebrand - V -- I don't care about the character much, but I'm lousy with Rookies and have an Experienced, and would like to upgrade.

Killer Shrike - E,V I don't much care about this character, either, but I'd like to have a complete REV. He seems rare in this area, I've only ever seen the one of him in all the boosters I've bought, and that was a Rookie. Plus, how many characters these days have a big frickin' plume on their head? You got to give him points for that.

Banshee - V I've got a flood of rookies and a few Experienced, but Vets remain elusive.

Magma - V I honestly don't much care about this character, but I have the R and E.

Thunderball - E,V The second member of the Wrecking Crew that WizKids has given us so far, and a must have for me, given how prominently a certain two part IRON FIST story figures in my childhood favorites. He's scarce as hen's teeth around here; I've pulled two rookies and that's it.

Quicksilver - R,E I've gotten so many Vet Quicksilvers since ARMOR WARS came out that me and all the SuperKids have them. But can I get an Experienced or a Rookie version to put into my Brotherhood or Avengers teams? I cannot. It's aggravating as hell.

Psylocke - E, V The Rookie is a nice addition to a SHIELD team, but I'd like to see a few of her higher levels, please.

War Machine - REV, but I'd settle for a Vet. I don't much care about James Rhodes III, mind you, but he's a reasonably important character (if one who seems to have fallen off the face of Marvel Earth lately) and I wouldn't mind having him represented in my collection.

Titanium Man - E,V I'm lousy with Rookies, can't seem to get anything else. I don't much like this version of Titanium Man, but if I have to have one, I might as well have a Vet.

Captain America - E,V The Ultimates Cap still has the best overall stats and dial, but this one is a good second best, and he's wearing the right uniform and has the right TA (and lately, thanks to the Thunderbolts Feat Card, if we really want an Avenger to act like an Ultimate, he can, for 5 extra points). All I've gotten so far is a Rookie, though.

Ultron - R, V I've got an Experienced. I'd like to fill in the REV. The Vet is actually a very useful piece, but I wouldn't mind fielding an Ultron United team some time. I could even send along Jocasta to cook and clean for them.

Spider-Man -- the House of M Unique has an interesting dial, and thanks to SuperGirlfriend, I have all the other Spider-Man sculpts, so I'd like to get this one.

As happened with FANTASTIC FORCES, I've had poor luck generally drawing Uniques, getting pretty much the half of them I didn't much care about -- Wolverine, Shathra (4 of her to date), Sentry, and Iron Monger. Just recently I pulled a House of M Magneto, which was a nice pull, and would be nicer if WK hadn't changed up their flight stands over the past year, apparently just to keep people like me from changing one Magneto sculpt for another. The older Magneto, with the bucket on his head and the big cape, won't fit well on the new stands, so I'm kind of stuck with the boring flying throne Magneto instead, if I want a Magneto with a decent dial (albeit one that is, oddly, without Telekinesis).

The Uniques I've wanted I've bought as singles, and then, of course, once I buy them as singles, I pull them from packs. Such is life.

Since I tend to give all the good extra stuff I pull straight to the older two SuperKids, I don't have much of anything to trade. However, if anyone wants a Sentry, they can have mine for any two of the Vets from the above list. Sentry, bleah. We hates it, we hates it forever.

I'd probably trade my Iron Monger and my House of M Wolverine (with the SHIELD TA and the gun on his hip), too. I don't hate them the way I hate the Sentry, but I can certainly live without them.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Equal time

One of my commenters, a penguin whose intellect I respect enormously, mentioned in her response to my last post that she was uncomfortable with political attitudes like mine, that forced lots of people into the same little boxes. Or something like that. She also mentioned, in passing, that a great many of the civic horrors I've attributed to the current El Jefe Junta also occurred under other (or, should I say, actual) Presidents... by which I would imagine she means 'Clinton', since, when people say that sort of thing these days in defense of El Jefe, they pretty much always mean 'Clinton'. He's become the boogeyman and universal scapegoat of the right wing, it seems.

I have a couple of things to say to that.

First, as far as people being put into little boxes -- I take this to mean my friend feels I am generalizing, and that's unfair. I further take this to mean that she feels there are many good conservatives out there... what El Jefe attempted to market to us, in the last two elections, under the label 'compassionate conservatism'.

I'm not going to talk about whether I've generalized or not; that's what you do when you're doing political analysis these days. I continue to stand by my main points: the modern day conservative party is entirely about regaining lost social dominance, for both white males and for the Christian religion, while liberalism is now and always has been about social equality for all human beings, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, culture, or religious faith.

Having said that, let’s examine for a moment whether I am giving some sort of cruel short shrift to the true compassionate conservatives that are out there, somewhere, in the vast expanses of the United States.

To this I say -- I'm not from Missouri, but you're still gonna have to show me.

Show me the compassionate conservatives in Congress. Show me one Congressional Republican who voted against the recent Medicare D bill, which is currently screwing over senior citizens coast to coast while fattening the pockets of the pharmaceutical and the health insurance CEOs. Show me one Congressional Republican who voted against the much touted highway/energy bill before that, which is currently driving our gas and home heating bills into the stratosphere, benefiting no one but those who own stock in the oil industry. Show me a Congressional Senator who will vote against Alito's confirmation. Show me a Republican member of the House of Representatives who hasn't fought hard for the privilege of posing in a picture with Tom Delay over the last eight years. Show me a Republican Congressman who voted against the PATRIOT Act, or against the war in Iraq.

Of course, our elected representatives are just the head of the spear. Of course, the main body of the weapon has more mass, and should contain many more compassionate conservatives. Of course, of course. I have no doubt this is true. So, show me the compassionate conservatives who are taking homeless people into their own homes, or donating money to homeless shelters. Show me the compassionate conservatives who are adopting or fostering unwanted children, or who work on runaway hotlines. Show me the compassionate conservatives who are going to City Council meetings and demanding that low income housing and drug rehabilitation centers be built in their neighborhoods. Show me the swelling tide of young patriotic compassionate conservatives who are joining the military, or the Peace Corps, for that matter.

These are not idle or rhetorical questions, nor are they mere propaganda. Conservatives have no trouble turning out in large numbers when they feel it’s important enough. Thousands of conservatives have no trouble getting together in vigil for Terri Schiavo, in support of Roy Moore, in angry remonstration against Planned Parenthood centers. Conservative crowds similarly have no difficulty gathering in boisterous support of El Jefe wherever he travels in this great land.

So where, then, are the crowds of compassionate conservatives lining up to adopt unwanted children? To feed and shelter the homeless? To provide stern but loving examples of shining hope, faith, and succor for drug addicts and derelicts? Where are the compassionate conservatives demonstrating against child labor, against exploitation of undocumented immigrants, against illegal detainment and torture of prisoners, and for dealing with global warming before we have too many more disastrous hurricane seasons?

Well, a conservative reader might well sputter, those are all liberal causes! You can’t expect conservatives to take up cudgels for junkies, bums, unwed mothers, foreigners, terrorists, and other criminals and degenerates, for God’s sake!

And I say again… show me these compassionate conservatives.

Show me the compassionate conservative candidate who is running for any office anywhere in America on a ticket of anything but hatred and exclusion. "We need stricter immigration policies and a higher, better defended wall around America." "We need a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage." "We need bigger, better weapons to fight the war on Terror." "We need caps on lawsuits." And always, always, always, the clarion call to those who want to live in a civilized society but not pay for it -- "We need lower taxes."

Conservative candidates run on these slogans, conservative voters vote for these slogans. Where is the compassion in any of it? Where is anything, except “That offends us, you can’t do it, don’t spend our money on anything but us?”

Once more, with feeling – where are these compassionate conservatives?

Well, perhaps they’re to be found in the right wing blogosphere. Yes, surely we’ll find some compassionate conservatives here. Let’s go to Google and punch in “Cindy Sheehan” along with the name of any well known conservative bloggers… Michelle Malkin, say, or Jonah Goldberg, Peggy Noonan or that crazy woman over at Atlas Shrugged, any of the Power Tools crowd. Sure we’ll see some compassion here, some empathy, some sympathy for a mother who lost her child in battle…

Hmmm. No, no… not unless ‘whore’, ‘tramp’, ‘bitch’, ‘cunt’, and various other epithets can be considered compassionate…

I don’t know. I look for ‘compassionate conservatives’, but I mostly find a lot of mean, selfish, hateful people. Which, I suppose, is why I tend to try to stuff them all in the same little box (and oh, if only I could really do that, what a wonderful world it would be).

Now, as to various civil outrages being committed on Clinton’s watch, well, I suppose maybe that’s true. I might have just missed it. Maybe Clinton lied us into a war that half of his constituents and everyone else in the world, nearly, was vehemently opposed to, that violated international law, and that needlessly killed 100,000 plus foreign nationals and 2000 plus American troops… and counting. No, wait… Clinton supplied troops to a U.N. sanctioned police action, none of them died, and the world praised us for our humanitarianism as a result. Um… okay… maybe Clinton authorized indefinite detention of enemy combatants? Um… no. But Clinton certainly set up a network of secret facilities on foreign soil where foreign detainees could be tortured? Uh… nope, sorry, he didn’t do that.

Well, he must have done something. Did he send FBI agents around to see what books American citizens are checking out of the library? Well, no. Did he reserve the right to disobey every bill he signed into law, if he felt like it? Hmmm… no, no, I can’t see where he did that. Did he establish free speech zones? Push for Constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and flag burning?

Well… no, no… and… no.

Geez. He’s like… what is that… zero for eight? What a slacker.

All told, I’m going to stick by my earlier analysis.

But I do, sincerely, appreciate all thoughtful feedback.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

It's never personal... it's always business

I'm home sick today. I've had this throat thing for about a week now, and it's been slowly getting worse -- from a tickle to a cough to a wet cough to, now, a stage where I'm hacking up a decent sized wad of phlegm about every ten to fifteen minutes. Nobody wants to see that, so I've decided to take a sick day, which I badly need anyway, given how my job's been stressing me out lately.

So, with a day of down time, I might as well try to get the very long political blog entry that's been rumbling around in my brain for the past several weeks out in some kind of vaguely coherent form.

Where to start, where to start...

The contemporary conservative movement -- where did it come from? Essentially, it's a backlash against the fairly steady progress that liberalism has made in industrialized Western society over the past century or so.

That sounds more impressive than it should, so let me boil it down further: The current conservative movement springs from one thing -- white men used to rule the planet. Now they don't. Conservatives (the vast majority of which are, surprise surprise, white men) hate that. They don't know how they lost their global dominance, and they want it back.

It's pretty much that simple. Once upon a time, back in the Golden Age, us male honkeys could pretty much do whatever we felt like. We got all the best jobs. We made the most money. We held all the elected and appointed offices, we had all the power. We ran things. Like any ruling class, us penisized ofays dug on that shit. We thought it was cool. Women and racial minorities cheerfully took subordinate positions to us, at home and in the workplace. Wifey kept house and raised the kids. The secretary was available for the occasional blowjob or weekend fling if you took her along to a convention with you. The darker hued races mopped the floors at the office and cut the lawn at home. Those horrible perverts with non mainstream sexualities kept their bizarre, disgusting antics carefully out of sight, or they got beat down for it... often by white guys with badges and guns.

It's not that conservatives aren't inclusive. There is a place for blacks, Mexicans, and Asians in the Ideal Conservative World; that place comes lavishly furnished with a cart full of cleaning equipment or a lawn mower and gardening tools. They'll even allow disgusting faggots into their utopia, as long as said disgusting faggots either subject themselves to reconditioning, or just agree to lie about their essential natures every second of every day, and be so ashamed they commit suicide if ever their dirty little secret is found out.

This stirring social vision is the foundation beneath all the hatred that conservatives constantly spew. And hatred is irrefutably the essential keystone of conservatism. Where liberalism is all about plurality and tolerance for other ways of life, conservatism is about hatred of everything that doesn't fit into the bizarre, Father Knows Best derived fantasies of the contemporary right wing.

It is important, however, for those of us trying to understand the goals of the modern day conservative that we not get too hung up on these insanely hateful, xenophobic wet dreams. Although they are, indeed, what motivates the vast majority of the 21st Century right wing, those people are stooges and drones. The real agenda is more covert, and considerably more sinister.

It's actually all about big business. Keeping overhead down, and profit margins fat.

Liberalism, with its tolerance for any viewpoint, opinion, or lifestyle that isn't actively hurtful to society as a whole, or demonstrably harmful to other individuals, is bad for big business. Corporations thrive in a segmented, hierarchial society where the wealthy ruling class can pretty much do as it likes. This allows for maximum profits, because the wealthy ruling class owns the businesses, and when they are allowed to do whatever the hell they feel like, they can protect and increase those profits without too much difficulty. In an ideal business environment, the ruling class can hire and fire whoever it wants, pay as much (or as little) as it feels like, and do whatever it likes with the money that comes in.

Liberalism is essentially about eliminating class and leveling the playing field, and it does this, basically, by empowering the formerly powerless. It allows people with little or no money or influence to sue those who have a great deal of it, and even occasionally win. It allows people who care about things besides money and power to get into elected or appointed office, and, while they are there, to propagate intolerably socially progressive laws, like the Federal Minimum Wage. All of these things infuriate Big Business, because, well, they end up costing the guys who own all the toys a lot of money. Worse, when you can sue your boss for treating you badly in the workplace, it places limits on how your boss can behave towards you in the workplace. This takes a great deal of the fun out of being a boss, and never kid yourself... the people who run things do it because they like to run things. They want to do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it. They don't appreciate anything that says they can't... anything that places limits on their power.

So the average modern day conservative dreams of a time when white men will return to their rightful, natural, God ordained position of utter, unequivocal social dominance over all lesser forms of life. But behind that, the real people who pull the levers of power in the conservative movement are looking for something a bit more horrific than that: they simply want absolute power over everyone else, all the time.

Liberals are deeply concerned with what the conservative movement has been doing in America since it regained political power, and they should be -- but, nonetheless, most liberals seem to be missing the overall pattern. Free speech zones, illegal domestic surveillance, targeting government officials who disagree with the official line for sanctions, making bankruptcy much harder to declare, emasculating every social program from Welfare to Medicaid, privatizing many government functions, the ongoing deregulation of big business, illegal use of military force, channeling more and more tax money directly into corporate coffers, the outright corruption we are seeing as the Republicans consolidate their power using 'soft money'... this isn't really about restoring some lost Shangri La where dark skinned people all tug their forelocks and step off the sidewalk when Whitey walks by.

This is about people losing the ability to say no to corporate exploitation. This is about building a world without options for the working class... a world where the vast majority of people will have to take whatever work is offered to them, at whatever wages and hours and under whatever conditions they can get, and act as if they like it.

As just one example, this is the crux of the current controversy over legalized abortion. It is not, as most people seem to assume, about infanticide vs. a woman's right to choose. It is about, very bluntly, power.

Roe vs. Wade establishes the controversial 'right to privacy'. It states that this right, which is not explicitely enumerated in our Constitution, nonetheless clearly 'emanates' from specific provisions in the Constitution, and that because of this right, individuals specifically have the right to control what happens in and to their bodies. Which means, in the specific case of abortion, a woman has the right to have one, and the government has no right to interfere.

That's the details, and people get all caught up in them, and I understand that. Abortion is a horrific thing, and I hate it, and it's very difficult, sometimes, to try to argue that something abstract, like A Woman's Right To Choose, is more important than a pile of murdered fetuses.

But that's not the abstraction we are actually arguing about at all.

Overturn Roe vs. Wade and you remove the essential keystone of the 'right to privacy'. The logical consequence of this are staggering and scary... and the people who actually run the conservative movement in this country are very aware of them, and they are drooling in their muttonchop whiskers thinking about it.

If you no longer have the right to privacy... if, specifically, an individual no longer has the right to decide what medical procedures they will have... if the government is no longer specifically prohibited from interfering with an individual's decisions about their own medical care...

It's not just abortions. Any medical procedure can now be forbidden, to anyone, for any reason. And... just one step further than that... any medical procedure can now be mandated, for anyone, for any reason.

With no right to privacy, a court of law could order anyone sterilized. Or castrated. Or lobotomized. They can forcibly implant a tracking device under your skin. Or an explosive. Or the equivalent of a shock collar. Or put wires in your brain.

Did I type 'court of law'? Terrifying though that notion is, it's actually much worse than that. We are 'at war', and it's a war with no defined perimeters or goals or limits, a war we've been told by the people in power could well last decades or generations. Because we are 'at war', our current Commander in Chief has declared that he can, essentially, do whatever he wants. He is above and beside the law. He can spy on anyone he wants to spy on. He can, and has, ordered individuals to be held indefinitely without charges, without trial, without any other human contact at all, without any oversight by any other agency. He can have people tortured. He can limit dissenting opinion to certain small, clearly demarked zones. He can reveal official secrets to hurt his political enemies. He can lie to the American public. He can authorize military force for reasons he knew at the time were entirely spurious. He can change the Constitutionally mandated order of Presidential succession. He can sign bills into law, while reserving to himself the right to break those laws at whim.

The history of this Administration is a progression, as well as a steady escalation, of these civil outrages. The current gang in power is like a bunch of rotten kids with a new substitute teacher. They keep pushing and pushing, trying to see where the limits are. Will they put up with free speech zones? Oh my God, we got away with it! Can we send American troops into harm's way for spurious reasons? Absolutely, they love it! Can we lock people up indefinitely without trial? Sure, that's fine. Okay, can we torture them? Yeah, apparently we can! Can we spy on our own people? Sure, the polling data is fine. Can we take bribes, get rid of inconvenient laws, ignore the ones we can't get rid of? Suuuuure, who's going to stop us?

Okay... can we withhold medical treatment from people, if we feel like it? Can we operate on them, if we need to, to make them more useful to us?

Well... let's see...

It's important to see all this for what it really is... not just a naked grab for political power, but an utterly depraved and amoral attempt to seize social and economic power, as well. There is nothing that the big corporations (who have always donated generously to both political parties, remember) would like better than an environment in which their potential worker bees have no rights. Where you can't declare bankruptcy to escape your debts, you can't switch jobs, you can't sue your bosses, you have no resources... you have no options, besides getting up and going to work every day, showing a good attitude, being a Do Be.

Or going to prison, because you can't pay your bills... and in prison, you'll still be working, you just won't be getting paid for it. Even the token wages you'd be getting paid at your job outside.

It's important to note: a working class without rights is a slave class, pure and simple. And slavery is the cheapest form of labor there is.

Imagine a world where you cannot say no to a doctor who wants to give you, or your child, an injection. Where you can't turn down a surgical procedure if someone in authority somewhere decides you should have it. Where no one can demand to see their medical records. Where no one can change jobs without permission. Where everyone has a tracking device embedded in their calf, or their ass. Where no one can go on strike for better working conditions. Where no one can afford to move, or take a vacation. Where every blog post, every email, every phone call is monitored. Where every street corner and every public place has a camera in it. Where you, your significant other, your brother, your sister, your mother or your father, your son or your daughter, your buddy from work, that woman you ride on the bus with every day, any or all of these people, can be picked up by government agents at any time, and imprisoned indefinitely, and tortured. For no reason anyone ever has to tell anyone else, or maybe no reason at all.

Actually, we don't have to imagine the world described in the last few sentences. We do live in a world where every blog post, every email, every phone call is monitored, and you, or I, or anyone we know, can be picked up at any time by men in suits with obscure ID cards, and taken somewhere, and locked up forever, and tortured. All the guy in the Oval Office has to do is decide you, or I, or anyone we know, is an 'enemy combatant', and any or all of that can happen... right now.

We've let it get that bad.

Overturn Roe vs. Wade... remove the 'right to privacy'... and it gets much, much worse. And make no mistake -- the 'baby killers' stuff, the 'woman's right to choose' rhetoric, that's all just a red herring. It's a distraction. What's at stake is much, much more important than any of that.

I don't know if there's anything that can really be done about it, either. I've always thought, all my life, that tyranny was possible... all it would take was someone unscrupulous enough to get into high office, and declare war, and take on war powers... and never give them up.

We're all still hoping... telling ourselves that Bush only has one more term, that he can't run again, that we can throw the Republicans out at the mid-terms, that we can put people who are less power-crazy into office, that we can undo all this nonsense and make ourselves free again.

What if we can't?

We're at war.

What if our Commander in Chief decides we don't need elections anymore? That polling data indicates that elections would simply weaken our ability to combat terrorism? That to keep America strong and safe, he has to suspend our democratic processes temporarily?

It's just a few more steps... just another couple of pushes... just one or two more nibbles. Can we get away with it? They gave up free speech... they've let us lock them up indefinitely... given us permission to torture... they're holding still for us spying on them... we're about to get rid of that goddam 'right to privacy'... Can we really just get rid of elections and stay in power forever? Will they let us do it?

Let's find out...

Pucker up, buttercup

I've never liked ass kissers much.

John Rogers likes them fine. He's a fine writer and a smart man, but, well, in the past, he and I have expressed a difference of opinion on this subject. In email to him, on my own blog, and in his blog's comment threads, I've expressed the view that a great many of his more vocal commenters have a tendency to slobber all over his posterior, a display which I personally find distasteful and unseemly.

John overtly disagrees with me, and I wish I could find the comment threads on a past entry here where he did it, but I can't right now. Nonetheless, suffice to say, he's chided me in the past for making this observation, stating quite forthrightly that he doesn't feel his commenters are overly toadyish, and even threatening to ban me from his blog if I continued to assert otherwise.

However, check out this comment thread to his latest post. 37 comments on Canadian politics, which is fine, in and of itself... but not one person here mentions the first thing that occurred to me... namely, that Rogers' addressing his original post to "Hey, Hive Mind" is kind of insulting.

In the first comment, someone provides the specific answer Rogers is looking for, which is nice. Rogers comes back almost immediately with the statement "Damn, I love the hive mind".

I know John is just joking. Hey, he kids the Hive Mind! He doesn't really mean to refer to all of his readers as some sort of Borg-like communal brain that exists only to provide him with trivia he's too goddam lazy to research himself. He certainly doesn't think of his legion of loyal fans as, you know, some kind of zombie-like subset of nameless, faceless drones with no individual personalities, some mass conformist collective consciousness he can address in casually contemptuous terminology without anyone taking the slighest umbrage. And I certainly shouldn't break into a rendition of Bob Seger's "I Feel Like A Number" for many, many reasons, not least of which because it dates me, even if we ignore how lousy my singing voice is even when I don't have some aggravating throat thing that's making me hawk about four ounces of phlegm every ten minutes.

No. I know Rogers isn't talking to me, because if someone referred to me as "Hey, Hive Mind", I not only wouldn't go fetch their fucking slippers for them like a good little bitch, I'd probably punch them in the teeth. (Well, I wouldn't; I am the least violent of all humans, but it made me feel all manly to type it, just for a second there.)

But I did want to point out that geeks tend to prize themselves on being non-conformists, on being individuals, on being unique. Rogers' audience is largely comprised of geeks (I don't use the word as an insult; I'm proud to be an ubergeek myself), so when he can refer to them with as negative a sobriquet as "Hive Mind" and not only immediately get exactly what he's asked for from them, but get 37 additional comments, not one of which notes the slightest irritation with his enormously condescending (to say the very least) designation of his fans, well...

...there's this scene in Broadcast News where the Joan Cusack character is buttering up her boss. She finishes her utterly obsequious little riff, and her boss agrees with her effusively and excuses himself, and then Albert Brooks says something sarcastic to her, and she replies "Oh, you just think anyone who is proud of the work we do is an asskisser."

Brooks responds: "No, I think anyone who presses their lips up against their boss' buttocks and then SMOOCHES is an asskisser".

Hey, Hive Mind... that's some fine, fine smoochin'.

And John... if you're reading this... I know you're a busy man, and I still admire your writing ability. But if you're going to call your readers Hive Mind, well, you've just lost this one.

Not that you care, I'm sure.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Self Gratification (4)

MAOTE: So... how do you think these 'self gratification' entries have been received so far? They get few if any comments...

ME: Yeah, but the hit counts on the individual pages are about 60% higher than any of my other entries. People are reading them... I suspect certain people are reading them avidly... they're just, for whatever reason, not saying anything back.

MAOTE: And yet, if they do comment and you don't like their comments, you'll just delete them. You've been on a comment deletion spree lately. Do you have an actual policy which guides you, or do you just delete whatever the hell you feel like deleting?

ME: First, there's nothing wrong with deleting whatever the hell you feel like deleting. 'Freedom of speech' doesn't extend into someone else’s living room… or onto someone else’s webpage.

However, I do have a general policy: respect. I'm respectful to other people on their blogs, I expect people to be respectful to me on mine. You can disagree with me, that's fine, as long as you're civil about it. When it starts getting personal, when people start making remarks they clearly intend to be hurtful about my personal life, or when people respond to me in a disrespectful manner that I don't feel I've merited, I don't think their comments merit preservation on my blog. So I'll dump 'em.

MAOTE: That seems gratifyingly subjective...

ME: Service is our byword.

MAOTE: Okay. So tell us about your weekend, so your audience of malevolent lurkers can have a great time bitching at you behind your back.

ME: Thanks, I'd love to. Let's see... well, we didn't do much. We had to give the kids back to their dad on Saturday, which is always a rough time for the two of us. He loves them and does his best to take good care of them, but, you know, we just hate giving them up. After that, we mostly just drove around and didn't do much on Saturday... hit a few stores. Got dinner at a barbecue place. Headed out to see BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, but got sold out, so we wound up sitting through half an hour of THE PRODUCERS before we gave up on that and headed home again. Went back home, rented SERENITY, watched that, went to bed.

MAOTE: THE PRODUCERS was that bad?

ME: It's a Broadway musical someone put a camera on. Nobody bothered to tell any of the undoubtedly talented performers in it that they no longer had to belt it out to the cheap seats, though, so it was very loud and very brassy and, like a lot of beloved Broadway musicals, full of in jokes and odd references that only a crowd of Broadway music lovers is going to appreciate. Plus, Mel Brooks wouldn't know subtle wit if it fell out of the sky and landed on his head. Honestly, when you go to the movies to see a movie and end up seeing a Broadway musical instead, it's a little jarring. Add in Mel Brooks and, well… as I said, we put in half an hour, but then we gave up.

MAOTE: But you just loved SERENITY, I'm sure. It's like, a fanboy's dream.

ME: Well... not so much.

MAOTE: I'm sorry?

ME: I watched one episode of FIREFLY on FOX a couple of years ago and I thought it pretty much sucked. I disliked SERENITY for much the same reason... the science makes no sense.

MAOTE: Well, it's essentially a Western in space...

ME: It's a post Civil War drama, yeah, I get that. I don't care. If you want to do a post Civil War drama where your heroes are all disgruntled former Confederates and the Federal government is an evil dictatorship, by all means, rock on with your bad self. But, you know, Joss wanted cool rocketship special effects and anti gravity and other SF trappings, because he must have figured, back before DEADWOOD came out, that nobody would buy or watch a Western. Plus, jet engines look cool, and he still has all this deleted dialogue from his many drafts of ALIEN: RESURRECTION he wants to use. But if you're going to do science fiction, for god's sake, the science has to at the very least make some kind of coherent internal sense.

MAOTE: So... what didn't make sense? I grant you, the 'we found a different solar system and turned all its worlds into new Earths' is a little shaky...

ME: A little shaky? Holy shit! How many Earth sized planets are there in this goddam new solar system? And yes, they have to be roughly Earth sized, or they won't have anything like Earth normal gravity. And all the worlds in this thing have Earth normal gravity, you know how I can tell? Because everybody moves as if they are under one G, all the time.

MAOTE: Even in space, where, you know, if they’re under acceleration they should all be oriented towards the rear of the ship…

ME: …but they’re not, and they’re never in zero gee, either, so they must have artificial gravity, and yet, they’re still using gunpowder propelled weapons... but nonetheless, again, how many Earth sized planets are there in this new solar system?

MAOTE: Plus, it's not just planetary mass, it's also how hot the sun is, and what distance the planet is from it...

ME: Yes. Human life flourishes in a zone where the ambient temperature fluctuates between the freezing and boiling point of water, mainly because we are largely water based organisms. However hot or cool the sun of this 'new solar system' is, it's going to have a lifebearing zone somewhere around it, and in that orbital path there is only going to be one planet, because that's how solar physics works. There might be two other planets on the far fringes, one towards the sun so it's too hot -- like Venus -- and one further away from the sun, so it's too cold -- like Mars. And it's possible you could terraform Mars and Venus, if you had the resources to spend doing it... and 'resources' included, probably, centuries if not millenia of time. But it's highly unlikely that a technology capable of terraforming Mars and Venus into exact copies of Earth... which is what we see in this idiotic future world... will still be stuck with six shooters.

MAOTE: Okay, but, still… they must have artificial gravity, even if they never allude to it. And while they don’t have FTL drive… although… hmmm… if they got to another solar system, they must have FTL drive… okay, well… still, maybe they got to another solar system by generation ship, or in suspended animation… anyway. They have to have artificial gravity, and they’ve probably got cheap fusion power to run everything… we never see them taking on fuel for the space ship, after all. With cheap power, you can do the rest, right? You could supply artificial heating, or refrigeration, for planets too close or too far away from whatever sun it is they found. And they could set up massive gravity generators to make any adjustments they needed to. They could crack compounds into their component elements and mix any kind of atmosphere they needed…

ME: Yeah, sure, with cheap power you can do anything, eventually. But I don’t believe that a human culture that has this kind of technology would still be running around in rattletrap ROLLING STONES type spaceships wearing six guns on their hips. If you can do anything you want with cheap power, including terraform an entire solar system, you can do other things, too, like create a Dyson sphere, or re-terraform Earth, or terraform our original solar system… but mostly, I just don’t believe that they would have technology that is so widely disparate in functional level. 19th century firearms and 22nd century power generators simply don’t mix. And, I’m still going to ask you… how many goddam planets are there in this new solar system that can be transformed into new Earths?

Leave that aside. How is it that they can send live television signals from planet to planet that allow people to talk to each other instantaneously, in real time? I swear to God, this is STAR TREK level scientific nonsense. I expect better of Joss Whedon.

MAOTE: You’re awful picky. A lot of people felt there was excellent character work, good directing, great dialogue, excellent action…

ME: Fuck a lot of people, and yes, I am awfully picky. Sure, the dialogue was fun to listen to, that’s what Whedon DOES. But for the love of God, if your science can’t make sense, well, could the plot, at least?

MAOTE: Well, I… what was wrong with the plot?

ME: Nearly everything. But let’s just pick one thing at random… these Reaver guys.

MAOTE: The ones who shriek a lot while carrying people off to be tortured and eaten alive and all that stuff?

ME: Yeah, the really terrifying monstrous things that the plucky heroine can kill, like, four hundred of with her bare hands, despite the fact that everyone else in the universe is scared shitless of them. Those guys.

MAOTE: What about them?

ME: Imagine, for a moment, that the entire crew of the Serenity abruptly all become Reavers. At once. Which, you know, isn’t impossible, or anything, given that it was a deliberately induced virus that caused people to suddenly turn into hyperaggressive ultraviolent psychotics. Right?

MAOTE: Okay. Well… um…

ME: Can you imagine them getting the ship to lift off? Can you imagine them flying it? Landing it?

MAOTE: Uh… well…

ME: These guys basically live in space. In space ships. They inhabit the unexplored regions of space, from which they swoop down on unsuspecting planets and carry off supplies… basically, settlers, whom they presumably eat, often while raping them, I gather.

MAOTE: …yeah…

ME: So, leaving aside the problems of flying a fairly complex space craft, landing a fairly complex space craft, and taking off again in a fairly complex space craft once you’ve captured a lot of settlers to eat and torture and rape… I don’t know. So you’re a Reaver and you’re hanging out in the unexplored region of space on your spaceship that is painted bright red and has dead bodies strung from it and abruptly your atmosphere plant stops working. Or the power plant thermo coupling goes off line. So in five minutes or so you and everyone else in your cool Reaver tribe are all going to be dead. So… what do you do?

MAOTE: Um… fix it?

ME: They’re all too busy eating each other’s kidneys! Fix it? They’re using all the tools to torture each other! These guys are basically the zombies from the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, and they fly space ships? They live in the most hostile environment known to man? In an artificial environment requiring complicated daily maintenance and frequent repair? There’s no way.

MAOTE: Well… yeah… okay… but, still, the rest of the movie…

ME: Oh, please. The good guys have to fly across the solar system to get to the guy who’s going to transmit the damning recording to everyone on every planet, right? Because he has special equipment to do it with, right?


ME: Well, they’re talking to the guy on their weird instantaneous faster than light viewscreen thingie! Why can’t they just transmit the damning recording to him so he can retransmit it? Why do they have to carry the thing there physically? What, he doesn’t have email? He can’t get an attachment?

MAOTE: Uh… well…

ME: And then there’s the ending.

MAOTE: The ending?

ME: Yeah. Where Our Hero, the ex-Confederate who is always whatever the script requires… noble, amoral, competent, a bumbling idiot, whatever… at any given moment… you know, the one who already got his ass kicked once by the black guy with the sword…

MAOTE: The Captain.

ME: Yeah, him. You know what the end of the big fight between him and the cool black guy with the sword reminds me of? Jerry Siegel wrote the worst superhero comics ever back in the 1960s and 1970s for Archie’s Mighty Comics line. There was this one story he did where the Mighty Crusaders were all trapped in like this nuclear reactor core and there was no possible way for them to get out.

MAOTE: I’ve read this one. The Shield says “Say, I’ve never mentioned this before, but I have the power to teleport us all to safety. I can only do it once, though.” And then he does.

ME: Yeah.

MAOTE: But that’s not the same thing…!

ME: Riiiiight. The cool black bad guy does his Vulcan death grip thing, or whatever it is, and we’ve already seen it work once on someone else. But then Our Hero just steps aside and clocks the cool black guy one when he comes charging up, because, you know, he just happened to have had that nerve cluster moved to a different area because of a war injury. “Say,” he says, “I’ve never mentioned this before, but that Vulcan death grip thing won’t work on me, because I had that nerve cluster surgically removed after the war!” Gee. That’s convenient.

MAOTE: Okay, come on, now. Whedon is trying to surprise us. I’ve heard you say a million times, ‘surprising the audience is a good idea’.

ME: Sure, it’s a great idea, but doing it this way is a cheat. You know how to make it legal? Remember that scene where Adam Baldwin is getting all pissy with him about how many people in his company died at Serenity Valley during the war? Put this in afterwards:

COOL BLACK CHICK: You should have told him, Mal. About how you were floating unconscious for two months in a regeneration tank after Serenity Valley. About how you had to have your whole nervous system rebuilt from the ground up.

MAL: It wouldn’t have made any difference, Cool Black Chick. Anyway, the plot didn’t require me to be Needy and Whiney at that point, I was supposed to be Stoic and Bluff.


See? Now it’s perfectly legal. The way Whedon did it, though, he pulls it right out of his ass. No set up, no ground work, no nothing. It’s a cheat. It’s “say, I can teleport us all to safety, but I can only do it once”. It’s really crappy writing.

MAOTE: It’s… dude, you are waaaay too picky. Can’t you ever just relax and enjoy something? I mean, subjected to those kind of standards, there aren’t any good movies!

ME: I own about three hundred good movies, by exactly those standards. And if everyone else in the world bothered to hold the entertainment they pay for to any kind of standards, much less the ones I hold mine to, there would be a lot less crap made. And if a lot less crappy movies and TV were made, well, there would be a lot less crappy movies and TV in the world. I’m sorry, I can’t regard that as a bad thing.

MAOTE: Well… whatever. So what did you and SuperGirlfriend do on Sunday?

ME: Um… lemme think… well, we put a few posters for my RPG up at a couple of gaming shops, I bought a Spider-Woman LE and a couple of boosters of ARMOR WARS…

MAOTE: Get anything good?

ME: A Vet Aurora from one pack, which I didn’t already have. And then I got the House of M Magneto Unique from the other pack, which was pretty cool. Also, I picked up the fourth season of THE SHIELD, and SuperGirlfriend and I have been having fun watching that.

MAOTE: No plot problems there?

ME: How could you tell, with all the frantic camera cutting?

MAOTE: True that.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I found Jesus

No, really, I did.

I was going over to Kroger's late last night for some milk, and he was sleeping in a dumpster next to the lot where they tore down the Burger King and are putting up a bank.

He asked me for a dollar.

I thought to myself, "What would Jesus do?"

Then realized, sadly, that this little self inquiry, which I have used as a sort of Zen parable to guide me all my life, would no longer function for me, because, clearly, the answer was "Sleep in a dumpster and panhandle for cheap Ripple."

It bummed me out.

No pun intended.

Okay. This morning... wait. Let me mention, one thing I've noticed, whenever I take a call at work, is that when people start out with 'okay' or 'well', it's always going to be a bad call. It's like they are nerving themselves up to plunge in with the badness. Start out with 'okay' or 'well', and it's never going to be a 'could you tell me a balance on the account' or 'can you give me your fax number'. Nooooooo. 'Okay' or 'Well' always presages 'I called three months ago because my check stub clearly states that $4,617.23 has been withdrawm from my 2005 pay for my dependent care account, but when I check my balance online it only shows $4,592.56. Now I have been calling on this for three months. This is my money. When are you people going to get this straightened out?'

Or something worse.

Anyway. This morning, we were more or less asleep at 7:15 or so when we heard big clunking footsteps on the floorboards over our heads. This was bad enough; Supergirlfriend has already written eloquently about how much we'd been enjoying having the rest of the house empty around our large apartment; someone moving in over our heads is something we've dreaded for a long time.

But then they plugged in the industrial strength sand blaster and went to work, apparently directly over our bedroom.

Then SuperAdorable Kid woke up.

Now, it's on like Donkey Kong.

So I hoisted my weary bones off the mattress, pulled on an old bathrobe, and with my hair disheveled, no doubt looking rather homicidal in general, I ambled upstairs and pounded on the door. THUD THUD THUD, went the side of my rather sleepy fist.

So the industrial strength sand blaster shut off and footsteps ambled over to the door, and the door opened, and there stood... our landlord, Mr. Happy.

That's not his name.

"Sorry, buddy," he said, smiling in his bluff, cheerful manner. "It won't happen often."

Now, Mr. Happy is this big fairly young (thirties) good looking former high school football jock who has stayed in shape. He and his brother (who co own and manage this building) are both very very Republican. He's always been very pleasant to me, but, you know, I'm a long haired bearded middle aged very liberal hippie/commie looking geek and I'm sure on some level I just totally freak him out. But he kind of freaks me out, too. I'm sure it's his perfect teeth, or something.

Now, I'm not going to try and do a dominance display on, you know, an obvious SS member who happens to own the building me and my family live in. But SuperGirlfriend, on the other hand, has known this guy, his brother, and his father since they were adolescents (that's the connection that led to us getting this apartment) and she don't play.

So I said, "Well, whatever, but you woke up the kids and you woke up SuperGirlfriend, and she was going to come up here but I told her I'd handle it."

I fancy his cheerful smile cracked, slightly, right at the edges, and the pupils of his eyes contracted slightly, but he just repeated, "Uh, well... sorry. I... I was over here at 6, and waited as long as I could but... it's got to get done."

So I went back downstairs and said "He's all yours, baby."

That was an hour and a half ago.

He just brought us donuts.

Perhaps I should spell it 'doughnuts'.

Anyway, you don't mess with SuperGirlfriend. Especially on the day we have to give the SuperKids back to their dad for two weeks. She's already traumatized enough.

See, this kind of ties in to that whole thing I mentioned in my last post. Our landlord is a Republican, and he's a businessman, which, in his mind, simply excuses him from common decency. Could he have come over and done this prep work during the week, when we'd all have been up and probably out of the house by 7:15, or least, awake? Sure. He's a landlord, he makes his own schedule, and, leaving aside the fact that we're paying a premium to live here, he's actually friends with one of us. To my mind, he not only could have, but, clearly, he should have.

But he's, you know, a member of the Power Party, and for them, it's never personal, it's always business. Business excuses everything. He has paying customers moving in tomorrow, he needs to get some work done, and all considerations of, well, consideration can be resolutely shoved to the side.

It's like Gandalf stated in my previous entry. If it's Big Business, you can lie, cheat and steal. You can shill a product you believe is worthless. Anything goes, because, you know, you're not being a thoughtless, selfish asshole. Instead, you're competitive and ambitious. You're Trying To Get Ahead.

Why, it's actually... Professional.

Republicans, of course, have little sympathy for an ivory tower critic. I myself have no idea what the fuck the phrase 'ivory tower critic' actually means, but I must admit, I find it delightful that, apparently, to Republicans, simply the two words 'ivory tower' seem to equate to some insult so abhorrent and obvious that it doesn't require explanation -- I mean, what's next? 'Yew tahlk lahk a college boy, yew owlhoot -- slap leather!'?

I guess I'll just have to remain an unprofessional ivy tower critic who doesn't 'get' that being an unpleasant, inconsiderate asshole is, in reality, all about being ambitious, competitive, and professional.

Or something.

Say, while I'm rambling, I have this comment from Kalinara that showed up in my mailbox but hasn't yet appeared on my blog. Which is weird, but, you know, life is like that sometimes. Anyway, in it she indicates that various things in the entry (it was 'Self gratification part 2') have crossed limits she didn't even know she had, and she probably won't be back.

Which makes me sad. But, still, I have to reflect that, if I've shown Kalinara limits she didn't even know she had, and then helped her push through those previously unexplored parameters, then I have become sort of her spiritual mentor, and taught her something that she will keep with her all her life.

Of course, I'm baffled as to what was in that entry that so pissed her off, since I was very very nice to her...

MAOTE: Dude, I told you that reference to Yu-Gi-Oh cards wasn't going to help.

ME: Yeah... okay... I didn't know they actually collected them... ::hanging head::

Much later post script: Gandalf dropped back in again and had a long blathering comment in this thread about how I'm an asshole and conservatives are fabulous and big business is tremendous and I don't know what the fuck all else because just skimming it was giving me a headache. It doesn't matter; Gandalf isn't welcome in my comment threads, so I deleted it.

However, I did want to note that he says he isn't 'Dave' and he also says he wasn't ever 'Elric' someone, so... whatever. Apparently the conservative idiot who doesn't write very well but who is obsessed with seeking out my work on the internet and writing lengthy tedious refutations of it that I posted in my previous entry isn't the same conservative idiot who doesn't write very well who is obsessed with seeking out my work etc etc. I don't know. But he says so, and now you know he says so.

I sure seem to be running into a lot of whiney idiots who are obsessed with my opinion lately, though.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hey, now, you're an all star

Someone who is almost certainly my old buddy Gandalf the Grey writes to me today to take issue with my Memorial To Carol Kalish.

You may want to read my article first, if you haven't already. Here's someone who disagrees with me, anyway. Something new for my blogs:

This message is for Angelfire.

I just said that to get your attention and see how you'd react.

I'm not going to make any assumptions about you as a person or make any guesses about what kind of a life you once lead at the tender age of 19 or what occupation that you work in now. I'll just say that people who are as dismissive of competitive, ambitious, and intentionally reactionary people tend to be people who have had limited exposure to the world of Business, if not short-term employment in this world.

I have yet to meet anyone with a nice, sweet disposition attain any level of success in a cut-throat Economic environment, especially women. If anything, there's a conventional wisdom that states a woman has to work twice as hard, be twice as ruthless, and show twice as much determination to suceed, to move half as fast up the corporate ladder as a man. Being the son of a woman who devoted 25 years of her life to the Retail field, I can personally testify to that.

This disjointed introduction to my response to your heated "eulogy" to Carol Kalish is an attempt to understand the hostile sentiments that you still harbor towards her, which leads me to Your First Encounter with "The Bitch Queen" Kalish:

1. While I have no doubt that you sincerely believe that anyone who takes pleasure in disrupting The Status Quo through playful acts of malignancy is nothing more than a villain and a scoundrel, let me say that some of the most interesting and productive people I've ever met exhibited those traits more often with people that made them feel comfortable than they do with people that they meet casually and subconsciously decide that they're "not worth knowing." This is called "letting your hair down." Some of the most stimulating conversations that I've had were in the form of "sparing matches" with such aggressive and highly intellectual personalities as The Lady In Question. While I'm sure that life would be a more pleasant place if the only people that we encounter are friendly and ameliorative, I personally believe that it would also be mind-numbingly boring if not artifically sanitary. Perhaps I'm more of a cynic than you are. If so, I envy you your stress-free lifestyle.

2. I don't know if you've ever had a situation where someone criticized your profession and called you a hypocrite and morally questionable, but I have no doubt that if you did, you didn't feel kindly toward that person afterwards. Did you seriously expect Carol to behave otherwise after you did that to her? I've never met a professional woman who warmed up to an ivory tower critic who believes that the only products worth selling are ones that the seller believes in and I have little sympathy for anyone who presents themselves that way to a hard-driven businesswoman who at least will admit privately that she's doing what businessmen have been doing for centuries on their way to the top (have you ever heard of Lorenzo De Medici?). As much as it pains me to say it, that list of "ivory tower critics" would probably include you and your theoretical pal, Gary Groth. I wonder how much exposure to Big Business he's had?

3. While you made it abundantly clear how your first two meetings with Carol left a bitter taste in your mouth, I find it interesting that the possibility that the reverse was also true didn't enter your mind. As "classy" as Richard Howell is, I don't know any man who would have warm feelings toward a man who called the woman he loves a hypocrite who should be ashamed of what she does for a living! While an argument could be made that such a man qualifies for "Hen-pecked Husband/Life Partner of the Year" in the eyes of his unmated peers, reality and how most people perceive it seems to elude The Walking Wounded when they're not the only injured party.

While you'll begrudgingly admit that Carol wasn't a hypocrite in her private life, you seem to have taken issue with her because of that fact. When she challenged your questionable taste in comic book artists, you judged her a bully. When you accused her of hypocrisy and she didn't thank you for it, you judged her a "bitch on wheels." When she remembered meeting #2 during meeting #3 and didn't greet you as warmly as she did after meeting #1, which could support my theory that she was probably testing your artisitic convictions instead of "ripping you a new one" as you insist on believing, you continued to hold it against her when you were the provoker in the second meeting, not her.

As I said in the beginning, I don't know you. I can only make an assessment based on what you wrote, much as you did after reading Peter's Eulogy in his But I Digress column. I don't know how many "colorful characters" you've encountered in your life and I can only believe that by your own admission you'd keep your distance from anyone who didn't make you feel comfortable and emotionally secure, but unless you lived in a monastic order most of your life, I would be hard-pressed to believe that a person as thin-skined as the writer of that article presented himself as being could possibly survive past age 21 without being the victim of serious traumatic life experiences. If that's the case, I'm deeply sorry that you had to be exposed to such an "insensitive bitch" who probably spent most of her life clawing her way up in a profession that's notorious for chewing up and spitting out any woman who showed the slightest sign of compassion, tenderness and emotional openness.

Incidentally, here's my interpretation of Peter's Interview. The impression I got was that Carol read his resume and probably already decided that the only thing needed to determine that he could have the job was to test his ability to show grace under fire in the form of "dealing with an immature boss who was more interested in working on a model kit than conducting a boring interview similar to many that he's experienced before." Considering the nature of their business, dealing with The Absurd is part of the job. How else can anyone obtain an ability to "brainwash the unwary?"

I'm sorry that this letter wasn't very nasty or mean-spirited (or maybe it was since I've disagreed with your central argument), but maybe the previous letters did that thankless job for me. Since I don't subscribe to Juno, I guess I'll never know. Pity about that and pity about your hatred for one of the most emotionally sincere and charming ladies I've had the pleasure of meeting, no matter how tragically short her life was.

Thank you for your restrained attention.

David S.

I believe Gandalf's name is actually David something, and I believe the last time he posted to my previous blog, he copped to being someone named 'Elric' something or other in previous correspondence, where he felt I'd treated him badly, so he followed me around for the next year lurking on my blog before finally making himself known with a lot of petty horseshit that made no sense.

All of that, plus the whole 'in the business environment human feelings don't matter at all, except for Carol's and mine, which you have deeply hurt with this article' tone, strikes me as very Gandalfy... and very modern day conservative, for that matter. If you're pro-business and trying to be effective in a competitive environment, you can fuck with whoever you want it's okay. Rudeness is fine, mean spiritedness is fine, after all, it's all in service to the Holy Market!

On the other hand, if you're some slob who typed something annoying into a modem for no reason grander than simply expressing his own opinion, and it's hurtful and mean and nasty, well, that's BAD.

Anyway. Read my article, don't read it; read Gandalf's thing, don't read it, I don't care. It's just something I got. Maybe you agree with him, maybe you agree with me. It's just something I found in my email box this morning.

Something with quite a few spelling errors and a lot of clumsy sentences, he added, snidely.