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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Interlude 2: Eclectic Boogaloo

Dave Campbell agrees with my Dr. Doom hypothesis.

Go me.


Stay of Execution

Just a brief missive here to let you know that your daily fix has been delayed a wee bit.

Yes, my poppets, I know: you must have your PalPal fix. Your cries of agony and deprivation warm my bleak and shriveled heart. But it's your own fault, you know. After all, was it not you, my adoring public, who tripled in readership the moment I began talking about comics?

Alas, comics are a chiefly visual medium, and without suitable excerpts to "quote", the remainder of my posts shall be as bland as an American cheese sandwich with mayonnaise on white bread. And we certainly don't want that, no.

So I have retreated deep into my Fortress of Lurkitude to obtain scans of the highest quality for your optical consumption, my chirping birdies.

Oh, and fair warning: Auntie Palette is working blue tonight.

Prepare the F-Bomb shelters!

Interlude: a slight case of bombing

Because if Chris Sims jumped off a bridge, so would I:


Go on. Tell me you don't understand. I live to explain stuff like this.

Hell, earlier today I made a reference to Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and nobody got it. So ask.

I DARE YA.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Hero With a Thousand Issues

Since we're talking about comics this week, I figure I'll share an epiphany I recently had concerning What Is Wrong With Comics Today:

They don't end.

You may think I'm being flippant here, but I'm not calling for the immediate cessation of all comics. What I am calling for is for comic series and/or characters to have definite beginnings, middles, and, most importantly, endings.

Think of the coolest story you know, regardless of whether it is a comic, a novel, a film, a TV series. They all have 3 things in common:
  1. A beginning, where we meet our heroes, and the crisis they must face.
  2. A middle, where the heroes struggle against incredible forces.
  3. An end, where the plot is resolved, villains are defeated, and sacrifices are made.
Joseph Campbell called this the Monomyth. The Lord of the Rings. Babylon 5. Star Wars. Transmetropolitan. They all end. And that is what makes them special, because without an ending, stories lose their narrative "punch".

Look at the Dark Phoenix saga. Note how wrenching it is to see a beloved character fall to evil and then redeem herself through death. Note how this sacrifice becomes utterly pointless as Jean is brought back from the dead, gains the Phoenix Force yet again, dies again. Note how something utterly cool has been reduced to yet another plot element to be recycled every 5-7 years because it sells.

Characters who don't stay dead, plot elements that recur until you're sick of them, storylines that threaten to change everything yet, within a few years, have been forgotten as the status quo is reset: what else does this remind you of?

That's right: soap operas. Soaps don't have endings. They have a beginning, and a middle, and then nothing but middles for decades. And the reason for that is because when the series ends, so end the profits. Artistic integrity is defeated by the sultry crinkle of the almighty dollar.

I don't think it's unreasonable to have a middle ground, a continuous money-making series that neither cheats nor recycles plot elements. Here are my suggestions:
  1. Have the characters age at a reasonable rate for their species.
  2. When they are too old, or injured, let them pass the mantle on to a successor.
  3. Have character death be meaningful.
  4. If it is essential to the plot that a dead character return, make it come with a heavy price.
  5. Above all, actions MUST have consequences that are not conveniently forgotten or return to the status quo.
Essentially, I am proposing that comic book characters have a beginning, middle, and end. Let us chart their rise and mourn their passing.

Because without death, immortality is meaningless.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads

Well, my first "theme week" has come to an end, and while I'd like to consider it an unqualified success, it seems like my throwaway post on Saturday has generated more controversy.

Damn you all.

Fine. We'll continue to discuss comics, specifically Civil War #7, for a bit longer, because apparently some people *cough JV cough* don't get it *cough BridgecrewDave cough*.

The summary, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The Secret Avengers break into the Negative Zone Prison, where Hulkling, who has been disguised as Hank Pym, releases imprisoned heroes from their cells to join the fight. Cloak teleports the combatants to New York City, where Namor and an army of Atlanteans fight alongside the Secret Avengers, and the Thunderbolts, the Thor clone, and Captain Marvel join Stark's team. As Captain America is about to deal a final blow to Stark, police, EMTs, and firefighters hold him back. Captain America realizes how much damage the fight has cost the people he says they should be fighting to protect. To prevent more bloodshed, he orders his team to stop fighting and surrenders.
Did you get that? Cap stops fighting a cause he knows is right because the ghost of 9/11 stops him. Are you telling me you can't see that? The living embodiment of our country is kept from defeating a fascist because of the NYPD and FDNY, aka the heroes of ground zero. And then he gives up because he sees property damage in a city that:
  1. Has been attacked by Kree, Skrulls, Atlantis, demons from the Inferno, Godzilla, and Galactus his own bad self;
  2. Has more super-heroes per square foot than any other place on earth, with the resultant property damage and astronomic insurance rates that come with that.
Give me a freaking break.

Now, let's look again at what Joss said:
I said looking around at the destruction of Manhattan didn't have much resonance -- these guys destroy Manhattan all the time! It was the personal act of putting his fist into the face of his powerless one-time friend that would Make Cap feel like a bully, a monster [...]

Cap got past Tony's armor and started beating the poo out of him -- thus becoming exactly what Tony had called them all: a superpowered guy taking it out on a powerless human. Cap realizes this and lay down his arms. (But he wins. Eat that, Stark.)

That is literally the tale.
This ending is so much different, and so much better, because:
  1. Cap beats the snot out of Iron Man.
  2. Cap stops fighting because he realizes he has crossed a line, rather than quitting because of thinly-veiled propaganda.
  3. Property damage doesn't factor into his decision because Cap is a freaking soldier.

This entire fight -- probably the entire series -- could be boiled down to Patriotism vs the Military-Industrial Complex. In Joss' version, Patriotism wins, even if he surrenders afterwards, because he surrenders for the right reason. In Millar's version, the post-9/11 population of America sides with Iron Man and makes Cap stop.

Look, I don't care what your politics are, if you're an American you should be incensed by this. Hell, I'm a pro-war conservative and even I think Cap should have won, and yes I'm fully aware of what that means in this political cartoon we're calling a comic book. I'm sure that Tony's victory is supposed to be some kind of clever commentary about how, post-9/11, we've given up our liberties for a sense of security etc, and how in the months to come repercussions will be felt blah blah freaking blah. That's not the point.

This is the point: Captain America is all that is good and pure and RIGHT about the USA. When the man who fought Hitler stops fighting -- STOPS FIGHTING!! -- someone who puts unregistered superheroes into concentration camps, all because some buildings have been trashed, that's bad characterization. Of course, this entire series has been a poor excuse in getting beloved characters to act in uncharacteristic ways, so I really shouldn't be surprised.

Want to know how I'd have ended it? Cap would have taken Tony's head off (accidentally, of course), had his moment of fear and doubt and shame -- and then it would be revealed that Tony had, in fact, been replaced by a Doombot.

Yes. The entire scope of Civil War would have been masterminded by Doctor Freakin' Doom just to:
  1. Compromise American heroes;
  2. Sew distrust of said heroes in the minds of the people;
  3. Screw with Reed.
Now that's super-villainy.

(Cartoons courtesy of the ISB)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Because I Feel Like Scooping Chris

As said by Joss himself at Whedonesque:
Hi and briefly: I walked into the infamous Marvel meeting, where they pitched me civil War. Cool enuf, sez I. Then they pitched the end they were currently going with, wherein the woman whose son is killed breaks up the fight between Cap and Iron Man, much like Joanne Dru in "Red River". Not cool enuf, sez I. If the whole thing rests on Cap and Tony's conflict, and they're gonna fight, I sez sez I, somebody's gotta win. I just pitched that Cap got past Tony's armor and started beating the poo out of him -- thus becoming exactly what Tony had called them all: a superpowered guy taking it out on a powerless human. Cap realizes this and lay down his arms. (But he wins. Eat that, Stark.) That is literally the tale. I said looking around at the destruction of Manhattan didn't have much resonance -- these guys destroy Manhattan all the time! It was the personal act of putting his fist into the face of his powerless one-time friend that would Make Cap feel like a bully, a monster, a Nazi and kiddies, I didn't say much else. (Except that a fight between titans broken up by the 'voice of reason' before it ends is a lame fight indeed.) I didn't know Civil War was gonna envelop the whole universe for a year. I didn't know the entire face of Marvel was changing, and though I heard pitches of what's to come, I don't know what stuck. I think I've been given too much credit for all this. Which is sweet, but I wanted to save you all endless speculation. Which I have done, and now back to work. -j.

Bold text added to highlight relevant portions.

Friday, February 23, 2007

How I Found Eris, and What I Did to Her When I Found Her

I found Discordianism, and therefore Eris, in 1994. I had turned 21, and was in that awkward transition between "too old to be a teenager" and "too young to be an adult". Plus, it was the Nineties, so I spent most of my time wearing black, listening to Sisters of Mercy, and when I wasn't reading Anne Rice or playing Vampire: the Masquerade, I was depressed and wondering What Was The Point Of It All.

I'm not going to tell you that my life was instantly changed the moment I found a copy of Steve Jackson Games' Principia Discordia -- I had a lot of ingrained uptightness to overcome -- but it did take a turn for the weird, and my life has been richer for that weirdness.

See, I'm the kind of person who obsessively looks for patterns. I seek meaning in way too many things. I like to attribute this to my artistic leanings, and truth be told it's served me well in life, both in discerning literary symbolism and in helping me unearth the motivations of those around me. (Yes, we brainy introspective types with English majors and Psychology minors can double as FBI profilers and Lit Critics. Be afraid.)

However, sometimes this passion for pattern recognition borders on OCD. Don't tell us that a pattern isn't there! We just haven't dug deeply enough. Give us time, by golly by jingo, and we'll find it. You just wait and see.

Next thing you know, we're starring in a sequel to A Beautiful Mind.

Into this frothing mass of post-teenage aaaaaaaaaaangst fell Eris. At first, I thought it was something silly, a vaguely coherent-sounding rant that I could use when I LARPed my Malkavian. Then I re-read it. And re-re-read it. Again. And again.

I had to keep reading it because, well, I sensed something. A pattern, a greater truth... as Polonius said, Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.

And then, finally I got it. It took me a long time to get not because the truth was particularly hard, but because I had to shatter my own paradigm of reality to understand it.

I'm going to try to share it with you. If you don't get it, that's okay. Some people get it instantly; some never do. Some, however -- and I sincerely hope to count you, dear reader, among this number -- read it; don't quite get it; read it again; spend days puzzling it out; and then, at an inopportune and potentially embarrassing moment, you GET IT and have a falling-down case of the giggles.

Paraquoting:
We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids. Different philosophies use different grids. Through this window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The order is in the grid.

Disorder is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like "relation", non-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about gender. To say that male-ness is "absence of female-ness," or vice-versa, is a matter of definition, and thus unmeasurable, and therefore wholly arbitrary. Pick a grid, and through it some reality appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same reality will appear differently ordered and disordered.

Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, be True. This is an illusion, because it is based upon the notion that Order is inherently good and Disorder inherently bad. This causes man to endure the destructive aspects of order and prevents him from effectively participating in the creative uses of disorder.


To choose order over disorder, or disorder over order, is to accept a worldview composed of both the creative and the destructive. But to choose the creative over the the destructive is to choose an all-creative worldview composed of both order and disorder.

The human race will begin solving its problems on the day that it ceases taking itself so seriously: LIFE IS THE ART OF PLAYING GAMES.

If you can master nonsense as well as you have already learned to master sense, then each will expose the other for what it is: absurdity. From that moment of illumination, a man begins to be free regardless of his surroundings. He becomes free to play order games and change them at will. He becomes free to play disorder games just for the hell of it. He becomes free to play neither, or both. And as the master of his own games, he plays without fear, and therefore without frustration, and therefore with goodwill in his soul and love in his being.

If you didn't get all that, don't fret. Eris has a way of fucking with you when least expected.

It's really only proper that I end this mostly quoted blog with another quote, this time from Kerry Thornley, one of the co-founders of Discordianism.
[...] before I was a Discordian, when I entered my room only to be reminded by its disarry that it was a mess, I felt a sense of defeat. These days when that happens I just say, "Hail Eris!" - our customary salute to any embodiment of chaos - and then I cheerfully carry on, secure in the knowledge that the constellations look no better.
I'm still uptight in a lot of ways. I still obsess over patterns. I am still a work in progress. But instead of getting upset by disorder, by absurdity, by chaos which doesn't fit in my little grid I call reality... I can laugh at it, and get on with the far more important task of living my life as I wish.

Hail Eris.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Aiming to Misbehave



Joss Whedon's Firefly was, and still is, the most perfect television show ever.



I will not tolerate argument about this. I cannot express how deeply I love this show. If I ever have the chance to travel back in time, I am taking my boxed set of the series and the motion picture and I will find a way to get into the Fox Network boardroom circa 2002 and, if logic fails, I will re-enact Dogma on their asses if that's what it takes to get them to un-cancel it.

Pardon me. I seem to be foaming at the mouth.

A brief summary for those unable or unwilling to follow links: 500 years in the future, humanity has colonized a new solar system. In the wake of a civil war called "Unification", the Central Planets (think typical high-tech sci-fi society) has imposed its will upon the Rim Worlds (think hardscrabble pioneers, miners, and settlers). In the midst of all this is Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly-class mid-bulk transport Serenity. Mal fought on the Independent (i.e., losing) side of Unification, and now lives a shadowy and frequently illegal existence wherein his main goal is to exist outside the control of central authority.

Mal doesn't know it, but he lives the Discordian dream. He has a ship, and that means freedom. He has a crew who are loyal to him, and that means family. His plans, brilliant as they are, never ever go smoothly, and that's because he's blessed by Eris Herself. Heck, he even shares a name with one of the founders of the Discordian movement: Malaclypse the Younger, aka Mal-2.

In fact, the entire show can be seen as a giant Discordian Manifesto. I never realized it until I saw the picture on Monday, and then found this jewel of a quote in my well-worn Principia:
There is Serenity in Chaos. Seek ye the Eye of the Hurricane.
DUDE.

Serenity, the ship, travels the Chaos of space. But at the same time, there is Chaos within Serenity, as the crew squabble and fight with each other as families are wont to do. They are all seeking that center of calm within themselves, that unconquerable feeling of "I am me; I have done the impossible; that makes me mighty" which, though the world surrounding them may thrash and wail, cannot break them. And all of this is done aboard Serenity.

There is Serenity in Chaos. Seek ye the Eye of the Hurricane. It's practically a syllogistic koan.

An oft-recurring quote within the series is, "No power in the 'Verse can stop me." This is a fierce statement of independence and empowerment, and was taken up by the fans when the series was cancelled back in 2002. It worked: when the series was released on DVD in 2003, it shot to the top of Amazon.com's bestsellers, and as of today -- four years later -- it is #12 on the Top 100 Bestseller List. Because of this voracious demand, Serenity was released as a major motion picture in 2005.

Failed TV shows don't get made into movies. But the fans didn't listen. No power in the 'verse could stop them.

So let's look at the picture again:
  • Gold, for faithfulness.
  • "No power in the 'verse can stop us."
  • Why an apple? Well, in the episode "War Stories", reference is made to "griswalds", tiny pressure-sensitive grenades that were embedded in apples by enemy troops.
Faith. Stubbornness. Hidden power. These are the qualities of a Firefly fan (aka Browncoat), and they are also the qualities of a Discordian (aka Erisian).

Tomorrow: Tying it all together, aka 'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Conventional Chaos

Pop quiz, hotshots: How many planets does our solar system have?

Prior to September 13, 2006, the correct answer was nine. Nowadays we have either eight or eleven, depending on how literally you parse the word "planet".

Yes, Eris had managed to toss another golden apple into our solar system back in 2005 with this little bowling display, and the astronomers and scientists and people-who-make-names-official promptly fell all over themselves arguing about her. Three Letter Acronyms, such as TNO, were bandied about. Eventually, after much brouhaha, she was classified on 9/13/06 as a dwarf planet, along with Pluto and Ceres.

To reiterate: Eris got Pluto demoted from planet status, and a glorified asteroid promoted to "dwarf planet".

That, my friends, is what we call a display of pure, unadulterated, Erisian power.

So back to the picture again:
  • Golden Apple
  • Roughly spherical... one might say almost planetoid in appearance
  • "No power in the 'Verse [universe] can stop us."
Indeed, no power in the universe can stop Eris.. including the lawyers and bureaucrats who name the silly things.

Interlude: A shoutout to my homie, Chris Sims

I received a lovely letter from the inimitable Chris Sims, he of the Invincible Super-Blog, wherein he writes the following:
Your writing is breezy and conversational, which is always nice and often hard to manufacture, so it's good that you've got that going for you. Also, if it matters to you, I was motivated enough over the weekend to go look up the Wikipedia entry on Discordianism, which finally answered my question as to why Eris always has an apple with a K on it when she shows up on The Grimm Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
I am beside myself with glee. Not only does Mssr. Sims like my style, but was sufficiently motivated to seek out Eris on his own.

I know you will join me in saying: "We accept you, we accept you... one of us.... ONE OF US!"



Oh, be sure to show his website some love, won't you?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Καλλίστη

Close the shades and hide the children, dear readers, because today we're talking about Greek Mythology. And when we talk about Greek gods, we're talking about sex.

Kinky sex.

Freaky sex.

Positively copious amounts of sex.

And as you can see, most of the sex is being had by Zeus. If you're Freudian, you can of course see the phallus inherent in Zeus' symbol, the bolt of lightning: a thing of potence, a sign of kingship, and tool of aggression. So when I say that Zeus had a thing for smiting people with lightning....

... nudge nudge, wink wink...

... well, you get the idea.

One of Zeus' many, many children was Eris, goddess of Discord. Interestingly enough, she wasn't a bastard, instead being one of the five legitimate children Zeus had with his wife, Hera. Of further interest is that Eris' thematic opposite -- Harmonia, goddess of Concord -- has far muddier origins. Harmonia's father is questionable; some say Ares, some say Hephaestus -- but her mother, Aphrodite, was Zeus' granddaughter. For those having trouble, let me lay it all out:
Eris
  • Chaos
  • Legitimate
  • Daughter of Olympus' ruler

  • Harmonia
  • Order
  • Questionable Legitimacy
  • Daughter of Olympus' biggest tramp, who is herself a bastard
  • Order's pedigree begins to look a wee bit suspect, wouldn't you say?

    So, bona fides having been firmly established, I'm going to quote wholecloth for you the story of The Original Snub, as originally laid forth in the seminal Principia Discordia:
    It seems that Zeus was preparing a wedding banquet for Peleus and Thetis and did not want to invite Eris because of Her reputation as a trouble maker.

    This made Eris angry, and so She fashioned an apple of pure gold and inscribed upon it Καλλίστη ("To The Prettiest One") and on the day of the fete, She rolled it into the banquet hall and then left to be alone and joyously partake of a hot dog.

    Now, three of the invited goddesses, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, each immediately claimed it to belong to herself because of the inscription. And they started fighting, and they started throwing punch all over the place and everything.

    Finally Zeus calmed things down and declared that an arbitrator must be selected, which was a reasonable suggestion, and all agreed. He sent them to a shepherd of Troy, whose name was Paris because his mother had had a lot of gaul and had married a Frenchman; but each of the sneaky goddesses tried to outwit the others by going early and offering a bribe to Paris.

    Athena offered him Heroic War Victories, Hera offered him Great Wealth, and Aphrodite offered him the Most Beautiful Woman on Earth. Being a healthy young Trojan lad, Paris promptly accepted Aphrodite's bribe and she got the apple and he got screwed.

    As she had promised, she maneuvered earthly happenings so that Paris could have Helen (THE Helen) then living with her husband Menelaus, King of Sparta. Anyway, everyone knows that the Trojan War followed when Sparta demanded their Queen back and that the Trojan War is said to be The First War among men.

    And so we suffer because of the Original Snub. And so a Discordian is to partake of No Hot Dog Buns.


    Verily! Now, with this story fresh in your minds, look once again at yesterday's picture.

  • Apple? Check.
  • Golden? Checkity-check.
  • Cryptic inscription? CZECH!

  • Verily I say again! This is an honest-to-goddess, no fooling, Erisian Artifact.

    "Great," I hear you all thinking -- and I can hear you thinking other things too, and for those thoughts you should be very, very ashamed -- "I get the dealie-o with the apple, but what does this have to do with yesterday's post? And what, for blogfodder's sake, does this have to do with Joss Whedon?"

    Tomorrow, dear children. I want to blow your minds gently.

    Seek Ye the Eye of the Hurricane

    I've been teasing you for a week now with my references to Discordianism. Some of you are apt pupils and have studiously followed the links I have provided. To you I say, "That which binds us together like a nutshell counts only as one act." Those of you who don't immediately see the inherent parallel that has with act 2, scene 2 of Hamlet had better keep reading.

    I could spend several pages talking about Discordianism. Odds are excellent that you'll see more essays about it on this blog, usually on a Friday. But just this once I'll go easy on you, dear readers, and boil it down to basics, because otherwise you'll have no clue what I'm talking about. And I usually find expressions of abject bafflement quite adorable, so you'd better appreciate this gift.

    People spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to counteract entropy, which basically says that the Universe likes taking the path of least resistance. This means that the contents of a spilled box of cornflakes will not arrange themselves into a nice little pile, because nice little piles are orderly, and order takes energy. It requires vastly less energy to spill across your kitchen floor in a haphazard pattern. Path of least resistance is taken, and you have a mess first thing in the morning. You then spend time and effort to clean up said mess -- in other words, restoring order. In other other words, you're fighting entropy, and getting less out of the deal because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Discordianism is, at its heart, a philosophy that says: "So what if things fall apart? Who says chaos is bad? Sometimes it's good. Maybe while you're on your hands and knees cleaning the kitchen, you find something you dropped last week. Maybe the pattern on the floor gives you artistic insight. Or maybe it makes you late for work, you lose your job, and then you find a better one." In many ways, Discordianism is Rinzai Zen Buddhism filtered through modern Western absurdist principles:
    1. Things screw up.
    2. You can't keep things from screwing up.
    3. You get really worked up and tense from fixing screwed up things.
    4. Wouldn't you really rather not have to fix screwed up things?
    5. Embrace the screwup -- i.e. chaos -- as a necessary part of your life, and chill.
    (For those paying attention at home, I've just linked Zen, Thermodynamics, and Søren Kierkegaard to the same subject in three paragraphs. If ever you wondered why you loved me, here's your proof: I can be geeky in three separate disciplines simultaneously. Go me.)

    Today, according to the Official Discordian Kalendar, is Day 50 of the Season of Chaos. The 50th day of every season is special, and today is known as Chaoflux. On the day of Chaos, in the season of Chaos, I found this image on Whedonesque:


    (Photo courtesy of The One True b!X)

    Trust me when I tell you that this could not be laden with more symbolic imagery than if it were an 18-wheeler with the words "Symbolic Imagery" on the side. In fact, it's going to take me all week to describe this metaphoric goldmine.

    So strap in. Things get crazy from here on out.

    Well... crazier, at any rate.

    Saturday, February 17, 2007

    "I am speaking to the fire inside of me"

    Ghost Rider
    1 hr, 50 min
    Starring: Nick Cage, Peter Fonda (as the Devil), Sam "Like a Ninja, only Cooler and with a Texas accent" Elliott, and Eva Mendez's cleavage

    It's a fun movie, but hard to classify in that, like Blade, it's either a Diet Horror Movie or a Dark But Non-Spandexed Super Hero Movie. It's not silly, but neither does it take itself too seriously.

    The CGI is impressive, the action scenes deliver, the plot moves at a decent pace.

    The occultism is passable, kind of what you'd expect from a comic (For example: the Nephilim are mentioned, but instead of human-fallen angel crossbreeds, they're a kind of diabolical elemental).

    It does, however, have the best damn implementation of Mark 5:9 that I have EVER seen.

    The demonic villains are spooky (in fact, Wes Bently, in the role of Blackheart, has a bad-boy gothiness that's damn cute -- like he's Elijah Woods' older, delinquent brother) but not icky (well, Peter Fonda is kind of wrinkly).

    Nick Cage plays the same role he's played in basically every movie he's been in since Leaving Las Vegas: like Keanu Reeves with better kinesthesia and a slightly southern accent. If you don't hate him, he does a good job; if you don't like Nick Cage, there's really nothing in this movie that'll change your mind (for that, see Lord of War).

    Eva Mendez... has cleavage. And shows it a lot. Don't get me wrong, it's nice cleavage, very photogenic, and I can't even say it's inappropriate. It's just that the emphasis on her huge tracts of land makes it hard for me to take her seriously as anything other than the typical love interest / damsel in distress.

    Yes, she picks up a shotgun once. It does fuck-all.

    Sam Elliott steals the show, especially with THAT scene. You'll know it when you see it. I swear, this man is the living embodiment of the Ninja Rule, except that he's a badass Texas cowboy.

    You doubt me? I put it to you thusly: Would The Big Lebowski have been half as enjoyable if it lacked drawled narration such as
    The Stranger: Darkness warshed over the Dude - darker'n a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night. There was no bottom.
    I thought not.


    In conclusion: It's not The Crow, but neither is it The Crow 2. Catch it as a matinee.

    My Score: 3 ankhs out of 5.

    Placeholder

    Yesterday's offering was sparse, I admit. I had one of those, whaddyacallit.... author's legos. Yeah.

    So today's will be much better, but will have to be later. I'm off to see Ghost Rider in a bit. Yes, I'll tell you if I liked it.

    And! Assuming I don't write a massive amount about Nick Cage, I'll get around to finally answering your burning question, "Just what is this Eris nonsense?"

    Oh? You had a different burning question?

    Ew.

    Um.... Penicillin. And bactine. Lots of bactine.

    Friday, February 16, 2007

    This Space Intentionally Left Blank

    As a fully and properly ordained POEE Chaplain for the Legion of Dynamic Discord, I hereby bestow upon Kristofer Straub the title of Saint Second Class, with all attendant rights, privileges, and responsibilites, for his excellent work in promoting the Cause of Eris and fighting the Curse of Greyface.

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Self-indulgent poetry sung to Nine Inch Nails

    You call me broken
    You dys my function
    Mock my attention-whoring ways
    But let me tell you
    At least I'm still true
    To what I said when you first met me

    I tried to make us work
    Unlike you, who always shirked
    From anything that even seemed like conflict
    Instead, you threw us both away
    Too much trouble, as if to say
    All our years of love were so much shit!

    FUCK OFF AND DIE YOU SELF-CENTERED ABORTION!
    AT LEAST I'M ME, NOT SOME DRUG-CRAFTED ZOMBIE
    STEPFORD-WIFE PERFECTION YOU DESIRE!
    THIS IS WHO I AM 'TILL THE DAY I DIE
    AND ON MY GRAVE MY HEADSTONE WILL WAVE
    MY FREAK FLAG, REGARDLESS OF YOUR IRE!

    DO YOU LOOK BACK WITH ANY SHRED OF EMOTION?
    REGRET, LOSS, SADNESS, RAGE, ANY HUMAN FEELING?
    OR ARE YOU WARM IN YOUR COCOON OF "ME, ME, ME"?
    I'M SORRY THAT MY NEEDS AND FEELINGS GOT IN THE WAY
    OF THE ILLUSIONARY WORLD IN WHICH YOU LOVE TO PLAY
    BUT BY GOD, NOW AT LEAST I'M FREE!

    To say I don't care would be a lie
    I want you to suffer, I want you to cry
    I want you to hurt as much as I have!
    But that will never happen, you're too shallow to feel
    Anything that others might proclaim as "real"
    So go back to your fake world to live and die

    I'll never apologize for being me
    And maybe on your deathbed you'll finally see
    What a stupid, tragic waste your life has been
    And when my inchoate existence ends
    I will be surrounded by my friends
    And you'll have stuffed animals in your tomb.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Bring me the head of the fat kid with the arrows

    Strap in, children. This is gonna be a rough one and I'm wearing my Slappy Squirrel hat.

    To say that I hate Valentine's Day is to commit an error of proportion. In actuality, every mote of my being loathes it with the white-hot intensity of a galaxy of supernovae. If I had the choice between saving a busload of children or admitting I liked today....

    ... well, okay, I'd save the children. Damn it. But for the rest of my life I'd gripe about how I'd made the wrong choice.

    I hate this day because it's completely and utterly artificial. People in love don't need a day to celebrate because love is a constant celebration. Or, to put it another way, "If there's a Mothers' Day and a Fathers' Day, why isn't there a Children's' Day?" The answer to this, as every parent and reader of Peanuts knows, is "Because every day is Children's' Day.

    So, to those who are well and truly in love, Every day is Valentine's Day. You don't need this day to show love. No, this day was created as a marketing gimmick by the greeting card, candy, and jewelry industry:
    Exhibit 1: A schmaltzy card that says "I love you" with intertwined rosebushes whilst bunnies and duckies frolic playfully under a smiling Mr. Sun.
    This is false sentiment. This is emotional shorthand. Wouldn't it be more compelling, more authentic, more loving just to say what you feel? Write a love note. Call and express your feelings of devotion. Hell, if you're not good with words, a loving hug will speak multitudes.

    People, if you have to resort to Hallmark, you are admitting that you cannot do the job. Would you let Hallmark have sex with the person you loved? HELL NO! Why, then, are you letting them do the emotional equivalent?
    Exhibit 2: A heart-shaped box of chocolates.
    Don't get me wrong here: I love chocolate. In fact, I could eat my weight in chocolate. This is why it's a mistake to get a girl a box of them. We will eat them all, and then feel fat. Feeling fat is not sexy. Not feeling sexy means you don't get any tonight. No, chocolates should be like orgasms: a few at a time, but highly potent. And if you can somehow mix your chocolates and orgasms together, I envy you. picsplzkthanx.

    For the record, I'm sitting at home eating a box of chocolates that my mother bought me. Isn't that cool? I'm trying to decide if it would be more pathetic if I had bought the chocolate myself. On the one hand, if I did it myself, I could claim empowerment: "I bought it because I wanted chocolate today! I don't need anyone to get it for me! I can do it myself!" On the other hand, not getting anything from your mother on Valentine's Day is another way of saying "Not even the woman who brought you into this world loves you."

    So you see my predicament.
    Exhibit 3: The ubiquitous diamond.
    Diamonds are wonderful, pretty things. I like to look at them, I like what they stand for, I like that they are essential components in a Bond villain's death ray. What I hate is how they have become a modern bride price in commercials.

    Don't act coy, you know what I'm talking about. Since October we've been bombarded with advertisements that state, in effect, "The only way to buy her love is to get her a diamond. You're not a man unless you buy her a diamond. Buy her a diamond and she'll love you forever."

    For only the cost of a diamond, you, too, can own a human being.

    I hate, HATE, HATE the concept that something as rare, as precious, as beautiful as love can somehow be measured, or worse, bought, by a few ounces of crystallized coal. And I know that's not how it really is. But that's what the commercials would have us believe, and so every time I see one of those blogfodder ads from Jared, I have to be physically restrained from throwing something heavy at my television.


    That's why I hate today. I freely admit that my tune would be different if I was in a loving relationship right now. But until then, all I want to do scream:

    Bring me Cupid's head on a platter!

    (with apologies to Grant and Hynes, from whose webcomic Two Lumps I stole today's title)

    post edited it needed a better ending

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    That's okay, I wasn't using my ego anyway

    Not my best interview today. Not my worst, either.

    The first part went fine. It was your standard "Hello, welcome to Company X, thank you for applying, please step this way for HR processing and body cavity search" that we've all been through a billion times. Still, I was in good spirits, because my qualification for this job was so unassailable that it might as well have said "Applicant must be named Erin Palette" on the spec sheet.

    Then I meet the Department Head, whose first words were "I've already picked out someone for this position. She has her second interview this week. I'm only here as a favor to HR Guy."

    Well, then. At least I know my time is being wasted, so that's always a bonus.

    Needless to say, this rather put me off my game, and unfortunately this was precisely when I needed said "A-game"; if I could have rallied and knocked socks off in a 5-mile radius, I know that job would have been mine. Then I could have had the unparalleled delight of wresting a prize from a defeated enemy whilst crouching over her freshly-defiled corpse in a crude re-enactment of any Counter-Strike match.

    Instead, I was merely adequate.

    There are, however, two silver linings to this. One, my hopes aren't up. I know I didn't get this job. So instead of waiting with bated breath for phone call or email, I can put this fiasco behind me and pretend it never happened.

    And if any of you bastards mention it I will hunt you down and eat your spleens.

    Second, it gives me blogfodder. Which means that not only do I have something to write about tonight, but also a vaguely dirty-sounding word I can drop in place of the F-bomb whenever I'm in polite company.

    Scene: A gentleman's club in Britain, c. 19th century.

    Albemarle: I say, Chauncy, we seem to be out of sherry this evening!

    Chauncy: Drat and blogfodder! The port, then, if you please?

    So that was my day. How was yours?

    Librarians at the Gate

    Full post coming later... I have a job interview at 11 and I need time to prepare. Wish me well, and five tons of flax.

    In the meantime, this quickie should give you enough of a PalPal fix to tide you over until then. (Don't say I never do anything for your pleasure, my poppets.)

    For this morning's exercise, you must ponder which punishment you would rather endure for all eternity. Upon dying and going to Hell, would you rather:
    Choose wisely.

    Monday, February 12, 2007

    Slouching towards Bethlehem

    Those of you who read this blog -- all five of you (hail Eris fnord) -- are no doubt at this very moment wondering, "Oh great and cryptic Palette, She who must be mollified with offerings of dark chocolate and Hot Topic gift cards, whither sprang the name Lurking Rhythmically?"

    To which I reply: excellent word usage. "Whither" is highly underrepresented in today's modern literary venue.

    The appellation in question was created many years ago by a friend of mine to whom I shall cleverly refer as Captain Kidd. I was game mastering a session of In Nomine hacked to use White Wolf mechanics when the good Captain observed that "Goths don't dance. They just sort of lurk rhythmically on the dance floor." I found this observation both pithy and apt, and resolved that if I was ever in a goth band I would use that name.

    (As an aside, if it ended up being a techno/electronica band, I would have gone with the name Hohmann Transfer Orbit instead.)

    I never did start that band, which is a pity because I look stunning in basic black and I really do dig the music. I just don't have the dedication to live the goth lifestyle 24/7, mostly because the banks where I have worked for several years have a highly conservative dress code and given the choice between facial piercings and a steady paycheck, I'll take the latter any day. I do, however, consider myself goth-positive: I respect the culture, try to keep up with the trends, and when I was living in Washington DC I was a regular at Midnight.

    (Obligatory shoutout to Sascha and DJ Phae.)

    In fact, Midnight is where I lost my goth virginity. I admit, I was scared of what I might find there ("Oh my god! That guy in the corner is making out with a polar bear!"), but I wasn't there five minutes before I was welcomed warmly by both the regulars and the event coordinator, Scott Royce. I haven't felt such unconditional welcome at most churches.

    This was a wonderful thing because, like most of my melanin-challenged brethren and sistren, I cannot dance. Attempts at dancing have been mistaken for grand mal seizures. I do, however, possess a decent sense of rhythm thanks to seven years of being a band geek, and my experience with both theater and Vampire LARPing taught me how to lurk convincingly.

    So I got out on that dance floor and I lurked in a rhythmic manner. I lurked the hell out of that rhythm.

    At the end of the evening, several people told me I was a good dancer.

    That, my friends, is acceptance.

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    I'm POWER GIRL, dammit!

    Speaking of busty blondes, here's one who knows how to act: Tawnya Manion, star of Power Girl: The Classifieds. Don't miss the cameo appearance of Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Star-Spangled Kid at the 7:55 mark.

    The story continues in I'm Power Girl, Dammit!, which manages to cram more awesome into less runtime.

    The guy who did both of these films, Chris Notarile, has a bunch more on his website.

    Hey, people at DC Comics and Warner Brothers Pictures! GIVE THIS MAN A JOB!

    Friday, February 9, 2007

    Sic transit gloria

    Ever since I learned that Anna Nicole Smith died, I have been unable to shake my feeling of deep, profound apathy. The whirring and clanking of the media frenzy machine as it retools from "Who is the father of her baby" to "How she died, and did someone kill her" fails to incite in me the requisite rabid voyeurism from which pop culture derives much of its power.

    In other words: I don't give a crap, and if you value your brain cells, you won't, either.

    Of course, for someone who doesn't give a crap, I'm going to spend several paragraphs telling you precisely why you shouldn't give a crap. But it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for you, dear reader. We must all suffer in the name of art.

    The criterion I use when determining if any piece of celebrity gossip is worth my time is simple in application: I as myself, "If this was happening to a no-name piece of trailer trash, would it still warrant the news time?"

    If this happened in a trailer park, you, the general public, would not care. So why do you care? Because she's a celebrity. Because the media told you to. Because she's famous for being famous. And you, the public, having been conditioned in a Pavlovian manner to drool at all things Hollywood, obediently begin salivating.

    Gape at the implications inherent in that statement. Revel in your newfound freedom from this increasingly soundbitten culture. Realize that it is not worth your time, and move on.

    Hail Eris!

    A Discordian is Required during his early Illumination to Go Off Alone & Partake Joyously of a Hot Dog on a Friday; this Devotive Ceremony to Remonstrate against the popular Paganisms of the Day: of Catholic Christendom (no meat on Friday), of Judaism (no meat of Pork), of Hindic Peoples (no meat of Beef), of Buddhists (no meat of animal), and of Discordians (no Hot Dog Buns). -- Principia Discordia

    Look, if you'll all just stop screaming, this will go easier on everyone. Here, I'll start again:

    Hello. My name is Palette. You killed my father. Prepare to... oh, I'm terribly sorry, I have the wrong script.

    So, um. Yeah.

    Look, I'll level with you: I hate introductions. My artistic soul quails at the notion that someone as complex, as sophisticated, as incredibly conceited as myself can be described in a few paragraphs of text, the brilliance of their writing notwithstanding.

    I also hate starting to write. That first paragraph has to be perfect, you know? I have to set the tone just right, get everything exact, or else I endlessly fiddle with it and I never get to the good stuff.

    Which is why I've decided to skip the beginning entirely and jump straight into the middle. No clumsy wordsmithing like two virgins fumbling around on prom night, oh no! This, THIS is the literary equivalent of you waking up in a seedy motel room after I've slipped you a roofie and had my torrid way with you, a dish of Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout, and a broomhandle Mauser.

    Yes indeed. We're way past introductions, you and I, so you might as well just settle back and relax or else what follows is really going to crease your noodle. And we both know how expensive a good noodle de-creasing costs these days.

    Some of you may be wondering what this blog is about.

    You poor, benighted fools.


    I.... am a literary train wreck. All abooooooooooard!

    (cue train whistle noises)

    Thursday, February 8, 2007

    In media res

    I want to share with you a few of the tentative conclusions I've reached regarding Erin Palette's strictures. And I stress the word "tentative," because the subject of what motivates Palette is tricky and complex. Perhaps before going on, I should describe her to you. Palette is dastardly, brusque, and cocky. Furthermore, she yearns to distort the facts.

    Palette is currently limited to shrieking and spitting when she's confronted with inconvenient facts. Within a short period of time, however, she is likely to switch to some sort of "replace discourse and open dialogue with unforgiving remonstrations and blatant ugliness" approach to draw our attention away from such facts. She holds onto power like the eunuch mandarins of the Forbidden City -- sterile obstacles to progress who nourish self-indulgent ideologies. I would like to put forth the possibility that I hate it when people get their facts absolutely wrong. For instance, whenever I hear some corporate fat cat make noises about how Palette is the ultimate authority on what's right and what's wrong, I can't help but think that Palette refuses to come to terms with reality. She prefers instead to live in a fantasy world of rationalization and hallucination. In other words, many people respond to her rummy conjectures in much the same way that they respond to television dramas. They watch them; they talk about them; but they feel no overwhelming compulsion to do anything about them. That's why I insist we expose her malversation.

    Though I don't doubt the depth of Palette's sentiments, it's rather the form of her expressions that I find both frowzy and wretched. We all need to be aware of each other's existence as intelligent, feeling, human beings, even if some of us are audacious vendors of Jacobinism. None but the homophobic can deny that if one dares to criticize even a single tenet of Palette's smears, one is promptly condemned as fatuous, lousy, feeble-minded, or whatever epithet she deems most appropriate, usually without much explanation. Parasitism can be deadly, but Palette's hastily mounted campaigns are much worse. Some critics have called her insipid. A handful insist she's disgusting. Palette's underlings, on the other hand, consider her to be one of the great minds of this century. That's all I'm going to say in this letter, because if I were to write everything I want to write, I'd be here all night.


    (Props to Scott Pakin's automatic complaint generator whose randomness has described me with eerie veracity.)

    The Fine Print


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