Must-See Movies (old and new)

Hey, guys... Comics!

First, let it be known that I do not approve of anyone committing illegal acts. It is not my intention to encourage or endorse the practice of soliciting sexual favors from paid male escorts by relating erotic episodes in the life of one inveterate scofflaw. But hey, it's not really my place to judge, is it?

I'm hoping that as I do more of these the art and the writing will improve, but I don't imagine doing these weekly or even monthly. I suspect assorted aliens, angels and mutants will be involved at some point. I know some people really hate stuff like that, but with drawings anything is possible and I fully intend to exploit that fact. New windows pop up when you click the links below.

Boardwalk KeynesianFratman



 

"...glistening goblets of subtext."

 



ComicArt Chest Fest Vol. 7: Aquaman

Aquaman has been a source of vexation for his publisher, DC Comics, for many years now. An immensely popular character in comics' Silver Age, he's been considered a lightweight ever since he appeared in the Superfriends cartoons in the late 70s --kind of a dumb blond himbo not fit to carry Batman's cape. I mean, talking to fish? That's a super power? There have been all kinds of attempts to re-make him, mostly hinging on his status as ruler of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis. DC wanted him to be seen as tough, buff and oh-so-regal with legions of soldiers (not just fish) at his command-- very much like his Marvel Comics counterpart, the Sub-Mariner. Not everyone connected with that interpretation, but quite a few did which is, in a way, the crux of DC's problem: There always seems to be interest in the character, just not enough to support a regular series. Even the attempt to create a Smallville spinoff featuring Aquaman came up short in spite of its hunky, often half-dressed star, Justin Hartley, and a pilot episode that, by most accounts, is pretty impressive (it's available on iTunes, but I haven't seen it). Still, you have to think Aquaman will always be around in some form. Just like superheroes, TimeWarner-owned copyrights and trademarks are forever.

 


Mr. Widmerpool

People like this are the reason I can never again work in corporate America and must be forever consigned to a sad, impoverished not-for-profit ghetto:

"... he is a monster of arrogance and conceit, but entirely wanting in pride. Bullying to those below him, servile and fawning to those set in authority, entirely without wit or introspection, he is that type of tirelesslyambitious, sexless, and charmless mediocrity that poisons institutional life, family life, and political life. He is the perfected utilitarian and philistine..."

Not that people like this don't exist in the not-for-profit world, but the lack of resources at their command and the general do-gooder vibe usually work to make them considerably more humble and reasonable than their corporate counterparts. Quote from Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere by Christopher Hitchens.


Urban Photo Safari Vol. 2
Why I'm shopping for a new and better digital camera...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Q and A

Shadowman asked a question in his profile: "Why are so many of us single, yet many of us single guys want to be in a relationship?" A challenging question that I have asked myself on several occasions. I have my own reasons for why I'm not half of a couple -- and they're really good, trust me -- but when I browse the profiles here and elsewhere I still wonder, "What's wrong with that guy? Why is HE single?"

As is often the case with big questions, there is no one answer. There are, in fact, many answers and in each individual's case, there is probably more than one possible answer that applies. Don't look for any ingenious insights or originality here. Think of it as simply an aggregation of preexisting ideas. Here is my collection of theories:

1) You're a jerk - You're bossy. You're abusive. You're needy. You're arrogant. You're narrow minded. Maybe you're just generically annoying. You're whatever adds up to someone other people just don't want to be around. You're any or all of the negatives that overshadow looks, wealth, success or even certain kinds of charm. Even worse, you might not even realize what a jerk you are because sometimes it's hard to see ourselves the way other people see us (or we simply discount other people's opinions). Nobody gets along with everyone and one man's jerk can be another's Prince Charming, but there are some people whose odious, appalling, insufferable presence shouldn't be inflicted on anyone. And you're one of them.

2) You're holding out for Mr. Right - You're waiting to be swept off your feet by the fantasy man of your dreams while wading through a pool of trollish rejects (perhaps with increasing impatience). Settling is for saps! You will not compromise! That former A&F model who got his JD and now pulls down six figures working as an international lawyer while still maintaining his washboard abs is out there waiting for you, I just know it!

3) You're better at dating than at maintaining a relationship - This can be particularly frustrating for someone who really wants a relationship (or, at least, believes they want a relationship) and has lots of great dates but just can't figure out why things never go farther. The fact is, different skill sets are involved. Dating is all about the moment but relationships are more about the deal, the give-and-take. Until you make it clear that you're ready to begin negotiations for a long term arrangement (and that you have something to bring to the table) how can things progress? Sometimes this happens in a completely organic, almost accidental way... but sometimes a bit of initiative is required.

4) You're looking for the person you THINK you want instead of the one with whom you can actually live and be happy - This must be distinguished from #2, "Holding out for Mr. Right". That is all about making yourself available to a specific group of potential partners and waiting for preparation to meet opportunity (which may or may not happen). A #4 is more like waiting for the aliens from Comet Hale-Bopp to come and pick you up in their flying saucer -- a situation rife with unreasonable expectations. Relationships don't work for you because you're constantly getting involved with guys with whom there is no baseline compatibility -- divergent interests, divergent goals, divergent worldviews. Regardless of how close they are to physical perfection, the Wiccan who loves camping and hiking and weekend get-aways is going to have problems making things work with the workaholic Christian Nintendo addict. Such a coupling could work out, but I'm not placing any bets.

5) You have really bad luck - Yes, I believe in luck. I believe in random x-factors -- things that can not be known or compensated for -- that change the course of people's lives. Is Oprah Winfrey a billionaire because some other savvy, charismatic potential media mogul who might have taken her place turned left when she could have turned right? Said, "Yes," when she could have said, "No"? We'll never know. One thing I do know: No matter how freaky or empirically unattractive you are, there are too many people in this country and on this planet for you to be unappealing to each and every one of them. I completely reject the notion that anyone is inherently undesirable to the entire human population. The fact that you haven't met the one you can grow old with could just be some fundamental stochastic happenstance that could change at any minute.

6) You lack persistence - You give up the search too quickly or dismiss viable candidates for the flimsiest of reasons without giving them a reasonable chance to demonstrate what a great couple the two of you would make. Or perhaps the opposite is true and you allow yourself to be dismissed with little resistance for fear of seeming like a pest or you get discouraged much too easily. Lazy? Impatient? ADD afflicted?

7) You're scared - Fear has been a great motivator for mankind for a few millennia now and giving in to the impulse to flee at the slightest hint of danger is perfectly understandable. Sure, you want to date, or at least get laid, but so many things can go awry. Hook up with the wrong guy and you can be hurt emotionally, physically or, even worse, financially. Short of having every potential date investigated or telepathically probed, there's just no 100% effective way of avoiding assholes. Who wants to sign up for that?

8) You're really happier being single - Let's face it: sometimes it seems like the whole world is set up for couples. Regardless, and even though it's practically heresy to say so, the truth is you're really not interested in being part of a couple. Every time you stumble into a relationship, you are reminded of this and immediately start looking for an escape hatch. Some people just aren't willing to accept the changes that happen when another individual becomes a big part of their life. Some people just don't see the upside return on investment.

I'm sure this list isn't exhaustive, but I'm just as sure a lot of the other reasons people come up with are just variations on the ones I've listed. There are probably plenty of amendments, corollaries and caveats to be added, but that's WAY more work than I planned on doing.

How's that for an answer?

Comic Art Chest Fest Vol. 6: The Arabian Knight

Art by Mark Gruenwald

Unquestionably dashing, but troubling as well. Looking at the Marvel comics super-hero, Arabian Knight, you have to wonder which is worse: total exclusion, or gross misrepresentation and stereotyping. The character was originally created in the early 80s and made his first appearance in an issue of The Incredible Hulk. He had a magic energy scimitar, a flying carpet (A FLYING CARPET, FER CHRISSAKES!!!) and at least three wives. It's not like the Middle East was some mysterious, hopelessly exotic place at that point. The headline "Trouble in the Middle East" was about as common then as it is now. To resort to making Saudi Arabia's super-hero a scimitar-wielding, flying carpet-riding turban head in poufy Sinbad pants is at best lazy, at worst racist.*

According to his description on Marvel.com, he also had multiple degrees and was "an accomplished swordsman, horseman, and athlete." He bore considerable animosity toward the Israeli super-heroine, Sabra, naturally, and not just because of her insanely bad super-fashion sense (even though that would have been ample justification).

Apparently, the character was killed recently to make way for a slightly more culturally aware, contemporary version of the Arabian Knight... who happens to look just a little bit like a terrorist (modeled after an Arab character on the TV show Lost, which sounds like a really good show but I haven't seen it).

 

*I admit it -- I derive an unseemly amount of pleasure talking about race because it makes so many people so uncomfortable. Plus, it's an area where I feel like I have the upper hand (I don't, really, but I feel like I do). Childish? Yes, but like so many childish things, quite satisfying.


It Bears Repeating

Whenever I see someone write "I don't like rap" in their profile, I feel compelled to re-post this link. Crank up your RealPlayer and have a listen.

www.wfmu.org


Make Love, Not War by Alex Ross

Words fail me.


No More Sideways Profile Photos

If you need to do a little image editing on a photo (rotating, cropping, slight color correction) and you don't want to shell out $650 for Photoshop (even though it's well worth it) and you're on a Mac, there is a cheap but incredible piece of shareware called Graphic Converter (http://www.lemkesoft.com/) that will do just about anything you need for under $40. As for you PC/Windows guys, try searching at Download.com or About.com for inexpensive image editing shareware.

The 1-Minute Marathon is long over, but just look at those guys. Not that there is anything naughty going on there.

Just a minute... of shameless pandering.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Washington area radio, for the most part, really sucks. That's why I've been listening to WFMU (http://www.wfmu.org) out of Jersey City, New Jersey over the internet for the past several years. They have the best shows, play the best music, and even have one of the best blogs around (http://blog.wfmu.org/). I've heard all kinds of crazy things from these guys since I started listening and the tradition continues Wednesday December 6th when they will have a 1-minute fundraising marathon. Just 1 minute.

People connected with the station take great pride in the fact that they are 100% listener supported community radio. They don't even do corporate underwriting like NPR where they have sponsorship announcements that are really just ads. FMUers also take pride in the fact that they only do one on-air fundraiser every year (also VERY un-NPRish) that also happens to feature some of the best radio they do all year. But running a radio station has gotten even more expensive in the past few years necessitating some additional fundraising. As always, WFMU has found a way to make begging for money unique, interesting and fun.

Wednesday December 6th at 2:00, WFMU will try to raise $100,000 in just 60 seconds. More or less. You can email a pledge or pledge online (http://www.wfmu.org/marathon/pledge.php) any time and I assume everything that comes in between now and 2:01 pm on Wednesday will count toward the total. All the information is online at http://www.wfmu.org/give.html

If you need there to be a gay angle to get involved, listen to the brilliant Ed Shepp Radio Experiment (Thursdays and 6 pm or anytime using the RealAudio archives-http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/ES).

Disney, Clear Channel and Rupert Murdoch can't own everything! Support independent radio and strike a blow against the fascist media pigs!!

Stills from "Big Sir" © Vivid Entertainment


SPX '06

Ostensibly, the Small Press Expo is a comic book convention. But one of the things that makes attending so interesting is seeing how the exhibitors/artists push the limits of what we normally call comics and take the art form in surprising, occasionally bizarre directions. One of my favorite finds from this year's Expo was an amazing little book called Applicant published by Microcosm Publishing.

There are no words for how much I love this book. The story is the guy who put it together, Jesse Reklaw, found a bunch of Ph.D. applicant files in the dumpster the of an Ivy League university. The files were from the mid 60s to the mid 70s, most containing photos of the applicant as well as pointed character assessments of the individual. Old photos with a line or two of commentary may not seem too exciting, but there is something incredibly unique and strangely engaging about Applicant. Page after page you look at the photos, look at the comments and suddenly this curious artifact takes on all kinds of sociological and historical meaning in addition to being awfully damn funny in the strangest of ways.

My other favorite find was also on the small side, Forty Cartoon Books of Interest put together by the cartoonist Seth (Wimbledon Green, Palooka-Ville--both published by Drawn and Quarterly). The book is actually a supplement to issue 8 of Comic Art magazine. The title is completely self explanatory: a selection of rare, old funnybooks are given a brief review along with cover reproductions and images from their interiors. Yet another item that sounds run-of-the-mill in its description but is, in fact, rather remarkable in its execution.


Comic Art Chest Fest Vol. 4



From Soulsearchers and Company: Frothy Fun!,
Published by Claypool Comics/Boffin Books, 2000
Penciller: Amanda Conner, Inker: Jim Mooney


Venom and Bile and Toxic Spew

President Fuckhead - Some of my cousins, people of deep religious faith, voted for you because they see you as a moral man and a true, godly Christian who will set things to right and provide just the sort of thoughtful, compassionate leadership our country needs in these precarious times. HAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.... HAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA!!! SUCKERS!!!!!

Vice President Fuckhead - If I ever come across the coffin you sleep in during the daylight hours, I've got a bottle of holy water with your name on it, bucko!

Tucker Carlson, Bill O'Reily, Ann Coulter - No kings, no queens, just jokers and knaves.

Andrew Sullivan - You're a despicable racist swine and it kills me that people think you can speak on MY behalf just because we both happen to be gay.

Kenneth Lay - They threw out your conviction so you can COME OUT OF HIDING NOW AND STOP PRETENDING YOU'RE DEAD, ASSHOLE!!

There now. I feel cleansed...

Satisfactual

Certain statements can only be made by certain people under certain circumstances to be certain that they will be taken seriously. It's like how the word "nigger" can only safely be used by Black people under carefully controlled conditions -- in the proper context and mix of company -- to avoid unwanted social repercussions. The following was lifted from a BigMuscle profile and, while it is something I have believed for a very long time, only has real credibility because it was written by a good looking, muscle-bound sex maniac:

The one thing EVERY profile must include is a statement to this effect: "Sure, I go to the gym four or five times a week and come here to look at other guys with big muscles but, hey, what really matters to me is what's inside -- the guy's brain and heart." This of course is a lie, but probably a necessary one. Were it actually true, this site, along with most of so-called gay culture, would instantly implode. Don't EVER make this statement in a profile that also says you've never been in a relationship longer than a year or two, because it is unlikely that in a universe of zillions of men with good hearts you can't find one to love.

I love ugly truths. I'll take them over pretty lies any day of the week.

Comic Art Chest Fest Vol. 5


Wolverine is one of the most fascinating and popular characters in the Marvel comics universe. No less fascinating for the way he is often drawn: a hairy, bare-chested wild man -- a cross between Tarzan and a samurai warrior, complete with sharp, bladed weapons.

Penciller: Darick Robertson



4/22

"Why do they call television a medium?
Because it's rare that you see anything well-done."

I can't stand people who, at the first mention of a TV show, proudly proclaim, "I don't watch television." What they think they're saying is, "I'm an intellectual and high above such low-brow distractions. It's the vast wasteland, far removed from my rarefied world of arts and letters and I simply have no time for it. I'm so over television" What they're really saying is, "I'm a snobby git and consider myself your mental and moral superior and I'm willing, no, happy to distance myself from you hoi polloi by completely dissociating myself from any expression of ideas deemed popular and relevant by the semi-literate masses. Television and its viewers are so beneath me." I freely acknowledge that there is a ton of crap on television (and then some... a lot of full-blown episodes of really bad shows are created during pilot season that don't even get aired), but you've also got Prime Minister's Questions on C-SPAN, Eureka on the Sci-Fi Channel and just about everything on The Food Network. Not to mention my PBS favorites; Keeping Up Appearances, Washington Week, Frontline, Nova and Doctor Who. I'm not a sports guy, but my father would be having a much less interesting retirement if he couldn't watch sports on television any time of the day or night -- especially during the winter when he can't spend time fussing over his garden. The Weather Channel alone, a network that sounded like a ridiculous idea to me when it first came on the air, justifies the existence of this incredible invention.

However...

... some people could really use a break. Some people just aren't prepared to look at television critically and selectively and the passive nature of TV viewing can be very seductive. Once in a while, people need to unplug, break the trance and investigate more active pastimes.

That's why we need TV Turnoff Week. Some people need to be shaken out of their video-induced stupor and given a chance to look, in a less mediated fashion, at the world around them just to make sure nothing they might enjoy is passing them by. The notion of millions of people finding exciting new things to do with their time other than watching television might make some ad agencies and TV network executives cringe a bit, but most of them are scum so why should we care?

http://www.adbusters.org/metas/psycho/tvturnoff/
http://www.tvturnoff.org

" thereís a lot more to TV Turnoff Week than shaking up your relationship with passive entertainment. Itís all about saying no to being bombarded with unwelcome and unhealthy commercial messages. It's about saying no to unfettered corporate media concentration and to the democratic deficit that results. And it's about challenging the heavily distorted reflection of the world that we see on the screen, a reflection that is keeping us ill-informed and unaware of the very real political and environmental crises that we all currently face."

Support unpredictable, un-corporate, un-shitty radio! DEATH TO THE FASCIST MEDIA PIGS!!!

 

Comic Art Chest Fest Vol. 3

A few months ago, I was at a panel discussion on sex in comics. The moderator asked the panel if they could recall the first comic that actually got them aroused. This is what popped into my head:


From The Avengers, Vol. 1, No. 164, 1977, published by Marvel Comics
Pencils: John Byrne, Inks: Pablo Marcos, Colorist: Phil Rachelson, Letterer: Denise Wohl

 

2/27

Back to Kick Your Ass and Take Your Money
Except for classical WGMS and the indispensable news radio station, WTOP, Washington area radio sucks raw weenies. Thank almighty Zeus for WFMU. Especially now.

It's that time of year again: The WFMU Fundraising Marathon started Monday, February 27 and goes until VERY late Sunday, March 12. Since I'll be self-employed by then, I'll be able to give myself the following Monday off so I can stay up late and listen.

WFMU is always a little strange to listen to, but during the station's 2-week fundraiser, "strange" just doesn't quite cover it. "Eclectic" is another word that seems to fit, but still falls just a bit short of the mark. During his last state-of-the-station address, the station manager said the most useful thing listeners could do was try to explain WFMU to the uninitiated. Once upon a time it was a college radio station and that's probably the simplest way to explain their programming philosophy. WFMU is a freeform station where you might hear Johnny Cash followed by an unknown NYC punk band on CDR preceding a show tune--all playing over audio from a Japanese soap opera or a speech from a French ornithologist. As one FMU DJ (quoted in my intro) is fond of saying, you will HATE 40% of what you hear on the station--the other 60% you should find a bit more palatable. Nearly all of the programs are archived on the web so you can listen to them any time. The schedule, with its brief, if occasionally cryptic, program descriptions is probably the best place to start. The two things you won't find are 1) top 40 pop and 2) classical.

A few of my personal favorites that are currently on the schedule:

The Speakeasy (occasionally featuring fun lefty political chat on "Duck Hunting with Dick")
Stan's show
The Antique Phonograph Music Program & Thomas Edison's Attic
The Ed Shepp Radio Experiment
Shrunken Planet
Mark Allen's show
The Stochastic Hit Parade

Archives of shows that are no longer on the schedule are available online (listed on the playlist page). Here are some of my favorites from "The Bench":

Jonbenet's Crackhouse
Incorrect Music
The Audio Kitchen
Choking on Cufflinks
Andy Waltzer

Most of the DJs don't stick to playing any one kind of music, but after a while you figure out who shares your sensibilities and who doesn't.

The main reason to support WFMU is because it is one of the last truly independent voices on the media landscape. They are not a tentacle of some huge media conglomerate, they accept no advertising, no underwriting and no advertising masquerading as underwriting. If you make a donation, they DO NOT sell your info to evil marketing scum (or anyone else).

Here is an excellent, upbeat blog for keeping up with what legislators and culture warriors are doing for and to us men-for-men types (worth a donation if you can swing it).


Comic Art Chest Fest Vol. 2

From Planetary #17 published by WildStorm (an imprint of DC Comics)


Art: John Cassaday, Coloring: Laura Martin (one of the best in the business)

 


It Bears Repeating

Whenever I see someone write "I don't like rap" in their profile, I feel compelled to re-post this link. Crank up your RealPlayer and have a listen.


"Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!"

- JK Rowling


 

Comic Art Chest Fest Vol. 1


"There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voayage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures."

Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene III

9/05

Las Vegas

I recently got back from a business trip to Las Vegas, a city I had never been to before. I am not prepared to make a sweeping statement like, "I hate Las Vegas," because I don't think I saw the real Las Vegas: I didn't see the parks, the museums, the libraries, the universities, or the nicer shopping centers. It would be unfair to judge the entire Vegas metroplex by the Vegas Strip, which is where I spent nearly all of my time. What I am prepared to say is the Vegas Strip is a vile, repulsive, vulgar monument to all the worst that humanity and American culture have to offer (except for the fine art museum at the Bellagio hotel where I saw some nice Boudin landscapes and finally discovered a Van Gogh I actually like). Am I a snob for thinking this? Probably. But I can only compare it to growing up in the DC area where most of the tourist-y parts are about grand ideas and art and history and all sorts of other stodgy, ivory tower notions. Dey got whatcher call yer, y'know, class. All the vice, tackiness and ill-mannered buffoonery in DC is kept where it belongs-- beneath a well maintained veneer of denial and feigned civility as the gods intended. I had hoped to at least have some time to hang out poolside and get a few photos of conventioneers in swimming trunks (again, I have to mention the Bellagio as exceptional in this regard) but I was just too busy to get more than the two stiffys.


CBLDF

My outrage meter flipped into the red when I saw the Summer '05 issue of Busted, the news magazine of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF; http://www.cbldf.org). The newest case they've taken on involves a retail store owner who has been charged with two felony counts of "Distribution of Material Depicting Nudity or Sexual Conduct" and five misdemeanor counts of "Distribution of Material Harmful to Minors." The details of the case are on the CBLDF web site, but basically the retailer, Gordon Lee, is facing a trial and possible jail time for giving away a comic book with pictures of a naked man in it. The comic, a Free Comic Book Day give away from publisher Alternative Comics, contained a depiction of a meeting between the artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso who, apparently, was fond of painting in the nude. The scene was completely non-sexual, but it was enough to make a pair of idiot parents file a complaint when their son wound up with a copy of the comic (to be fair, it was marked "For Mature Readers" but only on the back cover).

Unfortunately, Lee is probably going to be found guilty because of the way the law is written. The way I see it, his only hope is if the law itself is found to be unconstitutional -- which isn't so far-fetched. I know the person who created the story for Alternative Comics (the incredibly talented Nick Bertozzi) and the idea that his work would be considered in any way objectionable is pretty appalling. But the thing I wonder about most is the male nudity angle: Would there be this kind of furor over a naked female, or are a homophobic father and some homophobic law enforcement officials just having their say? We must all take up pencils and draw as many pictures of naked men as we can... while we can.


Gentlemen of Springfield

Free time has now officially become a relic of a bygone era. A phantom myth. No one has free time anymore. There is always something constructive and necessary to be done at any given moment. So if I were to tell you I did this stupid drawing in my free time, I would be lying. I did in fact exhaust a considerable amount of perfectly useful time doing this completely useless violation of copyright law. But I still think it was worth it. If no one sues me.

7/05

The Body Politick

So, I finally did the shirtless photo thing on my NormalGay profile (briefly) a couple of months ago. Not that I think I have anything worth showing off, I just wanted a little attention and nothing works on gay men like a little flesh. I had a section about the WFMU Fundraising Marathon in my profile and I wanted guys to see it and maybe click on over and -- dare to dream -- maybe make a donation. I don't know if anyone made a contribution or even checked out the radio station, but for the few days I had that picture up, my average page views more than tripled! (Yes, I actually kept track of my page views for a few weeks.) But, since I am thoroughly ashamed of my body, the bare-chested me didn't stay online for long.

You don't have to tell me, I already know: I am completely aware that I am just another victim of a Madison Avenue mind-fuck designed to illicit a consumer response to engineered dissatisfaction over the fact that I don't have washboard abs and larger pecs. Doesn't change the fact that bigger muscles and a smaller waist would be nice. I only mention any of this because of all the weirdness wrapped up in the whole gay shirtless-online-profile-pic stuff that has no doubt been the subject of numerous graduate theses. It is sort of political in a strange way. As much as we may not want to admit it, physical attractiveness does give its bearer a kind of leverage. It's much easier to be obnoxious or a freak if you also happen to be good looking. But I remain defiant: I will keep my shirt on, revel in my average looks and continue to be an obnoxious freak.


Comicopia

Considering how absurdly passionate I am about funnybooks, I'm surprised I haven't written more about them (on NormalGay, I mean--I've published two magazines about them and a small [award winning] comic anthology). Here are some of the best I've read lately:

Eightball #23 by Daniel Clowes
Too brilliant for words. Mr. Clowes (who also created the comic Ghost World which the movie was based on) strays into mainstream comic territory just long enough to get in the last word on the deconstruction of the super-hero archetype.

She-Hulk trade paperbacks
Kind of a rip-off of Supernatural Law (by the great Batton Lash), but still excellent light reading. She-Hulk isn't like her monstrous cousin. She can Hulkerize (becoming a statuesque, glamorous celebrity super-hero) and de-Hulkerize (becoming a smart but slightly dowdy attorney) at will. The books focus mainly on She-Hulk's lawyer side as she defends Hercules against a lawsuit, helps Spider-Man sue a newspaper publisher and helps another guy sue the company that accidentally gave him super powers.

Rent Girl
Intriguing/sad/strange/funny stories about a prostitute and her occasional lesbian girlfriend.

Simpsons Comics trade paperbacks
The Simpsons comic books are just as good as the TV show without the danger of missing any of the gags.

Go to http://www.freecomicbookday.com or http://www.diamondcomics.com/ to find a comic shop in your area.


Potterenia

I swear, I'll grow up one of these days. I'll wear Dockers, stress about my job title, have Curiosity Bypass Surgery, start playing golf and finally learn to drink and appreciate alcohol so all the other grownups actually seem somewhat interesting and amusing. Until then, I reserve the right to eschew any pretense of being cool and get totally psyched about JK Rowling's 6th book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- not to mention the upcoming release of the film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Some people manage to extract all sorts of deep philosophical and psychological ideas from the Harry Potter books but I have to go with the kids on this: they're just fun books to get lost in. Rowling is not a literary genius by any means, but she's highly skilled at peppering her stories with all sorts of great characters and interesting details (magical acne cures, candy that makes you levitate, the intricacies of making a flying broom that doesn't require a wizard to wear a cup while riding it).


Tiny Tim

If some magical fairy godmother waved her wand at me and said I could switch lives with someone, there was a time when Tim Green would have been on the short list. Consider: he has athletic achievements to impress the hoi polloi (8 years as an NFL player, a commentator on Fox Sports), egghead cred (graduated valedictorian from Syracuse University, has published several novels and a best-selling non-fiction book) and the kind of c.v. corporate assholes love (a law degree, scads of money). Not to mention the fact that he's not entirely unattractive (never mind that his look screams, sieg heiling, goose-stepping, paid-in-full member of the RNC).

Then, with all these things going for him, Green decides to become the host of the schlockiest, sleaziest show polluting the televised landscape, A Current Affair. I thought this show was dead and buried and the world was better for it. But no, it seems some degenerate producer has decided to resurrect it like some hideous, un-dead product of Frankenstein's laboratory.

Why would Green agree to be part of such an abomination? Check out what he said in an interview with Slate writer Bryan Curtis:

Green does not wish to operate in obscurity-he once wrote, "I wanted the whole world to admire, love, and adore me." He cites Charles Dickens as a chief influence, not only because of his literary quality but because he was "famous." "It could lead to a talk show," Green said of Affair. "It could lead to movies. It could lead to syndicated radio. Orrrrr"-he stopped to consider the possibilities-"I could end up in politics. Orrrrr I could end up in some other kind of business. Orrrrr I could end up-well, there's so many things. You know what I mean?"

Suddenly, I find the possessions I value most include poverty, obscurity, and a television with an "off" button


What about drawings?

That's what I was wondering about all the new restrictions on showing adult material online. I could understand wanting proof of the subject's age if you were drawing from a model (but how would a viewer know?) or perhaps it would give one pause if the depiction was clearly of someone underage in a sexually explicit situation... but what if it's just a sexy picture of a young-looking guy that just popped out of the artist's head? Do I really need to note the age of every naked character in my doodles to keep The Man off my back?

For some reason it reminds me of all that anti-trust business with Microsoft's operating system. The lawyers and judges were so ignorant about software that at one point Microsoft attempted to convince them that the OS wouldn't work if they tried distributing it without Internet Explorer (with some success, as I recall). Puritanism seems to create its own kind of ignorance, especially in legislatures and the judiciary. All parents have to do is shout, "Protect the children!!!" and lawmakers turn into imbeciles. I've known too many artists to think that the law doesn't come after people they feel are creating inappropriate art. But until someone tells me to stop...

(I did this very quickly... pardon me if things are a little out of proportion)

http://www.cbldf.org

2/28

STILL Kicking Your Ass and Taking Your Money
WFMU finished its fundraising marathon months ago, but you can still make a donation (if you're so inclined). I know they're not curing diseases or helping widows and orphans, but the station is significant just because it's so aggressively non-commercial. They don't even do those underwriting ads like PBS and NPR do. I suspect FMU is the REAL reason Michael Powell quit the FCC.


The Fantastic Four
Anyone can take the most interesting bits of a bad movie and string them together to make an enticing trailer. Perhaps that's why I love big budget Hollywood movie trailers more than I love most big budget Hollywood movies. And now they all have web sites with plenty of download-ables (fewer if you're a Mac person, like me). My new favorite: the site and trailer for The Fantastic Four. The first Fantastic Four movie, a low-budget pastiche directed by the legendary Roger Corman, is itself legend among Z-movie aficionados and comic book fans. It's supposed to be hideously bad which means I MUST see it. I can wait and watch the new one when it comes to Cinemax.


"Everyone is living somewhere between distraction and frenzy "
Peter Whybrow, author of American Mania: When More is Not Enough.


No More Sideways Profile Photos
If you need to do a little image editing on a photo (rotating, cropping, slight color correction) and you don't want to shell out $650 for Photoshop (even though it's well worth it) and you're on a Mac, there is a cheap but incredible piece of shareware called Graphic Converter (http://www.lemkesoft.com/) that will do just about anything you need for under $40. As for you PC/Windows guys, try searching at Download.com for inexpensive image editing shareware.


Talking (Butt)Heads Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, Tucker Carlson... three of the WORST chat show interviewers in the genre's checkered history. Reason enough to withhold your pledge to PBS.

Charlie Rose: Chuck, maybe if you quit INTERRUPTING your guests and let them get a word or two in I'll start watching your show again.
Tavis Smiley: Simpering sycophantic simpleton. Some people have said I look like him, but here's the thing: He's not African American. His dark complexion is due to the shocking amount of butt-kissing he does.
Tucker Carlson: I don't even know where to start with this guy. He's just wrong.

Thank heaven for Gwen Ifill and David Brancaccio! And special kudos to David Broder for his ability to--as Ms. Ifill so eloquently put it-- "Talk us off the ledge. "


"I have a profile because I have an ego. "
-SF THICK

So honest. So simple. So brilliant.

A bold statement of great sociological significance on hierarchical management structures:

If you wear a tie then I know you're someone's bitch
-- Derek Olson (some artist who may or may not be the first one to notice this)

"... he darted swiftly from the room with every particle of his hitherto-bottled-up indignation effervescing, from all parts of his countenance, in a perspiration of passion."

I was reading The Pickwick Papers and this was the first juicy quote I came across (it sounds almost naughty out of context).

Why does pop music
Sound so much better when it's
Sung in Japanese?

"Don't tell me how many times a week you go to the gym, just tell me what you're compensating for."

- Quote I lifted from a personal web site (wish I could give it proper attribution, but I can't find the site again)

Should I be having
Lustful Matt Drudge fantasies
When he's such a schmuck?

Look what I found on my hard drive...

I did this Gangland Cupid sketch as an aborted concept for a Valentines Day card. (Those are supposed to be flowers coming out of the tommy gun... hey, it's just a sketch!)

 

Profiles Dissected

A co-worker and I were helping another co-worker find a date online (she didn't ask for our help, but who were we to deny her the benefit of our insight?) and I was amazed at how funny and clever a lot of the straight guy's ads were. True, a few were pretty abysmal, but all in all, it cast a glaring spotlight on the deficiencies of gay men's online profiles.

Let's ignore, for the moment, guys who don't even write anything for their profiles and just post penis portraits. (What does THAT say about you?) Instead, let's turn our attention to the other profiles and some of the oft repeated phrases I find particularly nettlesome:

"I'm a down-to-earth kind of guy"-- "I'm really quite dull and generic, but at least I don't have a police record."

"I work out [(3-4), (4-5), (5-6)] times a week"-- Hopefully, this means you are an intelligent, mature individual training for a sport you enjoy or that you simply realize the importance of regular exercise for general good health and not that you are a vain nitwit who thinks powerhouse pecs and six pack abs are the key to understanding life's riddles (or just the key to endless sex).

"I'm as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt as I am in a tux"-- congratulations on your ability to find clothes that fit. Yes, yes... I know you're just indicating that you're okay in casual situations as well as formal gatherings but would a little originality kill you?

"I'm funny/I have a sense of humor" -- FYI: being able to parrot jokes you heard on Leno or some sit-com is NOT the same as actual wit.

"I love [travel, outdoors, reading, working out, movies, restaurants]" -- It seems like everybody likes exactly the same things, and yet there are so many single people looking for a date or a mate. I hope I never have to explain the complex underpinnings of this situation to the aliens.

"If you email me, please send a picture. I like to see who I'm talking to."-- "Please send a picture so I can assess your appearance and determine if you are physically attractive enough to deserve a response."

"I won't bite, unless you ask me to!" -- I suppose this was amusing once upon a time, now it's just lame.

Am I being foolish to expect more interesting writing in online profiles? Sure, there are plenty of other places to look for suitably satisfying, plainly punchy prose, but when folks like "BookishLifter", "a mono" and "EMBoC Web" can come up with interesting stuff, what's stopping everybody else from at least making an effort?

Not a sermon, just a thought.

 

Excellent line I recently heard some guy say on the subway:

"Get out of my face, I'm busy being quietly desperate."

And here's my problem with the story of the ugly duckling: Wouldn't UD still be unhappy living with the swans since his notions and standards of beauty were formed in relation to ducks? It wouldn't matter how attractive a swan he was if his aesthetic ideal was still a duck. "Look at all these ugly birds. Why canĚt we be as good looking as ducks?"

It's, like, ponderous, daddy-o.

If you think you don't like rap music, crank up your RealAudio player and listen to this.

And, as if all this werenĚt enough to chew on... VIRTUAL BUBBLEWRAP!!!

Last Kiss Yahoo group

The Small Press Expo, Bethesda, Maryland, October 1-3, 2004 (You went, didn't you?)

"If you see anyone theorize, stab them."

Once "Peter Brady",
Chris Knight creates software now.
His teeth are quite straight.

Wait! There's something new...
Chris Knight is back on TV
Now with 6-pack abs!

 

Considering I don't have the build or even just the plain ol' chutzpah to put up a profile on BigMuscle.com, I spend way too much of my valuable time browsing through the profiles that are there (over 19,500 last time I looked). But I was happy to stumble across a pair of celebrities while I was poking around:

Frank (aka Jack Radcliffe) -- The guy is truly a living work of art. He belongs on a pedestal in MOMA. Or maybe the Hirschorn.

John -- I first heard of the brilliantly eccentric Trucker John through Mark Allen's web site and radio show. He seems like a very non-boring guy.

My ongoing list of The Greatest Movies Ever Made in Human History (in no particular order)

Room Service

International House

Metropolis

What's Up, Doc?

A Wedding

The Philadelphia Story

Bringing Up Baby

8 Heads in a Duffle Bag

Dr. Strangelove

The Affairs of Annabel

Murder by Death

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Local Hero

Alice

Leolo

Six Degrees of Separation

Trust

The Big Picture

The Chocolate War

Hackers

Without You I'm Nothing

Doctor Goldfoot and his Bikini Machine

Real Genius

Repo Man

Duck Soup

Casino Royale

The Producers

North by Nortwest

Heathers

M

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Cold Turkey

Hexed

Radio Days

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Animal House

Addams Family Values

Slacker

New Year's Day

Eating

Metropolitan

BigTrouble in Little China

The Wild World of Batwoman
(MST3K)

Clerks

The Dark Backward

Muscle Beach Party

Brazil

What's New, Pussycat?

Napoleon Dynamite

I [Heart] Huckabees

 

"No Compassion for Their Fashion"

Remember when I told you to listen to WFMU's internet-only broadcast during the Republican National Convention? Sure you do. Now the whole thing is online! Originally, the FMU staff wasn't promising to archive it, but they went ahead and did it.

Of all the great stuff they broadcast that week, my favorite was the Tuesday night 8-11 show. That was night Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Bush twins, and Laura Bush all gave GODAWFUL speeches. I never would have made it through that evening without vomiting if not for the hilarious fashion critiques from WFMU DJ Pseu Braun and her guests Patti Lu3Puen (the "3" is silent) and the oft-mentioned Mark Allen. You can listen to an mp3 of that show by clicking here.

For your listening pleasure... William Shatner (yes, Captain Kirk/Priceline shill) has a new CD. This song (a duet with Joe Jackson) is amazing! Definitely NOT another Rocket Man.

 

Not looking for a permanent pen-pal, but it'd be nice to find out what other folks think about...

...Comic Books (Some personal favorites: Supernatural Law, MOME, Billy Dogma, 1960s LSH, Love and Rockets, The Simpsons Comics)

...WFMU (http://www.wfmu.org)

...Web/Graphicdesign (http://www.designiskinky.com)

Back home...