No Compromise, No Surrender

I’ve never been the kind of man that follows others. Maybe it’s the stubborn Sicilian in me.  I do not believe in accepting the world as it is.  Nor do I accept a concept as truth based on the person who speaks it.  I have been called arrogant, condescending, intolerable and all manner of half-wit insults.

It is not enough to say “this is truth because I say it is so.”   It is unacceptable to allow wrongs because the rights do not come easy.

The reality is that the world will make you bend.  Compromise is inevitabile.  What matters is that you never compromise who you are, or what you believe.  For when  you do, you are lost.

They’ll come at you hard and fast from directions you cannot fathom.  But you must not break.  At times you may waver and falter, but you do not fall, you do not break.

Never accept easy answers.

Never allow others to determine who you are.

Never shirk personal responsibility.

Never allow fear to control you.

No compromise.

No surrender.

Get Naked!!

In spite of my Roman Catholic upbringing, I do not subscribe to the theory that sex and sexuality are shameful.  Horseshit.   Nor do I believe the human body is something we should be ashamed of, though that’s something I struggle with just as much as anyone.  We shouldn’t be afraid of nudity.  It doesn’t make you vulnerable. It’s who you are.

Less than a year ago, a girl I know from Oregon informed me that she would be getting naked this June for the World Naked Bike Ride.   I was intrigued… at first because she was talking about herself naked, but later at the thought of the event.

Apparently the WNBR is this event that occurs in 70 locations throughout the globe.   It’s a bunch of hippies who shed their clothes and don bicycles to spread awarness about cyclist safety, energy consumption and  the size of their genitals.

I’m not reallydown with the message.  I don’t have a problem with hippies as long as they keep their political and –marajuanical– opinions to themselves. And yet I am bemused at the thought.  Naked fleshy apendages are bemusing.

I really wanted to do it this year, but circumstances would not permit.  But after hearing a first person account of the event, I am more driven than every to pop wheelies and woodies in Oregon next year.

“Do you really think you could get naked in front of all those people?”  a friend asked.   Absolutely.  It’s scary, but doable.   That said, I may try to get hold of some viagra or cialis beforehand.  Mine is not a “show-penis”.

It has, however, some of the qualities of a stunt penis.

You may ask why someone like me would do something like this.  It’s like sky diving without the whole “falling to your death” part.  It’s about facing your fears.   Once you’ve waved your penis (or flashed your ‘gyna) around a major American city going ten miles an hour, you’ve got bragging rights.

You get to say “I did this.”  Something only a handful of people have ever done.  Something very few people would ever do.

At the very least, I figure my odds of scoring with some drunk hippie chick are increased when we’re both naked and pulsing with adrenaline.

Cool Mountain Scottish

For a short time I lived in Arizona.

I spent a semester at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Flagstaff_NAU_Skydome

In the center of NAU sits the bookstore and the post office.   And in that bookstore works a woman.  I don’t know her name or where she’s from.  Truth be told I don’t even remember her face.   But everyday at 11:00, she plays the bagpipes.

It’s not something you ever expect to hear.  And it may be something you never hear.  But I was in the right place at the right time one day.   And there she was, in plain clothes on her lunch break with only her bagpipes and a turkey sandwich, seated on the side of the bookstore.   Most people walked right past her.   Some gave her bizarre looks as they went.  But still she played.

Not me though.  Along with a few others, I listened as she played the slow, soulful music of the Scots.   There’s a story there, I’m sure.   Something brilliant.  Maybe tragic.  But I never asked.  Every day, or as often as possible, I would sit for a minute and listen to her song.

She’s probably still out there, next to a brown brick building, playing her song.

bagpipes

No Voice for Americans

On my way back home just now, I turned on Sean Hannity as I often do.   In listening, I discovered that Miss California, Carrie Prejean, had been stripped of her crown.  I won’t bore you with the back-story, but if you’d like it, feel free to read here first.  Suffice it to say that Carrie Prejean’s story is a tale of warning to us all.  It is definitive illustration of how the media runs our lives.

carrie_prejean_medium

As mentioned in the previous post, I disagree with Ms Prejean’s opinions on gay marriage.  Yet I am appalled at the treatment she has recieved as a result of giving an honest, polite and well-spoken answer to a difficult question she should NEVER have been asked in the first place.   Perez Hilton is part of the Nazi-esque liberal machine  that runs this nation.  He has an agenda based largely around his career, and he used Carrie Prejean to further that agenda. Because of him, Carrie was denied the Miss America crown.   Okay. Fine.  Then he goes on to attack the woman, again furthering his agenda and drawing attention to himself (which resultantly helps his career).   And of course the rest of the media can’t just let it go.   A few weeks later they attacked her for daring to have breast implants.

OH. THE FUCKING. HUMANITY.

Who would have guessed a model and beauty queen would have fake breasts?  Unheard of.   And now that this “controversy” has passed, the Miss California USA Organization has saw fit to strip her of her crown.   They gave some half-baked explanation for the firing by claiming she has not fulfilled her contractual duties as Miss California.  Come on.  Really?   She made a statement that disagrees with liberal America and the howdy-doody P.C. green-blooded world that is being tattooed onto the American landscape.   And she has paid the penalty for it.

I disagree with her opinion, but I would absolutely rally to her position.   She has a right to her opinions just as Perez Hilton does.   We used to be free to express those opinions, but it becomes clearer each day that the Second Amendment only applies to people with the “right” opinions.

Well to hell with that.   Take notice America.  You may not have a problem with seeing this woman tormented, but that’s only because it doesn’t affect you or your opinions.   But sooner or later it will happen to you.   It’s not about Right Wing or Left Wing.  Its about Power and Responsibility.    And these days I’m seeing a lot of power and not much in the way of responsibility.   And the majority of the people are not the ones with the power.  Doesn’t matter if you agree with them now, sooner or later you won’t.  And when that happens, you’ll be just another fly on the windshield.   Because if you’re not in power, in the new world regime, you are nameless.

Welcome to the New World Order, America. Hope you survive the experience.

Avenge This!

Thanks to Civil War and Secret Invasion there are more Avengers comics being published than there are Avengers fans.   … Well, that may be a slight exaggeration.

But the reality is that about half of the mainstream Marvel titles published are Avengers comics.   Theres:

  • New Avengers
  • Mighty Avengers
  • Dark Avengers
  • Avengers: The Initiative
  • Thunderbolts (well, tangentially anyway)
  • Captain America
  • Invinicible Iron Man
  • Amazing Spider-man
  • Dark Wolverine
  • Young Avengers
  • Ms Marvel
  • about a dozen different Dark Reign mini’s.

That’s a lot.   And I may be forgetting a few.  After Civil War, Avengers Initiative stood out by far as the best series of the bunch.  I think the quality has gone down slightly recently, in part because of the departure of the original characters on the book, and maybe even a little because the original creative team is gone.  That isn’t to say that Christos Gage isn’t doing a good job, but it just hadn’t felt like the same book for some time.

Since Secret Invasion, Dark Avengers has become the most talked about book in the line.  I would say that has a lot to do with the fact that this is Norman Osborn’s book.  Yes, he is in EVERY Marvel book these days, but this is the one that gives you the full scope of his megalomania.  And I kind of love it.

That said, I think Mighty Avengers is going to be the book to watch.  New Avengers has mostly felt impotent since Civil War.  That may be because Bendis is stretching himself thin with all the books he’s writing.  Or it could be because he created a team of Avengers where Power Man was the leader.   (I’m going with that last reason.)   And yes Dark Avengers are the new hotness, but I’m not sure where the book is really going, other than pissing off Marvel’s heroes.  

But Mighty!  This book will be a sleeper.   The purpose of Mighty has always been to show a more classic Avengers team.   Dan Slott has retained that concept for the most part.  There’s a Wasp, Stature (filling the Giant Man role), US Agent (basically Cap), the Vision, Hercules and Quicksilver.  And they even have Jarvis, the Alfred of the Marvel Universe.   But as cool as it is to have a classic Avengers during the bleakness of a post-invasion, Dark Reign era, that isn’t what the book is about.

Mighty is all about two words: Hank. Pym.

Just as Dark is Norman’s book, Hank is the star of the show here.   The team has reformed around him, and despite being a Founder, this is his first time leading them.  But what is truly fascinating is that I’m not sure if this is the story of Hank Pym’s redemption, or if it is hardcore evidence that he should never be a leader of men.

Pym isn’t really painted in a very good light here.  He’s just as unstable and driven as he ever was, or even more so.  Together with Spider-woman, he was one of the faces of the Invasion.   His imposter helped kill both one of his best friends, Bill Foster and his ex-wife Janet Van Dyne.  And now that Janet is dead, so are his chances of fixing his relationship with her, for apologizing for the way he mistreated her.  And so in lieu of Janet, he’s developing a relationship and possibly even a morbid fixation with her robot clone, Jocasta.  This is a man who is set to explode.  It’s just a matter of when.

But the series truly came together for me this past week, in Mighty Avengers #25.

MIGHTAVN25_COVIssue 25 is the first of a 2-part story called Mighty/Fantastic, pitting Hank’s nearly virgin team against Marvel’s First Family.   And it isn’t your typical mix- up/ heroes fight/ heroes team-up story.  Hank Pym and Reed Richards are officially squaring off.  

Without giving too much away, the story begins with Hank calling Reed to return a piece of technology which he co-invented with his friend Bill Foster.  When Foster died, his will left the device to Hank, but for reasons that don’t actually make sense, it went to The Thing instead.  Hank needs the device urgently, and would like it returned.   Simple enough request.   Except Reed tells him flat out “NO”.   From there it degrades into a battle of wits and insults where Reed tells Hank how he sucks and isn’t trustworthy.   Hank responds with his own criticisms, including how Reed created Clor/ Ragnarok and gave the Skrulls the keys to Earth.  What’s truly interesting here is that contrary to the norm, Hank is completely in the right.   When you get right down to it, Hank Pym’s only intentional mistake is beating his wife.  Which just makes him a dick.   Meanwhile Reed’s arrogance, for all the good he’s done, is entirely culpable for such tragedies as Clor, World War Hulk and the Secret Invasion.

And in fact, as the argument progresses, I got the sense that Reed’s speech has less  to do with Hank Pym’s mistakes than with Reed’s need to ignore his own.  In the end, two of the smartest men of the planet are fighting like a pair of 9 year olds over a swing set.  Surprisingly, Reed doesn’t bring up the whole wife-beating incident.  Instead he delivers an intellectual pimp-slap so devastating that both the Avengers and the FF are stunned into silence.   Hank’s response:

Dr. Richards?

Yes, Dr. Pym?

it’s on, bitch.

And indeed, it is on, like Donkey Kong in a marathon.  The scene is so awesome I wet myself, changed my pants and wet those too, just because I could.   Mighty #25 is far and away my favorite book of the week, amongst some seriously stiff competition.

For the first  time since it debuted, Mighty is no longer irrelevent.  Get on board now, because if Slott is going where I think he’s going with this, it will soon be the true stand out Avengers title on Marvel’s slate.  If only because Hank is bound to go insane at some point; possibly Giant-ing up and going Godzilla on NYC.  

Plus it’s the one place that you won’t see Norman Osborn in every issue.

A Love Letter to Fanboys

Fanboy: noun-  A geek; a fan of science fiction, comic books, or some specific element there-of.

fanboys-the-movie-star-wars (1)

I’m tempted to begin with a joke about Fanboys being made a long time ago, in a land far, far away.  Because sometimes it feels that way.

The story of getting the film Fanboys on to the movie screen is nearly as epic as the journey contained within.

Fanboys is the story of 5 high school friends who travel across America to steal a copy of Star Wars: the Phantom Menace before it is released; fulfilling the last wish of Linus who is dying of cancer.   Despite the heavy subject matter, Fanboys is a comedy which was prepared to celebrate the joys of geekdom and the reality of being a fanboy.  The film was originally set to be released in August of 2007.   The trailer had debuted months earlier, leaving geeks across America salivating at the thought of a film of their own.   Sadly the movie was pushed back for nearly a year.  And then even further.  And further.   And of course their were cuts and recuts of the film.  It seemed like the film would never  be released.  And when it was, the studios gave it so little advertising and so limited a release, it came and went like a phantom.  … I swear that wasn’t an Episode One pun.

fanboys_poster_preview

It took me 2 and a half years to see Fanboys, oddly paralleling the wait that the characters– and indeed, all of us— felt for the coming of the newest Star Wars movies.   So was it worth it?

Yes, and no.    The film suffers from a lack of clear direction.  It doesn’t seem to know what kind of film it wants to be.   Is it a story of  best friends who reconnect before its too late?  Is it a road movie?   Pop culture comedy?  Geek-umentary?    The identity crisis can be distracting at times, as each scene feels fundamentally different from the next, making the quality of the movie a bit uneven.

I suspect that fact is due in large part to studio interference.   harvey Weinstein famously attempted to cut the story of Linus’ illness just before it’s final release, leading to fan protest and threats of boycotting Weinstein Company films.   I agree that scenes and elements of it needed to be cut, but that isn’t among them.  Linus’ story is the driving force (swear these aren’t puns) for the story.  And many of the scenes that address the illness are among the finest in the piece.    Rather than bring the story down, it brings a touch of humanity to it.   A comedy is a great thing, but if there is no heart in it, then it ultimately becomes irrelevent as soon as it leaves theatres (or DVD, I suppose).

I hate to say it, but what needed to be cut were the extraneous nerd elements and unnecessary cameos.  For instance, there was a scene which introduced Seth Rogen as the villainous Trekkie leader.  Now, I’m sure many a Star Wars fan has dreamed of roughing up some Trekkies (“That is a derogatory term.  The proper word is Trekker.”)— but the truth is the Trek/ Wars battle just feels cheap and amateur.  And while I dig Rogen, he wasn’t even mildly funny in any of his scenes.

Similarly the Harry Knowles scene feels weird. Harry Knowles is the creator of Ain’t It Cool News, and something of an web-media demigogue. He’s also notoriously over-weight and Hobbit like.  Here, he’s played by Ethan Suplee, who is a fantastic addition to any film, but appears much tougher than Knowles could ever hope to be.  Was Harry trained to fight at the Jean Claude Van Damme school of fake fighting?  The scene just doesn’t work.  Instead it feels like the filmmakers are kissing Harry’s rear in an attempt to get a favorable review.  Instead they make him violent and even more Hobbit-looking than ever.  These scenes could easily have been cut and abridged and it would have been better for it.

However, some of the cameos are great and not nearly as distracting.  The Star Wars cameos lend a bit of geek cred here, and even feel fitting.  Also, icons like Kevin Smith and even the SHAT himself feel a more natural fit.

And lastly, I take umbrage to the PG-13 rating.  This is another element that clearly is the result of studio interference.  When you strip away the cancer and the Fanboy dressing, it’s a road trip movie.  This is a genre that begs to be rated R.  And as you watch the movie, there are moments that were clearly intended to feature the gratuitous nudity that we all know and love.   By teasing the nudity and then neutering the shot, they’ve merely disappointed their audience.  I understand a desire to make a movie more available to a broader audience, but this is a movie set in 1998 and glorrifying scifi and comic book geeks— it’s target audience is clearly not the Jonas Brothers fan club.  And considering they basically tanked the film in advertising anyway, I don’t see the point.

Okay, so those are my —and I stress this— minor complaints.  So what did I like?  The casting for one.

Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel, Chris Marquette and Sam Huntington embody every brilliant facet of geekdom.  They never once made me ashamed to be a Fanboy.  And as I mentioned, many of the cameos were great, and hilarious.   But the real gem of this film was only in it for about half of the running time.    The movie is at its best when Kristen Bell is on screen.

KristenBel_PrincessLeia

Bell is, in my mind, the new Geek Goddess.  She’s Veronica Mars.  And there is no movie that cannot be made better by her presence.  I’ll even go a bit further. When George Lucas eventually remakes the original Star Wars trilogy — and don’t kid yourself, IT’S COMING— I think Bell should be the new Leia.   It’s not just that she wears the Slave Leia outfit better than anyone since Carrie Fisher.   There’s a scene wear she leans over in front of R2-D2 and says those famous words:

“Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”

And just for a second, I felt like I could have been back watching A New Hope.   Additionally, she gets some of the best lines and scenes in the movie.

The script was a bit of a mixed bag, but when it works, it really works.  The jokes are hit or miss, but that is to be expected.   But most of the elements are there for greatness.  And thats the real tragedy.  It could have been great.  It could have been a big hit.  All Fanboys needed was a little more attention, a little less interference and a lot more faith.  “{Don’t}tell me the odds.”

But it wasn’t perfect.  Even so, it was a love letter to Fanboys.  It’s the sort of praise that we deserve.  Sure, they made fun of Trekkers, but — look at those people.  It’s okay to be a nerd, or a geek or a Fanboy.  It doesn’t matter if you spend 2 years debating whether Luke had the unholy hots for his twin sister, which is sort of like being gay for yourself.  (He totally did, by the way.)  Maybe you’ve mapped out the Summers/ Grey family tree or know every episode of Doctor Who and which version of the Doctor starred in it.  You might even be obsessed with Kristen Bell.   It’s okay.   Fanboys is a film about living life on your terms, and not letting society tell you who to be.

It’s a good message.  And a film worth seeing.

Hide and Seek

It creeps up on you.   Like a cold wind up your spine.   Like a fever that consumes you, body and soul.

It’s an emotion.  Better than that, it’s my favorite sin.   Lust.

Pretending is not an option.  Try as I might, I can’t help my staring.  The grace of your design bewilders me.   The heat of your body near gnaws at my skin.   I am only half awake as you speak.  Instead I imagine you touching me touching you, my lips upon you.   And I shake it off.  The world snaps back into focus just as you finish your lines.   But it doesn’t last.  Never does.

I hate it.  The way you’re in my head.  That hot, nervous feeling like a hungry school boy.   I could peel your second skin like a grape.  A layer at a time.  Kissing your neck.  Your shoulder your back.  A piece at a time.  Getting to the bottom of it all, and finding you bare and at bottom.  We could tear into each other.  We could play hide and seek.

The thought keeps rolling around in my mind like a hurricane.  It wants to get out.  And inside, I wonder if you’re thinking the same things.  Do you hunger?  Is there an ache, an itch, a burning inside you?

What’s your favorite sin?