Friday, December 31, 2004

Backstage at "Beginnings"

My latest cold, and before that the over-full madness of late December (work, holiday, etc), have slowed me down on the batfront lately, as readers of "Beginnings" have surely noticed. It's not easy keeping up with new chapters of that story; ideally there would be a new one every day, but I decided long ago not to worry when that doesn't happen. I like the idea that the narrative moves along in real time, so if I miss a few days, then those days pass in the story, too. (Except when I give myself permission to cheat now and then.) Both a challenge and an opportunity. It's nice to be able to incorporate holidays and other occasions as they come along, for instance.

Speaking of which, apologies for shamelessly and perhaps tastelessly lifting a certain recent real-life crisis in Eastern Europe for a plot device in the last few chapters, but then so many world events lately seem to resemble the plots of comic books, don't they? (I'm sure I've already mentioned my Osama-as-Joker theory, right?)

Funny how that works. Frank Miller's initial "Dark Knight" graphic novel (along with several other developments around the same time) felt so fresh in the way it carried the comics world into "reality" (or at least televised reality--since so much of the story is told via news anchors, Letterman show appearances, etc) and nowadays it seems like the opposite is happening more often... the daily news looks like an issue of DETECTIVE.

Talk about crossover!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Knightfall 11: Through the Looking-Glass

Perhaps the single most fascinating aspect of my ongoing bat/rat saga is the way that other characters have begun to enter into it. At first it was just me, then the Monk entered the picture, then other people--heroes trying to win me back to the side of Good, villains eager to gloat at my downfall, and so on. These latest arrivals are almost all longtime readers of this very blog, which means there's this mind-bending situation where readers of my fiction (or whatever you want to call this role-playing dreamworld) are now entering into the story they're reading. As a writer in the daylight world, I wish I could find a way to create something similar. (I should note that all of us are merely borrowing scraps of a pre-existing fiction--the lore of comic books and their spinoff tv shows and films--that none of us can lay claim to, even if we are all fine-tuning it to suit our own purposes.)

I think of two parallels, neither of which I have any direct experience with. (Too busy living my own fantasy!) One is only a title: The Counterlife, which is the title of a Philip Roth novel I haven't read. Evidently it concerns a group of characters who slip in and out of various alternative destinies, drawn from their unfulfilled dreams and roads-not-taken. Me, I just like the concept implied in that title: that my bat/rat adventures are a kind of counterlife I can enter and exit at will, accompanied by a growing cast of fellow adventurers whose counterlives happen to intersect mine at the moment.

Then there's The Game, David Fincher's precursor to Fight Club, in which characters become engrossed in a live-action role-playing game that invades their "real" lives with fantasy elements. Once again, I haven't actually seen it (though I'm a sort-of fan of David Cronenberg's eXistenZ, which is also about a multi-player game that blurs the usual boundaries between reality and fantasy).

Another interesting parallel to what's going on in the bat/rat realm right now is the twist revealed back in chapter 17 of my "Beginnings" serial: that Batman actually began his crimefighting career as an online and offline fetish role-player whose virtual fuckbuddies started getting out of hand and committing real-world crimes. (Hmm, better point out right here and now that I'm NOT looking for that to happen in real life, folks. Let's keep this all in text form, please! There, THAT ought to make everything okay...)

Meanwhile, the man I've dubbed "the Monk" is developing quite a fan club of his own. I keep getting inquiries about him from people who read what I'm writing here and want something similar to happen to them. My counterlife identity as Ratman has become his number one recruiter--his "poster boy," as he calls me. I'm a little troubled to find out that so many so-called heroes share my desire to fall from grace. Aren't we supposed to be saving the world from the bad guys?

That last sentence only calls to attention the obvious question: which side am I on now: Us, or Them? Good Guys, or Bad?

Wait and see, friends and fiends, wait and see. Better yet, don't wait, just dive in to the storyline yourself. But beware: the water's pretty deep now, and the current is strong. If you're not careful, you'll either be dragged under or get carried away.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Knightfall 10: Kid in a Candy Store

I grew up in a warm climate, and I vividly remember standing in a department store at the age of 10 or so, staring in awe at the gloves in the adult men's section. No one in this part of the country has any real use for such an accessory--it just never gets that cold--and so I'd always associated them with my favorite heroes. I couldn't wait to be a grownup so I could move somewhere that would justify wearing gloves, and, by extension, to live my life on my own terms, which might well entail wearing a superhero costume for real. This--far more than IRAs, extended mortgages, or anything along those lines--was what adulthood meant to me.

As all regular readers of this blog know, I've pretty much come to live out that childhood dream, several decades later: I have a healthy, happy daylight life (about which you'll never hear much here) AND a fantasy one (that isn't always so happy, as when I fall prey to a mind-warping villain, for instance). True, my anecdote above is proof of what my shrink (let's call him Alfred) told me long ago, when I first started opening up about my long-suppressed bat-fetish: that most if not all fetishes are rooted in childhood fantasy. (He cited the example of the Village People--every one of those gay male types, the cop, the construction worker, the Indian, etc.--comes straight out of little boys' dress-up games.) But he, unlike his predecessors in the field of psychology and psychoanalysis, didn't define this state of suspended infantilism as a bad thing, just a thing. In theory, he pointed out, anything under the sun (and, who knows, probably the sun itself) can become a fetish object if the conditions are right. I didn't exactly embrace his insight at the moment--that wouldn't come for several years--but at this point in my life, I can truly say I cherish this lingering remnant of my youth. (Sooner or later, I'm going to write more about that youth and just how big a role Batman played in it, but let's save further flashbacks for a while.)

The newest stage in my evolution as Ratman has been a more public one. Not in the sense of dressing up with the undie mask on my head and walking the streets, mind you, but I've become--with the Monk's help--more and more proactive in the virtual world, seeking out heroes and practicing my budding villainy on them. In my Bat days (can I truly be putting them in the past tense?) I used to wait for villains to come to me, but now I ask for and then receive assignments from the Monk and carry them out. And, I should point out, people do continue to contact me first, many of them readers of this blog who know exactly what they may be getting into. Suddenly my bat/rat world is far less claustrophobic than it once was. First it was just me, then just the Hub and me, and then just the Monk and me, but now there are other characters. Many other characters; it really is like coming out all over again: when you're in the closet, you think at first you're the only one who carries your dark secret, then you open your vision (through reading or tentative conversation or whatever works for you) and you realize there are others somewhat like you out there, and then--only after you start to go public--you find yourself surrounded by peers, colleagues, friends, even enemies. In my twenties I used to walk into gay bars and feel like I really didn't belong there, felt awkward and out of place. Nowadays, on the few occasions when i go to them, I STILL feel all those things, to be honest, but for different reasons (hey, I'm not really into twinks or body-obsessed guys or Republicans....), but I feel something else, too, a far more powerful awareness: that these are my people. They're not my ONLY people, but I feel a connection to them.

Went through the same process with leather bars in my thirties--fear and self-awareness, followed by a gradual realization that I wasn't a freak among freaks. And now I seem to be going through yet another version of the process, in a different realm, but one that hits far closer to home than either of the last two. (After all, hero fetishists are a minority even in leather bars.) Right now I'm spending 4-6 nights a week in the (virtual) company of lycra-loving, bondage-crazy Batmen and Supermen and heroes whose names are of their own design. These are my people, through and through. Granted, I'm playing the role of their adversary now, which I would never have expected, but I'm loving every sweaty minute.

(PS. The downside of my going more public with the Rat/Batplay is that I'm now less inclined to divulge every little encounter and stage in my decline/evolution/reinvention, delicious though they may be. For one thing, villain or not, I don't want to violate anyone's trust. For another, I'm realizing that to fully carry out my current role, I can't reveal too many of my secrets. More and more readers of this blog are beginning to enter the storyline themselves, and I can't have them knowing what I have in store for them. So forgive me if I start getting a bit more sketchy in my descriptions here. If you really want to follow the twists and turns, it looks like you'll have to hold your breath and jump into the storyline yourself. You know where to find me.)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Knightfall 9: Falling Together, Coming Apart

Yesterday was a day of firsts in the bat/rat/monk saga--too many even to list here, but I'll try to touch on the major ones. (Before I do, I must confess how odd it is that my own personal semi-real-life "saga" is now moving so much faster, and is so much easier to write about, than my serial slash fiction, Beginnings. When I first began that story, there wasn't a whole lot of action on the home batfront, my solo adventures having hit a dead end. Now the situation is completely different--and the serial has suffered as a result. There is a major plot development going on over there, which requires daily updates, but I've been spending the majority of my limited writing/fantasy time over here instead. I'm sure the pendulum will swing back that way eventually, and I promise to any remaining readers of that story that the identity of "H.S." will soon be revealed. But I digress.)

There are many major developments on the bat/rat front, as I continue my slide toward the darkness. For the last few weeks--in a clear reversal of my old bat-tastes--I've been making myself available for IMs,usually when the Monk is not available but I want to stay/play in that world a while. And so I've been hearing from a few fresh heroes and villains, some of whom are regular readers of this blog and thus know the Monk and his role in my life, and they inquire about him. (It's always a bit unsettling when someone brings him up, because I feel partly like a biographer being grilled about his subject and partly like the author of a fiction whose life has begun to intersect with one of his main characters--but trust me, the Monk is no fiction!)

I recently mentioned this phenomenon--the Monk fan club, if you will--to the man himself, and he wanted names (mainly to find out if he'd encountered them under his, er, "real" pseudonym). I managed to put off divulging this information for a couple of days, but last night I succumbed. This was a major defeat on my part, because months ago, during a similiar situation when I still wore the cowl of the Bat, I insisted that a true hero never divulges such secrets. My acquiescence this time was one more sign of how far I've fallen.

By great coincidence (or, more likely, divine intervention), the primary individual in question sent me an IM at the onset of the Monk's interrogation. This one is a Superman, an old-school true-blue hero who insists my Bat-career can still be salvaged and that I'll always be the Bat, no matter what. (Naturally, a part of me responds, "Dream on!," while another part thrives on this injection of outside hope into my otherwise solitary despair.) What happened next was something I'd been fantasizing about for the last few days: I not only named his name, but brought the Superman and the Monk together into a three-way chat, where--after much of the usual hero-and-villain banter and bluster--the Monk proceeded to kick Supe's ass. (I, alas, could only participate in a portion of this showdown, since I had other plans for the evening. Holy disappointment!)

So I've done it: I've betrayed an ally, and even assisted in his (temporary) demise. (Though I truly hope I haven't seen the last of Superman--not only is he a valuable comrade, but the three-way interaction was unbelievably exciting to me.) Further signs of my descent into villainy: earlier the same day, I announced two potentially major decisions to the Monk. First, I said it was time I began referring to him, not myself, as Batman (oddly, since he'd been implying this was the direction things were heading ever since he started wearing a stolen cowl, he rejected the name in favor of "Bad Bat," refusing to be my "crutch" while I sort out my shifting identities). Second, I declared I would quit relying on a familiar habit of referring to my erotic impulses (okay, my cock) as a being separate from me--either "Robin" (when I was Batman) or "Mouse" (now that I'm Ratman)--and take responsibility for my entire self. Both of these strike me as important stages in my gradual re-emergence as a single unified being after months of the Monk playing on my split nature (Bat/Bruce/my real name) and pitting the various selves against each other.

There were other firsts last night, too, but these are the key ones. On one hand, I'm moving toward (re)unification, towards a wholeness as a single, as yet unknown, personality (or so it seems)--and at the same time, I suddenly find that the Monk and I have company in our little playroom.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Knightfall 8: All Hands on Deck

The other day I was describing the whole cyber-bat-fantasy realm to a friend, and I compared it to the Holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm not a Trek watcher, let alone fan, but I think I have the basic idea of the Deck: a zone where people can go to live out their wildest fantasies in a (usually) safe environment, sometimes alone and sometimes with others.

I presume crew members can use this zone to work out issues in their "real" lives if they wish, or just get off for a while. That's certainly the case with batplay, online or off. And one of the things I'm getting to examine in my encounters with the Monk is the tremendous attraction that failure holds for me--the notion of coming as close to defeat as humanly possible and then rescuing myself at the last minute (or, most enticing of all, NOT rescuing myself). With defeat comes shame, and the shame fuels my rebound. I'm one of those habitually late people who pushes a deadline way past its expiration date (a habit which is really, really bad in a writer, by the way), then beats himself up about it, and then produces something pretty good (though never as good as it should or could be). I've long suspected that my little dance of procrastination, self-hatred, and triumph was linked to the cycle of deathtraps and last-minute escapes that so thrilled me as a young BatFan, and as I'm playing out the gradual unravelling of my batself at the hands of the Monk, I'm beginning to see just how incredibly powerful are my fantasies of utter defeat/shame/humiliation.

Ironically--or more likely not--I'm only starting to play seriously with all this stuff in batfantasy at the precise moment that my daylight life is probably healthier and happier than ever. As a man in my mid-40s I've naturally been thinking a lot about what constitutes "success" in my life, and I can honestly say I feel pretty okay with where I am. It's not where I thought I'd be as a kid, but then maybe those expectations were a bit unrealistic to begin with. (For one thing, many of those expectations were grounded in an upper-middle-class heterosexual married-with-kids-and-high-income-job model that just doesn't match my daily reality; come to think of it, I probably picked up a lot of that fantasy from 60s television programming, too--other than billionaire crimefighter Bruce Wayne, my role models once included architect Mr. Brady and psychologist Bob Newhart. Mamas, don't let your babies watch TV!)

With all that in mind, here's another update on my ongoing debasement as Ratman. I was telling the Monk the other day that my transformation is not going the way I'd expected. All along I was envisioning that being "broken" would happen quickly, in a flash, or at least that there would be a single decisive watershed moment. (As I've written here earlier, I thought I'd reached that moment already, but it eventually passed and I realized I had a lot more Bat left in me than I thought.) That might sometimes happen in face-to-face s/m scenes, but in my case what's happening instead is that it's a very, very slow process, as more and more of the batself fades from my being day by day by day. Which is actually way sexier to me, when you get right down to it: some of my darkest batfantasies involve being held prisoner for days, weeks, even months at a time, as I slowly wither away. (I think, too, of the climax of one of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, in which Moriarty captures our hero and begins to drain all the blood out of his body, one drop at a time. Mmmmmm!)

I mentioned all this to the Monk not long ago; here's part of his response:

I respect your gradual
submersion into the fact..I encourage
it...savor each and every sensation...the pangs of
confusion...the freedom of debasement..the sheer
eroticism of meeting your destiny at my cowled
control..we'll defeat each of those internal
villains..and create an even better one....

(The "internal villains" he refers to are an allusion to another part of my bat-backstory: in solo play, I have often confronted villainous impulses implanted in me by previous captors who have attempted to turn the Dark Knight over to the Dark Side.) As is the case a disturbing amount of the time, he's described the process with extraordinary precision--but then, that's why he's the master villain he is.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Not-So-Teen Titans

It's not like I don't have a gazillion Important Things to Do tonight, but I've been spending many hours doing the silliest of online surfing. In my quest to track down the specific quote which serves as the epigraph of Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis ("a rat became the unit of currency," from Polish writer Zbigniew Herbert--regular H&V readers will know why this is on my mind right now), I came across a review of the novel which in turn led me to discover Titans of Finance, a comic book based on the biographies of various real-life tychoons. Haven't read it yet, but I'm tempted to order a copy. After all, I find (many but not all) men in business suits only slightly less sexy than superheroes, even when their personal politics repulse me.

Anybody out there ever read this thing? If you follow links at the site, you'll find examples of the comic strip it's drawn from.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hey look--I'm really not Batman, after all!

But is this better or worse:
TV's Superman!
Congratulations! You are TV's Superman, faster than
a speeding bullet, more powerful than a
locomotive, able to do pretty much anything at
all except deal with a little kryptonite! It's
amazing how many ways there are of working
kryptonite into the script, though. You're
smug, but what the hell, you're pretty much
all-powerful. On the other hand, it's not like
you worked for those powers. You just happened
to land on a planet with a different color sun,
so all of a sudden you think you're better than
me. You know what? Screw you!

Which of TV's SuperFriends Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tip o' the cape to In Sequence for steering me to this quiz, an ideal way to avoid actual labor or sleep (even if the questions and answers are pretty transparent).

Now playing in the Batmobile (er, Ratmobile)

Been listening in the car to the audio cassette version of Andrew Vachss' 1995 Bat-novel, The Ultimate Evil. I was vaguely aware of the book when it came out, along with accompanying comic book adaptation, but I'd never heard of Vachss, and besides, the whole premise sounded like it wouldn't be my cup of tea. (I'm not a huge fan of those periodic incursion-into-the-real-world side projects where the Caped Crusader is recruited to deal with land mines, or whatever--mainly because the chances of catching him shirtless and/or bound seem mighty slim under such circumstances. And yes, I am exactly that shallow.)

But lately I've been getting into the books-on-tape phenomenon in a desperate attempt to liven up my daily commute to my soul-draining job. I don't wanna pay too much for these things, since they strike me as single-use items (unlike actual books, whose pages can be turned more effectively than tape can be fast-forwarded), so I limit myself to library selections, remaindered items at bookstores, and used ones. The book I listened to just before this one, as I've noted before, was Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis, which turned out to have some eerie conjunctions with my personal bat/rat saga.

I'm not quite done with Ultimate Evil--I have maybe an hour to go--but it has its appeal. On the downside, it's read by Tony Roberts (whom I always sorta liked as an actor in mid-70s Woody Allen movies), and it's a little disconcerting to hear "Max" from Annie Hall as the Batman and a host of other characters. His Batman sounds like a bad Bogart impersonation more than anything else, and that's just not how I hear him at all. It throws the whole thing off; our hero comes across as this slightly cranky, ultra-dorky old coot. Maybe Vachss' prose has something to do with that, but I blame Roberts more.

The story, though, is pretty compelling after all--considerably more interesting than the plots of any of the films, for sure. It's refreshing to see the character taken very seriously by a very adult writer of prose; the third-world child-abuse angle is less stilted and didactic than I might have guessed, at least in this abridged version (though it still has its creaky moments); and, let's face it, I just plain get off listening to detailed descriptions of my favorite fictional hunk and his wardrobe.

Vachss is really on to something with his complex stew of real-world childhood trauma, adult sexual fantasy, and the role of masked manhunters in both. (Added thrill: Batman undercover in a gay bar! In a Time/Warner-approved product!) I know for certain that it's various sad/scary experiences in my own childhood (nothing like the slavery rings depicted in the book, thank god) that inspired me to adopt the Bat as my hero and lifelong mythical counterpart (just as the murder of his parents led young Bruce Wayne to create his alter ego), so it's interesting to watch someone work with all that as subtext in a crime novel.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Masked and Anonymous

Found this passage interesting in light of what I'm forever going on about here:

It is curious, the term that [musicians in Rio in the early 1960s] used to designate one who didn't do drugs: "careta." Apparently this word, which traditionally had mean "mask" or "masked person," emerged among criminals as a jocose diminutive of cara, which means both "face" and "person." So if one abstained from taking a mind-altering substance, it was said that he had a "cara limpa," a clean face. And many times I heard musicians say that they had to deal with this or that awful situation "totalmente de cara," by which they meant "completely clean," not high. In this roundabout way, through the outlaw slang of musicians, careta came to mean the opposite of masked or disguised. But even this "pejorative" use, referring to those who did not do drugs, ended up bringing back something of the old meaning, since to do drugs was understood as opening up to God and to music--an unmasking of oneself.

That's from careta musician Caetano Veloso's book Tropical Truth, and I'm struck by the whole connection between removing a mask and "opening up to God"--and to the role that drugs play in both. Of course, you can't really take a mask off till you put one on, and that, for me, is where batplay comes in. Now that the Monk has deprived me of mine, the question is: to what am I opening myself? And what will my new face look like?

Knightfall 7: Death of a Mauve Bat

There haven't been many "Knightfall" updates here lately because both the Monk and I were otherwise engaged for much of the last month and a half. We resumed sparring in earnest a week or two ago, the Monk convinced that he would ultimately succeed in destroying the Batman and replacing him with Ratman.

And damned if he hasn't gotten away with it--or so it seems for now. All I can say is, in one of many moments of weakness a couple of days ago I finally did as I was told and replaced my cowl with a new mask constructed from the "flag" of yellow cumstained undies he ordered me to create back when he first broke me. I did so offline--not under his direct instructions but of my own volition, more or less--and then logged on and found him waiting to see the end result of his handiwork. All along I'd been expecting some huge, titanic confrontation, but it never really happened. I just felt my bat-self start to slip away and a new one take hold.

So I guess the unthinkable has happened: The Bat in me is--or at least damn well appears to be--dead. Long live the Rat. (Amazingly, it didn't dawn on me that I was actually born in the Year of the Rat until just a few weeks ago.) I can't believe that's completely true, but I'm willing to play this out and see where it takes me. For starters, he's now the one in the bat-mask, playing the part of The Evil Bat. And I presume he intends me to become a villain, or at least his henchman. But I can't say for sure--and I'm certainly not the one in charge now.

By coincidence (or divine providence), last night and tonight I watched the movie The Five Obstructions, in which crazy Danish director Lars Von Trier convinces his mentor Jørgen Leth to remake one of Leth's earlier films 5 times, in 5 different ways, adhering to a series of preposterous rules (examples from 3 separate "obstructions": no shot can last more than 30 seconds; it must be remade as a cartoon; it has to be shot in the most miserable place on earth). The relationship between the two men is surprisingly similar to that between the Monk and me: there is a root friendship and mutual admiration, but the surface interactions are straight out of s/m, with Von Trier as the Top determined to humiliate his victim (and convinced that he knows Leth better than Leth knows himself), and Leth as the humble bottom gamely agreeing to one demented rule after another (using each as an opportunity to further his own craft).

For the last few weeks I've also been driving around listening to Don Delillo's book Cosmopolis on tape, read by ultra-cutie Will Patton, and I just finished it the same day as my downfall. Here, too, there is a Top/bottom dynamic, though I won't say too much about it for fear of revealing too many late-chapter plot developments. (Another coincidence: rats serve as a recurring motif throughout the novel.) If you're interested in the deeper ramifications of s/m-style interactions, I recommend both works to you. I'm not totally crazy about either one, but both have their interesting qualities.

Now that my bat-self appears to be dead, I've been toying with the idea of ending this "Knightfall" series of blog entries and beginning a new one, with the working title "Diary of a Bottom" or something like that. (Maybe the title will focus on my new role as villain instead... if that's what the Monk has in mind for me.) But who knows what the future will bring? The last time I thought I'd been beaten for good proved to be only temporary--I donned the batsuit many times in the intervening weeks, as soon as I had the opportunity to spend a few glorious hours by myself once again. Something tells me (okay, the MONK tells me) this time will be different.

But we'll see. The bat within me is too strong a driving force, for too many years, to be exorcised in a few months of online roleplay. He's bound to return sooner or later, in some brand-new state. Or so I hope.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The politics of ... ooo, feelin' good

Must admit I got a little nervous when I visited GlovdCopSF's beautiful website for the first time in a while, and discovered this prefatory text:

"Forget about advancements of technology, social progress... We have entered into a forced regression to uber-Christianity rule, rivaled only by the Dark Ages. Galileo - hide yourself, and your ideas. This is the new Amercian Theocracy."

Was it a warning, or a boast, this talk of a New Theocracy? I assumed/hoped for the former, but I've always been a little wary of the webMaster's politics--even if he is a permanent resident of my Top Ten Top Men list--based in part on his "disclaimer for PC shitheads" accompanying his description of the rather rigid qualities he looks for in a sex partner. (I mean, I've been known to find both Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly disturbingly hot under the proper lights, but in reality I don't particularly want to share a room with either of them.) Granted, GlovdCopSF has always been quite clear that his site is entirely about sex and NOT about his own personal politics or any other aspect of his life, but even so, I tend to be put off by other people's brushes with authoritarianism (just as I am by my own attraction to jackbooted thugs).

Fortunately, any misgivings I might have had about the true meaning of the "New Theocracy" quote were immediately cleared up when I visited the site's November 2004 "Fetish of the Month" photo gallery. I make a point of checking this one out every 30 days or so, because 9 times out of 10 GlovdCop's taste resembles mine. (Damn, not only is he a hot number, but he's got a good eye for beauty in others, too!) This time around, the images themselves don't excite me as much as the explanatory text, which begins

So what does the Bush Administration have in common with this month's gallery? A bunch of assholes...

From there you get a staggeringly vast collection of pictures of "leather breeches with a zipper down the ass." Highly specific, and not exactly my cuppa drool, but I applaud the man for providing "105 assholes for you, but the kind you actually like" in response to our countrymen's recent regrettable reappointment of one of the biggest buttholes around to the highest office in the land.

GlovdCop may claim his site is politics-free, and the blog you're currently reading tends to focus on sex over the other issues that matter most in my life, but sometimes the cold light of reality falls on even the deepest, darkest places.

Come out, come out, wherever you are, Galileo. Don't let the theocrats and assholes get you down. We need you, dude--and that goes double for you, GlovdCopSF.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Four More Years... of kinky fantasy! (Shhh.... Don't anybody tell the Red States)

Fantasy is mighty tempting these days, given the rather dreary state of reality following Tuesday's election results. I could go on and on about that, and I certainly have in my Bruce Wayne self. But real-life Heroes & Villains are not my focus here.

Nope, this site exists mainly to alert my fellow perverts to kinky bat-images like these, which I learned about from my budding blogbuddy (say that 3 times fast), Teresa at She came across them indirectly, thanks to an article on the photographer, Terry Richardson.

As all batfans know, there are plenty of folks creating this kind of thing on the internet; they're just not art-world provocateurs, and their work doesn't end up in L. A. Weekly. On the other hand, to be honest, a lot of the truly underground slashpic stuff is not as fun--or as appealing--as Richardson's. Give me a bat in a tight black top and leather chaps over a photoshopped porn star any day! (The young Robin is another story; I directed a friend to Richardson's pix and he said they almost looked like kiddie porn, something I hadn't noticed, which just goes to show that I'm more of a Bat-man than a Robin-lover.)

Needless to say, my favorite fine-art/fetish crossover remains Mark I. Chester's stunning portraits of Robert Chesley as Superman, KS scars and all. I'm pretty sure I've already written about those here long ago, but if you haven't seen them, you've gotta check them out.

Speaking of the overlap of art and fetish, I've only just begun to explore the treasures at this tribute site devoted to the gloriously lurid work of pulp/men's mag/comic book artist Norman Saunders, which appears to be maintained by his son. While his biggest claim to cult stardom is probably his Mars Attacks! bubblegum card series, immortalized by Tim Burton, all kink-minded batfans owe Saunders a tip of the sweat-drenched cowl for his legendary bubblegum card portraits of Our Hero, which are by far the most fetishistic of officially sanctioned bat-art (and just plain beautiful, too). The site is packed with images and informative text; whether you find the bat-pix as hot as I do or not, if you have any interest at all in fantastical pop imagery, Saunders is your man. (Bonus: from the gallery of men's mag covers, I learned where Franz Zappa got the inspiration for 90% of the title "Weasels Ripped My Flesh.")

Monday, October 25, 2004

LEGO My Bat, Man

Just watched Jonathan Markiewitz's Batman LEGO Film, "Batman: Revenge", which (of course) I found out about through the ever-useful site.

You heard me right: it's an (almost-)all-LEGO version of the Caped Crusader, a silent animation that isn't as weird--or campy-- as it might sound. (Watching it, I thought a little of Todd Haynes' Superstar, which tells the story of Karen Carpenter entirely with Barbie dolls, and the films of the Brothers Quay and various other dark animator types.) While it relies a bit too heavily on Danny Elfman's music from the Tim Burton films to establish its mood (a common tendency in batfan films, I've noticed), the amount of detail is pretty impressive.

The use of Legos is particularly interesting because it calls attention to the childlike nature of the bat-legend, and gives it a surreal edge at the same time. I've been thinking a lot lately about Franklin Rosemont's book Surrealism and Its Popular Accomplices (City Lights, 1980), a terrific compendium of pop-culture artifacts which either influenced or were inspired by the Surrealist movement, drawing connections between Andre Breton, Dali, & company and comic books, pulp heroes, the Three Stooges, Tex Avery, & so on. I read the book about 20 years ago but it's been on my mind in recent months, as I've thought just how bizarre the bat-saga is: man puts on strange clothes (which don't really look that much like a bat) to fight criminals in the middle of the night. As a kid, it never seemed the least bit odd to me; I just kind of took the premise for granted. Now, however, it feels like a waking dream, a mass hallucination shared by millions of fans.

For that matter, I'd love to watch Georges Franju's film version of Judex again sometime, too--another conscious meditation on the overlap of Surrealism and the masked heroes of comicdom that I saw almost 25 years ago, before I could really appreciate it. No Legos in that one, but a similarly dreamlike quality.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Knightfall 6: Edgeplay

Apologies for not writing more often lately (either here or in the "Beginnings" story), but as I noted last time, my Bruce Wayne life is pretty damn full these days.

Which has interesting ramifications for my extended roleplaying with The Monk. I'm so overwhelmed with mundane (and not-so-mundane) matters that my appetite for erotic/spiritual/psychological exploration is lower than usual, at least for the time being. (Should ease up a little next month.) But deep down I still feel the strong pull of the bat-self; after all, it's been the driving force of my life for more than thirty years.

Sometimes the break from nightly encounters with The Monk helps me regain my strength as a masked manhunter (even though he's long ago stripped me of my mask, and I'm pretty much the hunted man rather than the one doing the hunting these days). In those moods I feel reconnected with this central metaphor of my life, and I am convinced I will somehow find a way out of his clutches, or at least that this chapter of my saga will end sooner or later and I'll be able to resume my secret life on my own terms again.

Other times, however, I sense that all really is lost on the bat-front, that my story will not have a happy ending like in the movies and the TV show and the comic books, after all, that I'm destined to be broken for real and end my days doing his beck and call (in our mutual fantasy, that is). This latter thought is, I dread to say, intensely exciting to me. I hate to admit it, but the prospect of absolute failure is a tremendous turn-on to me. (And, of course, The Monk knows this and exploits it to his full advantage.)

So this is what M meant by "edging"--Batman's dance out on the edge between self-control and utter collapse. Something has to happen sooner or later: a breakthrough, a breakdown (of the bat-self), or both. My schedule notwithstanding, I'm hoping it's soon rather than later. The longer it takes, the more likely I'll come out on the losing end of the deal.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Knightfall 5: Two Faces have I

As I wrote in my last entry on the subject, I truly thought The Monk had broken me (or my bat-character, that is--this can get mighty confusing from time to time, which is part of the thrill for me). And we had exactly one encounter in my new fully-compliant role before I started to resist again. Guess the bat-self is just too much a part of me to purge so easily.

That's kind of disappointing on one level, because I'm fascinated by the notion of utter defeat/complete surrender (on the path to something ... Other, something as yet unknown) and I want to reach that state sooner or later. But I feel a real loss when I think about abandoning my batself, potentially for good (or, uh, eeeeeeevil). So I find myself divided once again, 90% of me ready to take the plunge and fall prey to whatever The Monk has in store for me, a stubborn 10% still resisting.

Meanwhile, my real life, beneath all the masks and all the roleplay, is as full as it can possibly be for the next several days/weeks, if not the entire month. It will be interesting to see how I can balance such a rich fantasy life with an equally full (if less erotically/spiritually/intellectually charged) reality.

BTW, I promised a second reason I've christened The Monk with that particular nickname (besides a character's appearance as an early and brutal nemesis of Batman in the comics). Sappy as this may sound, I visited a "spiritualist" a few weeks ago, who almost immediately started visualizing a man in monk's garb standing behind me. This hypothetical man--currently alive, but barely known to me at the time--would allegedly become my soulmate (as in a fellow traveller in matters of the soul, nothing more and nothing less), and teach me much about myself. This guy would be well versed in techniques of mind control (though MY Monk's techniques are probably not what the spiritualist had in mind) and various Eastern religions and spiritual practices (again, the Monk I have has other tricks up his sleeve... though I don't doubt they're related). We would become very close friends for a very long time. And so on. Sounds like my unseen online nemesis is a Monk if there ever was one.

Tonight I suited up (donning the batsuit for the first time in weeks, in direct defiance of his orders) for a final confrontation--perhaps. (I wanted to be wearing the suit if and when I reached a point when I'd truly have to put it behind me.) (All this provides me with a beautiful metaphor for the fear of facing my own death-more on that later, I'm sure.) But, damn the luck, I was just too tired in real life to get into the Monk-vs-Bat scene to the extent necessary. (Tip to anyone else trying this at home: like cooking,therapy, and offline batsex, it don't work if you don't have the mental energy. Best not to even try.) So I remain 10% free of his evil, and 90% in its sway. And that divide, while titillating in theory, is not a pleasant state to remain in.

Perhaps it's like I'm on a diving board, contemplating the water and trying to get myself ready to jump in. Once I do, there's no turning back.

And I've always been one of those guys who sits at the shallow end of the pool, getting my feet wet one toe at a time. So, like everything else in this little game, is a whole new experience.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Here we go again...

I've seen two episodes so far of The Batman, The WB's latest attempt to relaunch/reinvent their cash cow in animated form. Can't say I'm that impressed: the animation is kind of interesting, the opening credits are nice, and the theme song is a nice break from the School of Danny Elfman, but everything else about the show is ... well...

The premise is simple, if not exactly original: early adventures of our hero, who is beginning his vigilante career in the new century. And he appears to be, uh, some kind of 20something multi-millionaire hipster dude, the sort that was just littering the streets of Manhattan and San Francisco during the internet boom years. Bruce Wayne is forever hosting rave-inspired fundraisers, which I guess is okay, but even his Bat persona is prone to expressions like (I'm paraphrasing here because I didn't take the time to transcribe actual episode banter) "dude" and "awesome." (Reminds me of B-Man's adventures in the Swingin' 70s, when he'd occasionally blurt out something like "We dig" when a writer decided to make him more "relevant" to America's youth.)

The problem here, if I even have to spell it out, is that Batman is a man outside time; he's completely out of step with his surroundings. His moral code comes from the late 1930s, which is probably why the art direction in both the Tim Burton movies and the Bruce Timm animated series is so deliberately difficult to place chronologically: a lot of the distant past, a little bit of the near future, not much of the immediate present.

I'm all for a Batman who is still finding his way, but this ain't workin' for me so far. The Batman feels less like a retelling of BM's early days than a relaunch of Batman Beyond with Bruce himself in the Terry McGuiness role.

Political pundits love the 10-dollar word "gravitas," but if there's ever been a character to whom it applies--other than, say, Oedipus--it's Bats. This latest incarnation belongs on The O.C., not The W.B.

PS. What the hell is Bane doing in Episode Three, let alone Season One? It made sense -- and was emotionally loaded -- for a character in the comics to come out of nowhere and nearly destroy years and years of the Batman's work (which paves the way for BM's extended family to pick up the slack), but to introduce this guy as the third villain in a young crimefighter's career is crazy talk.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Knightfall 4: Broken Bat

Walking around in public and going to work wearing the same crusty pair of undies day after day is not my idea of sexy. But--and The Monk was absolutely right to predict this--doing so as a reminder of my submission to another man (one who by this point knew ten times more about me than I did about him) was an enormous turn-on, if I may borrow the favorite word of Playmates everywhere.

When I finally got the go-ahead to remove this cruel mockery of my old crimefighting attire, I felt a huge wave of relief. Freedom--of a sort. But now the "canvas" (as The Monk called it, referring to the "painting" I was doing on the inside of the briefs day after day) became a "flag" I was ordered to display prominently in my cage.

What all of this dipping back and forth into fantasy and reality taught me was that there has to be what I call a Level of Acceptable Risk in s/m-themed roleplay. In solo batplay, that has sometimes meant a small amount of some illegal, mind-altering substance. The risk is obvious (within the story, it means that Batman is committing a crime--and in my real life, it means the same thing about me), but it's an acceptable one for me. No risk means little or no incentive to transcend day-to-day experience; too much risk means you go off the deep end.

And if you did not know better, you would surely assume after finding all these messages on my voicemail and seeing the nonstop lump in my pants that The Monk was a stalker and/or I was an obsessive nutcase. Risky indeed, especially since I honestly did not know much about the guy at all (in real life, as well as within the story). But that was by my own design, a way for me to experience genuine vulnerability in a very visceral way. (I've since asked The Monk to feed me clues about his own "real" identity now and then, just as a little assurance that he's not going to go all Fatal Attraction on me at some point.)

The day the undies came off was also The Monk's last day online for a week and a half, and I didn't want this chapter of our collaborative story to end without some kind of breakthrough. And I got one, on a huge scale indeed: later that day, I realized he'd done exactly what he threatened he would do. He had broken me (ie, Batman) "mind, body, and soul." I was no longer Batman. I was Ratman.

I've read and heard about bottoms being broken, but never really knew what the sensation would feel like until it happened to me. (I'll vow to write more about all this in a future entry... mainly trying to get the plot out for now, before it progresses much further.) As of that afternoon, I've abandoned the Batman role--packed up the costume and equipment, moved it out of the Cave (which I've now rechristened "The Rat's Nest"), and tried to come to terms with the fact that the organizing metaphor of my life has been taken away from me (uh, metaphorically speaking, of course... jope you're still with me on this). Evidently I'll be "allowed" to play that role again someday, but only on The Monk's terms. For now, I'm embracing my new transitional role as Ratman, devising a new costume for myself (which is appropriately unpleasant to wear, by the way), and replacing the many bat-related images and figures in my cave/cage/nest with rat equivalents. I'm even reading Robert Sullivan's much hyped recent book, Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants," learning as much as I can about these wingless rodents.

Why? Because I want to see where all of this takes me. Back when he was still dismantling my Batman-self, The Monk threatened that he'd either destroy me or make me stronger. (Thanks, Nietzsche... and Conan.) He's accomplished the first of those ends; now, with his help, I want to strive for the latter. So the man who was my greatest enemy has become my mentor. I thought before it happened that "breaking" Batman would be like brainwashing him. But I'm fully aware of what I've gone through, who I used to be, and who did it to me--and that knowledge is even more devastating than amnesia would be.

His ten-day absence is almost up, and The Monk will soon be back. Progress reports will follow here. If I sound like I have jumped into deep water, that's because I have--or, I should say, I've allowed a fantasy to pass dangerously close into my daily existence. Fortunately, I have several reliable lifeguards on call, and I do know how to swim.

I don't know where my future encounters with The Monk will leave me yet, but I do know they've already and irreversibly changed me--both my Bat-self and the one under the mask--and I have faith that the final destination will be well worth the trip.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Knightfall 3: Knightsend

Apologies if the narrative and language in this story is a little too elusive; I realize as I try to talk about my adventure that it requires all sorts of background info I don't have the energy to provide. But hopefully you'll get the basic idea, which is that I've been willingly surrendering more and more power to a really impressive Top in an ongoing roleplaying game that continues to blur the boundaries between "fantasy" and "reality."

(When we last left our hero, he was enduring a 24-hour cum ban imposed by his unseen online archenemy...)

The special guest villain turned out to be a no-show, which was a mild relief. But the Hub was still ready for some bat action himself, and, thinking quickly, I realized I had a one-hour window during which to meet The Monk and get some real relief from my torments. In my weakened condition, he attempted to learn my real name--I gave him a pseudonym, of course--and then he presented me with a choice: either surrender my mask forever, or, er, relieve myself (in that most special way) inside it and wear it the rest of the evening with the Hub.

I went with Option A, but just as I was about to do the deed, the Hub walked in on me, not in any sort of character, and forcing me out of the one I was in. I blocked the monitor and webcam with my cape until he left the room. In the interim, I suddenly sensed I had yet another option: opting out of Monk's control altogether. (He had planted this seed in my mind the night before, by pointing out that I never said "no" to any of his demands. So I wondered what a "no" might mean, within the storyline.) I turned off the webcam, shut down the chat, and walked away.

But once I did, I felt ... like I was missing something. While my character might have been trying everything in his power to escape The Monk's clutches, the me underneath him was not so eager to leave. Complicating matters further, the scene with the Hub was merely so-so: a thousand shades lighter and campier than what I'd just been through, for starters, and what was supposed to be ambiguous (was he a good guy or a bad guy?) proved merely confusing. I broke the cum ban with H (knowing that if I ever returned to The Monk's cage, I'd be punished one way or the other), and even that was kind of a letdown. That night, some final fragments of our online chat told me that my unseen adversary had taken my actions in a completely unintended way--as a personal brushoff. A long discussion with M followed the next day, and once we finally had things hashed out on the real-world level, I found myself in that awkward position of a prisoner crawling back to his jailer. The Monk took full advantage of the situation, and a new punishment was indeed levied: stripped of my batsuit, I had to produce just the right pair of undies (which happened to be dirty to begin with, since I didn't know what was ... coming) and then wear them nonstop for the next three and a half days as they served as a reservoir for certain vital fluids which have a tendency to leak out of me when I least want them to.

The night before, as The Monk began to call me by the name he assumed to be my real one, I felt left out. I could tell what he was trying to do, but it just wasn't working. (Saying, "I know all your secrets, Bill" to someone whose name isn't Bill doesn't leave non-Bill feeling much of anything.) And the thing was, I wanted to experience the mindfuck he was cooking up for me, so during the followup encounter, I told him the name my parents gave me, something I've never done before. Which made me feel .... really, really vulnerable. Definitely another unmasking.

My fake-real and real-real names having been revealed, I was stripped of the last shreds of my Bat-identity and rechristened "Ratman." Over the next several days, I received taunting phone calls from The Monk on a regular basis during the course of the morning or afternoon, each of which I replayed over and over again, even as my increasingly filthy underwear reminded me of his mastery over me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Knightfall 2: Who Rules the (K)night?

One night, as I gazed up into a webcam at a man somewhere who could see me but not be seen by me, the Monk began referring to my (bat)Cave as a Cage. And a new scenario began: I was his virtual prisoner, dutifully reporting to him every night, sometimes masked, sometimes not (what did it matter anymore?), eagerly anticipating another encounter.

During some of these sessions, or more often after they were officially over for the evening, we shared our own perspectives on the Batman myth. Here was a man who took his fantasy role as Villain as seriously as I take mine as Hero. I'd boast (as heroes do) that he'd never win in the end, that I would never be defeated, and he'd reply (as villains do) that I was dead wrong. He pointed out once that heroes can always be undone because they must adhere to a moral code, and all a good villain--who is bound by no such thing--has to do is to subvert that code and force his opponent into an impossible situation. (Sort of like what I recently heard described as Karl Rove's strategy as architect of Bush's campaigns: don't just attack an opponent's weaknesses, but find a way to exploit and attack his strengths, too.)

I told The Monk my theory that Batman is really a Bottom at heart, because why else would he keep getting himself into one deathtrap after another? I've long suspected that the Caped Crusader's true motive is not to avenge the death of his parents, but to punish himself for allowing it to happen in the first place (the typical "logic" of a child who encounters destructive forces he doesn't understand and can't control).

I've never been comfortable with that age-old dichotomy of Top/Bottom (or Butch/Femme, etc) in the first place; I firmly believe that people are way more complicated than such simple oppositions would suggest. Sure, you can prefer being the fuck-er or the fuck-ee, but I refuse to see those as inflexible, life-defining categories. I do tend to feel Bottom-y 90% of the time, but I have my Top days now and then, and to be honest, neither role totally suits what I really do in bed anyway.

But maybe my claims of versatility are just an evasion, since, as a close friend of mine pointed out two decades ago, there's a real taboo against declaring yourself a Bottom, as if you're surrendering an essential part of your masculinity. (And yes, gay men tend to buy into myths of masculine identity every bit as much as straight men do.)

In any case, The Monk insists he's a born Top, and I'll be damned if he isn't right. More than anyone else I know, he seems to embody the essence of the role, creating inescapable traps for me, learning what turns me on and then using it to lure me into further traps, and so on.

And I love it, which explains why, night after night, I've been reporting to my unseen opponent and allowing him to peel away at my defenses (and my various identities) with delicious skill. Sometimes I'd feel like succumbing, sometimes I'd feel like fighting back. In my role as Batman, I'm basically obliged to resist, of course, and that inner tension was driving me nuts. One night I resisted one of his demands, and to "punish" me he forbade me from cumming until he gave me his permission.

Now, it's human nature that the minute you're told you can't do something, it's the only thing you want to do. The next 24 hours were sheer hell, as I walked around Gotham with the biggest permanent boner I've had since I was a horny teenager nearly 30 years ago. I've read about these kinds of games before, but I'd never played them, and I'm here to tell you that it was an amazingly intense experience. Hardly pleasant, but eye-opening to say the least. (I hoped the eyes of my coworkers weren't directed to the bulge in my pants, and my job seemed next to impossible to contentrate on.) At one point I was hurting so much I could barely walk. My lives as Batman and Bruce Wayne were intersecting with painful passion, and that thought turned me on even more. (Hmm, that metaphor of "turning on" gives me a good way to explain this: it's like I had a lamp that was turned on even when I wanted/needed it off, and its light kept shining in my eyes, blinding me.)

And, as chance would have it, when our next rendezvous neared and I was about to be granted freedom at last, I ran into a pretty major snag. Two, to be precise: another virtual villain I'd been wanting to combat was suddenly available for the first time in weeks (that is, he IM'd me to say he'd be online that night), and the Hub told me he was coming home from work early, and suggested we plan on a little duo Batplay.

Holy cliffhangers!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Knightfall 1: Meet The Monk

When I first started this blog back in mid-2003, it wasn't with the sole intention of logging interesting manifestations of the Batman myth in pop culture. That's mostly what I've done here lately, and it's still a lot of fun, but I always meant to use this site as a place to think and write about (and encourage fellow travellers to think and write about) the deeper psychological, political, and spiritual dimensions of what I call "batplay"--ie, what happens when I suit up and proudly indulge the fetish I once harbored in secrecy and shame.

I've been engaging in batplay for about nine years now: putting on one of several "batsuits" and masks, in the process honoring a childhood fascination with a certain obsessive costumed crimefighter. It feels good, and it turns me on, but it's never been simply "fun" for me; like the comic book character before me, I've turned to these nocturnal pursuits and disguises as a way of working through childhood trauma. It's not about jerking off, it's about breaking through.

Well, that's the theory, at least. But the last few years of batplay, either solo or with my partner, haven't usually been as transcendent as I'd have liked. More often than not, I felt like I'd hit a dead end, like I was just going through the motions. The storylines I'd created in solo play had become so complicated and so layered that they just didn't go anywhere meaningful anymore. There's only so far you can lead yourself when a path leads entirely through your own imagination. Moreover, my opportunities to suit up in private have been more and more limited in recent years for various real-world reasons, and I've learned the hard way that there's no point in trying when I'm tired or in the wrong mood. Meanwhile, batplay with the Hub, while rewarding in its own way, has never been primarily about the quest for transcendence, because the saga doesn't carry the same emotional weight for him as it does for me. For him, it's a little light kink every now and then, which probably reminds him of Adam West's campy tv show and little more. That's not a complaint at all; there are plenty of other interests and experiences we don't share, too, and we're both fine with that. Duo batplay really is more about having fun, and if I learn things in the process--which I often have, like about how to communicate my sexual desires to my partner, or how to share my most private fantasies with him--then all the better.

The dead end came to an end a month and a half ago when, through one of those accidents that feels more purposeful in retrospect, I decided to install Yahoo Messenger on my computer and chat with a few fellow batfans, as I wrote here in early August. I'm still as unimpressed with the chat mode as ever (probably because so much of the dialogue it encourages really is just "chat"--i.e., idle blather that I wouldn't want to engage in offline, either). But the best thing to come of it by far has been my encounters with The Monk.

I'm nicknaming this guy The Monk out of respect for his anonymity (and as you'll soon see, I don't have much more to call him at this point beyond another pseudonym anyway). I've picked "The Monk" as a name for two reasons: first, because that's the name of one of Batman's earliest and most dangerous adversaries in the comics. The first story in the excellent 1988 DC compilation The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told recounts their one and (I think) only adventure, from a 1939 two-parter (back in those pre-Comics Code days when Batman packed heat, as the final page reveals). The opening tease reads: "The Batman--weird menace to all crime--at last meets an opponent worthy of his mettle. A strange creature, cowled like a monk, but possessing the powers of a Satan! A man whose powers are uncanny, whose brain is the product of years of intense study and seclusion!" The comic-book Monk's abilities are mighty indeed, twice nearly killing our hero and seizing control of his brain.

And that description is fairly accurate for my Monk, too. (You want the second reason for that particular pseudonym? All things in time...) Our earliest online encounters were fairly routine--if still hot--roleplaying scenarios, text-only and full of the stuff of every batperv's fantasies: he'd lure me to his hideout, overpower me, trap me, threaten to unmask me, yadda yadda yadda. One of the biggest limitations of textplay is that when I get into it, I tend to forget and then violate various fictional groundrules (can't hit somebody because my arm is shackled, that sort of thing), which of course works for me but not for my storytelling collaborator. Aside from a rather complicated three-parter, these nightly bouts were self-contained (if I got unmasked one night, we'd start from scratch the next night, the slate magically cleared).

After I'd developed a certain trust for The Monk, and an equal respect for his imagination (finally! somebody who played the game well enough that I didn't have to do all the work!), we added photos, then the phone, and finally a webcam to our sessions. And for the first time, a stranger saw my unmasked face. For real (though that word "real" is rather slippery, as we shall see...) My one stipulation was that once The Monk knew what I really look like beneath the disguise, we could never again pretend that he didn't.

And that's when things started to get really, really interesting.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Hero? Villain? Your call

I have the new Yahoo group DCComicsM4M to thank for first telling me about the guy dressed as Batman who scaled the ledge of Buckingham Palace during a protest. Since then, of course, the story has been everywhere, including a funny segment at the top of The Daily Show (Jon Stewart acknowledged the guy was probably crazy, but gave him props for resurrecting the Old School Adam West outfit instead of the more fashionable Kilmer/Keaton/Clooney variation).

I keep wondering if this is the same guy who dresed up as Spider-Man earlier in the summer as part of a similar-sounding U.K. campaign for fathers' rights to see their children, which I found out about through a segment on NPR that I don't have the energy to track down right now.

On a related note, THE BEAT has been tracking sightings of superheroes (or at least men dressed like them) doing villainous things for quite a while, in an amusing running tally. Oh, and I just checked for the first time in a while, and they not only have a piece on the Buckingham Palace story but confirm its connection to the Spider-Man incident.

What a wondrous world we live in, with costumed vigilantes flooding in from all directions. At last!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Madam, I'm Adam

Holy, makeover, Batman! I hadn't checked out The Official Adam West Web Site in ages--at least a year--so when a new Yahoo Group alerted me to it, I thought I'd pay a visit. (To be honest, the message subject line--"Adam West lives"--made me think that maybe he didn't any more... I mean, he's not exactly the youngest crimefighter on the block these days... but fortunately he seems to still be fit as a fiddle.)

Talk about your major site improvements: in addition to a design overhaul, there are now enough photos to keep you busy for ages (oh, if only I'd been able to lay my hands on some of these when I was a young closeted batfetishist) and the promise of more to come, plus news clippings, trivia games, and (of course) stuff to buy.

I see Adam is now referred to as "Classic Batman," which reminds me of "Classic Coke" for some reason. But hey, he'll always be a classic in my book, right alongside Homer and Ovid.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


At last--someone has made a batfanflick to rival THE DEATH OF BATMAN in terms of darkness, violence, and all that good stuff. Leave it to the French to turn the Very Dark Knight's saga into an NC-17 (or so) leap into the existential abyss. OSCILLATIONS features all the jump cuts, weird sci-fi gadgetry, and ultra-heavy dialogue that Americans love to giggle at in French experimental film, along with a really interesting costume variation for our hero (the familiar mask plus trenchcoat, sometimes business attire), awkward subtitles, and plenty o' gore and bat-on-cat action. The climactic torture scene is so hot that I wish it had gone on way longer, but I'll take what I can get.

To be honest, I wanted to like this more than I really did, but it's still well worth checking out. (ADULTS ONLY--but then, if you're a kid, you really shouldn't be checking out my blog, either.) Many thanks to the folks at Batman Fan Films for spreading the word about it.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Going public (Sort of)

A quick glance at my site-visitor-tracking-doodad a couple of days ago told me that my slashblog (how's that for neologisms?) "Beginnings" was suddenly getting a whole lot of new visitors courtesy of this entry in a vanilla comics blog. (Hmmm, "slashblog" is catchy, but I need to come up with something better than "vanilla comics blog" to describe the latter... "vanilla" and "slash" don't make very good opposites. Any suggestions, anybody?)

I'm not really sure why "those with weak stomachs" are advised not to check out my tale; that phrase makes me think of violence rather than the unconsummated lust and sublimated bondage fantasy that our heroes have been facing so far. Hmmmmm...

Anyway, if you're one of the people who has found his or her way here through "The Beat: The News Blog of Comics Culture," then welcome. As you've probably figured out by now, I write from a fairly particular point of view for a fairly particular audience, and if your stomach is, uh, strong enough, please keep checking back. Drop me a line, whether you're straight or gay, boy or girl, or anything in between any of the above.

On the other hand, if you're a regular reader of THIS blog and haven't yet checked out "The Beat," I encourage you to give it a look if you love comics. I'm really happy to have discovered it myself: the writing is excellent, and it's packed with info.

As for our boys in tights over at "Beginnings," I do believe the newly active Robin is about to find a new and unintended audience of his own, too. Let's just hope he's not getting in over his head...

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

That's "Incredible"

It takes an annoyingly long time to load on my computer, but " The Official Movie Website of The Incredibles" bodes well for the film. I might be even happier if Craig T. Nelson and Jason Lee were live-action heroes in those suits since I find both of them incredible-ly hot, but I'll take their voices if that's all I get. (There was talk of Lee playing the Green Hornet for a while, and I do believe I would have had trouble sitting still in the theater if that had come to pass. As for Nelson, he's been floating my bat-boat ever since the first Poltergeist.) Allow me to report that Mr. Incredible's outfit is damn near perfect, and there's a tiny clip of him suiting up that rivals the beginnings of the Schumacher Bat-movies for fetishy fun.

The "countdown to opening" clock on the site tells me that (as of this very second) there are 64 days, 11 hours, 30 minutes, and 33 seconds--no, 32--no, 31--till the movie opens. Can't wait.

Are we allowed to lust after the animated stars of a kid movie? Hell, I've been doing a variation on that my entire life, so why stop now?

Friday, August 20, 2004

Everybody in the pool

Ah, the Olympics: Day after day of guys in those tights-like swimsuits, splashing away... Actually I see fewer full-body suits this time around than I was expecting, and a disturbing number of the men wearing them are just plain weird-looking, aside from the fetishy qualities of their apparel.

The Hub is a former swimmer, so he's paying more attention to the actual sport than the outfits. Me, I lose interest once the athletes hit the water. That's why I'm typing this very entry instead of watching the latest exploits of "the Thorpedo" and ... uh, those other guys.

The joys of being a truly shallow person: if you ask me, clothes really do make the man, and I like these clothes A LOT.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Bat vibes

Never mind why, but the Hub and I found ourselves in a theme park outside Gotham City last week. The only "attraction" either of us was particularly interested in was called something like "Batman: The Adventure". We'd seen a very hot Batman at a party several years ago and learned that his suit came from this same attraction, so we wanted to see it in action, ideally hugging the skin of some athletic stud.

The exterior set was appealing--an amalgam of Gotham and the Joker's hideout--but the actual show (which is simply a "show," and not a ride of any kind, which was fine by me) took place on an indoor stage, big enough to accomodate a cast of 10 or 15 plus several motorcycles. And flame-throwing devices.

Motorcycles and fire: that was pretty much the whole show. Bad guys on cycles shooting fire, Batman on his cycle shooting more fire. Back to the bad guys. Back to Batman. The main bad guy turned out to be the Joker (wearing a rubber Joker mask), and he, too, employed the m/f combo. (On second thought, he had no motorcycle--more like a customized dune buggy.) All the dialogue was prerecorded--a wise choice, since it's performed 3 times a day for months on end, and you don't want your cast (mostly athletes rather than actors) losing their minds, particularly not when wielding flame-throwers. The entire thing was over in just over 15 minutes. No deathtraps, no threatened unmaskings, no kinky bondage to warp the psyches of the pre-teen audience for life, nothing but motorcycles and fire. Even the batsuit was a letdown: sort of like one of those grade-Z Halloween outfits; nothing like the sexy one we'd seen at the party.

In short, a real bat-bummer. Nice gift shop, though--and in this world of branded "experiences" and synchronistic "attractions," is't that what's it all really about?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Barney Rocks!

I've noticed a few folks arriving at this here blog by way of another one, namely (, so I've been checking it out off and on. Dorian's writing is really sharp and funny, particularly in this entry from August 6, 2004 on "the gayest comic of all time." Hilarious, and I now know that I really, really need a copy of the aptly named Sensation Comics #1.

Added bonus: Dorian shares my hots for the character Wildcat (or at least I think he does), and provides a very juicy, very shirtless photo of Jason Statham to make his case for the Transporter star to play the role on film. Now if only someone would make a film adaptation of one of the two Batman-forced-to-fight-Wildcat-or-else comics in my collection...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Local Afternoon In (okay, so it's a little forced...)

Didn't quite make it to any National Night Out events tonight after all, though I did visit my local police station to pay a parking ticket earlier in the day. I find myself paying these in person whenever possible, since I figure I ought to get a little something in return for my 10-40 bucks, specifically a few extended glimpses at some men in uniform. Mission accomplished today, only the sights were fairly limited and there was a great deal of standing around in a depressingly dank and cramped hallway waiting for the overworked (female) dispatcher to handle half a dozen other calls and walk-ins before me. Not very sexy at all. I felt like I was on the set of the quintessential episode of Cops, complete with distraught white-trash father complaining about his daughter coming home last night high as a kite. "I understand, sir, but what do you want us to do about it?" the dispatcher kept saying. The dad could never quite manage an answer to that question, and I didn't stick around long enough to suggest one myself.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Picture This

Fewer messages here lately because my posting time has been occupied with the BEGINNINGS saga--the 50th chapter of which will be posted shortly--and some improvements to the links pages of my main site. And, for the first time in about 10 years, I've been bitten by the IM bug.

I've always hated this particular technological innovation--the ability to be interrupted by complete strangers when I'm busy (I was one of the first people to sign up for the Do Not Call Registry)--and I really, truly do not enjoy communicating with people I don't know by means of little text messages back and forth....

Except, it has dawned on me of late, as a means of conducting bat-business with fellow travelers. There are limits to the torments I can inflict upon myself, and even batplay with the Hub has its limitations, simply because it doesn't carry the same soul-baring weight for him that it does for me. But the realm of shared storytelling with masked villains, that's a whole nother ballgame. (Obligatory proviso: I ain't lookin' for no real-life encounters. Perfectly happy on that front. Not even really looking for new villains--got my hands full with a couple already, who shall remain nameless. But if you think you've got what it takes to take me down, drop me a line and see if you pass muster.)

From time to time I get e-mails and IMs from strangers complimenting me on the single photo of my batsuit currently floating around online. (I envision a new page of self-portaits on the SECRET ROOM site, but haven't done much to make it happe yet.) It feels weird, mostly good but still weird, to be told I look hot, because in my Bruce Wayne existence, that doesn't usually happen except when the Hub says it. (Maybe it would if I were listening closer, but I had many years' experience shutting that side of me down.) I realize the positive comments come from fellow fetishists who are probably focussing more on the suit than the man inside it, but that doesn't bother me at all--I mean, I do the same, after all, with both cops and batmen. (Speaking of the former, here's another reminder that National Night Out is Tuesday, Aug 3. Get out there and get friendly with your neighborhood boys in blue!) (Then send me the pix!)

As I think I've often written here before, on some level my masked face is the real one. Unmask me and I look like anybody else. But by putting on a disguise, I become the man I really am: which is to say, the man of my dreams. The self I keep hidden from the rest of the world. And it feels ... okay, nice to have that self strike a chord in other men with similar dreams.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


There's yet another offering atthe Batman Fan Films site: the new one is called GRAYSON and it's a trailer for a film which evidently may never be made, about the further adventures of the title character after the death of his mentor. Man, if I had the bucks, I'd pass them on to director John Fiorella immediately. This thing looks great, has a stellar line up of comic book heroes and villains, and the writer/director/star is a total dreamboat. (We see him bearded, clean-shaven, in Robin attire, shirtless, chained up, you name it.) Plus there's a mighty hot older-man Superman, and ... ah, just go see it for yourself.

As in my BEGINNINGS story, Dick Grayson is not a kid but a full-grown adult. Surprisingly, the Robin suit doesn't look silly on him, even though it's so clearly the attire of a youngun.

Once again, I long for a world where GRAYSON would be hitting my local multiplex instead of the DAREDEVIL/PUNISHER/BATMAN film du jour.

Fresh Air in a tight space

As I was writing the previous entry (re 6 Feet Under), I was listening to today's episode of the NPR show Fresh Air, an interview with a military interrogator and a journalist re methods used to extract information from prisoners in Afghanistan, along with some comments on the Iraqi prison scandal.

Despite what I just wrote about the distinction between bat-play and daily life, I found the radio discussion fascinating for the light it sheds not only on real-life prison methods, but (inadvertently) on the kinds of psychological games that can enter sex play. Check it out, if you're so inclined.

That's My Shark

I'm still reeling from this week's episode of Six Feet Under (#44, "That's My Dog"). TV shows don't usually hit me on this visceral a level, but I felt physically ill watching the uninterrupted/relentless second half hour. (Can't see how to continue without a few possible SPOILERS, so show fans who haven't seen the ep yet, beware.) I was even afraid to go to sleep because of potential nightmares.

That doesn't mean I loved the episode at all: far from it. My hubby/SO/whatever left the room in outrage, and I came close to turning the channel myself. (That used to happen all the time when we watched the horrendously written and performed QUEER AS FOLK, but never during 6FU before.) The show's plunge into soap operadom has been building for the last couple of seasons, and there have been many complaints from critics about the decline in the current season, but the previous episode (#43) was one of the best ever (if I may use that phrase without sounding like The Comic Book Store Guy from another Sunday show). I particularly appreciate the way the writers have handled the kink/BDSM element with Brenda's new boyfriend, for instance -- which has so far been respectful while still maintaining a healthy sense of humor.

But this business with David and the sociopath went way too far. My hub's theory is that I reacted so severely both because the episode was intense, AND because it was so badly done. Hub (how 'bout I call him that for a while?), a LEO not unlike David's on-again/off-again partner Keith, couldn't believe David never fought back, that he walked into the whole situation like a fool, and so on.

I didn't really have a problem with David's behavior, because I could see myself doing many of the same things he did (assuming I was naive enough to pick up a hitchhiker in LA in the first place, which is a miiiiiiighty big suspension of disbelief). No, that was where the sinking feeling in my stomach came from: I could identify all too easily with his reactions.

And that (in case you're wondering what this rant has to do with batsex) is where my superhero fantasies differ sharply from my Bruce Wayne existence. When I'm playing Batman, I may choose to walk into a trap, but I do so with the understanding that I have the training, the focus, and the equipment to free myself (and the knowledge that it's all make-believe, of course). In "real life," I don't have any of that, and so things that might make me hard in a play scenario would simply scare the shit out of me if they ever really happened to me.

The 6FU encounter included bondage, gunplay, physical abuse, and psychological terrorism, each of which I've employed in bat-scenes in the past at one time or another, but I couldn't get off on any of it in this context. It's like my problem with the show Oz: it looks so much like a porn video I might jerk off to, but it's placed in a different, more realistic world (well, if you consider the hellhole prison of the title to be realistic, and I simply don't) where there's nothing sexy at all about forced rape, torture, murder, and the other horrors onscreen.

While I recognized the quality of writing and performing in Oz (and found some of the actors, like Chris Meloni, absolutely fuckalicious), I didn't stick with the series past one full episode. It was just too dark too much of the time. I know I'll give 6FU another chance, maybe two, but I can't help thinking the program has, yes, jumped the shark.

[Any of youse got any opinons on the matter? Post 'em in the comments below...]

Monday, July 19, 2004

Our little Boy Wonder, all growed up

Just watched the new fan film Nightwing: A Knight in Bludhaven. The acting isn't very good, the effects are unconvincing ... but damn, you get to watch a cute guy in a skintight outfit getting captured and bound (twice!), soaking wet, and in various other states of sexy disrepair. Plus, there are a couple of cameos by a hunky/chunky Batman himself.

Elsewhere in fandomland, cleverly named "Project Blue Tights" (even the URL is hot: seems to be the Superman-fan equivalent of the invaluable BatmanFanFilms site. Both will lead you to a page on an upcoming project, Batman: Madness. From the trailer, we intuit that Batman falls under the spell of Poison Ivy, then fights both Nightwing and Superman. Chains are involved, along with some tantalizing groping of the batsuit. Can't wait!

So this is what happens when fellow grownups pursue their interest in comic book characters and storylines. God, if only TV was like this every day of the week, I'd never leave the house.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Wild in the Streets

Look hard and you just might spot me at the Folsom Fair North this weekend. Actually, you probably won't spot me, since you don't know what I look like in my Bruce Wayne guise (and as a good masked vigilante I intend to keep it that way), but I'll be there, booted and gloved, scoping out leather fun in the streets. Will you?

Kind of an odd concept, this notion of taking an institution so totally identified with one city (San Fran, of course) and recreating it in another (Toronto). Then again, that's what Mardi Gras is all about, isn't it?

Seems my partner and I have become gay tourists. Yes, it's true: for all my railing against the commodification of queer culture, I do enjoy a good road trip, rainbow-themed or otherwise. For the last several summers we've been travelling to various cities far and wide to check out how they celebrate Gay(/Les/Bi/Trans/Leather/Bear/etc) Pride--including Atlanta, NYC, San Francisco, Toronto, and New Orleans, and a handful of smaller towns. (Ah, Southern Decadence--how we miss your sticky, blow-job-in-the-streets-y glory days of old, before the fundamentalist crazies forced you to clean up your act.)

If I were smart, I'd turn out this field investigation into some sort of book, or at least an article. I could talk about the unique characteristics of each city's festivities (obnoxious SuperSoaker squirt guns in Toronto, drunken rowdies in SF, unbridled corporate sponsorship in Atlanta, etc). Instead, I just walk around taking pictures of straight cops for my own personal amusement. To each his own, I suppose.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Higher Ground

The conditions were finally right for a nice round of solo batplay this past weekend--my first truly fulfilling one in months. Through much practice, I learned that I have to be...
•wide awake
•in good health
•completely relaxed
•not up against some kind of real-world time restraints
and, last but not least, I need to do something to jostle me out of my rational brain a bit. If all the other conditions have met, this one may not be necessary, but I've found that it helps to ingest one of several mind-altering substances (often even a candy placebo will do--I just set up a scenario in which Batman is drugged, and take it from there). Tried a little codeine this time (very little since I'm kind of scared of this sort of thing, though the recipe on the site I've just given you looks intriguing). The response was very mild, but that's all it takes--my imagination can do the rest.

I like to set the scene with different kinds of music or other sound in different rooms of the house--perhaps some electronic dance stuff in one room, industrial noise in another, and a radio station in a third. (I vary the lighting in each space, too.) One of my favorite radio broadcasts to use during these middle-of-the-night sessions is the latest incarnation of conspiracy theorist/black ops tracker Art Bell's long-running show, currently called Coast to Coast. (Art is only a guest host these days.)

On this particular night, the guest was Daniel Pinchback, author of a new book called Breaking Open the Head, a study of the role of psychedelics in the shamanistic traditions of various religions around the world. While many of Bell's guests strike me as wacky if not outright scary cases, Pinchback made an awful lot of sense--I suspect he's investigating some of the same things I am, only via drugs instead of costumed play. It's clear that he's not just trying to get high or escape reality; he wants to reach an alternate reality. I know, I know: very 60s. But everything that goes around comes around, and maybe it's time to revisit that impossible dream for a new day and time. I haven't tracked down the book yet, but I plan to. (I'd also like to spend more time checking out a site he recommends, "The Vaults of Erowid," a remarkably detailed guide to psychoactive drugs of all sorts.)

For the last two or three years, the line between the sexual dimensions of my nocturnal activities and the spiritual dimensions has been very thin indeed. I'm interested in hearing from other batmen (and women) out there who are exploring similar territory in their own way, so drop me a line or comment below if you have stories or techniques to share.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Bats in the news

Two amusing bat-links I owe to Teresa at the always-delightful In Sequence:

1) This item about artist Mark Newport's embroidered superhero costumes, including a lovely acrylic batsuit.

2) This picture of Bush and cabinet dressed as Batman's archenemies.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Does whatever a spider can...

I'm still surprised how let down I feel about the new SPIDER-MAN movie. The trailers and stills I'd seen certainly whetted my appetite, to put it mildly: images of our hero in the clutches of Doc Ock, chained up, about to be unmasked, his outfit torn so badly there was barely anything left of it. (Stop me now before I shoot my spidey-webs on the keyboard!)

That's all there, and I'm sure the folks at the GaySpidermanFans Yahoo group will be posting plenty of pix in the weeks to come. But the movie itself was a tremendous disappointment: awful (yet not convincingly campy) dialogue, sloppy direction, one cliché after another. The first film still feels like one of the best comic-book movies thus far, even though I found most of the Peter-and-Mary-Jane business in that one really tedious. I've never been a fan of origin stories in any case, so I was really looking forward to the second installment, when we'd all be free to dive into interactions with villains without much set-up. (I think I developed my boredom with origins from the "Batman" tv show, in which we're plunged straight into the action from the very first episode--which, by the way, is also the only one in which Bruce Wayne's murdered parents and his subsequent vow to avenge them ever comes up, as far as I can remember. Who really cares WHY these hot guys suit up to do their business? Let's just see them in those outfits... and those deathtraps!)

No such luck with SPIDER-MAN 2. (Only minor spoilers in the rest of this paragraph.) First we have to deal with learning how the new bad guy comes into being, then Peter has to lose his powers and re-invent himself, which means MORE scenes of him training himself, blah blah blah. And that fucking Mary Jane! They're apart, they're together, they're apart, they're together, and so on and so on and SO on. Gimme a break. Leave the chick at home and go get yourself into the clutches of some supervillain bent on your destruction, Spidey hon. THAT's what we're paying the big bucks to see. Plus, by the end of the film--following a trend established by the BATMAN movies-- everyone and his brother knows who's under that mask.

A friend of mine said, "Come on, it's a comic book movie!" Pre-cisely. Comic books, for me--an old-school DC-er by birthright--are about the larger-than-life (and hotter-than-vanilla) interactions of heroes and villains fated to lock horns for years and years, not the mundane concerns of everyday people. If I wanted the latter, I'd watch "The O.C." This whole trend toward paying more attention to the Bruce Wayne side of a character than the Bat-self (see "Smallville," "Lois and Clark," "Daredevil," and, I fear, the forthcoming "Batman Begins") is for the birds, if you ask me. The problem with S-M 2 (oh, if only those initials were more descriptive of the actual film) is that it's NOT a comic-book movie at all, it's a fucking soap opera.


Okay, now if you've been keeping up with my OWN version of an origin story in the "Beginnings" serial/blog, you may be thinking to yourself, what's HE going on about? That thing is about as soap-opera as you can get without a cameo from Susan Lucci!

And maybe I am guilty as charged, after all. But all the Dick Grayson stuff early on is there for a reason. I'm really trying to retell a story we all know by heart, from scratch, with some serious revisions. I freely admit I'm fucking with some essential parts of the legend--all because I've been thinking about what conditions might lead to the appearance of a Batman in the, er, "real" world we all inhabit. ("We" being people -- like you, I assume -- who harbor fetishes about characters most everyone else discards after adolescence.) At the same time, I want to make it as sexy as the comic-book fantasies that have always gotten me hard. As of chapter 20 or so, I should have most of the basic framework laid out, and I have some major nastiness planned for our heroes, believe me.

But I'm eager to find out whether anyone cares. I've gotten a couple of encouraging and/or encouragingly horny e-mails so far, but I really want feedback--either via e-mail or the comments option below. I love plotting and writing "Beginnings" so much right now that I'll probably keep going for my own amusement/arousal for the next few weeks at least, but your response would be a great incentive to continue after that. So spill your guts -- or any gushy fluid of your choice.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Not-So-Dark Knight

Things are calming down a bit in my Bruce Wayne life for at least a couple of weeks, so I spent a lot of time last night updating the "Cop-Links" section of my SECRET ROOM site.

In the process, I remembered that National Night Out! is coming up again--it's the first Tuesday of August every year--so I'll put in a plug for it now, a mere month in advance while it's fresh on my mind. Events vary from city to city, but there's a good chance you can tour your local precinct house or, at the very least, get up close and personal with your favorite local boys in blue.

I'm starting to suspect the cops are onto us; check out the new NNO mascot, the "Night Out Knight," on their site. Not since the glory days of Joe Camel has a cartoon character looked so much like a walking phallus. (Either that, or his cleft chin is a plump pair of buttocks.) Turns out you can order your own version of the costume--perfect for the next Theme Night down at the Eagle!

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Another openin', another show...

Just learned about a new animated Batman series coming to the WB. Could be good, could be bad. I certainly agree with the general consensus that the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini animated series was the best translation/adaptation yet of the Caped Crusader, capable of entertaining kids and grownups alike without the (lovely) campiness of the 1966 series. Its second incarnation, with Robin along for the ride, was a little more kiddie-fied, and I never quite got into "Batman Beyond" (though both of those later series had their deathtrap moments now and then). I admit to watching the current "Justice League" once in a blue moon, and the few times I've caught "Teen Titans," I've enjoyed it--mostly for the Shonen Knife theme song and the cool anime-style graphic design. So I'm up for a new series, even if I have my doubts. (FYI, I also learned tonight that a 4-disc DVD of the aforementioned Timm/Dini version is coming out soon, apparently with a few bonus features.)

Speaking of animation, my latest passion is the (vaguely) superhero-themed series that are part of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, namely "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law" and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." The "heroes" of the latter are a milkshake, a bag of french fries, and a wad of meat from a hamburger (whose "superpower" is the ability to turn himself into an igloo and a hot dog; nothing else, just an igloo and a hot dog). I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that BirdMan and Space Ghost caused a stirring in my pubescent loins when they were first on the air in the (correct me if I'm wrong here) early 70s, so it's weird to see them turned into the stuff of stoner comedy three decades later. All these series remind me, in a weird way, of what DC's Vertigo line does with third-rate comic book heroes of my youth, throwing out everything but the name and using the character as a post-modern meditation on the non-heroic details of everyday life.

Oops, is that too highfalutin' for ya? Look, they're just fucking funny.