Thursday, February 17, 2005

I surrender

No, for a change I'm not referring to my struggle against the Monk (face it, I lost that one months ago), but to another vexing problem. When I started "Beginnings," my ongoing batslash story in blog form, I planned to write each entry in the voice of one of the characters. But over a hundred chapters in, I'm realizing that sometimes it's just too hard to convey certain things in that way--particularly actions that are only experienced by one or two characters, and followed immediately by other actions too quickly for one of them to race home and write about what's just happened. So beginning with chapter 115, I'm loosening up my self-imposed rules a little and allowing myself to introduce an omniscient narrator from time to time. Fear not; I'm not abandoning the first-person approach for good, just resorting to third-person when it makes things easier on me. Which means there can be a lot more of those deathtraps and unmaskings and other things I know you crave.

So everybody wins!

Hey Bulldog

I'd heard the sordid tale of "Jeff Gannon," the Republican shill who doubled as a gay escort, on the radio, but when I saw the Daily Show footage of him earlier tonight, I realized I had to hightail it to the internet to see some of his naked pictures. (They're here by the way, along with a detailed chronology of his saga. And given the lightning speed at which news travels these days, should anyone really be surprised that there's already a parody of the whole thing?)

Believe me, I'm no big fan of Log Cabin types,so I truly hate to admit it, but I still find this deluded soul to be pretty hot. Deep down, my biggest beef is not that he was allowed to waltz into a press conference and kiss Bush's ass, but that he's clearly shaved his chest.

Now, that's self-hating!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Knightfall 14: When the Rat's Away...

I was out of town for a few days recently. Before I left, I figured the trip might give me a little break from this whole Ratman-and-Monk saga. To my surprise, though, I found I had trouble thinking about anything else. (I've noticed that the Monk's hold on me is greatest when I'm not actually in his presence. The real thing--or the pretend-real-thing--can be too hard to take sometimes; it's easier to have a relationship with my projected version of him. Sort of like most people's relationship to a higher power, when you think about it.) In an aiport bookstore I came across a slightly sleazy looking paperback called Cannibal: The True Story Behind the Maneater of Rotenburg by Lois Jones, about a German man who literally and willingly offered his body to another man he'd found through the internet. The two men evidently got together, and ... well, here's part of the back-cover blurb:

"Bernd Juergen Brandes ... arrived at Meiwes's isolated country home literally to be eaten alive. Escorted to the 'slaughtering room'--equipped with meat hooks, a cage, and a butcher's table--Meiwes assisted Bern in a gourmet candlelight dinner of his own cooked flesh..." (Hey, I toldja it was a sleazy book.)

Now, I should say RIGHT HERE AND NOW that I am NOT into cannibalism, so please do NOT invite me to your home if you intend to serve me to myself. No, the one thing that intrigued me about the scenario (as you can guess, I ended up buying the book, but I haven't picked it up since) was this notion of one man knowingly submitting himself to another with such thoroughness--heading off somewhere to let the other man have his way with him. And that planted in my head a fantasy: the Monk summoning me to his home for some extended period of time. Early on, and again a few months ago, he asked if I was interested in getting together offline, and I said no. Well, sure, I'm interested, to put it mildly, but that would clearly be crossing a line in my real life relationship that I"m not willing to cross. (As hot as this complicated, multi-character online saga may be, I refuse to sacrifice my real-life happiness, or to hurt the Hub. I do worry sometimes that I've already compromised that pledge, but my instincts tell me that's not the case.)

I couldn't get the idea of a face-to-face encounter out of my mind for the entire trip (which was sort of boring, which probably explains why I kept obsessing on this far more interesting scenario). So I came home and proposed to M that I write the fantasy in story form and post it on the "Perils of Batman" Yahoo group, where I used to post bat-stories several years ago. It works like this: I told him the initial premise ("show up at this address in your street clothes; pack your ratsuit and nothing else"), then he gave me the outline for what would happen when I arrived at the compound. As each of seven days proceeds, he will dictate the action and I will write the text, adding in my reactions to whatever torments and treats he throws my way. (The process will surely take far longer than a week to unfold, so I hope nobody's impatient. Given the response so far, I don't think I have anything to worry about.)

There is, as usual, more to be said about all of this, but--as usual--I have too many other things to do at the moment (damn that daylight world!), so they'll just have to wait. Meanwhile, please check out the story and let me know what you think about it.

And, remember, NO flesh-eating, boys and girls. It's only a movie... it's only a movie...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Play ball

Never been a Superbowl fan (much as I enjoy the sight of muscular men in tight-fitting synthetic fibers grappling with each other), but I did happen to catch the new ad for Batman Begins, which provides the biggest glimpse yet of what awaits us in the spring. That tantalizing glimpse inspired me to revisit the official website, which has been beefed up significantly. The Superbowl spot is there, along with more video, pictures, interviews, and the promise of still more goodies in the future.

I really don't want to sound like a comic book and/or movie geek (let alone a comic-book-movie geek), but I'm a little nervous about the thought of the Scarecrow being the villain here. As with Bane (who made a way-premature appearance in the miserable new WB animated series), this is a character who forces the hero to re-examine his very existence, and you really can't do too much of that if you've only had your existence for a short time.

I'm pretty much convinced that movies aren't the best vehicle for comic book stories, unless Hollywood suddenly starts making Saturday afternoon serials again. I've said it a thousand times: comic book myths are ongoing, they rely on an audience's sustained awareness of a group of characters over a long period of time. Movies are all about compressed storytelling: they have to fit everything from the introduction of the protagonist and antagonist to their first confrontation to their climactic showdown to the resolution of that encounter into two hours. (Notable exceptions being multi-part sagas like The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and long-running franchises like the James Bond series, though that one has seldom made much creative use of its longevity/hyperfamiliarity.) Somebody like the Scarecrow or Ra's Al Ghul (who I think is also in the new film) is intended to shake up the familiar routine of the narrative and shake the hero to his core, but that can't really happen very effectively if the audience and the hero are still learning the lay of the land. (To use an example from my own myth: If I'd met the Monk ten years ago, my encounters with him wouldn't hold anywhere near the force for me that they do at this point. If you're going to lose everything, then "everything" has to mean something first.)

End of sermon for now. On a related note, since we're talking geek now, am I right that the post-Superbowl Simpsons episode was the first time we've ever learned the real name of Comic Book Store Guy? (As you can imagine, I sometimes think he is my totem character on the show, unfortunately.)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Knightfall 13: Take It to the Limit, One More Time

One major thrill of my ever-evolving online relationship with the Monk comes from discovering just how far I'm willing to go in my interactions with him and still observe my real-life boundaries. There were two moments in my last few conversations with him that showed me I still have my limits.

Did I just refer to these roleplaying scenarios as "conversations"? Bad choice of words, since it implies we are equals, and that is completely not the case any longer. No, he's the Master and I'm his humble(d) servant. Anyway, one recent e-mail exchange happened shortly after I'd come home from a miserable day at work, and M's treatment of me resembled my boss's conversational/confrontational style a bit too closely to be in any way erotic. I think I've written here before that I'm intrigued by the parallel, but in this case it just felt like a joke that wasn't funny anymore.

A few days later, during a phone call, he ordered me to "paint" for him--ie, to produce a certain milky white fluid on demand--and to collect it in a container. (I selected one taken from the utility belt I'm no longer allowed to wear, as a reminder of his power over me.) Once I was done, he told me to drink it. Every last drop. On camera.

Something about this instruction backfired; it pushed me out of the fantasy and I just couldn't follow through. (I've never been a swallower.) I took two fingerfulls, which were unpleasant enough, but the thought of pouring the whole mass down my throat disgusted me, and--uncharacteristically--I refused. In both of these cases, something just snapped me right out of the whole Ratman saga and back to another level of reality a few yards to the right of where I'd just been playing.

I should point out that there was another part of the same call that took me by surprise and that I found quite hot: the Monk demanded that I sing while I was painting. I don't know how or if he knew how primally humiliating this particular request would be for me. Much as I love music, I can't sing, I hate the sound of my attempts to do so, and it's a major, major fear of mine to have to sing in public. (In church as a kid, I'd mouth the words to the hymns, or mumble my way through them, and ever since then I've hated those mandatory singalongs so prevalent at certain kinds of concerts.) Even so, I followed orders, and was deeply embarrassed and ashamed by the feelings evoked (in a good way, if there is such a thing). Turns out it's impossible for me to pretend to be a superhero when I'm groaning out the words to a pop song--and thus I was knocked down yet another rung.

So I continue to learn more and more about myself, the self under all the masks: the things I'll do, the things I won't. And that knowledge is what this is all about, isn't it?