Just noticed that both this blog and my "Beginnings" story now have a little "Flag?" button in their navigation bars. According to this page from Blogger central, it looks like that means I'm sort of on Double Secret Probation. Apparently if several people complain now (if they click on the flag, in other words), then the sites won't (necessarily) be removed, they'll just be made private instead of public. (FYI, if they do ever disappear, head to my main site, which has a different host and should theoretically be able to stick around--though even its days may well be numbered.)
Nice guy that I am, I hate to think that people would take offense at this very personal project of mine, which is so NOT about porn in the conventional sense--but then again, I acknowledge it's not appropriate for everyone. It was never intended to be--I want to reach a relatively small number of like-minded fellow travellers--but I'd like to be able to reach the ones I don't already know, not just the handful I do.
Here I must put in another plug for the notion that maybe our culture shouldn't spend so much time child-proofing the known universe--that maybe we need a little genuinely "adult" subject matter every now and then (and a workable way to screen out the wee ones). As I never tire of saying, if something like the internet had existed when I was an adolescent to let me know that there were other people in the world turned on by something other than pretty people of the opposite sex, I bet I could have spared myself a couple decades of self-loathing.
Put it this way: if we gear everything to the under-5, then we end up with... a country whose leaders think like children, too. But I digress.
Given my interest in anonymity, I was pretty interested to find out about PostSecret, a site that allows people to divulge any long-held secret they want. It works like this: you create a postcard and include whatever message you want to convey, then snailmail it to the webmaster. (Must make for some fun at the post office.) Most of the cards on the site are terrific mini-artworks in themselves. Some of the confessions are funny ("I always pee in hot tubs"), others are much darker ("My dad used to beat me and call it spanking"). I keep hoping for a secret involving costumes or comics, but nothing yet.
Then again, maybe I"ll just send one in myself. Or maybe you will. Whattaya say?
(The current cover is a lot more enticing, but I don't have an image of it. Trust me.)
For the record, the all-time best catalog is still Gall's (and I have links to others on my site), but U. S. Cavalry is pretty hot. I doubt I'll ever have the nerve (or disposable income) to purchase most of the best goodies from any of them, but it's fun to browse them all the same. Unlike the comics, however, there's a real-world dimension to this stuff that is of course disturbing, both conceptually (actual people buy and use these things in very dangerous situations) and politically (lots o' War on Terror ideology; check out the essay on "Fourth Epoch War," for instance).
But hey, by now I'm pretty comfortable with that level of discomfort. How 'bout you? Do your politics and your passions ever intersect? How do you handle it when they do?
I used to think I was over the top in terms of Adult Superhero Fixation. Then I came across this car in a parking lot today:
My photos don't really do it justice. You can't see the webwork on the hood, for instance. Here, let's take a better look at the passenger door:
You may be able to make out the Spidey decal in the window, but you can't see the action figures hanging from the rear view mirror and ceiling, or the special Spidey-themed steering wheel cover, or the multitude of other details.
I can only hope the driver comes equipped with the appropriate costume. If so, I'll have to pull my batmobile up next to him for a little hero-on-hero action.
(Disclaimer: Alas, I own no such vehicle. But I do have a friend with a remarkably detailed Batmobile and an arsenal of pricey batarangs from the earlier movies. He was even thinking about installing a batpole in his house until his lover put his foot down.)
Ah, adulthood: if you hold onto those adolescent fantasies long enough, you can earn the disposable income to make them come true!
I'm starting this entry with yet another image from Jekyll and Hyde--in this case, the cover of issue #3, which is the must-get if you're not really interested in the story and only want the good stuff--ie, Bats in captivity from cover to cover.
I'm including it here because: *I forgot I had it earlier, *it's really hot, and *both the image and the issue bring back memories of my time in the Monk's clutches.
In the comic (and I guess you can consider this a SPOILER ALERT), Two-Face has captured our hero and poisoned him with a compound designed to unleash his inner monster--his "Hyde" side, if you will. While waiting for the drug to take effect, TF addresses his captive:
I'm not talking to Batman--I want to talk to the other one: the one that hides beneath the leather mask. The good man--your daytime persona. Your Henry Jekyll. A man with a secret he can hardly contain. A man who lives in plain sight and wishes more than all the world that he could run away from it. ... The good, honest man is just your daytime face--that's the real mask you wear. The man in the black leather mask who skulks in the shadows is your true persona... You don't have to keep it inside. Whatever it is that holds you back, let it go. ... Don't struggle. This is all perfectly natural... It will only hurt until you accept the truth. You're no one else--you're only Batman.
All of that reminds me of the way the Monk coaxed me into his control (except, of course, that once he had me there, he replaced the name "Batman" with "Ratman"). I reached a point when it simply became too difficult to keep up the balancing act between the part of me that wanted to surrender to him (Hyde) and the part that wanted to fight back (Jekyll). Rather than tear myself apart, I let my Hyde side take over completely.
And then, a few months ago, I simply snapped out of it. Came back to my senses, and broke free. I wish I could claim I'm completely back to my old self, but that would be a lie. As one of my crimefighting colleagues points out, I may have to struggle with this for the rest of my life. It seems instead that I'm truly changed--I've been to the bottom and come back to the surface, and nothing can removed what I learned (and what I did) while I was down there. Put it this way: now that I've been utterly humiliated, I've learned a thing or two about humility. If you're following my serial story, you know that the Batman there is also dealing with the lingering consequences of being broken by an enemy, although his recovery is taking a rather different form.
I was back in contact with the Monk for a few weeks recently--including one phone conversation, when my personal storyline suggested that I had no other choice--and held my ground each time. Lately, though, there's been not a word from him. Nothing. If you ask him, he'll insist that he's written me off because I've disobeyed him (shunning is one of his favorite methods of punishing adversaries he's pissed off at), but my version of the saga is a little different.
From my perspective (and, as always, I can't write openly about all this because I know he reads these accounts), his silence has provided me with exactly the opening I needed in order to further clear my head of his influence. Getting him out of my system is akin to getting over a relationship which has ended, or recovering after the death of a loved one: it takes time, more than anything, and the silent treatment has bought me more of that at last. A part of me is ready to move on (to see other bad guys, as it were), and of course another part longs for the days of captivity and subservience.
I take that all-too-familiar inner struggle as a sign of progress: it means I have my Jekyll side back again. The other day (after months being otherwise engaged and unable to suit up on a regular basis) I put the batsuit back on and spent a nice long time in it, reflecting on what I've been through and where I'm headed next. One thing was abundantly clear: no matter what other yeanings I may experience from time to time, a part of me is and always will be the good guy in the leather mask, fighting the good fight. I carry a part of my childhood hero with me at my core. I may be other things as well, but on a very deep level I am Batman... and always will be. While I doubt I've seen the last of the Monk, I count that revelation as a victory.
I visited a new (to me) comic book store in the hinterlands outside Gotham this afternoon. The classic scenario: all male, geek central, lots of insider talk about specific issues of specific comics and how there were problems with the color separation or some such, followed by some sort of misogynstic rant about somebody's wife. All very, very loud. Everybody seemed to know everybody, except me, of course, and I wanted to keep it that way.
Even though I am now a paragon of well-adjusted perversion, I still get a bit self-conscious in this setting. Deep down, I still feel like I'm visiting a porn store, albeit one whose contents don't hold the same charge for the other customers. I can't get past the feeling that if I were a "normal" 45-year-old, I either wouldn't be in the store in the first place, or I'd have graduated long ago from the superhero comics to the indies. And it's true, I always make a point of lingering in that section of any store for a while, partly out of genuine interest and partly as a cover for my true motive, which is invariably to check out what kinky situations my #1 hero has gotten himself into lately. I truly wish I could relax a bit more in these stores--I mean, god knows the other 45-year-old who inhabit them are just as weird as I am, and none of us are probably all that weird deep down--but it's just some kind of reflex action.
A store employee eventually asked if I wanted anything, and I got all nervous and fumbly, said I was "just looking," then decided my half hour of browsing was up, grabbed the debut of Frank Miller & Jim Lee's All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder," as the vanilla cover to what I was really there for: the first 4 issues of the 6-part Batman: Jekyll & Hyde. A tip o' the cowl to my online pal LycraMan for not only encouraging me to seek this one out, but passing along some sample panels to explain why:
(You will notice, as LycraMan did, that Batman's cowl fits so snugly in this one that you can actually see his ear, which is a rarety in the comics, and one we'd both like to see more often.) Then there's this delightful taunt...
and finally, one of my favorite villainous threats: the ever-enticing "I won't unmask him, I'll make it so bad for him that he removes the damned thing himself"...
From what I've seen so far, this mini-series ranks up there with the much-reviled Batman: The Cult (and the less well-known but highly recommended The Last Arkham trade paperback) in fetish appeal. If you share my taste in bat-ventures, this one is worthy of braving the trip to your own local geeketeria. (There, I've just alienated all the healthy, well-adjusted adult readers of comics who may read my blog from time to time. Sorry, guys.)
Damn, it's National Night Out again--tonight!--and my schedule is so damn full I can't do much more than post the link here and hope that my fellow cop fetishists make their way to a police station nearby for punch, cookies, and maybe more. If you do, send me the pix and I'll thank you profusely.