Thursday, January 27, 2005

The money shot

If you share my taste for images of Batman being unmasked and/or de-belted (and something tells me you do), then be sure to check out Batman #635, which opens with a terrific battle sequence featuring a new villain billing himself as The Red Hood (homage to one of the oldies but goodies, which seems to be some kind of trend at DC right now). From the get-go, one of Bats' gloves has been cut off, exposing a bare fist (a first in my memory), and in short order he loses his belt (hooray!) and suffers a rather nasty gash to the cowl (ouch!). This latter move enables Mr. Hood to simply tear the mask off B's face, which will surely inspire every other villain in Gotham to lament, "Damn, why didn't I think of that?"

Having so easily accomplished what everybody else has been trying to do for decades, this Hood guy says, "I guess we should keep it even" and removes his own ... hood, revealing a face which shocks our hero. Naturally (since this first installment of a four-parter) we don't get to see who's under there just yet.

I'm not sure I'll stick around to find out. I really don't keep up with current comics unless the imagery is really hot (and old-school bondage scenarios are few and far between these days) or the storyline seems really, really compelling. But frankly, I'm one of those old farts who got lost when all the storylines starting getting incredibly complicated and brought in all these young characters I've never heard of and don't care about. There are some allusions in #635 to the aftermath of one of those huge crossover "events" and I have no idea what they're talking about. Then again, I don't watch The Sopranos or The West Wing, either--I just don't have the energy to follow along. But more power to those of you who do.

If I were a true comics afficianado, I'd say something about the actual content of the issue in question, and make some reference to the story by Judd "Real World" Winick (whose graphic novel about his RW costar Pedro is quite nice, by the way), but you know I"m pretty damn shallow--I honestly just picked this thing up because of the sexy (to me) pix.

Earlier tonight I managed to find some downloadable images from the issue at the DC site, but now I can't figure out where they are online anymore. Besides, if you don't head there ASAP, they'll probably be taken down.

But trust me, my fellow perverts: just go buy the magazine. Best $2.25 I've spent in quite a while.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Batman Goes to the Mayor

I've become a fan of the Adult Swim cartoon Tom Goes to the Mayor. (It's not really related to the concerns of this blog, but here's the A.S. show site in case you're interested). Inspired me to seek out the website of its creators, where I found this collection of their short films.

I'm bringing this up here, in case you were wondering, because one of the films posted there is called Batman 2000, and I have a hunch some of you may enjoy it, if you've got a sense of humor about the masked guy. It would be interesting to see the response if it were posted at (which has its share of parodies, none as funny as this one). Probably wouldn't go over too well with the purists...

...but then, it's the perversions of a myth, the ones that allow us to see it with fresh eyes, that interest me most (which is why I much prefer The Last Temptation to The Passion when it comes to Jesus Movies). Oops, I'm talking out my ass here. Actually, seeing Batman with a bong tucked in his utility belt really doesn't add much to my understanding of the saga. It's just kinda funny.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Incredible, indeed

I'm indebted to the bearblog "Bear in the City" (latest gay comics blog I've discovered) for this image of Mr. Incredible sans costume, which blogmeister Bill in turn found at this Japanese site.

While I think the movie, enjoyable though it was, is getting just a wee bit more praise than it may actually deserve, I think I woulda liked it much more if there were a bit more of this kind of Incredible flesh in it.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Thoughts on "adult"-hood

I've been rethinking the way that I've labeled this and my story blog as "adult" sites. To most people who see that word, it means one thing and one thing only: porn. And as you know if you've spent any time here, that's not really what this is about.

Don't get me wrong: there is a lot of sex talk here. As much as I can manage, in fact. I want to talk about the things that turn me on in part because I see so few other people talking about the same particular interests, and when I do speak openly about such matters, I hear back from other people who share those tastes, thanking me for doing so. But for me sex cannot be separated from the other concerns explored in these entries: politics, spirituality, comic book talk, and on and on. And the "talk" part is as at least as important as the sex part. I imagine that people who stumble upon these words wanting to get off probably just get really bored, really fast. And that doesn't bother me at all.

It's always struck me as funny that the word "adult" would be used in conjunction with fetishes so rooted in childhood. When I put on a batman outfit and roleplay with fellow costumed crusaders and crooks, we're all engaging in a kind of make-believe we first explored when we were 6 years old. What could be less "adult" than that? (I sort of prefer the word "mature" to "adult," but it pretty much raises the same problem.)

Nonetheless, I feel like it's important to take whatever steps I can to make sure that some actual child doesn't stumble upon this site while conducting google searches for "Batman" or any other G-rated term that happens to stimulate NC-17 feelings within me. I've made the site a public one via Blogger in order to help interested strangers find it, but I'm not that comfortable with somebody arriving here at random via the "NEXT BLOG" button at the top of the screen.

All this is on my mind while I get word that the company that used to list site referrers for free is now charging money to provide service for "adult" sites. (And if you claim you're no longer "adult" in order to keep getting the service for free, they say they'll fine you $100.) While I'm a cheapskate who hates having to pay for internet gewgaws, I'm seriously considering shelling out $15-25 to continue the listings, because it's just such interesting information to have: lets me know that I'm not just typing into a vacuum, for starters, and the list of referring sites also tells me (and you) about other relevant places to look.

But I don't know... Paying money for what once was free--it seems so ... adult.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Knightfall 12: Falling, yes, I am falling...

...and he keeps calling / me back again.

Last week I got another phone call from the Monk. It was the first time I'd heard his voice in at least a month, probably two. (Mostly been text-only during that time, and as our relationship has evolved, and as a result of work-plus-holiday-plus-illness, there's been less daily contact.) We'd been in text contact that morning awaiting a long-scheduled battle with a hero, who turned out to be a no-show, so M's focus turned to me instead. I made a slip, broke one of his rules, and the moment I was alone he called to reprimand me.

My heart raced when the phone rang, and the minute he spoke, I knew I was done for. When I answered him, the voice I used was completely different from the one I had employed back in my old bat-days. No longer brash, confident, and self-assured, I was now a snivelling, subservient, insignificant little (rat)man.

It was further evidence, as if I needed any, that I have indeed been broken. He used to swear he'd own the Batman mind, body, and soul, and I'll be damned if he didn't do it. Okay, I'm damned, period: nothing remotely resembling a "hero" any longer.

I find that unbelievably, almost unspeakably exciting, in part because it's just such a fucking obscene proposition: Batman, broken! There's no happy ending to the story, after all, just a hero who stared into the abyss and ended up falling in.

Does that make me a villain? Not exactly. As I've reported here, M has recruited me to help him break other heroes--more specifically, to taunt and prep them for him--and the simple fact is, playing the role of aggressor isn't really that exciting to me. I've often written that I don't accept the simple top/bottom dichotomy, and that when pressed I fall somewhere in between the two extremes depending on my mood, but in this particular subsection of the dreamworld, I--Ratman--am a total, unabashed mega-bottom. (My fantasy Batman is a bottom, too, but at least he puts up a stern public front.) Debased, humiliated, my dreams all shattered--and incredibly turned on by that prospect. Sure, I'll take down a hero, violate him, punish him... but only because M orders me to. It's not really something I'd do on my own. There's a degree of sadism in some of my fantasies involving heroes, but mostly in the service of a greater masochism.

By coincidence (if there is such a thing), as I write these words, I'm listening to an episode of the NPR show To the Best of Our Knowledge devoted to the theme of "Failure", which I recommend to anyone else who knows the erotic appeal of falling from grace.

What this particular period of my ongoing bat/rat lucid dream provides me with is a chance to explore some complex feelings stirred up in my daylight life these days, as I find myself employed in various jobs suited for people 20 years younger than me. Invariably, these trigger my desire (rooted in my youth in the South, I'm convinced) to be liked, to please other people. Power has always made me nervous; when I'm in positions that provide me with some degree of it (teacher, director, etc) I tend to do whatever I can to subvert it. And when I'm in positions where I don't have much power, or where I have to answer to someone else who does, I tend to bristle.

More to be said on all this later, I'm sure. For now, though, just noting another landmark in my dream devolution.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Spirit of The Spirit

I am delinquent in mourning the death of Will Eisner. Johnny Bacardi has been running a multi-part tribute (with illustrations and links to other eulogies), which starts here.

From one of the links at Eisner's official site, I found this great treasure trove of online Spirit lore, and from there I learned the (potentially) good news that plans are in the works for a Spirit movie. Actually, the apparent decision to set the film in the present day, as revealed in this interview in Comic Book Resources News, does not bode well. But hey, maybe the powers that be will come to their senses and make it a period piece, even if they're convinced Will woulda make it contemporary.

I may well be one of the few people who actually saw the 1987 TV movie when it aired, and I know I'm one of even fewer who spent the next 15 years trying to see it again. Eventually I found a bootleg copy for sale at some site whose name I can't remember for the life of me. If anyone reading this wants to know, e-mail me or post something here and I'll actually track it down for ya.

Anyway, that movie is set in the late 80s, and it just doesn't quite work. But I'm not complaining. Hunky Sam "Flash Gordon" Jones plays the title character, and holy shit is he ever hot, particularly when he's bound, shirtless, to some sort of torture device and flogged. I'm not making this up--fans of, well, Sam Jones being tied up have got to seek this thing out.

Not sure I'd recommend it to Eisner fans, though. All the major characters are there, but somehow little of the magic of the original. And the comic was magical: a perfect blend (for me, at least) of great writing, wonderful self-reflexive humor, and one of the sexiest heroes around. (A mask, a suit, and a pair of gloves: it's all you really need, isn't it? Oh, and a seemingly unending succession of deathtraps.) I know, I know: we're supposed to be mourning the passing of a great storyteller. And I do. But my interest in his most famous work transcends the purely cerebral.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Once I noticed I was on fire, I decided to relax and enjoy the fall.

Avoiding actual work again, I came across an amusing illustrated paraphrase of the first appearance of the original comic book villain called The Monk (Detective Comics #31/32, reprinted in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told). It's from a blog called "Once I noticed I was on fire, I decided to relax and enjoy the fall". That name sounds familiar; I'm pretty sure I've seen it in other comics-bloggers' links lists.

This "Ezrael" guy has been keeping it for quite a while, and any time I find a blog that dates back 4 years or more, I immediately check to read entries from around September 11, 2001. Just sort of a reflex, I guess, but I've long been fascinated by people's responses to that super-charged time (which already feels so long ago, doesn't it?). There was so much bullshit being spewed at the time, between the kneejerk flag-waving and the talk about how everything would suddenly be different and we'd never again enjoy mindless escapist movies and Halloween was suddenly an inappropriate holiday and so on and so on. There are plenty of post-9/11 entries here, and although I confess I've just kind of skimmed them so far (as is my wont), I really like the basic sentiments expressed: initial shock/grief, followed by some beautifully sane stuff about the madness of national ID cards, war fever, etc., as well as the way they're expressed. Well worth reading--for different reasons than the Monk recap, of course, but I appreciate both the humor and the sober insight.

Skin tight

I see I've been getting a lot of new visitors from this page of "Lycra sites around the world." Naturally, as a devotee of the medium, I had to check it out and explore a few links. There must be at least 200 here, devoted to cycling suits, ballet tights, superhero fan films, etc, all in a giant alphabetical list. Lots o' dead ones, alas, and plenty of old classics I already know and love.

I guess the nicest revelation was The Masked Henchman's site, consisting primarily of shots of the M.H. in action, both in and out of spandex. I admit, I share his attraction to those ubiquitous thugs/goons in ski masks who are forever robbing banks and clubbing the good guy in movies. And, shucks, I guess at this point in my "devolution" I'm pretty much a masked henchman myself, so it must be purely professional reasons that draw me to his web page.

FYI, not to toot my own horn or anything, but if you found me through that Lycra links page and want more of the same, I should humbly point out that I have a somewhat similar page of my own on my SECRET ROOM website (which has been sadly neglected for months, alas, but I promise I'll update it sooner or later). Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Calling Dr. Kinsey

Saw the movie Kinsey this past weekend. Certain aspects of it (the occasionally awkward/stilted dialogue, for instance) bugged me a teensy bit, but for the most part I liked it, particularly for the way it normalizes the whole subject of human sexuality. Dr. Kinsey is presented as this totally non-judgmental researcher, admittedly a little obsessive in his devotion to his chosen subject (but then what scholar isn't?), fascinated by the wide range of activities that turn people on and open-minded about all of them. There's this charming matter-of-factness to his relationships with his wife and kids, and pretty much everyone else he meets. Excellent cast, starting with Liam Neeson as the title character, as well as John Lithgow as his fundamentalist, body-phobic dad, and especially Laura Linney as his startlingly game wife. (Oh, and you get to see Peter Sarsgard's ding-dong, which had not previously been a priority of mine, but which I found quite enjoyable.)

I kept thinking of Boogie Nights and The People vs. Larry Flynt, with which Kinsey forms a mini-genre: films in which the characters' shared preoccupation with sex creates some interesting alternative family units. Rather than sensationalizing the subject, they're warm-and-fuzzy movies; in fact, I'd even go so far as to call Kinsey the first sex-based tearjerker I've seen, particularly in a fantastic cameo by Lynn Redgrave right near the end of the movie, playing a woman who sees her personal options as infinitely broader as a result of Kinsey's contributions to the field.

The site I linked to above is worth checking out, not so much for the usual movie-promo stuff as for such interesting features as a chance to place yourself on Kinsey's 0-6 scale (I went with a 5) and a list of myths about the good doctor's research. It strikes me that there's a common thread between what he was doing 50 years ago and what various bloggers are up to nowadays: making public what was once secret, with the intention of letting people know they're not alone in their desires. I know there will always be folks who think that's a bad idea, but I'm not one of them.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

BATMAN BEGINS... to cross-promote

I was intrigued to discover that the home page of the official website for the BATMAN BEGINS film currently includes links to several organizations providing financial relief to the tsunami victims.

I've been thinking lately--okay, for many years--about how best to carry over this whole "hero" business into the daylight world. For me, that has meant activism (which, as we know, often resembles villainy in the eyes of some onlookers--the same way that, say, the Green Hornet/Batman/Spider-Man appears to be a bad guy in certain circles). But I guess this donation option could apply, too.

It's just sort of weird that there's no explicit conection between the site--otherwise designed solely to promote a new big-budget Hollywood movie--and the action of aiding disaster victims. I see an obvious one, as I've suggested here, but something tells me there may be a similar link on every Warner Bros site.

Even if there was a line on the BB site about how "you, too, can be a hero ... by donating money to a good cause" (which, BTW, strikes me as the B. Wayne approach, not the Bat one), I think I'd be a little creeped out by a major corporation promoting its latest product by exploiting a global tragedy. (Need I remind anyone of the post-9/11 consumer bonanza?)

I'm not suggesting that you NOT give money--and I still haven't figured out exactly how best I can do something, however small, in that regard--but I do worry about:
1. the notion that typing your credit card number and expiration date into a website can provide the illusion of quick and convenient personal closure to a giant, incomprehensible act of natural destruction, and
2. the concept of making an upcoming movie blockbuster seem virtuous by connecting it to said disaster.

A thorny situation, as so many are. And, again, the bigger question is: what can we, the handful of folks who dress up in comic book costumes and fight our pretend adversaries, really do to make the larger world a better place?

Any thoughts?