Friday, April 28, 2006

Foaming at the mouth

For a while now I've been wanting to include some BDSM/fetish-related blogs in the blogroll to the right so that I would remind myself to check them regularly and be able to recommend them to other readers. I'm always on the lookout for some gay male blogs that explore dominance and submission, roleplay, etc., along the lines of what I'm trying to do in my series of "Knightfall" and "The Knight After" entries here, but I really haven't found too many that fit the bill (come back to the five and dime, LeatherEdge!). Most of the best known ones tend to go on and on about the webmaster's pets and/or his S.O.'s most recent trip to some faraway city and/or theme park, at least when I peek in on them, which isn't very often.

Also, I am a firm believer in the premise that kinky impulses transcend gender boundaries; I am open to learning what other people think about their fantasies, no matter what body parts those fantasies involve--provided the writing is articulate and interesting and ideally fun. (Moreover, I am mindful that some of my closest online buddies are heterosexual and bisexual men, and I'd love to be able to pass along stuff they might be into.)

So tonight I did a little searching around for likely candidates. Here's the trail I followed, aspects of which may or may not be of use to you in your own explorations:

1. This far-too-brief link list at Beauty in Darkness brought me to ...

2. Inside the Mind of Gloria Brame, the blog of the woman behind the classic book and internet resource site devoted to kink, both called Different Loving. From IMGB's blogroll I found many possibilites for further investigation, among them...

3. Figleaf's Real Adult Sex, which on cursurory examination looks pretty interesting, especially this entry on "heteronormativity," this one on the word "kink", and this speculation on the "Target-ing (and WalMart-ing?)" of fetish culture. I'm pretty sure it was also here that I found out about ...

4. Sugasm, a "devilish digest" of kink-related blog entries of various sorts,updated on a weekly basis. Lots of leads here, and I've only followed up on a few so far. I found several that were the journals of self-identified Masters or slaves--again with the pets and amusement parks! One other thing I've noticed from some of the entries I checked out is that people writing about sexual fantasies tend to write lonnnnnnnng reams of prose. (Okay, I will be the first admit that I suffer from this tendency myself from time to time.) Two discoveries stand out:

5. This story about "Milking a Man" from a blog called Dirty Couple in Virginia. Hetero story (and so long I just started skimming after a while), but who doesn't love a good man-milking machine, regardless of who's using it? (No offense, my lesbian amigas.) Then there's ...

6. Master Enigma's Thoughts, a blog by a ... well, a Master. Who is an Enigma. Yes, the entries are epic length, and they seem to lapse into that variety of pompous/portentous BDSMspeak that rubs the English major in me the wrong way, but some of the writing here gets me seriously excited. It's boy/girl, but you can easily reassign the genders any way you want in your own imagination. (If you lack that ability, I have nothing more to say to you.)

7. Oh, yeah: in tracking down the URL for LeatherEdge to use in the link above, I discovered that when you visit what used to be his home page you can click on a link and instantly download his promised treatise The Book of Edge: Being one leatherman's journey, an encyclopedic compilation of resources, essays, fantasies, and much more, beautifully laid out in a 96-page PDF. Hallelujah!

I hope you find at least one site in all of the above that speaks to you, either directly or indirectly. Needless to say, if you know of any good sites that meet those criteria I mentioned above and you are not a spambot, please post them in the comments section. Sex (like spirituality) is the most private of concerns, but that doesn't mean we can't share our thoughts about what it all means.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fans and fiction

Wonderful commentary on tonight's All Things Considered by Lev Grossman riffing on the subject of literary plagiarism. I highly recommend it to anyone seriously interested in fan fiction, because that's what it's primarily about. Grossman argues that writers like Melissa Jareo (who made the boo-boo of trying to actually sell her unauthorized Star Wars-related novel on are the unsung heroes of contemporary fiction, fleshing out worlds originally created by other authors in innovative ways and doing it without any hope of riches or fame. Jareo's cease-and-desist order from George Lucas & Co. is contrasted with the recent Pulitzer Prize awarded to a novel that extends the story of the mostly unseen father from Little Women.

As a person who gets paid for some of my writing (under my real name) and doesn't get paid for some (including anonymous slash fiction), I found Grossman's whole take on the matter fascinating. It's sort of cool hearing a published novelist defend the amount of time that goes into writing a form of literature that has zero literary credibility. I imagine the majority of people hearing the radio story had no idea that fanfic exists before they heard the segment, and I myself had not heard about the Jareo situation. My heart sank a bit when I heard her fate--I do sometimes worry that one day my main site, my mega-epic batsaga, and even this very blog may be gone, since they're all devoted to characters owned by a giant corporation.

Though I must say Grossman's argument about doing it for love loses some ground when you recall that Jareo didn't just write about somebody else's creation, she actually tried to make some money off it.

And, let's face it, the vast majority of fanfic is crap.

But still!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bats with accents

The acting is frequently cringe-worthy, the fight choreography is awkward, the dialogue has a few too many references to old comic books, and the southern accents are alternately amusing and distracting, but the new fan-film Batman: Formulas has a lot going for it, namely:
1. a very sexy batsuit,
2. a man who fills it very well, and
3. ample footage of said man chained to a cross, thusly:

Hubba, hubba!


As if moving Gotham City to the deep south wasn't enough action for one week, a second (shorter) bat-fan-film has also made its debut recently, too. In Batman: The End of Nightmare (sic), our hero is reinvented yet again ... in EspaƱol! This one does not currently bear subtitles, though that's not really a problem for those of us whose Spanish is nonexistent or ended in high school about 30 years ago--except when you get to the ending (which I gather is not quite as bleak as it sure as hell appears).

More amateur acting, but another nice looking Batman (not quite as nice) and a few shots of him in peril--not bondage, but things are not good, in any case (much darker than Formulas).

This time, you don't have to take my word for it; thanks to YouTube, you can watch it right here and now, in two parts:


Thoughts, anyone?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Remind me one more time: when did irony die?

Can't believe I never knew about The Comics Curmudgeon until now. This daily recap of the cheesiest of comic strips (we're talking Gil Thorp, people!) is hilarious and addictive. The main focus seems to be on both soap-opera style strips like Mary Worth and purportedly humorous fare like B.C., but there is plenty to be found on those two spandex-clad hunks of the daily paper, The Phantom and Spider-Man, much of it concerning their rather unsuperheroic domestication. (My local paper does not carry The Phantom, so I did not realize he was now ... married with children. Horror of horrors, Mr. Walker!)

I've gotta be checking this out on a regular basis.

(On a related note, I've been thinking about beefing up the links to the right; right now they are mainly the ones I myself check as often as possible, but I have been tempted to add several more that might be of interest to readers. No matter what, you can always find cop and superhero links galore on my "Secret Room" site, even if I don't do the best job of updating them.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Knight After 3: Careful What You Wish For

My fantasy universe continues to expand and contract. One of the things I most enjoy about this counter-life, now that I've been involved in online roleplaying for more than two years (on top of the nine or so years of solo play before that), is that I actually do have a sizable Rogue's Gallery of villains, people with whom I have a history. There's a Riddler, a Catman, the Ranger, and so on, some of whom I've been battling since the beginning, and some of whom have evolved into completely different characters. Then there are the colleagues and sidekicks, and the newcomers who drop by for a skirmish or two and then vanish. It all feels very much like the world of the comic books that fuel this fantasy in the first place.

In my last "Knight After" entry, I noted that there had been a late-breaking shake-up in the otherwise slow action. It's true: during my third or fourth extended encounter with the Mad Hatter, he had me cornered. Both Robin and my former Nightwing who now works under a different name and identity (call him "Gray Fox") happened to be online, so I called them in for backup, and all three of us somehow ended up falling prey to the fiend. This was an interesting development; I've been involved in larger-group scenes before, but somehow this one felt different, perhaps because the action was more exciting and the stakes seemed higher. In our brief acquaintance up to that point, the Hatter had established himself as a significant adversary, and he certainly proved that when he took on all three of us--and kicked our collective ass(es). In short order he had Robin in captivity, Gray Fox revealing his secret identity and removing his mask, and me about to do the same before our session ended. In fact, he did succeed later that day in getting me--on my hands and knees, no less!--to reveal myself as Bruce Wayne and remove my cowl. Robin managed to escape and dosed him with a blast of amnestics, the drug (loosely based on a real-life substance) designed to wipe out a person's short-term memory, and that's where that day's adventure ended.

I've always been fond of the amnestic solution to such dilemmas; without them, unmasking is an irreversible step in a storyline. Once a villain knows who you are, all hell can break loose: he can blackmail you, can enslave you, or--perhaps most dangerous of all--he can simply slip away into the darkness, armed with priviliged information, never to return. (For the record, I've never been a fan of too many people knowing who Batman is underneath his disguise; it becomes an open secret, like Liberace's homosexuality during his lifetime. At the same time, unmasking is an extremely powerful dimension of the bat-fantasy for me, and the temptation to indulge in it as often as possible runs quite strong, which opens me up to the open-secret situation. The more times I do it, the less powerful it ultimately becomes.)

In the Hatter's case, this is all a moot point, because--exactly as I feared/hoped he would, he managed to hold on to the JPEG of my unmasked face he'd made me send him, and it helped him recall exactly what had happened that fateful night. This all became quite clear to me during our next encounter, last night, which involved him forcing an invitation into Stately Wayne Manor, where I was subjected to an interrogation on camera, commanded once more to kneel before him and address him as "Master," and placed under house arrest, where I remain until our next meeting in 48 hours.

(I admit I feel a teensy bit silly being a 45-year-old man prattling on about all of this as if it is a matter of life and death, but to some degree it is--to the extent that it's a metaphor I use to make sense of my day-to-day existence. The things that happen in the bat-world I construct in collaboration with like-minded roleplayers mirror events and feelings that I fear/desire in the daylight world. That should go without saying at this point, but I feel I need to spell it out from time to time lest I sound exactly like a D&D fanatic or one of those people who dresses up like Darth Vader 24/7. Okay, so there is no line between them and me when you get right down to it, but let's overlook that point, shall we?)

There are a couple of points I want to make about my latest adventures:
1. The Hatter makes such an extremely good adversary in part because he too possesses the same fantasies of unmasking and enslavement in another portion of his own fantasy life where he is a superhero rather than a villain. In fact, I'd say (and he would surely agree) that he's really more of a bottom than a top, but he's very, very good at playing a top because of it. This is a rare phenomenon, from what I've seen, and I feel lucky to experience it. (It may also play a role in my eventual escape plans.)

2. After my encounters with the Monk, which pretty much affected every aspect of my bat-fantasy, I've pretty much decided, at least for a while, to compartmentalize my adventures, so that I can have parallel storylines wih multiple adversaries. Thus, in this storyline Batman is currently the captive of the Hatter, but in other realms I am/he is still free to roam about and fight other villains. I'm not sure how well that will work for me--it's cleaner and less personally confusing when a single narrative unites all the independent threads, plus I really love it when a single mistake has numerous inescapable consequences--but I feel like giving it a try for the time being. Happens in the comics all the time, after all.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Flash points

I always find it amusing when, at least twice a year, someone who only knows me in my daylight existence tells me that I am clearly a superhero. Today, for instance, a friend at work took one quick glance at the bright yellow shirt and red t-shirt I was wearing...

... and said, "Okay, so you're the Flash. Do you have to announce it to the world?" (or words to that effect).

I have to say, this is the first time I've been mistaken for the Scarlet Speedster, and I'm flattered. Given that I have the worst time management skills on the planet, superspeed would certainly come in handy. And lord knows, Barry Allen is one hot number in that outfit. (Needless to say, I am first and foremost a batfan, but I wouldn't kick the Flash or the Green Lantern or a few other members of the JLA out of my bed, believe you me. I'm an equal opportunity enjoyer.)

Guess he could also have gone with Daredevil, but maybe he's a DC guy and associates Matt Murdock with Ben Affleck's leather jumpsuit rather than the comic book character's incredibly sexy tights.

On a completely unrelated note, tonight I stumbled upon Fred Hembeck's (somewhat old, I think) series of pages paying homage to some classic superhero comics covers of bygone days, mostly DC characters but a few Marvels thrown in for good measure, featuring hand-drawn parodies and witty, detailed analyses of what's going on in each.

Since I just brought up the Flash a (nano)second ago, I'll direct you to Hembeck's "Classic Cover Redo" of this beauty--

--as a prime illustration of the artist's fondness for cover art of the early 60s that had as little as possible to do with the story inside. (I mean, who doesn't love a good bait-and-switch?) I know several of you regular readers share my own fondness for unmasking scenes, so I thought you might particuarly enjoy this one, but there are plenty more where this baby came from.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Knight After 2: Brotherhood of the Bat

As if by magic, the moment I posted the first entry in this potential new series about my fantasy adventures, those exploits pretty much came to an end. Or at least they're on hold; most of my new bat-buddies have dropped out of sight, though they've almost all explained they've just been busy in the daylight world, so maybe I shouldn't take it too personally. (Late-breaking update: after I wrote the first draft of this entry, that all changed with a daylong marathon of online roleplay, but let's save that for another time and wallow in oh-lonesome-me self-pity instead, shall we?)

On the other hand, I've subsequently discovered a whole new world of potential batpals. I originally got a (free) membership in just so I could view some photos of one of my new costumed friends, but I soon realized the site is an entire wonderland of delights. Just about any kind of clothing-related kink you might imagine is represented here: superhero, cop uniforms, lycra, latex, leather, vinyl, sports, probably FedEx, you name it. Most members post pictures of themselves and include IM contact info; there are special-interest groups, photo galleries, and much more. If you are one of the many readers of this blog who have expressed despair at how hard it is to meet like-minded men for virtual or real-world roleplay, you should check the place out, right away. (Note to hetero friends: it's pretty gay-specific, but I've noticed at least one woman among the new members, and depending on what you're looking for, odds are good you'll find someone who's open to exploring it with you.) My own profile is located here, in case you're interested. (Those of you interested in uncovering the true identity of my most fabled nemesis should take note: the Monk has visited the page at least once in recent days under his other name. Can you find him among the "recent visitors" section of my profile?)

In one of my first conversations with the aforementioned new bat-friend (whose wardrobe is truly stunning, and puts my own to shame), we discussed the familiar question of how more than one Batman can exist. It's vexing to some, but not to either of us. As I've written here before, my own take on the matter is that Batman is analogous to Santa Claus, a mythical figure who takes multiple forms all over the world, often simultaneously. My friend's version is somewhat different: he envisions suiting up as "the Dark Knight" as taking part in a true knighthood--all of us wearing similar armor, serving a common mission on our own fronts. I really like that idea; it makes a beautiful metaphor for my own use of the character/fantasy in my daily life, and suggests a way that I am connected to fellow superheroes.

Which is not to suggest that everyone who dons the cape and cowl is a member of the Brotherhood--lord knows I've met more than a few self-styled batmen whose intentions strike me as highly questionable. On the other hand, I have encountered some true fellow travelers, and it's interesting to think of them as forming a knighthood with me, all of us doing what we can in our shared fantasies (and sometimes in our civilian lives) to uphold the principles of our mutual hero. "Same struggle, same fight," as the old lefty chant goes.

Works for me.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Up, up, and away

Sure, the whole thing reeks of corporate synergy, but the April 14 issue of Entertainment Weekly does whet my appetite regarding the upcoming Superman movie (a product of the parent company, natch), starting with that very nice cover shot featuring a verrrry nice-looking suit. The man wearing it looks a little too airbrushed/photoshopped for my taste, but as a true fetishist I've got my priorities, and that outfit is looking migh-tee fine in the limited glimpses I've seen of it thus far.

The centerpiece of the issue is the annual "Great American Pop Culture Quiz," which this time has a very heavy super-vibe about it. Among other things, you are required to match the color of kryptonite with its dangerous properties and the lyrics of various superman-themed songs with the people who performed them. There's also an interview with Super-star Brandon Routh and director Bryan Singer, and the last page of the magazine features a bonus quiz challenging you to match the closeups of various emblematic superhero costumes with the men and women who wear them and "have an odd weakness for skintight spandex outfits." Not so odd if you ask me, but then no one's asking. (Not sure how long that link will remain current, mind you, so don't blame me if you click it a week from now and find something completely different taking the place of Underdog's chest emblem.)

Meanwhile, the EW website features this capsule summary and review of all of DC's current "One Year Later" titles. I haven't read any of these yet (skimmed the Batman one in a store, saw it contained no bondage, deathtraps, or unmaskings, then put it back), and in fact I have thus far completely ignored the whole "Identity Crisis" storyline or whatever it's called, but I agree with Ken Tucker that this is one cool cover:

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Mo' Better Beefcake

Hard to believe that in all these years of blogging about batfaggery I've never thought to include the single panel that, more than any other, definitively turned me into a young homosexual. You know it, you love it, and now you can revisit it here anytime you like:

Okay, it's actually the cover of that issue that got me so turned on, but the above variation from the actual issue is just as nice. After the damage was done, I came to long for images like this one:

(Note: both taken from our hero's early adventures with R'as al-Ghul. The tunic also comes off in a memorable episode of the animated series retelling the same saga. What is it about this ultimate adversary that brings out the shirtlessness in Batman?)

Both images were brought back to my attention (not that they've ever entirely left my imagination in the nearly 35 years since I first saw the first of 'em) thanks to "The Male Body in Comic Book Art," a swell collection of costumed hotties past and present, part of the always-reliable Gay Comics List site. (For the record, I was directed to the image gallery by way of this entry at Man's Adventure, the blog which has quickly become one of my favorites, even if new posts appear almost as slowly as the ones right here.)

Elsewhere in beefcake news, I recently checked out Dorian of PostModern Barney's archive of past "Men of the Moment" and discovered that not only do I enjoy his writing and appreciate his ceaseless labor as a blogger, I also share a lot of his taste in men. (This means you, ScissorSisters' BabyDaddy, Patrick "Tick, We Miss You" Warburton, Bradley "Naked in a Bathtub" Cooper, and Thomas "Lt. Dangle" Lennon.)

Speaking of Dorian and PMB, I love his recent post "My Trip to the Comic Shop". And I think I need to start shopping where he shops, instead of joints where everybody looks like a certain character from The Simpsons.

I leave you with one final image from that glorious issue of long ago, because that's just the kind of guy I am--specifically "a gay guy very smitten by Batman and various fantasies associated with bondage," according to the (very welcome) link to this blog from the GCL's amazing page of links. Take it away, Bruce and Talia:

Late-breaking update: I've been waiting since February for GlovdCop SF to update his photo gallery, and just when I'd given up and assumed he'd abandoned his site for good, I figured out where he was hiding the March gallery. Turns out good things come to those who wait, because it's devoted to 100 pictures of superheroes, in the flesh, in the comics, and in that painted-on-flesh phototrickery that holds no appeal to me but must work for somebody out there.Bonus selection of links, too. All is right with the universe, once again.