Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good questions, one and all

I think many of these occurred to me while watching The Dark Knight (a movie I honestly wasn't as crazy about as the rest of the universe), but I am really sharing this with you because I like Batman's somewhat ill-fitting but still sexy outfit here:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hip to be square

I owe LycraLord (who probably owes TowleRoad) for hipping me to Square Hippies, a site devoted to the beauty of the male form by way of "worksafe shirtlessness." The aesthetic at SH is broad, but seems pretty close to my own--which to say, heavy on chest hair, light on twinks, and very easy on the eyes. The subjects are mainly public figures--actors, musicians, and athletes for the most part. The writing, which tends to be brief, is invariably witty. I've spent hours with the handy search feature seeking out pages for people like Mike "Dirty Jobs" Rowe, Alex O'Loughlin (who was new to me thanks to an Entertainment Weekly photo from his soon-to-be-cancelled tv series), and old fave Kevin Spacey. When Instinct put furry Scott Evans (who plays a gay cop on One Life to Live) on its December cover, I headed to SH in search of more images, and promptly found plenty, along with some of his better-known brother Chris (of Fantastic Four fame, and a fave of the Hub). I was happy to see Corbin Bernsen and of course good ol' Ryan Reynolds and hunky Josh Lucas--but then the list truly goes on and on. If none of the names I've just mentioned floats your boat, don't give up hope--as I say, the range is broad and well worth sampling. I've added the site to my blogroll of "Late-Breaking Transmissions" over to the right there, so if you're lucky you should be notified when fresh beef is available.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bad boys, bad boys ...

When you watch this video (which I found at Boing Boing tonight), you're supposed to keep your eye on the suspect, who eats what is believed to be the ransom note for a bank robbery around 19 seconds in. MY eyes were solidly with the cops. Yum!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My life as a bottom, Part 2: Cast of characters

As I said in Part 1 of this post, the basic structure of my defeat at the hands of a villain is always more or less the same, and the specifics--when they are worth talking about at all--are generally pretty different. So who are the men who have broken the Bat? I've already said plenty about the one I call "the Monk," so let's meet a few of those who have arrived in his wake, over the last 4 or 5 years, in roughly ascending order of intensity ... (Some of these aliases are the ones we really use, and others are modified, just to throw you off. My aim here is not to betray any confidences, only to shed light on a larger phenomenon from my own perspective.)

a. Catch and Release: This is a handy grab-bag of villains who have managed to ensnare Batman over the years, had their way with me, and then disappeared. Here we find several rogue cops, an amoral ex-superhero, and a semi-literate wrestling fanatic whose mistyped/incoherent instructions, utter disregard for the laws of physics, and vast vocabulary of obscure (to me, at least) wrestling holds are notorious amongst my crimefighting colleagues and me. These tend to be situations that are not ideal for one reason or another, which is often clear from the get-go, but eventually I end up giving in to them anyway, usually when a better match is simply not on the horizon for a long time. While these scenarios don't hold much longterm interest for me (or for the other player, needless to say), there is still something grimly erotic about Batman sinking so low that he is bested by someone he clearly feels superior to.

b. Turnabout is fair play: In a couple of cases, I have started out dominating opponents, only to have them turn the tables on me in a fairly decisive way. Also in this category, I suppose, would be two villains who made pretty fast work of me, only to cave in when I managed to escape their clutches, each soon turning into a total submissive himself. This table-turning scenario enables me to enjoy the best of both worlds: the power of being in charge, and the thrill of losing my grip. There's also the fact that men who have subbed (to me, or anyone else, for that matter) often have unique insight into how to play both roles, and they tend to know just how to twist the knife when they seek revenge. On the other hand, having an adversary who enjoys bottoming himself always holds out the hope that Batman will rise again.

c. Officer Daddy: Technically a member of category b, this rogue cop (what can I say? Good Guy Gone Bad is a motif that turns me on) currently enjoys a fascinating relationship with me. We sparred for months, I won, and then--in a move that surprised even me--I found myself turning myself over to him, relinquishing the reins. I'm not sure he particularly wanted this exchange of power, but he's certainly risen to the opportunity. A turning point, after I started fighting back again, came when he pointed out that he hadn't overpowered me (the usual scenario) but that I was the one who had surrendered. As a result, our storyline is the most consensual one of all of these--all the more so because he enjoys scenes in which I'm the "active" one (to use that genteel distinction for who bones whom) and he's the "passive" one. He prefers his "bois" to be manly and strong, and that makes for an appealing, fairly unique, setup to me. The perpetual problem I run into, though, is the moment in a scene with him when I want to just completely take charge, which is no longer my allowed role. There's a powerful degree of tenderness in our interactions; he's the best Daddy I know (although, as is often the case, I am at least 5 or 6 years older than him). This one is about balance, I think--within myself, and in my dealings with him.

d. Mr. S: Relatively new to me, this handsome guy has a terrific feel for how to satisfy my hunger for humiliation. That's a side of myself I'm not entirely comfortable with, but one that (for that very reason?) excites me a great deal. Consequently, I allow myself to try things with him that wouldn't normally appeal to me, precisely because they don't appeal. I absolutely love having my limits pushed and boundaries tested by a roleplayer I trust--although at the moment I think we are negotiating what I am willing to do and what I'm not, when it comes to following orders for offline activity. (Wearing chastity devices to work for a week as a lesson in obedience = mildly hot. Wearing them on a private weekend with the Hub = not so much.) Another interesting aspect of this case is the fact that Mr. S, who I imagine can be as much a bottom as a top depending on whom he's with, tells me he's learning more about how to assume the dom role through his encounters with me. I am more than happy to be his guinea pig at the moment.

e. Machette: That's my own, misspelled pet name for a longtime villain who wears no costume and adopts no rigid persona. We've been playing for at least 3 years now, in a storyline that has taken many zigs and zags. Early on, he was a more traditional comic-book-style nemesis, but he felt disappointed that I never seemed to allow myself (in character) to "enjoy" our scenes (which, I've always maintained, would be totally out of character for a Batman in the clutches of a foe). He wanted to connect with the "real" me, the one who has a regular name, holds a regular job, and does not wear a mask, and it took at least a year before I chose to let down my guard that much around him. (Those kinds of revelations are not generally part of my online life as "Batfan60"--I figure the internet, or at least this part of it, is for fantasy, not reality, and it always seems a little pedestrian to drop the bat-persona; I get to play the "real" me all day long in public, after all.) This led to a fairly long period when the artifice of Batman/villain fell away and we interacted as two ordinary guys saying hello now and then (which normally bores the crap out of me with most online acquaintances, I must say). I even--voluntarily!--lifted the mask once or twice, an unheard-of development and erotic in its own way. With the recent emergence of the Recon superhero chatroom, we're (mostly) back to being adversaries again, though the only kind of scene he seems interested in doing with me at this stage is one in which other people are involved, either as his accomplices, my compatriots, or voyeuristic bystanders (innocent or otherwise). That's okay by me, because we're pretty much on the same wavelength in terms of scenarios for Batman's interactions in public. (For a while, he delighted in demonstrating his mastery over me by forcing me to recite the "I'm a little teapot" song to onlookers, which I admit I found an appealing form of ridicule.)

f. Lycra Lord: Hmmm, how do I neatly summarize a "coexistence" (as we began calling it early on, when we realized the uncanny number of things we had in common) that has become every bit as charged and complicated as the Monk saga? I have only myself to blame for not writing about each twist and turn here as they happened over the last two years, but I think that was the result of my preferring to simply live through the experience for a change instead of retelling and analyzing it here in real time. Very long story very short, what began as a typical (if particularly hot) hero/villain scenario soon took a number of turns for the surreal as we unmasked each other (verbally and then in more literal ways) and learned we work in more or less the same field, have various non-lycra-related interests in common, live a county away from each other, have longterm relationships that started around the same time, had parents who each had the same medical procedure on the same day, and--the capper--even share the same birthday. I used to think there was a novel in this, but the coincidences are so many and so far-fetched no one would buy them. As you can surely imagine, the coexistence far surpasses my usual level of roleplay interaction; safe to think of it as an actual friendship, complete with a work dimension for both of us--and yet there remains, at its core, an element of top/bottom dynamic, all the richer because I have to admit it's not just "Batman" he's affected but the honest-to-god real me underneath and aside from the role. LL is the person who introduced me to the term "edgeplay," and that concept is the best possible way to explain the dynamic between us (other than simply liking each other and liking to flirt with each other, if you want to get pedestrian about it again). Both in specific fantasy scenes and in the sheer outrageousness of our coexistence, I have gone to the outer limit--the edge--of where I can take online roleplay and remain a (very) happily married man. I have always had a very solid rule against actual physical contact with any of my make-believe friends, and yet there I was, a year and a half ago now, in my car, driving 45 minutes to meet him. There was a work-related (or, more accurately, work-enabled) reason to do so, and no lines were crossed--but still, I was wearing what he had "ordered" me to wear, and I had one of the most intense J/O sessions of my life with him when I got home that night. (I also felt obliged to tell the Hub about it a few days later, and his response confirmed that I have got a very special spouse indeed.) The vast majority of our conversations are PG-13 these days, but there is no getting around the erotic charge of spending time with someone who has such unprecedented access to (and, it's safe to say, understanding of/appreciation for) both my inner fantasies and my outer façade.

So that's the lineup. As for what it all means, stay tuned: same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My life as a bottom, Part 1: The basics

Not only have I been much less frequent in posting here lately, I've largely abandoned the kinds of multi-tiered, multi-installment personal observations that I started this blog in order to share, in favor of quick and easy posts about how I can't wait to see Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern. (Which I still can't wait to see.) So here's an attempt to make up for lost time.

It's not just laziness that has kept me from maintaining my old level of self-disclosure here. For a while, I didn't want certain roleplaying buddies to know too much about certain other ones, and I never want to make it too easy for new villains to know too much about my weaknesses without having to work for it. But what the hell: much time has passed since the heavy duty phase of the Monk saga, and the 4 or 5 of you who actually read this blog as regularly as I write it might appreciate hearing what has happened in the meantime, possibly to shed let on your own experiences. I've been thinking a lot lately about what turns me on in batplay, and why, and wanting to put those thoughts down in words.

In a nutshell, getting unmasked (on various levels) and broken by the Monk several years ago seemed to open up a side of myself I've long been aware of but had not fully explored. While I can readily attest that nothing that has followed has carried exactly the same level of emotional intensity (after all, you never forget your first time), it's also true that I've tried to recapture that feeling many times since then with varying degrees of success. I think I've lost track of the number of men who have managed to get me (as the Batman character) to admit defeat--not just in a single scene, but on a more longterm level. I'm not talking dozens here, but it's possible I can no longer count them on both hands. I am called their "batbitch," their "batbaby," their "boi" (a spelling I hate, so hearing it applied to me only heightens the shame and pisses me off all the more). A smaller number have gotten me to the point where I have removed the mask that hides my true face, putting me in a more vulnerable position in regard to them. And an even smaller number--two, counting the Monk--have earned enough of my trust, and proven themselves skillful enough, to find out quite a bit about my "real" life, blurring the boundaries between my assumed identity and the one I show the rest of the world in a way that excites me as much as it frightens me.

Those are the basic stages of what I consider the best kind of bat-roleplay. They always happen in that order, when they happen, and although the details of each case are very different, the overall pattern is virtually identical: I come on strong in my early battles with the villain, winning a few and losing a few more. (The really inept or uninteresting bad guys don't make it past a single scene, unless I'm feeling particularly horny--but I've learned the hard way that it's a waste of my time to try to make it to the next level with an adversary who isn't up to the task.) After a few months (or weeks, or days now, depending again on how badly I want it) of this back-and-forth, the truly talented villain stages some sort of decisive showdown that I ultimately end up losing, but not before putting up the fight of my life. A short time after my defeat, if he chooses, my secret identity is revealed (sometimes this is purely verbal, sometimes it's on camera) and my old career as Batman is essentially over. This stage usually entails some degree of bad feeling, since I don't, as a real person, enjoy failure or defeat as a rule, and even though I'm perfectly aware it's all a game, the hurt is on some small level a real one. I tend to spend at least a day feeling genuinely depressed--but that passes, there is typically one last period of rebellion, and after a certain period of readjustment I come to accept and (in the rarest and best cases) even embrace my new role as a bottom to the villainous Top.

The most interesting part of all this for me is the struggle: the deeper I start to fall in the early days, the more I fight it ... and the more I fight it, the deeper I feel myself being pulled in. In essence, I absolutely love resisting as hard as I can until I am finally ready to admit that I can't resist anymore. (Even then, there is usually that one last gasp of resistance after I've theoretically already succumbed, before I accept my fate once and for all--which is the stage when I admit I don't want to resist anymore.) It's pretty much what happens physiologically, too: I work myself up, then hold back, then work myself up some more, and hold back hold back hold back until I just can't anymore, and whoosh--there's the orgasm, and the period of exhaustion that follows, then the whole cycle repeats the next time with a new roleplay partner.

I have my theories about what all this means, and why it's so powerful for me, but I will hold off on those till later. For now, I just wanted to convey what a psychologist friend of mine calls the "elegant pattern" of the fantasy. I should also note that I don't mean to suggest I am only a bottom (I intend to wrap this multi-parter up with an entry called "My life as a Top," btw), or that I go through every single phase of the pattern every single time I meet someone new online. (I should also note this all happens entirely online and entirely separate from my very happy real-life relationship--which itself does not fit the pattern at all.) The way I see it, the pattern is my way of reenacting a myth--the rise and fall of a good man, who will eventually rise (and fall) again in a new place and time--that, for whatever reason, is part of the story of my life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't ask, he won't tell

Remember, boys and girls: Do NOT ask a cop this question:

It was Officer Hub who tipped me off to the site Things Not to Ask a Cop. The clip-art gent you see above appears in every installment, much like the characterless characters from the much-loved and much-missed (by me, anyway) Get Your War On webcomic.

When I first checked out Things Not to Ask, I automatically assumed it was the work of a cop or maybe a cop spouse. But the more I looked over the identical-looking single-panel comics, the more I started to wonder. Let's just say if an actual officer of the law is coming up with stuff like this, he or she (no, definitely He) surely won't keep his job very long.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Strangers in the night

A little more than a week ago a cyberfriend turned me on to the new chatrooms at (which, like GearFetish, is a social-networking site aimed at fetish-minded gay men). I'd been a Recon member for years (like GF, basic membership is free, though if you pay money you get access to more features), but largely neglected the site for weeks or months at a time.

Until this past week. Now I find myself hanging out in the "Superhero" room there for stretches of the day and night. (FYI, the main feature that distinguishes Recon's approach to chat from GF's is that public rooms are devoted to particular fetishes and interests, including bears & cubs, daddy/boy, hypnosis, and "scallies," whatever that means. One is called "Chastity," which always throws me off because it's the name of one of my female coworkers. You can also look for like-minded men by geographic location and upcoming leather events.) I haven't partaken in the chat scene anywhere much since the heyday of AOL back in the early-to-mid-90s, and I can't say it's changed much: lots of lurkers, not necessarily lots of interesting exchanges with witty and articulate conversationalists, and a whole bunch of time spent alone in a room waiting for someone else to show up and stick around longer than 5 seconds. For a while it seemed like everyone who dropped in was between 19 and 24, a demographic that didn't even appeal to me when I was in it myself; and the bottoms (generally heroes and sidekicks) outnumber the tops (generally villains) by about 4 to 1. On a good day. Still, Recon's Superhero room is a new way to meet new potential roleplay partners and to reconnect with old friends/fiends, and I recommend it, although I have a feeling I'm burning out on it fast. (It triggers the obsessive side of me a little too much--and I hate the needy feeling of sitting alone in public waiting for someone to talk to me, either online or off.)

Thanks to this NPR piece on the new book Consequential Strangers, I now have a new way to think about the men (and occasional women) I meet through online roleplay. As defined by authors Melinda Blau and Karen L. Fingerman, a "consequential stranger" is someone who occupies that gray area between intimate friend and anonymous passerby; you may interact with him or her once or many times (a barber is a perfect example of the latter), exchanging information about each other to one degree or another, and yet your knowledge of each other is typically limited to a very specific field. Blau and Fingerman cite the kinds of people we exchange holiday cards with, but lots of Facebook friends--the kind I last saw in person in high school 30+ years ago--seem like the best contemporary manifestation to me.

Well, and chatroom/roleplay buddies, too. Some of these people I interact with exactly once and it goes nowhere, others develop into something resembling close friends--albeit friends whom I (almost) never meet face to face, who (usually) don't know my "real" name or what I look like when I'm not wearing a mask, and who (generally) know next to nothing about the details of my daily existence. And yet, at the same time, many of them have earned a glimpse into my innermost self; they see a side of me I wouldn't dream of showing to my best friends, let alone family members or coworkers.

It's an intriguing theory to me because it sheds light on the current Age of Oversharing. I'm frequently accused by people in (what I insist on calling) the Daylight World of being overly private, hard to read, or just plain standoffish. Even in the chatroom setting, when I don't break character with a newcomer or I refuse to reveal my real name or hometown, I can rub people the wrong way. And yet you, gentle reader, are privvy to all manner of my fantasies--but then this is blog is pretty much directed at consequential strangers, for much the same reason that the book's authors offer in the radio interview for why women tell their hairdressers things they would never reveal to their husbands or siblings. The "consequences" of what I write here are limited if you don't know a thing about me--though if I trust you enough to tell you my name some day, then the game changes, slightly.

Blau writes:
While those closest to our heart are synonymous with home, consequential strangers anchor us in the world and give us a sense of being plugged into something larger. They also enhance and enrich our lives and offer us opportunities for novel experiences and information that is beyond the purview of our inner circles.

You can say that again! Sometimes those "novel experiences" are yoga classes, and sometimes they involve one or the other of us on our knees ready to blow the load of a lifetime.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don't ask, don't tell

Normally I am put off by public displays of nationalism/patriotism/warmongering, but passing this larger-than-life-sized sign in the airport has become a high point of every flight:

That high forehead! That slightly pudgy face! Those pursed lips! That cryptic expression, bordering on the Mona Lisa's! Those shades! That trace of stubble! (I'd need to get nice and close to really capture it--something I'll gladly do, mind you, but it's not always a good idea to take too many photos in airports these days.) (And yes, I see the irony in that statement.) (I suppose you could say this guy is fighting for my right to snap and get off on pictures of him.) (And I imagine there's a good chance he'd beat the crap out of me if he knew I was thinking any of this.)

Welcome home, hero, indeed.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Promise he'll be in spandex and I am SO there

OK, OK, I'm about a month late sharing this information, but then if you take a look at the date of the last post here, you'll realize how rare it is to find anything from me these days. And if anything's gonna pull me out of my latest blogging hiatus, it's gonna be the news that this man:

is about to play this superhero:

Which is enough to make me stain my bat-tights. Not only because Mr. Reynolds has got to be one of the hottest men in movies these days, but because it means this won't be happening anytime soon, after all. Whew!

PS. The image of Hunky Hal in a Compromising Position above comes from my once and future favorite source of Lantern news.

PPS. Here's a piece of far more recent news about another Green-themed movie (which also, oddly enough, includes another peripheral reference to Jack Black).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Out of the comics & onto the streets

Finally got around to reading "The Legend of Master Legend," Joshua Bearman's "epic tale" of self-created real-life superheroes from the Dec. 25, 2008 issue of Rolling Stone. As Bearman noted in BoingBoing back when the story first ran ,

[T]he narrative at Boing Boing (and in the wider world) about real life superheroes has mostly been bemusement at the weirdos in spandex. That was my perception of the world when I started reporting. But this is [a?] most serious look at what it actually means that people are doing this, and having found Master Legend and spent a lot of time with him, I realize that what he's doing is strange, yes, but also strangely sympathetic.

Sure enough, while there's a tongue-in-cheek quality to the story, you do get the sense that our narrator believes there is more to ML and colleagues like these and these than an easy punchline. Here's a bit from the end of the piece:

This may be the real reason Master Legend inhabits a never-ending comic book in his mind, assigning everyone a character in the grand narrative. ... [T]he reality of Master Legend, a guy who has no job and lives in a run-down house in a crummy neighborhood in Orlando, is transmuted via secret decoder ring into an everlasting tale of heroic outsiders, overcoming the odds and vanquishing enemies. To the outside world, this makes Master Legend seem like a lunatic. But to the people around him, he is the charismatic center of an inviting universe. ... Being a Real Life Superhero means that Master Legend can get in his Nissan pickup and call it the Battle Truck. He can tape together a potato gun and call it the Master Blaster. He can stand in the porch light of a disintegrating clapboard house, a beer in his hand, and behold a glorious clandestine citadel. And who are we to tell him otherwise?

Who, indeed?

BONUS! Actual comments from and flame wars between some of the heroes in Bearman's tale here and on page 1 of the online version of the story.
EXTRA BONUS! Deleted material from the original story here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Night and day

Just finished reading an essay in/on Reality Sandwich called "Attending to Dreams" by a writer who calls himself Gyrus. It's a bit dense (not a diss), and I envision rereading it a time or two, which is one reason I'm writing about it here--as a bookmark for myself. I also bring it up because I sense a connection between it and my theory that online (and offline) roleplay can constitute a kind of dreamworld. Much of the essay concerns the work of psychologist James Hillman and the notion that rather than "use" our dreams (as with lucid dreaming or psychotherapy), we should learn to "attend to" them.

Here's Hillman:

[T]his dayworld style of thinking [...] must be set aside in order to pursue the dream into its home territory. There thinking moves in images, resemblances, correspondences. To go in this direction, we must sever the link with the dayworld, foregoing all ideas that originate there [...]. We must go over the bridge and let it fall behind us, and if it will not fall, then let it burn.

That term "dayworld" reminds me of a similar phrase I like to use (in my case, as an alternative to "real world"). As for "going over the bridge and letting it fall behind us," I think about that moment that sometimes--during a particularly good solo (and very occasionally joint) roleplay session when I find myself taking a leap of faith, past the point of no return, into the abyss. (I realize that's a string of three clichés, but they somehow seem so accurate as to almost be literal.) It's like getting an opportunity commit to the reality of the dream.

No profundities here, just a memo to self that I want to find out more about both writers.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Holy cornucopia, Batman!

Thanks, Monk, for letting me know about the "fanofbats"'YouTube channel, devoted to a complete set of Adam West Bat-episodes and even the serials from the 1940s (containing what may well be the least erotic batsuit of all time). Now I can have my all-time favorite tv show at my fingertips any time of the day or night. (Technically, I've had that for years now, courtesy of a bootleg DVD set.) How vividly I remember the long wait between the first broadcast and the reruns in syndication, then waiting around for one basic cale channel or another to air the series.

Hmmm... Which sample episode should I post to accompany this news item? Let me seeeeeee ...

I was planning to go with the deathtrap many folks seem to agree is the all-time hottest--the Riddler's spinning wheel (and accompanying "sticky net"--but on my way to tracking it down, I came across a more literally hot trap, brought to us by the Minstrel (RIP, Van Johnson) :

Ah, such a treasure trove!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Better than Prozac"

I have thought comic/film critic Frank DeCaro was hot (and hilarious) from the first time I saw him on The Daily Show, years and years ago. So imagine my delight to learn (here) that he is a fellow Batfan:

Love what DeCaro has to say about B's double life, "the fact that people speculate about his relationship with Robin," the outfit ("he looks great in lycra and leather--what more can you ask for in a character?"), "stalking Toys R Us," and especially the observation that "anyone who collects anything should never point a finger at anybody else, because ... it's all nuts." And perhaps the admonition that "you have to display it properly, because otherwise it's just a lot of crap" will inspire me to pull more of my own crap out of the basement and find a more fitting home for it in Stately Wayne Bruce Manor.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Holy virtual beefcake!

My experience with video games is largely limited to Pong, Asteroids, and Centipede, but this new one (that I first heard about from the Bat-Blog a while back) certainly caught my eye:

You've got to love that cape, for starters, and I would absolutely do the grey-suited hunk wearing it, whether he's virtual or not. Let's take another look at our hero:

Finally, here's one for those of you who like the ladies, featuring a Harley Quinn who's a few light years beyond the original conception of the character. (Thanks, Gray Fox, for bringing this one to my attention.)

Looks to me like there's more ass-kicking than death-trapping, but perhaps it's possible to manipulate the character so that he falls into the clutches of the Joker or gets strapped to one of the many restraint devices on view. (I do love the way the videos are all prefaced with Adult Content warnings--always a good sign.)

You'll find even more video promos for the game, some of them with audio commentary, here. And here's the official site, sure to grow more useful as more content is added in the days ahead.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hair of the Bat

Thank you, Lycra Lord, for alerting me to this TowleRoad item on a shirtless, bearded Batman (more images from the same series here; more work by the same French photographer here and here).

As a token of my appreciation, LL, I am finally referring to you by (assumed) name, rather than as simply "a guy I know."

PS. Not sure what to say to the TR commenter whose response is

What is this, a "Tom of Finland" Batman? I don't need Batman in leather and chaps, taking pisses on other guys in sketchy Gotham backrooms. Um, no. Really. No.

other than: well, you may not "need" a ToF Bat, but sign me up. Except for the backroom "pisses," which as far as I can tell are a figment of an overactive imagination.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who watches the Watchmen when they take their clothes off? I do! I do!

I admit I was one of those people with major reservations about the Watchmen movie. In fact, I was one of those people who didn't even want a movie to be made from the book(s).

Surprise, surprise: I liked it. A lot. Not without reservations, mind you, but given how low my expectations were going in, I left feeling pretty satisfied. It's been about 20 years or more since I read Alan Moore's original, so I was roughly halfway between a hardcore fan and a total newbie. I was joined by the Hub (who had never heard of the book, let alone read it), a friend of his who'd just finished reading the book 2 hours before the movie, and the friend's wife (who was in the same boat as the Hub)--and every one of them enjoyed it, too. Sure, it's damn violent, but the thing's about (among other subjects) how to deal with a violent world, so that didn't bother me too much. I also thought the movie did a great job at least raising the thorny moral dilemmas explored in much more detail in the book. And I appreciated the presence of a sense of humor that did not involve wisecracking heroes punctuating their gutpunches with punchlines.

But let's be honest. My favorite thing about the movie was the chance to see Patrick Wilson naked yet again (see also: Angels in America, Little Children, and this troubling spectacle). I had my doubts when I heard he would be playing Nite Owl, but I'll be damned if he didn't end up looking almost exactly like the comic book character (who is supposed to be a bit of a schlub, but I found him cute, too). Did I mention he was naked?

(Bummer! Just learned from IMDB that his 2003 New Year's Resolution was "To be in a movie or a play which doesn't require me to take off my clothes. Unless, of course, I don't get another job... In which case I'll be half-naked and whole-heartedly depressed for the rest of my career." Hey, that Plan B works for me.)

As icing on the (beef)cake, the updated outfit (shall we call it an "owlsuit"?) he wears when he finally suits up is mighty swell, too:

Not sure I bought how quickly the meek retired crimefighter transforms (back) into an asskicking, jailbreaking hero, but that scene struck me as the only one totally untrue to the spirit of the original. Not bad odds, all things considered.

Bonus for readers who actually value literary value over hunkitude: Here's a link to Beaucoup Kevin's list of graphic novels he recommends to folks who've been introduced to the medium via Alan Moore's opus.

Bonus for readers who are as shallow as me: Oh yes, there is also that gigantic blue penis in the movie.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Meanwhile, back in the real (?) world ...

I must admit, I'm disheartened by the recent murder of two policemen by the so-called "Real IRA" (brilliant name, btw, which has now inserted itself sans quotation marks into coverage of the story, thus lending legitimacy to a splinter group that doesn't appear to deserve any). It seemed for so long lately like Northern Ireland was a workable, inspirational example of actual change in a situation that had been deadlocked for decades, if not centuries--a case for diplomacy and compromise as an end to violence. (I thought it was a very smart move, a few years ago, when reps from Ireland tried to lend their experience to participants in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, not that it appears to have done much good.) This NPR interview with BBC correspondent Audrey Carville struck me, as an outsider, as a very good analysis of the situation--the economic context in which the incident took place, the ironies involved (like the image of a former IRA leader now working with the same British police whose murders he once plotted), and just what is at stake right now. I try very hard to keep an open mind to every side of a story, particularly those that unfold on the other side of the world from me, but this feels to me like a pretty clearcut case of a small minority doing everything it can to undo years of hard work for the sheer hell of it.

On a lighter note, we have "Eye-borg," the superhero-ish moniker of filmmaker Rob Spence, a self-described Six Million Dollar Man fan who is outfitting his empty eye socket with a camera. The first interview I heard with him (which I can't find at the moment) explicitly raised the possibility that he could use his new "superpower" for good or for evil. And at Spence's website, you'll find the following video intro; note the many references to Luke Skywalker, Neo, and other fictional precedents:

EYEBORG-- The Two Week Trial from eyeborg on Vimeo.

Maybe Eye-borg can lend his services to "the Troubles."

Stretching out

I've never heard of Kosmix (which is described as "Beta-ish" in its logo at the moment), but they've heard of me, and presumably you, too. That is to say, they've got a page devoted to Spandex Fetishism. Kind of handy, I guess, since it includes Wikipedia entries, Google searches, videos, and lots of other web resources of interest to underwear perverts the world over. Check it out!

Here's a sample: a portion of an amateur video that is so completely abstract you may even have trouble figuring out the gender of the star. Now that's what I call a fetish!

(Consider the above my gift to the various het and bi males and lesbians I've befriended via this blog and our mutual fondness for stretchy synthetic fibers, no matter who happens to be wearing them.)

As a bonus, the video above led me to two more you might enjoy, starting with this homemade montage of ... well, it's pretty clear right away:

And here's an appealing little tease from an Eye of the Cyclone DVD:

I'm happy to see that "eyeofthecyclone" has a YouTube channel, since the main website is now subscription-based. I'm all for helping a fellow pervert earn an honest buck in these tough times, but it seems like the lion's share of Cyclone stuff is wrestling-related, and while there's nothing wrong with that in my book, it doesn't exactly float my boat, either (if you'll permit me to mix metaphors).

Sunday, March 01, 2009

No shit, Sherlock

Lots of recent odds and ends, connections between which I largely leave to you:

1. An episode of the public radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge devoted to Sherlock Holmes and other fictional detectives. For the record, I admit to a mild Holmes fetish, particularly when he is portrayed by Jeremy Brett or Basil Rathbone, and particularly in the WWII-era Rathbone films like SH and the Woman in Green and Dressed to Kill. The real reason I like that series--films in which Holmes is moved into the present day, surely to the horror of true A. C. Doyle fans--is that they are lower than the "real" stories on detective work and higher on, you guessed it, delightfully kinky deathtraps. In many of them (I think there are at least four made back-to-back in the mid-1940s) Moriarty gets to be a Joker-style archnemesis bent on our hero's demise, more overtly than in the canonical novels and tales.

2. Another public radio show, RadioLab, recently rebroadcast an episode devoted to the subject of morality. This summary lays out the terrain:

we’ll explore where our sense of right and wrong come from. We peer inside the brains of people contemplating moral dilemmas, watch chimps at a primate research center share blackberries, observe a playgroup of 3 year-olds fighting over toys, and tour the country’s first penitentiary, Eastern State Prison. Also: the story of land grabbing, indentured servitude and slum lording in the fourth grade.

3. And speaking of morality (see, these items are connected after all!), here's a nice piece on the demise of (and ethics of) the pirated-comic-panels extravaganza Scans Daily from Johnny Bacardi. I admit it--I visited often (though never daily) in search of images that floated my bat-boat. But apparently I didn't check it that often, or I would have known that SD was no more. Easy come, easy go, I guess.

4. Finally, a link that has nothing to do with morality, but if I don't post it now I'll forget about it: Bat-Blog tipped me off to a Flash animation of Batman's utility belt. Here's a direct link to the project, which was originally intended for tech geeks and vanilla-flavored comics fanboys, but I say, bring on the belt-fetishists, too!

I assure you, the animated version is more fun than this mere frame grab:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods!

ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950, an exhibition of rare artifacts and memorabilia on view through August 9 at the Skirball Cultural Center in LA, sounds pretty remarkable. (I first learned about it through the Bat-Blog, which also directed me to this slideshow of 20 images from the show on the LA Weekly site.) The show contains such treasures as the very first sketches of the Joker and Superman, as well as the writing desk where the latter character was born and a photo of the real-life model for Lois Lane. But here's the passage from LA Weekly's blog that made me envision Joker himself, Catwoman, or any of a legion of other villains from the '66 TV show scheming to break in:

The copy of Action Comics #1, the holy grail of comics, which contains the first appearance of Superman [, is one of] less than a hundred copies ... known to exist. The copy at the Skirball is on loan from an anonymous collector and is being shown under a plexiglass cover in the "Lights! Camera! Action!" sub-exhibit one room over from the main gallery.

Heavens to murgatroyd! Have the press and museum curators of the world learned nothing since that rash of burglaries at the Gotham Museum back in the day?! Why, they're exhibiting a chunk of kryptonite, all but asking for a skirmish between Superman and some archfiend!

The Skirball also promises "stations that allow children to dress up as Superheroes or transform themselves via a quick costume change in a telephone booth"--and I ask, yet again, why is it that kids get to have all the fun in this world? But there is a serious intent behind all the interactive bells and whistles, as discussed in the blog post quoted above:

We're kind of in need of superheroes lately. That need is one of the major overlaps between the "golden age" of comic books and the present time. Hence, the Skirball's argument goes, the current resurgence of comics. And because it's the Skirball, the other major point is the Jewish connection. Without having to Wikipedia it, did you know that Stan Lee (the genius behind Spider-Man and Marvel comics) was actually Stan Lieber? And that Superman was created by two 17-year-old Jewish boys? In fact, the entire superhero genre was created by young Jewish artists in the midst of the economic turmoil of the 1930s and 40s.

If you're unlikely to make it to the show in person, you might want to consider ordering the exhibition catalogue (pictured above) from the show's home base, the William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta. In addition to photos, it includes essays from Jerry Robinson, Jules Feiffer, and Michael Chabon. I'm not sure of the page count, but at $18.50, it might just be a steal.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's ... Milkman!

"Steve [Beery] was dressed as Robin from the Batman comics, so the supervisor introduced himself by tossing out an effectively hokey line—'Hop on my back, Boy Wonder, and I’ll fly you to Gotham City.'"

So writes Armistead Maupin in the moving introduction to a new book about the late, great Harvey Milk, as excerpted in this TowleRoad blogpost.

In related developments, I'm a little surprised and very much disappointed that Gus Van Sant's extraordinary HM biopic hasn't yet met a bigger splash in the culture at large--I was fully expecting it to be as big a hit among hets and younguns as Brokeback Mountain before it, but that doesn't appear to be the case. (One of my thirtysomething coworkers the other day asked me, in all earnestness, "Why is that movie called 'Milk,' anyway?") My personal reaction to the film was closer to admiration than transformation; it didn't change my life, but only because my life was already changed--as in politicized--years ago. Even so, I think Milk is the most honest portrayal of activism I've ever seen, capturing both the tedium of day-to-day organizing (all those bulk mailings to stuff!) and the occasional hot sex one encounters along the way (all those bulk males to stuff!).

I know it's supposed to be Slumdog's year, but I'll have my fingers crossed for Van Sant, Sean Penn, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and their very fine movie come Sunday night.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nice and Terrific: the Justice League of Also-Rans

In my (so far fruitless) quest to identify a handsome supporting cast member in this 1967 Dick Van Dyke/Barbara Feldon vehicle that happened to be on tonight, I turned up one Stephen Strimpell, star of the superhero sitcom Mr. Terrific, from the same year.

The name kinda sorta rang a bell, as did Captain Nice, the other major-network Bat-ripoff from the same tv season, but I'm pretty sure I never watched either one during their brief runs (which, as TV fate would have it, started and ended on the same day). Enter our modern day Library of Babel, YouTube ...

First, an excerpt from a Mr. T episode that actually aired:

Note the set that looks almost exactly like Commissioner Gordon's office, and the cast consisting entirely of sitcom staples from the era. Now, a glimpse at the unaired pilot, with Alan "WILLLburrrrr" Young replacing Strimpell in the title role:


(Want to see the other 2 parts? You can find them by clicking on the clip itself.) Meanwhile, here's a learned-looking comparison of the Terrific Two.

Speaking of comparisons, behold this representative episode of competitor Capt. Nice, from the pen of Buck Henry:

In both cases, we've got laugh tracks, unpleasant costumes, and pained humor. On top of that, they're both struggling to spoof something that was already a spoof, which never works too well. Small wonder both have been consigned to the dustbin of history--which is still fun to revisit from time to time.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A good omen?

Handstamp at an event I attended recently:

Actual bats--some stuffed, some live, none bloodsuckers--were involved. And I had a fine bat-time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Men in tights, then and now

Two video treats for you:

1. From TowleRoad, a music video by tights-clad Brit pop singer Will Young:

2. From BatBlog, a very brief early-80s interview with Adam West. (Note that nice shot of an ungloved Batman at the beginning.)

And, oh, what the hell, I'm feeling generous tonight, so here's a bonus #3:

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Master Wayne, would you like a manwich?

Thanks to BatBlog for the heads-up on this video that has been making the rounds:

I'm not a gamer, so I don't get most of the jokes, but that doesn't bother me. I'm mainly in it for the fratboy in the (slightly odd looking) batsuit. He may be the ultimate in batdickery, but I'd watch BATtlestar Galactica with him any day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This probably calls for a "spoiler alert" ...

... except I figure anyone who is actually following this whole Batman's-dead/no-he's-not business is probably way more up on all of this than I am. All I care about is, this is a very sexy panel, for more reasons than I can count:

Note: You can find the whole issue here, on Scans Daily. But beware, it truly will make no sense unless you really, really care about this stuff.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"I'm just a kid trying to make a difference"

News quiz:

1. Is the self-description in the subject line a quote from
a. the anonymous 14-year-old boy who spent 5 hours in uniform (sans badge and gun) on patrol with the Chicago police department, or
b. the 15-year-old Southern California boy who has become an international phenomenon with his "no-cussing" campaign?

2. Which of the above two were you more like in your mid-teens?
3. Which one of the two would you rather have a conversation with today?

The real answer to #1, and my personal answers to #2 and 3, are in the comments. Feel free to leave your own, as well.

As a reward--or possible punishment--for your score, here's the "Don't Cuss" music video:

Shit yeah!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This explains so very much

As this recent item on BoingBoing confirms, it seems Superman co-creator Joe Shuster led a bit of a double life himself--by day, architect of one of the most powerful emblems of, er, traditional American values (i.e., truth, justice, and the Am-Way), while by night (during rough economic times, at least) he earned a bit of extra coin depicting kinky fantasies.

Granted, the illustrations in Craig Yoe's forthcoming book probably won't float my boat; I'm assuming they'll be all het, all the time. But as the cover clearly indicates, Supermannish men will be bound within its pages, so all I have to do is change the gender of those doing the binding and all will be well. (As a side note, I see that the new volume is the followup to a similar, though broader, project.)

This really does feel like the missing link between the realms of playful childhood hero-worship and darker, arguably more adult, desires. Much attention has already been devoted to the psychology of Wonder Woman's creator, and the Shuster saga only furthers the notion that caped crusaders are a bit less vanilla than we have been led to believe.

(I was about to say "less all-American," but maybe it's really the case that "America" has always been a more complicated ideal than some folks would like to admit. Who knows how many pipe-smoking, slipper-wearing Dads throughout the suburbs of the Eisenhauer years hid copies of these strips from their Superman-loving sons and daughters? Seduction of the innocent, indeed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One man's trash ...

Both Warren Ellis and, before him, Dirk Deppey seem to find this admittedly NSFW video so outrageous that they dare their presumably hetero, non-fetish-driven readers to watch it.

Something tells me you are not in that camp. Go ahead. Make your day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dead again

No, I haven't read it yet, and as noted earlier, I probably won't get around to it for awhile. As should be quite clear to even the most casual reader of this blog (and what other kind could there be?), I seriously don't read comics unless they contain images of a hunky man tied up or unshaven or in some sort of deathtrap or with his chest hair exposed--preferably all of the above. If this latest death-of-Batman installment contains enough of that, I'll read it, eventually. Lord knows the dude on the cover up there looks might-tee fine.

I don't really have anything to add to the conversations currently taking place in several hundred blogs, most of it pretty incoherent, misspelled, badly punctuated, and so on. For the record, I only know these conversations are taking place because, after stumbling upon this brief mention, I did a bit of googling to find out how many of my must-haves are included. I gather there is some torture. That's a plus.

Best thing I found was this interview with Grant Morrison about what he's up to. A few lines that struck me as interesting:

"I wanted this story to be mythical. It's on that scale. It's not meant to be about realism. It's not meant to be about politics and about stuff that's happening on the streets. It's the story about what happens when gods start interfering with life and life becomes mythical."

Nice comic timing here:
" The finale is pretty insane. Parallel universes. It's the end of the universe. Everything breaks down. I wanted to do something causality based. I don't think any of us have seen anything like this. It takes it to the point of real, nihilistic hopelessness.

I'm so pleased with it"

And, while I'm not always crazy about Morrison's aesthetic, I admit he's got a point here:
"Once you've seen [the films] Iron Man and The Dark Knight,why bother doing realistic superheroes because now the movies can do them better than anyone. I kind of feel that what it does is free up comics to be a little bit wilder. ... We shouldn't be following the storytelling techniques of Hollywood because they can do it really well. Comics can do all kinds of other things. They can be really crazy and wild and can really stretch the imagination and be really progressive."

Oh, and this recap/think piece seems to make the most sense to a non-comics-follower like me.

Finally, in my travels through cyberspace, I came across this very nice meditation from Ultrasparky on the appeal of superheroes to some of us. It was written well before any of this dead-Batman business, but these lines resonated with me as I read one outraged fan rant after another about Morrison: "A love of comics is just so personal. They've been part of our culture for so long now, pushed and pulled and reinvented in so many ways that they can be something different to everyone." (The Ultrasparky post is really a plug for this outstanding Michael Chabon essay in The New Yorker that I've been meaning to write about here for months. I really should still do that sometime, I guess.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hail and farewell

I learned, mere moments ago, of the death of Patrick "Secret Agent Man"/"Prisoner" MacGoohan from this obit by Johnny Bacardi.

And that one reminds me that I have not yet paid my last respects to two bat-villains who died in recent weeks, namely a certain Catwoman and the only Minstrel I know of. The latter I always found one of the hottest (if silliest) bad guys in the tv show's lineup, and this little bit of gossip suggests he may have batted for my team after all. This isn't the best photo of His Minstrelness (that would by necessity include Batman and Robin rotating and revolving on his fiendish barbecue spit), but it'll do in a pinch:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To the Batcake!

Spotted at a (fully grown) friend's birthday party:

Fun fact #1: I would totally do that Batman, were he the size of a human being or I the size of him.

Fun fact #2: One party guest did not read the area behind our hero as the exit to the Batcave but instead thought it was a graveyard, representing the Guest of Honor as rising/racing from the ashes of his past headlong into the future. Hey, it works for me.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Bat Music for Bat People

Three cheers to LP Cover Lover for this delightfully dorky album cover:

which was just one of the finds I turned up tonight in this collection of superhero-themed artwork. The blog also turned me on to this guide to Bat-themed songs recorded during the run of the TV series. There are a few publicity shots of some of the acts, and they're all pretty much as embarrassing as the one above.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Holy Bat-Bargain!

A tip o' the cowl to Bat-Blog for sharing this hot tip about Batman-themed merchandise now in the dollar bins at Target (alongside all the Valentine's Day stuff). I stopped by tonight and walked away with mucho pens, fancy stickers, markers, and a notebook, all for four buckaroos.

Alas, I missed out on the Groom 'n' Go Bath Set, a perfect way to instill prepubescent boys across America with a stubble fetish!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The spirit's not quite willing tonight...

Yep, saw The Spirit this afternoon. Too tired at the moment to post the review I really want to write, but in keeping with my pledge to post something somewhere (not necessarily here) every day, I'll take the easy route and share ...

•This link from SlashFilm to a faux ad campaign, the punchline of which occurred to me midmovie:

(The same site also directed me to Roger Ebert's scathing print review.)

•This TOTALLY UNRELATED clip of the only scene in the forgettable Indiana-Jones-ripoff Jane and the Lost City worth watching, tracked down by the Monk last night when I was telling him that Sam Jones (seen bound and shirtless below) is the star of the 80s Spirit TV movie (where he is also bound and shirtless, much to my delight):

I have plenty to say about the new movie, and maybe I'll even say it here, sooner or later. Meantime, you might want to head to the theater pronto if you want to get in on the ground floor of the next Showgirls cult phenomenon. You heard it here first.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A new year, a new leaf

When my British counterpart/colleague noticed I'd been posting more updates here lately, he asked if I was making up for lost time. Could be--though I've also promised myself that in 2009 I'm going to devote a little time each day to at least one of the many blogs and sites I'm involved with (as Batfan and in my Bruce Wayne existence). Go ahead, call it a resolution if you must. Lord knows I'm way behind with this one and especially this one.

To that end, I made quite a few tweaks to the sidebar on the right tonight. In addition to plenty more links and even a few new categories of them, you can now find the latest updates from the blogs I check most often for H&V-related info, subscribe to this one, and even become a "follower" of H&V. (Yikes.)

While I'm at it, here's more of my ongoing attempt to finally share some items I've been steadily bookmarking for years. (Just call me the Axl Rose of batbloggery.) No overriding theme this time, just odds and ends:

•If, like me, you sometimes take pleasure in obscure comic book heroes and villains from long-forgotten publishers, check out this regularly updated collection of them, which also includes new characters evoking the moldy oldies. The entire Flashback Universe blog from which that list comes is fun, and I've added it to the links sidebar.

•Here's a funny Conan O'Brien/Jim Gaffigan superhero cartoon. (True confession: I wouldn't kick either of these two out of my bed, whether in costume or out. Not sure I'd want them shooting deathrays out of their nipples, though.)

•Despite the horrendous reviews the new Spirit movie has been getting, I will naturally be seeing it. And I will always have a not-so-soft spot in my, er, heart for Sam Jones in the equally ill-fated 1987 tv movie, paid tribute to here. I mean, would you feast your eyes on this man, for the love of God?

•Nice collection of boot-fetish videos on YouTube, which will also point you to plenty of related works. Here's an enjoyable example of Stand & Model attitude:

Minimal, yes, but face it: Had Warhol shot this, it would be playing in museums the world over.

*A reader sent me a link to his 26-chapter BDSM-themed serial, which took him more than two years to complete. I've only dipped in to random chapters thus far, which means I have plenty more to ... chew on.

•Speaking of fiction, here's a reservoir of comics-related fanfic I found somewhere long ago, including some Bat ones. The broader-based home page of the site is now in my links list, too. Oh, and here's a weird, potentially hilarious assignment for your own ill-conceived fanfic.

•Courtesy of another online buddy, here's a Universal Studios Spider-Man getting dressed and doing his duty for the girls and boys, and a few of us oldsters, too. Bonus points for UnderArmour usage beneath the spideysuit:

•I forget exactly why I bookmarked this in the first place--I think it was for a post I was going to write (two years ago) about (male) rape fantasies--but now that I look more closely, I see these are all (?) women victims, so I feel kind of creepy sharing it with you sans political comment. Anyway, here's a semi-famous list, updated here and here.

This looks like a good place to stop for now, but trust me, I've got plenty more where these came from, and this appears to be one of those periods when I'm feeling the impluse to blog again, so stay tuned.