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 clich├ęs, 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!