Archive for April, 2011

I know that I don’t seem like the most patriotic cat in town, always. And it’s definitely true that I’ve found arguments over patriotism and American exceptionalism a little bemusing, to say the least. It’s likewise true that I’ve argued that nationalism is a little on the parochial side, and that the skin of “patriot” can easily be stuffed with “fascist.”

But the fact of the matter remains that America means a lot to me, which is why Superman renouncing his American citizenship has engendered in me some strong and surprising reactions.

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I’ve been on a bit of a Superman walkabout. Mostly, I’ve been trying to find the essential components – precisely what makes a Superman story feel “right.”

That Clark gets to enjoy being “Metropolis-Clark” so much is part of the second most Important Thing of a a Good Superman Story: He falls in love with Lois Lane immediately.

And when done right, the reader is pretty much next in line.

Because Lois Lane is unlike anything he could ever imagine. Going to Mark Waid’s Birthright notes:

“What does Superman love about Lois? Her compassion. Her intense dedication to a job that, when done right, makes the world a better place. The way she constantly surprises him, a man who is almost impossible to surprise. And in no small part, that when he’s Clark, she’s hard to get.”

Superman writers, generally, get Lois. Particularly since she’s a writer’s fantasy – a reporter who’s stylish, stubborn, capable, quick-witted and above all else principled. She’s considered the best writer at the Planet, with her distant second competitor being…Clark Kent.

If you can’t write Lois Lane as an immediately engaging woman, then I don’t know what to do with you.  (more…)

Somewhere between my transformative experience watching Superman II, and my utter bafflement reading J. Michael Straczinski’s Superman: Earth One, I’ve been on a bit of a Superman walkabout. Mostly, I’ve been trying to find the essential components – precisely what makes a Superman story feel “right.”

It’s easy to point to All-Star Superman as the apotheosis of what makes a great Superman story. Too easy, is the problem. All-Star Superman is nothing less than a love-letter to the entire idea of the character’s mythos, told in twelve parts and then…complete. And until some young, misguided upstart decides to write a sequel in 15 years, it will remain a perfect artifact.

It’s also a story emphasizing what Superman cares about when he’s only got a finite time left to live, and while that’s totally awesome…most Superman stories occur when he’s NOT dying.

So in the meantime, there’s 70-odd years of “everyday” Superman stories to go through, and god knows they can’t all be winners – but there’s got to be a few gems in there, too. So, looking at some of the high points (meaning, the collected editions I can grab through the library), what makes Superman, well, Superman?

Essential Component #1: Superman’s gotta smile.  (more…)

I saw As You Like It at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre over the weekend, and it was fine. A nice little show, most everybody did a good job, and what do you expect from As You Like It? Frankly, I’m beginning to suspect that Shakespeare just wasn’t really a top-notch comedian.

But anyway, there’s a huge problem that I have with the play, and while I was watching it I think I stumbled on a way to solve it, and I want some opinions here. The problem that I have is this: Orlando is a complete fucking bonehead.

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As all of you know, today is Easter, a day in which Christians celebrate the terrible majesty of their Undead God.

In thirty-three AD, a criminal madman was sentenced to death by the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate.  Three days after the execution, the man returned from Hell leading an army of the damned, and changing the course of history to suit his dark purposes.  As is custom, every year Christians gather to appease the monstrous undead legions with fresh rabbit carcasses, attempting to sate their terrible hunger in the hopes that they will be spared and live to see the glorious End of Days, when ALL the dead shall rise up and destroy civilization as we know it, and also there will be locusts and plagues, the oceans will boil, the moon will turn as red as blood, cats and dogs will begin living together, and there will just generally be a lot of hysteria going around.

Though I am not an adherent to this faith, I feel that it is important to look past sectarian differences and recognize brothers and sisters in terror.

Iä!  Iä!  Iesu Ftahn!

What Should You Do Today?

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Threat Quality

Go read this Hark!  A Vagrant comic, because it is hilarious and about Lois Lane.

After 4.5 years, my MP3 player finally died on me. It wasn’t a huge shock – it had a tendency to freeze up on me if I clicked “next” too often in shuffle mode – but apparently that was not enough warning for me to back up the last year’s worth of playlists.

Playlists: Those things we used to call “mixes,” which I’ve used to track time since I was 14 and trying to cram an extra song onto the end of a 45-minute cassette side…god, 14-year-old me would never take any of this stuff for granted. Technology is a new and consistent amazement every day, 17 years in the future.

He may, however, be baffled by the fact that you can only buy one kind of player. My player managed to cack it the same week Microsoft told everyone what was already pretty clear: the Zune was officially a dead technology. Leaving the iPod as essentially the only game in town without having to do much but advertise better.  (more…)