Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Review of The Twilight Zone, S1, E20: "Doc Baker Does a Doodoo"

Imagine wandering into your local cemetery to have a meditative moment to think about those you loved who passed on and being approached by the caretaker. He starts digging a grave while chatting cordially and you're all, "Hey, man, I'll just let you get to work while I go ponder our temporary state of self-knowing over there." And then he stabs you in the face and throws you in the grave because only dead people belong in cemeteries and you're disrupting his binary paradigm. Not only would that be a terrible story to be a part of, it's also a terrible story to tell. So why did The Twilight Zone tell it to me in the episode entitled "Elegy"?!

The concept of "Elegy" isn't bad. The people of Earth have finally realized that cemeteries take up too much space simply so people can turn self-pity and reflection into a nice walk among ruinous stone plaques. So they decide to turn an asteroid into the place they inter their dead. My guess is these same Earthlings have realized golf courses are even worse so I imagine the astronauts in this episode came pretty fucking close to having a nice vacation instead of a tragic ending.

Speaking of alternate possibilities, remember that show Sliders where the kid from Stand By Me traveled to all sorts of alternate dimensions where things were just slightly different? The entire premise of that show was that a universe exists for every possible choice (or possible thing you could think up, I guess? I just saw the synopsis of an episode as I was flipping channels and it was all, "On this Earth, people can speak to fire!"). And that's why I never gave the show a chance. Because what do I care if they land in some universe and save the day when I know there's an exact duplicate of that universe where they failed to save the day?! I'd have watched the show if I'd heard they die tragically every few episodes. Also, I'm not saying the show couldn't have been entertaining. I'm sure it was good fun! I'm just saying the concept ruined it for me from the outset.

Speaking of things that are getting further and further away from discussing The Twilight Zone, I rewatched The Devil's Rejects on PlutoTV this morning and I think advertisers should be more cautious about what movies they allow their ads to be played during. Because I'm not sure I'd want my product to be shown immediately after a half-naked woman with a mask made out of her husband's face exploded after being hit by a semi-truck. Maybe that's just optimizing their audience? It's a good thing I'm face blind when it comes to commercials or else whatever product was being pitched which I now can't remember would forever make me think of a house with 1000 corpses buried under it.

So these three astronauts find themselves on a planet full of taxidermied people. They're super confused throughout the episode until an actual person comes along and is all, "It's a cemetery, guys! Isn't it cool?!" And they're all, "It's pretty elaborate." And the caretaker responds, "We bury people in the place they'd most like to be. By the way and entirely unrelated, where would you most like to be?" And they're all, "Heading home in our ship! Oh boy, this tea you made us is delicious! Ack! We've been poisoned! But why?!" And the caretaker shrugs and doesn't say, "We've had terrible trouble with vandals and anti-Semites." No, he just says, "It's a quiet place and y'all are fucking getting on my nerves."

The moral of the story — like the moral of loads of horror stories — is to never get lost. Don't fucking do it, man! Once you're lost, you're fucking doomed. You're either going to wind up at a motel where they turn guests into jerky or wind up at a motel where they kill people in their showers or wind up at a motel where a hick family of necrophiliacs and sadists led by their clown father will torture and murder you or wind up at a motel where the locals beat your ass because you're a smug advertising salesman who maybe wasn't lost but his car broke down and that's just as bad as getting lost. Maybe the moral is to never stay at a motel! Anyway, it's not like these astronauts did anything to deserve their fate. It was just bad luck. So maybe sometimes the moral of the story is simply "Life fucking happens the way it happens and even when you're being poisoned by a mad cemetery caretaker, take comfort in knowing that it's nothing you did and there's nothing that could have been done differently (aside from killing the caretaker before you even knew he was going to kill you, making you the asshole)."

Star Trek: The Next Generation, S1, E6: "Lonely Among Us"

This episode contains an episode that we never get to see and I'm a little bit upset about it. The Enterprise picks up dignitaries from two races who hate the fuck out of each other. One of them eventually winds up dead and the mystery is left to be solved by Riker at the end of the episode. Maybe it was a crossover episode with The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Or maybe the mystery wasn't much of a mystery. The victim was killed by one of the other race's dignitaries and now it was basically just a whole lot of paper work to settle the matter (which is probably why it was funny that Riker was being forced to handle it?). Although it would have been nice to see Riker and Data discuss old episodes of Scooby Doo only to have Data rip the head off of an alien at the end thinking he was unmasking it.

The "two alien species aren't getting along and are giving Picard a headache" plot is a good example of an ST:TNG parallel plot that doesn't really matter which I mentioned in the previous review. Instead of looking at a ST:TNG episode as having a Plot A and a Plot B, we should think of ST:TNG as having Plot What The Crew Was Doing and Plot What Fucking Happens To Them As They Tried To Do The Other Plot. I had never really noticed this aspect of the show until this rewatching of the series and it's a good example of deconstructing a show correctly. What I wanted to initially do was hate the show for not doing the thing I expected the show to do. "Resolve both fucking plots," I scream into my Hamms Beer, clutching my testicles so hard I almost vomit. Then I'd go onto the ST:TNG Reddit and begin pointing out how stupid the writers of the fucking show are because they're too dumb to figure out an ending that satisfies the two parallel plots! But instead, I allowed myself time to think, "Okay. This is a thing which I don't like. Why don't I like it? How does it figure into the show on its own merits and not according to my brain which is thinking up ways to insult the writers' mothers' choice of procreative partner?" Whenever something happens in a book or film that you think is stupid and incorrect, you owe it to the creators of that thing to look at it anew, giving it the benefit of the doubt. The problem with most criticism of art is that the critic thinks they're the smartest motherfucker in the room and anything they initially think is beyond reproach.

In this episode, we learn that there's a planet called Parliament. It's a neutral planet where alien races hold conferences and diplomatic meetings. Hopefully we'll get an episode later that really goes in-depth into how the planet is run. I hope the episode is called "November Fifth" and it ends with the entire planet being blown to bits.

Even though it's probably more interesting, let's forget about Plot What They Were Doing. It's never resolved and just adds a little background entertainment as two different groups of aliens constantly try to murder each other on board (and one of them eventually succeeds and it's treated like a fucking joke! I guess it is kind of funny to have a bunch of cat assholes trying to murder a bunch of snake pricks who also want to see the cat assholes die in a fire). The Plot What Fucking Happens To Them As They Tried To Do The Other Plot happens when they fly too close to a space electrical storm. I don't know if electrical storms can actually take place in space but I also don't know if a fancy man with a penchant for playing dress up can create matter at will, teleport people around the universe, and fall in love with a Starfleet officer so I'm willing to accept it as science fiction fact. What I'm also willing to accept because it's a made up story about humans in space in the future is that the electrical pulses are sentient beings. It makes sense, right? It's like the Enterprise flew too close to a giant space brain and one of the brain's thoughts (maybe a stray thought about how it wouldn't mind fucking that sexy moon which looked like Felicity Kendal's ass) accidentally boarded the Enterprise. That's actually not a great simile unless we also believe that each of our thoughts are individual beings and every thought we ever have exist as members of a giant family that constitute our brains. Because it's more like some mischievous static electricity based teenager hops on board the Enterprise to check it out and then gets stuck as the Enterprise flies off toward Parliament.

This entity fucks up the systems when it begins to panic, realizing the Enterprise has pulled it far from home. It begins trying to learn how to fly the ship itself so it can turn it around and, in doing so, kills Engineer Singh (which means I still don't know who's in charge of the engines and giving all the power they've got). Once everybody realizes what's happening (because the entity takes over Picard and, when the crew can't quite tell what's going on, it tells them directly through Picard), they decide to forgive it and fly it home. Oh, it definitely happens with a lot more drama than that but I think I covered the important bits.

Once they return to the space brain, the crew realize Picard is going to transport himself into space to live with the brain pulse people. Counselor Hotpants is all "What the fuck?" and Doctor MILF is all "What is he doing?" and Future Sunglasses is all "Whoa whoa whoa!" and Angry Face is all "RAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!" and Horny Police Chief is all "I can't let you do this, Captain." But the Captain does it because I don't think he really has a choice. The alien acts like it's Picard's idea to join him but I think Picard is probably screaming obscenities at it in the back of his head. Nobody keeps a close eye on Picard or sedates him so he manages to sneak off and zap himself into space as transporter data.

Almost immediately, Picard regrets it. The teenage electrical pulse abandons him to go fuck off with its mates and Picard's mind is left to bounce around unincorporated for the rest of eternity. Luckily he can still feel feelings as transporter data. Deanna Troi feels his loneliness mere seconds after Riker is all, "I guess the ship is mine! Let's go to Parliament!" (which happens mere seconds after Picard zaps himself into space). And this is when we learn too much about the ship's transporter system.

Apparently the data of anybody beaming out of the transporter gets stored in the computer. That means you can replicate the person at the point they last used the transporter. I don't think you can create a new version of the person willy-nilly! You still need what naive people call "the soul" or something. So they lock onto Picard's loneliness and replicate Picard from his last known data. Which means he doesn't remember the experience of being a space current. Which also means this isn't the real Picard! Maybe I shouldn't say "real". I mean "original." My theory is that the moment Picard transported off of the ship, he was as good as dead. Sure, maybe the Betazoid (Betazed?) could still feel the remnants of his existential loneliness that brought him to the point of committing suicide. But it's essentially not Picard, just brainwave detritus and emotional flotsam. But through replicater and transporter technology along with a final blueprint of Picard's body, the crew of the Enterprise basically clone Picard. Sure, it's Picard with all of his memories and thoughts and feelings. But it's not the original Picard. That one's fucking gone, man.

This theory makes me fucking hate the transporter because now I just see it as a suicide machine that disintegrates the original person and merely clones them on the other end. How would anybody know if the person stepping into the transporter was killed and then cloned on the planet below? Sure, it has all the thoughts and memories and personality of the person who stepped into the transporter so it wouldn't matter to anybody else. But the thoughts and memories of the person who stepped into the transporter end when the system is engaged. It's lights out for the Away Team! Now meet your new Away Team: clones of the original Away Team! And then when they transport back, it's now clones of the clones! Holy fuck, I'm getting sick just thinking about all the fucking death of ego on this ship!

It's too depressing thinking of the transporter as a suicide machine so I'm just going to pretend it works like the show tells me it does. That being said, it doesn't mean original Picard survived this. He definitely died. So from now on, I guess I have to refer to Picard as Picard II.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Kid Eternity #1

I swear to God I ruined my underwear when I saw Ann Nocenti wrote this.

I like the vague ambiguity of the phrase "ruined my underwear." Did I come in them or shit myself? Probably both since it's Ann Nocenti! Her writing is fucking terrible but in that way that I can't get enough of it! And I have no memory of this comic book so I'm actually pretty excited right now. Like the first time I realized I could make my own dick hard by shoving a finger up my ass.

The story begins with three homeless men having a philosophical discussion about how terrible women are. You know, the way men do. Men like to defend this kind of talk as "locker room" talk, as if the locker room is some kind of special out-of-bounds timeout area where nothing said or done actually counts. Which, if it were true, would mean I was never bullied in 8th grade for having man tits. I will say this: boys and men behave like monsters in a locker room. Some of us have avoided locker rooms, to the best of our abilities, for most of our lives because of men who somehow think it's their safe space to act like the sociopaths they truly are. Fucking thank God women exist if being in the presence of women means terrible fucking men think they can't be themselves. Because nobody needs a society of men acting in public the way they act in a locker room. And anybody who uses the phrase "locker room talk" as an excuse for certain types of behavior are telling on themselves. Because that person in the locker room is who they truly are and the person hiding behind the mask is the one who leaves that locker room and knows they have to hide some secret, terrible side of themselves. What I'm trying to say by way of Ann Nocenti's homeless people is that Donald Trump and his defenders are sociopathic monsters who would tell me to get over it and it's just a joke after they came up behind me in the locker room and grabbed one of my man boobs in 8th Grade. Fuck them and fuck you, Steve Garcia.

One of the homeless men, Josef, is all, "I love the way you sing, Willie, but you call women a lot of derogatory names in your songs!" And Willie is all, "Oh, you know I love them so much! We're the bastards and they're the best for loving us!" And then the last one whose name I don't know yet is all, "Josef, you're a bigger chump than your Biblical namesake." Which made me think, "That's not cool! Why call poor Joseph a chump? How was it his fault his brothers were jealous pricks who stole his beautiful coat and threw him in a pit to be devoured by wolves?!" Was that what happened or am I mixing my Biblical stories with Aesop's fables? Anyway, it turns out he meant Joseph as in Mary and Joseph. But why would I think of that Joseph before the Old Testament Joseph?! Mary's Joseph is practically the least important character in The Bible! Probably because he was such a chump. Does "chump" mean "a super understanding and sweet and compassionate and not at all jealous (although maybe a little naive and gullible?) kind of person"?

After the nameless homeless person makes their joke about how Josef would buy the virgin birth excuse, he laughs uproariously. People who laugh at their own jokes confuse me. Sometimes I'll laugh at something funny I've said but generally only after other people laugh at it and then their laughter might be infectious. Or because I've said something that I didn't know I was going to say and it catches me by surprise as well. But you know how many people say a thing and then laugh immediately after? It's like they've been trained by laugh tracks to think that other people won't know something is funny if you don't chuckle at it immediately. I know a few people who sort of chuckle after everything they say and it infuriates me! Sometimes it just feels like they're doing it to say, "Ha ha! I know what I just said is nonsense and wasn't worth uttering and shouldn't be taken seriously so here's my apologetic chuckle." I'd prefer the statement without the laugh just as I prefer my sitcoms without the audience laughter. And while it might be forgivable for a person to laugh or chuckle at their own statements while in conversation with others, it's absolutely reprehensible when somebody writes something on Facebook or Twitter and ends with a "lol" or the crying while laughing emoji. The level of hilarity in your statement ain't for you to decide, bruv.

"I wish I were alive." Wait. This homeless guy's dead?

Across the street from the homeless encampment stands a warehouse where strange things have been going on. Or, at least, one strange thing has been going on: a guy that looks like John Lennon reincarnated has been squatting there. That's a strange enough premise for a comic book, right?

Maybe the looking like John Lennon isn't the strange bit. That's just the descriptive bit. The strange bit is that he dreams about finding water in a toilet with a divining rod while a little kid shoots him in the stomach. He wakes up with a bullet wound while some paranormal government investigators drop by to get help him on a case. And don't think they're just clones of Scully and Mulder because of their hair color. The guy, Jerry, is a dead comedian returned to life in the body of a homicidal killer (no, he's not Shade the Changing Man) and the lady, Val, has been chased by demons and serial killers who never had a proper father transference and loves to quote psychologists. They've got a real Bud Abbott and Lou Costello vibe going.

Kid Eternity (the John Lennon clone) squats with an angel named Keep. I don't know what's going on yet but it'll truly be weird seeing as how Ann Nocenti wrote it. Not because she's good at writing weird things. She just writes things that sound like a non-native speaker translating something from their language into English. You know, Engrish. Ann Nocenti writes in Engrish.

Weird how the guy is into a plan that he'll only be involved with for five minutes and the woman who will have to deal with it for the rest of her life is all, "Fuck this nonsense!"

One of Kid Eternity's super powers is to yell the word "eternity" which summons a historical personage. He tries to summon Cupid to get the FBI agents to fuck but it doesn't work. Probably because Cupid isn't real but also maybe because Cupid is dead, according to Keep. He reminds Kid Eternity that gods die when people stop believing in them. Which is weird because you'd think Cupid would still have quite a bit of life in him. Isn't Valentine's Day practically a holy day dedicated to him? If Cupid isn't still alive, no way is The People of the Book's god, God, still alive! I bet there's more actual worship of Cupid and love on Valentine's Day than all the religious fervor for the monotheistic God during the whole year. And that God has three big religions worshiping his ass! I just think a large percentage of his worship is lip service (which is also a large percentage of Cupid's worship, if you get what I'm saying (oral sex)).

Next there's a scene in a church where a Reverend Murphy gets drunk on confirmation wine and gropes a nun. She then hides a thorny cross in her underwear and he grabs it and gets cut. She then says, "See?" And he's all, "See what?" And that's it. That's the scene. I suppose it sets up Kid Eternity in the confessional but I don't know why. Also I don't know if the nun hides the cross in her underwear. But you have to make your own calls when reading an Ann Nocenti scene. Often, two characters who seem to be having a dialogue (based on my years of experience reading comic books where if two people are in the same panel and both have word balloons, that means the people are speaking to each other) wind up having two separate conversations in which neither seems to be responding to the other. Maybe Ann Nocenti has only ever had conversations on Internet messaging systems? Knowing that Ann Nocenti has never talked with another living being face to face would go a long way to explaining her writing.

Actually, nothing can explain her writing. I keep trying to explain it but I'm really in over my head here. Maybe this is what it's like being a dumb ass? Maybe Ann Nocenti is so much smarter than me, I'm like a mentally disabled person trying to parse Shakespeare. I just don't have the brain power to understand this stuff so my natural defenses kick in. "I'm not too stupid to understand this; Ann Nocenti is stupid! She writes dumbly! Like a huge dumb moron dumby!"

Since the FBI agents won't fuck to produce a special Buddha Christ child, Kid Eternity needs to search the world for the next step in human evolution. So he screams "Eternity!" and summons Madame Blavatsky to help. I began reading the Wikipedia page on Madame Blavatsky so when I make a joke about her fraudulent spiritualism, I could do it being well-informed. But I was immediately derailed when I read that her mother translated into Russian the novels of Edward Bulwer-Lytton. How do I get past that?! I'm fucking flabbergasted. I'm fucking stunned that this is a thing. The cogs in my brain ground to a halt. Now I'm never going to understand Blavatsky's theory of Theosophy because this fact has rerouted all of my processing power to mull it over. Even if I read about her spiritualism and belief in Theosophy, I won't retain any of it. I can only learn one fact per day as extraordinary as this Edward Bulwer-Lytton/Madame Blavatsky connection.

The more I read about Madame Blavatsky, the more I feel like maybe Ann Nocenti considered herself a modern day version of the spiritualist. Maybe she even thought she was the reincarnation of the woman. I suppose I only think this because Blavatsky was so well educated (both by others and by her own insatiable reading habits) and Ann Nocenti's writings, while confusing and off-kilter, are full of things a well-educated person would mention if they wanted people to know they're well-educated. I know this because I don't understand most of it.

The worst part about reading about Madame Blavatsky is thinking, "What the fuck have I done with my life?" after every single sentence of her biography where she's learning something new, or going someplace new, or convincing more people that she's traveled astrally and been visited by a mysterious Indian man in a mystic vision. Although reading that a lot of historians mark about 10 to 25 of her years as being "unreliable" and "largely uncorroborated" makes me feel a little bit better. I suppose if I had to make an accounting of my life without worry of anybody offering a conflicting opinion, my life would be super exciting too! Just think! I could get people to believe I've slept with more than four women! Or three women. Is four already sounding too unbelievable? Maybe two? Well, at least one! And it was so good!

Madame Blavatsky's Wikipedia article contains the most uses of the word "allegedly" right after O.J. Simpson's. I wish I'd lived in an age where people couldn't corroborate anything I said I'd done and the only reason people wouldn't simply outright believe it would be because none of the things I said happened were ever mentioned in anybody I knew personally's diary. "Well, sure, Grunion Guy said he had marital relations with more than four women but we couldn't find proof of his relations with any of those women written down in their diaries. Maybe the mysterious entry 'Had a terrible night. Will not repeat that experience' possibly backs up the assertion but, if so, a night with Grunion Guy was no more memorable than a night of eating bad seafood."

I'm sorry. This is now becoming a review of Madame Blavatsky. But I feel like I need to know everything that Ann Nocenti knew to understand her story.

Err, or maybe I don't. Maybe I'm reading too much into Nocenti's work.

Madame Blavatsky's first question to Kid Eternity is "What's to eat in this century?" That's because she's fat. It's funny, right?

Speaking of being fat, I was watching some Community last week and they're discussing whether a name sounds like a fat girl's name. Mostly Pierce is discussing that because the others are too young and woke to think in those terms. But Pierce says the name is a fat girl's name, "like Gravy Jones." My cat's name is Gravy so now I keep telling her that she has the name of a fat girl. Which is probably appropriate because she's such a coot widdle stocky lady with the shortest little back legs and oh my God I'm so in love with her.

It's only fair that if I mention Gravy, I have to supply a photo of Gravy.

Being a Vertigo title, there are tits. Lots and lots of tits. But only in a scene of the Greek Gods as they awaken from a two thousand year old orgy coma. Kid Eternity woke them up by calling for Cupid. Except Cupid isn't the first to wake for some reason. That reason is so that Hermes can switch his love arrows with Ares' hate arrows. Who knew Ares had hate arrows? Zeus doesn't care about any of it because he just wants to rape something. But Hera is all, "Rape is way too hard now! They made, like, laws against it!" Which seems like a weird thing to say. As if rape would be acceptable without a law against it? Hmm, what am I saying? Even with laws against it, it's almost acceptable with all of these "boys will be boys" banner waving frat boys running our world into the ground.

Meanwhile, Madame Blavatsky stuffs Twinkies down her throat followed by Coke chasers. She jumps to a lot of conclusions while trying to figure out who Kid Eternity is and why he summoned her. But since she thinks up those conclusions, they must be true. You need somebody in a comic book who somehow knows more than they should know to explain things to the reader. I find it an annoying shortcut because it just spits out a bunch of truth from an absolutely trustworthy source instead of finding a reasonable way to present the information through actual events in the story. It's like in the HBO series The Outsider where they're investigating the murder of a child and things are getting really weird. So as the show moves from a seemingly normal murder investigation into the paranormal realm, an unknown woman happens to overhear one of the investigators talking to a lead, takes her aside, and explains exactly what the fuck the murderer/monster is. Did the writers think that this just looked like hard work by the investigator paying off as opposed to what it really was: random luck that the investigator happened to run into some omniscient character who isn't a mental patient with a crackpot theory at all but the one person who knows the absolute truth of one of the craziest mysteries of the universe? At least Madame Blavatsky's revelations are just mild speculations about Kid Eternity's part in the universe and who might have created him to be a key player. She doesn't just hand out the answers for free.

Speaking of characters who give the answers to the mystery, the only acceptable one was M. Night Shyamalan's character in Signs. The characters should have believed that he knew what he was talking about when he said the aliens were probably susceptible to water because he was the writer and the director. I mean, why aren't you listening to that guy?! Although I still hate the movie because the whole point is that all the "signs" point to a proof that there is something greater in the universe (like, you know, God) directing our movements and lives. But that only makes sense because the story was written by a person and so that person is basically the God setting the events in place. Of course everything in the script happens for a reason because it was written that way. Life isn't a fucking M. Night Shyamalan script (thank God!).

Double meanwhile, some Catholic priests and nuns are releasing a bunch of demons they've kept in captivity because the Pope said they should. I'm sure it has something to do with Kid Eternity and his search for the new age Buddha Jesus but I can't logically connect the dots. Reading an Ann Nocenti story is like looking at a magic eye painting. You can't really understand it by simply looking at it. You have to cross your eyes until your head hurts and hold your breath until you nearly pass out and maybe ingest some bad oysters to boot. You know there's probably a recognizable image in there somewhere but fuck it if you have the patience to see it.

I just grabbed a Magic Eye picture at random on the Internet and screwed up my vision to see what it was and it said, "I <3 U" and now I feel all squidgy inside. Is whoever made that my Yoko Ono?! I mean the Yoko Ono to John Lennon and not the Yoko Ono to The Beatles. Usually when you invoke Yoko Ono's name, people understand it in the "she was the cause of the break-up of the greatest band of all time" kind of way (although she wasn't. I mean, why are we putting the blame on her and not John and Paul and their egos?). But you can also invoke Yoko Ono's name in a good way because of the way she won John Lennon's heart due to her refusal to be cynical. Not that any of it matters. Everybody is just the person they want other people to think they are while simultaneously being the person who broke up the greatest band of all time. We must accept the duality of everybody and not just the duality of the woman in the story. You can't believe John Lennon was all peace and roses without also believing he was a terrible husband and father. Espousing grand and uplifting ideals in the public realm is a lot easier than living them in the private one.

A typical Nocenti page. She just throws every idea in her head at the page and hopes it sounds profound. I suddenly feel like I have a lot in common with her.

Oh, the demons were let out to kill anybody who might have a Buddha Christ child! I finally fucking understand Ann Nocenti! It took some work (I've been reading this comic book for five days now) but I got there! She's working on a sort of a "spirituality is good and can save mankind but religious dogma is bad and wants to keep them in the dark" theme! That's probably why she brought in Madame Blavatsky. Because she founded that whole Theosophical Society which believed the answers to everything would be born out of religion, science, and philosophy. There were some truths in all religions (having been, she believed, based on one Ancient Wisdom) but none of them practiced it correctly and most were frauds to keep elites in power. Maybe she was a fraud as a spiritualist and as an autobiographer but she might have been on the right track in the core truth of existence. Not that I believe there's a core truth of existence. Einstein said that God doesn't play dice with the universe. But I say it's dice all the way down!

Most of life is us trying to maintain the illusion of control. It's why we seek answers. We want to have as much information as possible so that all of the choices we make have an absolute 100% known outcome. But we can never have that and that's what makes life a tragedy. The proof of my theory is Pulp Fiction. The arc for most of the characters in the film depend almost entirely on random happenstance. We might control every aspect of our lives as much as we can but can we control when we need to take a shit? Fuck no. I mean, a little bit! But not to the degree that our lives won't be affected by taking one. Vincent dies because he takes a shit at the wrong time. Jules manages to stop the diner robbery because he's in the bathroom when it breaks out. That one guy almost kills both Jules and Vincent because he's in the bathroom when they come for the glowing briefcase. And it's not just that we can't control our bowels. John McClane runs into Wallace at a crosswalk. It's all fucking random, man!

And if you don't accept pop culture entertainment as theoretical proof of the workings of the universe, I have a personal anecdote! I once applied for a job at a comic book store. A day or two later, I was taking a shit when I heard the phone ring. It was the store leaving a message to call them back about the job. I tried to call them back but either had the wrong number or couldn't get through somehow. So taking the shit made me miss my dream job! Taking a shit is the worst thing you can do for your health and your dreams.

I totally get where you're coming from, Gregory, but the "enforced" part of your plan might be a problem.

That plan by Gregory was considered a woke thought in the early 90s. Pretty sure I had it in college. Not the enforced part! Just that vision of the future we've all had or heard somebody come up with while drinking late into the night and feeling particularly melancholy. That vision where everybody has mocha skin and brown eyes and beautiful, thick black hair and nobody hates anybody for superficial differences. Although as Anthrax pointed out, "Would we hate each other by the sound of our voice? Tell me how it feels to be hated! Tell me how it feels to be loved! Tell me what it means to be respected! Or is the answer none of the above?!"

Have I hit on what makes Ann Nocenti's writing both interesting and not very good? She somehow has a photographic memory for every profound thought she's ever had throughout her life and when she sits down to write, they all crowd up to the front clamoring to be added to the story. And so her story becomes a jumble of mixed up theories and random shower thoughts that never quite fit together into a coherent narrative. Holy fuck! I think I've finally cracked her and the reason why I love reading her terrible stories! Do I love the heart and determination of her need to profess profundities while lacking all control of the story?! Fucking hell. She's my Tommy Wiseau, isn't she/

"The stranger" in the above comic book caption is Cupid. He's been summoned by Kid Eternity but he arrived late because he had to wake up from a God coma. Plus he has hate arrows on him instead of love arrows. Oh man, just think of all the mischief he's going to create!

Fuckin' amen, Gregory. And by the transitive property, fuckin' amen to Ann Nocenti too.

I refuse to believe that Ann Nocenti's writing has moved me in any way. I have just hit myself in the side of the head with a hammer and am blacking out. When I come to, I shall have no memory of this every happennaodgigk

Man, my head hurts! I guess I was reading this Ann Nocenti comic book and I had a stroke! I guess I'll never know even if the me having the stroke typed something about it in the previous paragraph because, as anybody who has read anything I've ever written knows, I don't fucking proofread, edit, or rewrite.

Keep and Madame Blavatsky have gone around putting a huge 'X' on the door of every person who might produce a Buddha Christ child. The demon angel babies have gone around murdering all of the people behind those doors. And they're working for the church! I love a good story where the church is the bad guy. So close to real life!

Either the murderer is Madame Blavatsky or this panel is part of a Hostess advert.

Actually, the demon angel babies are also into 20th Century snack food because all the church ever fed them was the blood of innocents and priestly confessions of pederasty. Although if those were Oreo flavors, I'd be all over them.

Somehow Kid Eternity has convinced the feminist (who spent at least one full page discussing how much she hates dicks and erections) to consider carrying the Buddha Christ child. She's totally against dicks getting anywhere near her love portal but when she sees the dead guy, she's all, "Oh! Never mind! He's cute! Maybe do that He-man yell where you summon somebody from the past to this guy and I'll fuck the fuck out him." But instead of Kid Eternity remembering he can bring anybody from the past by raising the Sword of Grayskull over his head and screaming like a maniac, he decides to not remember that.

Guess what happens that you've already guessed by all the clues in the story so far? That's right! Cupid shoots the two FBI Agents with his hate arrows! And now they want to fuck each other even less than before! Now they want to Human Centipede each other! But not in a hot way like the term "Human Centipede" suggests.

Kid Eternity has a dream that Jesus is old and getting drunk at a bar. He's expecting Kid Eternity to save the world. Jesus can't do it because he's just a dream. I think the real Jesus has turned goth and been sent to Hell.

So is this Satan? He's different than Lucifer in the DC Universe, right? Maybe Satan is also Andrew Bennett!

If not for the "I've gotten a bum rap for all the evil ever" speech, I was hoping this was Jesus Christ in Hell. But I get the whole Last Supper thing but for Satan is some kind of analogy or metaphor that's supposed to make me think. So let me think. Oooh. Ahhh. Profound!

Kid Eternity and Suzie the Feminist meet a guy named Dog who hunts the little dirty angel demon babies. He acts like an animal and quotes Susan Sontag. I probably went through a phase where I quoted Susan Sontag. But then my critical lit theory course ended and I was all, "Why was she so afraid of flying?"

That was a joke that I'm leaving in even though the few people who understand it will simply think I'm an ignorant moron. And even after understanding it was a joke, it probably will just downgrade "ignorant moron" to "asshole misogynist." Still, it made me chuckle.

Suzie points out to Kid Eternity that Madame Blavatsky was a charlatan and he's all, "Dammit! I spent my whole budget for the month on Hostess snacks!" And then Madame Blavatsky pops in eating a Twinkie and a Ding Dong and is all, "It was all worth it for the delicious creamy center and spongy golden cake!" Also, they discover Suzie's computer is now pregnant with the Buddha Christ child. Thank God! That takes care of the problem of finding a woman to incubate the thing. Who would fucking want that job?! Even Mary probably would have turned down the job if God had asked for consent.

Later, Kid Eternity finds a baby in a trash can beneath his window. A woman runs up and is all, "My baby!" And Kid Eternity is all, "Oh, yeah. Here you go. You must have left it in the trash." And she runs off with it and Kid Eternity finds the baby healed his bullet wound. It was the Buddha Christ child! Thrown out like last week's tampon! Is that how long a tampon stays in? A full week?

Kid Eternity #1 Rating: B. While confusing at times because Ann Nocenti really has a lot to say and seems to think it all needed to be said in this comic book, I still sort of enjoyed it. The dialogue wasn't as confusing as some of Nocenti's dialogue can get although there were times I clearly recognized Nocenti's handiwork. Mostly in the way characters methodically explain what they're doing so the reader understands exactly how the plot is moving forward by the character's actions. It's such pure Nocenti that had I not known she wrote this, I'd have assumed it was her. Some of her ideas, she just throws out there in a way which you can tell she isn't going to explore them any further. Those ideas are some of her best in this book. But even the ones that seem to be making up the foundation of the book (more abundant than you would expect. This comic was dense and long) have the potential to be interesting. I only bought three issues of this book before I came to my senses which either means it gets absolutely confusing or I just couldn't follow a story with this much going on in month to month intervals. Hopefully the next two issues just get worse because I don't want to feel tempted to seek out the rest of this series.

Oh, and judging by the "Next Month" blurb at the end, the Satanic figure is Beelzebub. Although wasn't he a fly-shaped demon in The Demon?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Star Trek: The Next Generation, S1, E5: "Where No One Has Gone Before"

I'm a cynical reviewer first and a fan second and the first part of me believes this episode was written simply to tell the audience that Wesley Crusher was important. This was the episode that said, "Look. We know you Star Trek fans have a lot of theories about everything and take everything way too seriously. You all know Picard hates children and, even if he wants to appear likable to them, you can't understand why he keeps letting Wesley on the bridge. Well this story should shut you up!" I don't know if it shut anybody up because the "I hate Wesley Crusher" Trekkies are pretty vocal about hating Wesley Crusher. Sometimes they're so vocal about hating Wesley that they convince themselves that they hate Wil Wheaton too. Which is weird because haven't they heard of acting and writing and television shows before? Who watches an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and thinks, "I don't like that Wesley Crusher. Why would Wil Wheaton invent the character and write all of this dialogue I hate and wear such ugly sweaters?"

Obviously Wesley Crusher was meant to have an important role in the show. While Star Trek has always been touted as being a show which embraced diversity (even if, at times, it stumbles in the execution), it completely left out the youth. And while many kids watched and were inspired by the show without needing a gateway character that represented them, you can't argue with the Robin Effect (no matter how often and vehemently you'd like to). Introducing a younger character that kids can identify with works. I don't know why it works since even as a small child, I identified with old men. George Burns and Art Carney's Going in Style was one of my favorite movies. I used to ask my mom if I could go play with John, the oldest person on the block on which I lived. My favorite teacher in elementary school was an old man who taught the Speech Therapy class (which I was in but I have no memory of why. Did I lisp? Was I just so non-verbal that somebody thought a little individual instruction would help? Or did I notice this old guy teaching a special speech class during regular class and just decided to be nearly incomprehensible so I could get into his class? We'll never know because my memory for detail is terrible! But that's just my own individual anecdotal evidence that the Robin Effect is shit. The real evidence is that fans of Batman comic books loved Robin when he was introduced and didn't instantly think, "Well this is weird and awkward and highly inappropriate. What is this rich old guy doing dressing up a kid in a suggestive outfit and taking him out into the dangerous streets of Gotham late at night?" No, most kids just thought, "Cool! I could hang out with Batman too!"

But even if Wesley was a way for growing kids to see themselves as part of the crew of the Enterprise, a shitload of viewers were still going to need to be convinced that he had a place on the bridge. And that's what this episode does. And even if Wesley dresses himself like a 13th century bard who happened to have purchased his wardrobe from a time traveler from the 80s, you can't deny he's a fucking genius. I mean, you might have been able to deny that before this episode. But this episode is all, "Look at this alien! He has powers and abilities far beyond that of human beings. And he understands the relationship between time and space and thought. And guess which character totally gets what this super genius alien is saying? It's Wesley! Wesley noticed the alien was behind the impossible travel. Wesley understood what the alien was doing with the warp drive. And Wesley was all, 'I get it! Thought and space and time are, like, the same thing!'"

Some viewers probably rolled their eyes and, entrenched in the adult cynicism that, years ago, had murdered their childlike sense of wonder, thought, "That Traveler fellow wants to fuck Wesley so hard." And those viewers might have missed the point that Wesley was intuitive and smart and special. So before the Traveler disappears into the realm of thoughtspacetime, he pulls Picard aside and says, "That Wesley is a special boy. You know, like Mozart but maybe even more special. You have to encourage him because remember how I just said he's going to be super duper important and special? But you can't tell him or anybody else! This message is just for you and the old fart viewers who can't stop wondering why you'd constantly let this kid on the bridge or come with you on away expeditions or let him tinker with engineering and the holodeck. Every future episode of the show should just continue as normal, as if I'd never revealed this secret that totally needed to be revealed because the writers and producers of this show know how fucking vocal their Goddamn overzealous fan base can be. Without this aside to you, Picard, they'd be writing letters about Starfleet protocol and how that dumbass weird sweater wearing kid shouldn't be anywhere near a photon torpedo launch button. But now they have to swallow it because it's canon that Wesley is special and being groomed for my bid dick. That's a metaphor for his future place in the world of thoughtspacetime! Everybody will be so surprised by the arc we have for this genius kid! Hoo boy! That is, if he survives the free sex planet episode. Which he somehow will due to a super anti-climactic ending which we'll get to."

As for the actual plot of this episode, it's barely worth mentioning. The crew of the Enterprise wind up in the far flung reaches of the universe where their every thought can suddenly transform reality. Picard understands the import of this and, to get home, encourages the crew to think about nothing but getting home safely. Which is really odd because as soon as it seems like maybe they won't be able to get home, Picard says, "We're not going to make it!" What the fuck, Picard?! Thoughts become reality in this place and you're on the bridge spouting out negative shit like that! Holy fuck, I'd relieve you from duty immediately if I were Doctor Milf Crusher!

I was mostly disappointed by this episode because everybody was making their thoughts real and yet we didn't find out who the horniest crew member of the Enterprise was. Sure, Worf made an old pet real and then Tasha made an old pet real (before she then made the Rape Gangs real! Sheesh, Tasha! Think of something other than Rape Gangs for once! Although, I suppose if I were constantly chased by Rape Gangs my entire childhood, I'd definitely never shut up about it ever. "Oh, you're sorry my soup is cold? Well I fucking had to evade Rape Gangs my entire childhood so I'd hope being sorry for cold soup is the least you could fucking do!"). But how come nobody made a bunch of naked people sucking and licking them all over real? I suppose it wasn't needed since we already know Tasha Yar is the horniest member of the crew.

One crew member made the hallway erupt into fire and the Non-Certified Spouse was all, "Why was he thinking about fire?" Good question! We now know which crew member to investigate when the Ten-Forward lounge burns down.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Star Trek: The Next Generation, S1, E4: "The Last Outpost"

"She begrudged her lover nothing and now, finally, it was time to offer him The Last Outpost."

For some reason that would be inexplicable if you were living in the actual world of Star Trek: The Next Generation but is entirely understandable when you view it through the lens of a story written by humans about humans, every single Godlike creature in the universe seems to put humans to the test to find out if they're heedless barbarians who care for nothing but their own enrichment. It's one of the reasons I'd rather view Q as tormenting the Enterprise not because he's testing humans but because he loves Jean-Luc (there's additional proof of this in the episode "Hide and Q" when we see Q seems to be acting against the general Q Continuum consensus). I'd rather he be a romantic interest and not just another smart ass alien testing the humans to make sure they're allowed in space. But maybe humans bring it on themselves. It is possible that humans are the most arrogant race (species?) in the entire universe. One species (race?) has to be; why not humans? And every other alien race that has come into contact with other races always discuss how terribly arrogant and ambitious those humans are, with their weird emotions and concept of "love". And since humans write these stories, seemingly with the assumption that humans are somehow unique and special, the "humans must prove themselves" becomes an easy trope to slip into any plot.

But before the test begins, this episode starts by introducing audiences to the Ferengi, the boot sale merchants of the universe. They're played as if the sellers at your local dirt mall inexplicably developed the technologies for space travel and teleportation and instantly launched into space to find deals and cheat people. Data explains that their entire cultural belief system is built on the motto, "Caveat Emptor." As a space faring race which interacts with other races, I can see the appeal of introducing this kind of alien characterization. Little House on the Prarie and Grizzly Adams and even Anne with an E relied on the plot of the traveling salesman character. But imagine the Ferengi homeworld before they ever left the atmosphere! Nobody trusting anybody else while everybody trying to profit over everybody else! What a terrible bunch of Boomer pricks! I wonder if there's a whole offshoot of Ferengi flower children and democratic socialists who fucking despise the way the rest of the universe views them? I suppose if there is, I'll see evidence of it in Deep Space Nine when I get around to it. I bet Quark has some family members who are all, "Ugh! Dad is such a capitalist asshat!"

Seeing the Ferengi in this episode made me want to dress up as a Ferengi every Halloween for the rest of my life. Not because I love the way they look but I fucking fell in love with how they hopped around like children who just sucked down two pounds of pure cane sugar. I suppose they were supposed to look like monkeys in the zoo, incapable of standing still. But I fucking loved their fidgeting and bouncing around. Why did they drop that aspect of the character?! It's fucking endearing!

I wonder what would happen to the Ferengi race if somebody sold them a cargo hold full of fidget spinners?

This is yet another episode that culminates in a terrible anti-climax. The Enterprise and the Ferengi ship are locked in a force field around a planet of a long dead space empire. The crew of the Enterprise agree to work with the Ferengi to search the planet while the Ferengi cross their fingers behind their backs and plan on acting as despicable as possible. On the planet (after some minor skirmishes between the two crews), a man named Portal puts them to the test to find out if they're worthy of existing in the universe. Why does he get to decide? I don't know! I guess because he's so fucking powerful. The anti-climax comes because Portal doesn't put them through any trials or rigorous intellectual tests. He just accidentally quotes Sun Tzu and Riker is all, "I know the response to that quote! Boom! I'm interesting, right?!" And Portal is all, "You amuse me. You shall live."

Aside: the man who plays Portal also played Mimo on Villa Alegre.

While the Ferengi insist that the humans are liars and jerks while taking no responsibility for their own actions, Riker quotes some Sun Tzu because every nerd in the world knows that philosophical thought about strategy and diplomacy has never outdone The Art of War. Portal is suitably impressed like any space nerd would be. He not only decides to spare the humans but becomes best friends with Riker. Only a human mind could be so unique and interesting to a creature of such knowledge and power! We're so awesome! Everybody in space should embrace our quirky ways!

Even though the Ferengi behave abominably, Portal lets them live because Riker points out that they'll never learn any other way. Also, I think he just thinks of them as gnats. People might be annoyed by gnats but you don't turn the full force of your intellect and emotional fury on the entirety of their species just because they're bothering you. You swat at a few of them, curse a bit, and then fucking forget all about them.

I think every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation has a moral but sometimes I can't be bothered to understand it. Especially when I'm several episodes ahead of the one I'm currently writing about. They all kind of get jumbled together. This one probably has something to do with keeping an open mind and not judging too swiftly. I only say that because I think that was the moral of the Farpoint episode and maybe the moral of all the episodes I've written about so far. And what better way to get that moral across than by making the Ferengi as obviously underhanded and treacherous as possible? Maybe they shouldn't have made them so childlike and lovable as well though. Perhaps that's why they stopped making them all bouncy and fidgety. Because it was too adorable. I would have kept that aspect of them but also made them constantly hold open switchblades.

Aside: Armin Shimerman who also plays Buffy's high school principle portrays the Ferengi Letek. Oh, he's also Quark in Deep Space Nine. And he's the face of the wedding gift box in Haven. Also he's the voice of Andrew Ryan from the Bioshock games (get it? "Andrew Ryan"? Ayn Rand? It's such a good game about objectivism!).

It's possible part of my problem with this show (at least so far) is the pacing of the plot in regards to the theme. I suppose, taken as a whole and being charitable, what happens in many ST:TNG episodes is that the initial introductory story usually isn't the real story and often either gets ignored or is resolved in a boring or anti-climactic way (because it wasn't the meat of the theme and didn't really matter. Like the virus in "The Naked Now"). In this one, the introductory story is that the Ferengi have stolen something from the Federation. The Enterprise is tasked with getting it back. Which they do at some point but that story doesn't matter by the time they're trapped in the forcefield. It's like that thing that famous guy said which I think I mentioned in a previous review (unless it was in a comic book review) about how life happens when you're planning on some other kind of life. Star Trek: The Next Generation made a career out of it. Some people refer to these things as the "A" and "B" plot. But I don't think ST:TNG gives enough time to the initial plot to even consider it a parallel story line to the main plot. Maybe the writers get better at this as the show progresses. But even if they don't, it's not that big a deal. I get it! You need to have the crew doing something when the major shit hits the fan. And that shit doesn't have to come out of the first thing they were doing at all, although it would be nice if, just sometimes, it did. Like maybe Wesley Crusher is studying for exams and he has the replicator make him a copy of the Necronomicon after which he unleashes Hell aboard the Enterprise. Then at the end, he fails his test because, you know, it was about engineering and not raising the dead.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Star Trek: The Next Generation, S1, E3: "Code of Honor"

"She took her marriage vows seriously but the fire in her pants spoke of greater truths. Would she falter to temptation or maintain her Code of Honor?"

Sometimes I wonder if any conservative political thinkers are fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Every aspect of the 24th Century relies on a model that took liberal values of caring for everybody and extending them further and further left. It's as socialist a world as you can get. And with that liberal mindset, we still get episodes like this. I'm not saying that liberals can't make mistakes in their social perspective; I'm saying the exact opposite. Liberals are often blind to the ways in which they support a racist system because they so fervently believe they aren't racist. And while this episode's intent probably isn't the way I'm perceiving it, how can I not see it as a bunch of white people teaching black people how to be civilized?

Well, maybe I'll tell you how later! Maybe!

The story centers around two separate cultures whose values and traditions come into conflict early. Maybe the story is supposed to be analogous to white imperialist explorers imposing their beliefs and traditions on indigenous peoples and we're supposed to judge the crew of the Enterprise by their actions. That is, after all, sort of the basis for the Prime Directive. Explore, study, learn but don't impose your will on others or interfere in any way with their progress. But it's hard to think it's a story about humankind's having learned from their past imperialist failings when the plot revolves around the people of Ligon II being "taught a lesson" by Jean-Luc and his cohorts. Perhaps I should just view the episode as a conflict between Jean-Luc and Lutan, the leader of Ligon II (planetary president, I guess?). It is, after all, Lutan's disregard for his people's own traditions that brings him into conflict with the Federation and not the Federation's disrespect for them.

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself! Let me just stick to the plot for a moment. The Federation needs a vaccine that only the people of Ligon II can make. Dr. Crusher can't even replicate it in her lab without it degrading. So they need to deal with the people of Ligon II on their terms to secure a trade. The only thing the people of Ligon II seem to want is for the Federation to respect them. Seems easy enough, right?! Well, it's easy to pay lip service to another culture's beliefs and social mores. But when one of them kidnaps your head Security Officer, things become a bit more complicated.

One of the traditions of Ligon II is to kidnap a high ranking member of another tribe to show your prowess in, um, I don't know, social situations? After which, the other person has to plead for the return of this kidnapped person. The person is returned and all is well because the traditions of their social conventions have been met by each party. Jean-Luc understands this because the Enterprise has a full deck of interns researching every race they interact with to figure out how to not offend them. They should probably be paying this staff though because the staff always seem to realize the important stuff too late (see the episode "Justice" for more examples (which I haven't written yet so hold your horses)). Here, they forget to tell Jean-Luc that Lutan is going to kidnap somebody as part of the diplomatic process.

The real trouble comes not because of the kidnapping but because Lutan suddenly refuses to return Tasha Yar, instead deciding to make her his wife. This decision shocks even his own people because he is breaking some serious social taboos. Tash Yar, used to dealing with Rape Gangs, just takes it all in stride. Sure, she wants to kill somebody but doesn't she always want to kill somebody? She's more bloodthirsty than Worf (which is probably a racist comment but then I'm not the one who spent several television seasons making sure the audience understands that Klingons are violent killing machines who almost certainly choke each other near to death when they fuck (again, see commentary on "Justice")). In the end, Lutan's wife, Yareena, challenges Tasha Yar to a fight to the death which is too often par for the course when a guy steps out on his lady. She should challenge Lutan to a fight to the death. What the fuck did Tasha Yar do?!

In this episode, we also learn that Data doesn't know how to tell a joke and his programming allows for slips of the tongue. Maybe his creator added that because when he made Lore, Lore was all, "I'm going to fucking kill all humans!" and his creator was all, "Oh shit. I've got to put some flaws in this machine so I can defend myself against it!"

The fight to the death uses gloves covered in a fast acting poison. To make sure the audience understands the danger to Tasha Yar, Tasha knocks off Yareena's glove. It flies into the crowd, pricking a spectator who dies immediately. But since he never gets a name, we don't have to care about his death. Nobody does. Whatever. Too bad. Presumably, he knew the danger that came with ring-side seats to the bout.

In the end, Tasha Yar pricks Yareena after which she dives on her and they're both transported aboard the Enterprise. I'm no transporter genius (or layman, even) but that seems like a good way to have a serious The Fly transporter accident. How do the two of them not fuse on recombining?! Yareena dies from the poison but Doctor Crusher brings her back from death. It's important that she dies because her death ends the "fight to the death" challenge honorably and with accordance to all laws and Prime Directives. But it also dissolves her marriage to Lutan! And since women on Ligon II hold all material wealth and land rights, Lutan gets nothing in the separation! He loses everything and his second-in-command, who rooted for Yareena during the fight, winds up being her husband and, I guess, planetary president?

Lutan gets his comeuppance just like somebody who overreaches should. Just ask MacBeth about overreaching. Hoo boy, does it never work out! And I guess the people of Ligon II don't really learn a lesson. The white people don't show them anything new or civilized. Maybe my initial reaction to the episode was due to systemic racism influencing my every thought and not that the episode was racist even if it exists in a culture of systemic racism. In a way, I'm glad the producers aired an episode this early in the series that a viewer couldn't help seeing as analogous to white imperialists invading Africa and all the other continents of Earth. The comparison shouldn't be that the Federation was just doing the same old thing. What should be learned was how different the Federation, working within the Prime Directive, acts when encountering other peoples and cultures. They don't merely assume human beliefs and traditions are correct. They treat them as just one option to living that is no better than any other that developed in different ways on far flung planets full of diverse sentient creatures. And I know Jean-Luc Picard seems smug and above everybody else at times but how can you not adore him? He fucking hates children!

The worst part of this episode is when Deanna Troi tricks Tasha Yar into professing that she's flattered by Lutan's attraction to her. Really? She grew up being chased by Rape Gangs and we're supposed to believe that this incident wasn't traumatic but flattering?! I know Tasha Yar wants as much space dick as she can get but not in this situation! She should be fucking angry and pissed and scared. That's all Troi should be feeling from her. But instead, Troi is all, "He's kind of hot, right? And you know what they say about the size of Ligon II dicks, yeah?!" And Tasha is all, "*blush blush crotch overflow error*". It just seems like some tone deaf writing. Although maybe the writer of this episode, Katharyn Powers, didn't realize everybody else was writing all of this Rape Gang shit into her history. She probably skimmed the character portfolio on Tasha Yar, read "She loves to fuck!", and was all, "Oh yeah! Tasha's my girl! Get some mystery space cock, bitch!"

Star Trek: The Next Generation, S1, E2: "The Naked Now"

I spoke (or wrote) too soon when I suggested the titles of ST:TNG episodes were the names of sex tapes. I think they're more like the names of pulp erotica books, the kind with covers depicting women in torn dresses or standing outside doorways with one hand suggestively headed toward their lady parts. Which isn't surprising because Star Trek: The Next Generation might owe more to pulp erotica than to the original Star Trek. At first I thought it was hilarious that Netflix's description of the mature content was "sex, fear." But now I think whoever does the ratings for Netflix might be a pop culture genius.

Note: "pop culture genius" is the dumbest of all the geniuses.

"The Naked Now" tells the story of a non-story where something happens to the crew and then they get out of it in a really unexciting and mundane way. Get used to this formula! Maybe the point of Star Trek: The Next Generation was to show how life isn't about exciting trials and travails where we come up with a spectacular plan to get us over every hurdle but more of a slog where we simply muddle through by optimism and persistence. See, what happens is the crew is infected with some kind of virus which isn't really a virus. It's really just a rearranging of water molecules in their heads due to their proximity to a high gravitational field. These molecules rearrange to form grain alcohol so everybody gets spectacularly drunk. Although the "rearranging of water molecules" (which I'll henceforth call a virus because it fucking acts like a virus) acts like a virus (as I noted in my poorly timed parenthetical reference), hopping from person to person due to close contact with infected crew members. Early on in the episode, we learn that this same thing happened to the original crew of The Enterprise, so they have a vaccine on hand. But guess what? The vaccine doesn't work! The virus has mutated which means somebody's going to have to come up with a new plan to battle the virus!

Don't worry. The new plan isn't innovative or mind blowing. Remember, I said the problem gets resolved in a mundane way: Dr. Crusher merely keeps working on updating the vaccine until she succeeds. That's it! The moral of the story is to keep working on the solution because eventually you'll probably figure out the answer, even if you're drunk and super horny for the captain of your ship.

The virus itself isn't deadly. What's deadly is the actions of the crew once they're fucked up on tons of delicious virus. The Starfleet ship which infected them ended up with everybody on board dead (and some of them off board because they launched themselves out of the airlock). They all froze to death while fucking each other. If you're into naked people covered in a thick layer of permafrost, this episode has tons of material for you to jerk off to. And while the crew of the Enterprise all feel way too warm due to the virus, nobody turns the thermostat down to "Freeze to Death" (which is a weird setting but I guess, in space, it's an option?). But they do all engage in stupid behavior that threatens to destroy the ship because it can't move out of the way of the exploding star nearby.

In this episode, we learn that Data has a dick and is a master of using it. Tasha Yar takes it for a ride because she's all, "I want to fuck everybody on board! And you'd better not judge me because remember all of my stories about evading Rape Gangs? I earned all of this consensual dick, asshole!" Tasha Yar has severe trust issues (because of the Rape Gangs!) and the inorganic Data dick is the least threatening dick on board the Enterprise (other than Picard's dick. I mean, no way is Jean-Luc Picard's dick threatening. I bet it might even be a bit boring. It probably spits out quotes ofOthello when he cums).

Being fucked by Data, that clammy looking pale pink eye infected motherfucker, is the definition of "sex, fear."

We're introduced to Sarah MacDougal, possibly the Chief Engineer? She's definitely somebody in charge of engineering and also Scottish, so it makes sense. Later she'll be replaced by some guy named Argyle which is just the writers having a fucking laugh, right? We also meet Jim Shimoda who is the weirdest drunk I've ever seen. Some people get angry when they drink and some people get affectionate but Shimoda begins acting like he's five years old. So the majority of the crew want to just fuck each other, Wesley decides to become captain of the ship, and Jim Shimoda shits his pants and plays building blocks with the ship's power circuits. It's fucking embarrassing! I'd rather get caught fucking the robot.

So the virus becomes incidental to the real story (the virus, after all, is easily cured; it just takes a bit of time to work on that cure): the ship will be destroyed if the drunk crew can't figure out how to re-enable thrusters thanks to Baby Shimoda. Somehow Wesley Crusher becomes the hero by suggesting reversing the tractor beam so that the Enterprise can push itself off of the ship they're towing, getting a crucial bit of time to avoid debris while Data fixes the thrusters. The Entrprise pushes off the Starfleet vessel they were towing, sending it crashing into a piece of debris and exploding. I hope Wesley has to inform the family members of everybody on board why none of them were able to bury their loved ones.

An aside: don't fucking get on my case because I don't care about accuracy in my reviews, you nerds! I understand that Starship vessels probably don't have a "Freeze to Death" option on the air conditioning and most of the people freezing on board was due to the hatch that was blown on the ship's bridge. But if we're going to discuss this sci-fi shit in "realistic" terms, what the fuck was that hatch doing on the bridge and why was it so easy to blow?!

In the end, everybody was saved from Wesley Crusher's folly by Wesley Crusher's solution which means Wesley Crusher was the hero? I don't like the precedent this could set! Imagine how many Starfleet officers will begin sabotaging their own ships to look like heroes! I bet they call it Richard Jewel Syndrome even if Richard Jewel didn't do that. Everybody probably still thinks he planted the bomb at the Olympics even though he didn't. It's like how I'm absolutely positive that Chris Huff didn't jerk off into a bread box in junior high but since everybody said he did at the time, I'll always have the thought in my head, "Chris Huff jerks off into bread boxes."

Friday, April 17, 2020

Star Trek: The Next Generation, S1, E1: "Encounter at Farpoint"

I'm re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. Before each episode, to prepare the viewer for what they're about to experience, Netflix gives the show's rating as "TV-MA: sex, fear" and I'm perplexed as to how they think that adequately describes the show. I suppose Tasha Yar fucking Data in the second episode ticks those boxes but otherwise, I don't find myself titillatedly screaming every few minutes. I wish I did but that just has yet to be the case!

The first episode is called "Encounter at Farpoint" (which I noted in the title of this post) and it made me wonder if the titles of the episodes of the first series have a theme the way the titles of the first series of the original Star Trek were themed around the names of gay bars. I think these episodes might be the names of sex tapes.

Look. I wanted to do an actual review of this pilot episode. I really and truly tried to watch it intellectually and without bias. But all I kept doing was trying to look up Deanna Troi's mini-skirt. It was just an hour and a half of me watching a scene with Q acting like an 18th century ship's captain and me thinking, "Oh! Deanna just shifted in her chair and moved a hand away from her lap! I think maybe I just saw some 24th century lady pants!" And then later when Q has them on trial for a reason that was unclear because I wasn't really listening to him earlier due to trying to see up Deanna Troi's skirt, Deanna squats next to a frozen Tasha Yar and I was all, "Oh my god! She's squatting in the mini-skirt! I'm bound to see a little butt cheek, right?!" Meanwhile, Tasha died or something and Jean-Luc was all, "I guess humans are guilty! Guilty of having great asses and erotic underwear!" Then Deanna stopped squatting and I wiped the sweat from my brow and fought the urge to rewind the episode.

Part way through the episode, I confided to the Non-Certified Spouse that I couldn't concentrate due to the Betazoid's movements in the short skirt. She'd earlier commented on how short the skirt was but that was as far as it went for her for some reason. I guess she's not into upskirt erotica. Although she appreciated when I pointed out that Starfleet uniforms were never going to conceal a boner (mostly because I kept thinking about Deanna's skirt situation and what it was doing to my pants region). After I pointed out how I couldn't stop concentrating on Deanna's skirt, the Non-Certified Spouse started to notice how Deanna had to sit with her hands in her lap and, whenever she stood, she'd have to sort of make sure her skirt didn't rise up too high. I was thoroughly disappointed that Martina Sirtis did such a great job of wrangling that skirt to keep her dignity.

At one point in the pilot, a male crew member walks by in a short skirt and I suggested the only way they could get Martina Sirtis to wear that short skirt was to put a guy in one and say, "See?! It's not a gender thing!" Of course by the next episode, Deanna Troi is in pants which shows somebody came to their senses. Not that I was happy about that person's frigid senses. And even though they got rid of the skirt, they lowered her neck line about ten inches. I guess her cleavage will distract me from the rest of the series.

My favorite part of the episode was where Worf considers shooting the video screen when he feels threatened. Klingons are like cats, aren't they? Do they often distract Worf on the bridge with a laser pointer? "Oh shit! The Klingon's getting aggressive! Data, engage laser pointer!" Although I imagine getting a Klingon to flip the fuck out on the bridge is against Starfleet regulations.

I tried to understand Q's motivations in this episode but they were beyond me. That makes sense because Deanna Troi stood up that one time and I'm certain I caught a glimpse of a fleshy lady part and also he's so far beyond human sentience and technology that he's practically Jean-Luc Picard's Great Gazoo. The way I remember it, Q exists outside of time. So while this encounter is Picard's first encounter with Q, Q has probably already experienced other interactions with Picard (possibly all of them at once? Is that how it would work?). Q understands this is Picard's first time meeting him so he keeps up the act. But it feel's like Q is teasing his big crush. Q totally wants to fuck Picard and part of me is glad my memory sucks so I can revel in the sexual tension of their Diane/Sam, Maddie/David will they/won't they relationship! Hell, since Q exists outside of linear time, maybe they've already fucked and Q is remembering/anticipating that first time Picard's blood-engorged penis shows through the Starfleet uniform!

This episode, we learn that Beverly Crusher is a MILF, Commander Riker has a weird, lizard-shaped head (probably due to the terrible haircut), Tasha Yar can't stop comparing everything to Rape Gangs, Worf might be mentally disabled, Data needs moisturizer, Geordi is in constant physical pain due to his shoddy third-party visor, Deanna Troi has no visible panty lines, Jean-Luc Picard hates children, and Wesley Crusher has the worst style of the 24th Century. Maybe we don't learn that about Wesley this soon but I can't stop picturing that awful fucking ruffly over-sized sweater he wears in upcoming episodes. I think we also learn that casting hadn't gotten around to finding an actor to play the Chief Engineer.

DeForest Kelley makes a guest appearance as a 127 year old who thinks he's Foghorn Leghorn. He must have owed Gene Roddenberry one more episode on his old Star Trek contract because I can't imagine any other reason for that scene being in the episode.

Eventually, Jean-Luc Picard proves that humans aren't as savage as they used to be and Q is all, "Oh, darn! I guess I'll just have to torment you again during Sweeps Week! Ta-ta!" I don't remember how Jean-Luc proves it because of Deanna Troi's uniform but I think it had something to do with two enormous space squids finally being able to fuck again. And they do it right on camera! It was both titillating and scary!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Ray #6

He's still fighting his father, isn't he?

For a kid who had a dad, this fucking kid sure wishes he had a dad. I don't fucking get it. He lived 18 years with a man who was his dad but then that man died and said, "I'm not your real dad! There is another!" and this fucking kid is all, "I want my daddy!" Man, I only have the one dad and I couldn't give a fuck! Just go out and get a dog, you needy bastard! Also get a fridge. You fucking still need a fridge, you stupid asshole.

Have I cursed at The Ray enough? It's not like he deserves it; I've just grown bored with this series and I'm acting out. Luckily this is my last The Ray comic book before I get to move on to Kid Eternity written by Ann Nocenti. Fuck yes! Who knew I'd read Ann Nocenti before her run on The New 52 Green Arrow?! I wish I could remember what younger me thought of it.

Three kinds of comic books exist in my past: those I loved so much that they became an integral part of that chapter in my life (Elfquest, Transmetropolitan, and Shade the Changing Man), comic books that I thoroughly enjoyed and can still remember a good percentage of plots and themes (Suicide Squad, The Demon, and Justice League) and comic books I read in five minutes and completely forgot about (apparently The Ray, Kid Eternity, Scarab, and so many more that I can't list because I completely forgot about them). I could probably break those categories down further into dozens of other categories but you were probably already bored at the beginning of this paragraph so I'll just move on.

The issue begins with Black Canary penning a letter to Justice League Human Resources.

The Ray decided to take a day off from being an adult and also a super hero to explore the underwater wreckage of a 1940s cruise ship. This brings up so many questions! How did he know it was there? Did he stumble upon it by accident? Is he exploring the Bermuda Triangle?

How does an 19 year old in 1994 know about The Poseidon Adventure?

Okay, that last question was unfair. I was barely twenty-three when this comic book came out and I'd watched The Poseidon Adventure at least a half-dozen times on local stations during rainy Sunday afternoons. But you also have to wonder, "If he's familiar with the movie, why is he comparing himself to Shelley Winters?!"

For a fad disaster movie of the time, I'm surprised how it was able to blow my mind. Sure, I was super young and everything was fucking blowing my mind every Goddamned day because the universe is a fucking LSD trip full of unexpected miracles (at least until you've pretty much seen them all five million times and you slowly sink into the mire of bored cynic (I wish I'd known enough in my youth to not sink slowly but to rage, rage against the dying of the wonder. Fucking stupid kid me)). But there's that moment in the movie where the protagonists are going toward the back of the ship and they pass by another group of passengers going the other way. And it's like, "Whoa. Holy shit. We could be watching their story! They could be the ones who survive! Why are they any less important than the people whose stories we're watching?!" It's a fucking great cinematic moment that not only ratchets up the tension by suggesting the protagonists might be heading the wrong way but also introduces the idea that the "protagonists" are only that because we're focused on them (and because some of them are the ones who will live, I suppose. But as an inexperienced kid, you're secure from the cynical understanding of narrative choices). If we root for our guys to be going the right way, does that mean we don't give a fuck that the other people are heading to their deaths? And why does the movie's point of view dictate to us who we care about living and dying? It's a lesson that stayed with me for a long fucking time (and one you'll see I apply occasionally when reviewing super hero comic books) and probably why I fell in love with the writings of Kurt Vonnegut. Because Vonnegut might have a "protagonist" but he's also constantly aware of the idea that the other people in the story aren't just window dressing. They're other people with stories of their own and they shouldn't be treated like just another prop. Again, it's one reason I almost always despise big action movies, especially natural disaster kinds. Because the plot always boils down to "a whole lot of fucking people are going to die on screen and it's going to be horrible but this person the camera is following will live so that will make it seem like a happy ending."

While exploring, The Ray is attacked by Death Masque. What?! But how?! Death Masque was only a computer program! What is going on?! So unexpected!

The Ray barely survives and then just chalks up the attack to some quirk in his program. He flies home to debug and to also think about how strange it is that Black Canary has yet to write him back. Cue a scene change to see what Black Canary thinks of his advances! Spoiler: it's the best part of the comic book so far.

Now I'm paranoid that every woman I've ever had an unrequited crush on has a note like this in her journal about me.

Hell, I'd be lucky if the women I've had crushes on noticed me enough to even mention me in their journal! Their entry would be more like, "Saw that creepy fucker staring at me in the library again. Fucking going to get a punch to the throat if he doesn't knock it the fuck off."

Black Canary's currently trying to save a young girl taken hostage by a terrorist. But when she goes into the building to save her, she discovers a portal to another world with laser-wielding demons and increased gravity. Being that she's just a martial artist with no real powers (even if the artist depicts her flying in one panel but I think that's a mistake, right? She could never fly (and, no, it's definitely not a depiction of her "flying" by using her sonic scream. I don't think she even has the sonic scream at this moment in her history), she fucks right off to get help (probably from The Ray, right?! Green Arrow won't be any use in this situation).

Back in wherever The Ray lives (Philadelphia, I think? Site of one of my all-time favorite books, The Boomer Bible (which I should reread again since, thematically, it couldn't be more relevant to our current political woes)), he's busy buying his fridge! Except this is only Issue #6 so you really didn't expect that plot point to be resolved so soon, right? Because it's not! Instead of buying the things he needs (being an adult and all), he buys a life-size Superman cardboard stand-up and a stereo system. Who needs a fridge anyway? I don't imaging there's anybody in America who buys a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream and saves some for later!

The Ray gets a message on his old school voice mail machine from Dinah and he instantly zips off to Seattle to help her. Is she taking advantage of his feelings toward her or does she actually think he's the best person to call in this situation? Maybe she didn't want to call Superman because he'd get all the credit. Or maybe he's dead. And Batman has a broken back. And Green Arrow, you know, uses a stupid bow.

Turns out Black Canary called in The Ray because he has light-based powers and she surmises he can open closed portals that have disappeared from reality. It turns out she's right because what kind of shitty narrative choice would Priest have made if she were wrong? The Ray arrives, can't open or find the portal, shrugs and then Black Canary breaks down crying because she didn't save Mercy. Oh wait. That's not a crappy narrative choice at all! The Ray could have comforted her and they would have bonded emotionally and Green Arrow would have walked in on them bonding and flipped the fuck out. Sure, Mercy would be dead, but who is Mercy anyway? Nobody I give a shit about! She should have thought about readers caring about her before she chose to be a background character.

The Ray turns into a raging Hulk version of himself as he passes through the portal, flying off and leaving Black Canary alone. Apparently Black Canary suffered some trauma recently in her comic book or Green Arrow where somebody pointed a gun at her and said, "I'm not afraid of you!" Now everybody keeps pointing guns at her and she imagines they aren't afraid of her. But she's super afraid all the time, even when she's being sexy.

This is a depiction of female masturbation, right?

The issue ends with the hostage taker pointing his gun at Black Canary and screaming, "I'm not afraid of you!" He's holding a young girl who is probably Mercy. And it appears younger me cared so little about Mercy's welfare that I decided I wasn't going to purchase the next issue.

The Ray #6 Rating: C. I'm vaguely disappointed that I don't have the next issue. While I'm not curious about what happens to Mercy, I do sort of want to see the final confrontation between Black Canary and The Ray where she tells him she loves him like a younger brother and he's never going to see her tits. Maybe younger me knew seeing that confrontation would be too emotional for him as he pined over somebody who probably just wished he'd leave her the fuck alone.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Ray #0

"The Beginning of Tomorrow" sounds like my life philosophy.

I don't totally know what I mean by the above caption but then that's philosophy for you, isn't?

I'm not going to discuss Zero Hour because when Zero Hour happened, it changed the entire DC Universe's past so that Zero Hour never happened. Everything was suddenly always post-Zero-Hour continuity except without Zero Hour actually existing in that continuity. Therefore I can't discuss it because it's not something that exists. Which probably means I can throw this comic book in the garbage can and forget about it forever!

Surprise! I didn't throw the comic book in the garbage! I mean, I did! But I fished it out before I pissed on it because I thought, "Wait. Are the Zero Hour comics part of post-Zero-Hour continuity? They might be stories that happened after Zero Hour which clarify facts about how the world has always supposedly been. So if Martian Manhunter's cape was normal length in the pre-Zero-Hour continuity, this story begins telling readers, "Oh no! It was always five hundred feet long! Don't you remember? You should remember that it was always like that! And did Crisis On Infinite Earths happen in this continuity? Who can fucking tell! Just stop whining about the two different Supermen and how the fuck does Infinity Inc. exist in this timeline, you stupid assholes! If you don't, we're just going to have to keep pulling this shit! You think Zero Hour is bad? Just wait until we pull out The New 52! And then just when you've think you've seen it all, have we got a Watchmen trick ready to flop to fix that!"

Visual proof of J'onn's new and/or always lengthy cape.

My brain is so muddled by DC's continuity changes across the last forty years that I'm not even sure I'm correctly remembering why Zero Hour was needed. But I think it was simply because every fix DC tried to incorporate into their universe just broke a bunch of other shit that later needed to be fixed. What DC didn't realize was that their main problem that needed fixing was the way-too-literal know-it-all fans who couldn't just shut the fuck up.

One thing that remains the same from pre-Zero-Hour continuity to this Zero Hour continuity is how Golden Era The Ray is a huge fucking psycho dick. He can't find his son to beat up on so now he's decided to beat up Martian Manhunter. The guy needs severe anger management classes. He needs to spend a little time at Sanctuary, the Heroes in Crisis spa.

During the battle that Older The Ray starts, a lot of property is destroyed. Weird how when his son gets into a battle that destroys property, it's the most irresponsible thing in the world. But when he does it, it's just super hero business as usual. Fucking dads! They're the worst, right?! Hypocritical Fox News watching recovering alcoholic assholes who have never done a ninth step with their son! That are also angry super heroes, of course!

Older The Ray decides to ask Jenny and Cousin Hank if they've seen The Ray. He doesn't beat the shit out of them when he asked the question though. That doesn't make him less of a dick; it makes him more of a dick! Because now we know he could have approached Martian Manhunter reasonably! Cousin Hank doesn't have much to offer as usual.

It always amazes me how often a person can understand an acronym with which they're unfamiliar simply from a tiny bit of context. It didn't take me more than a few seconds to figure out that VPL equals varicose pussy lips. Oh wait! It's probably visible panty lines.

Jen manages to hack into The Ray's laptop so they can read his letters to Black Canary. Which reminds me that I know why The Ray is missing! I forgot to mention that at the end of the last issue, he went by his dad's house to hug him and his dad wasn't there. But his mother who was supposed to have died giving birth to The Ray was! So now he's probably off crying somewhere. It turns out that "somewhere" was Dinah Lance's bathtub. But when she never returned, he fucked off to cry somewhere else.

Sitting in the bath tub, The Ray has a Zero Hour hallucination recounting his origin. He was born leaking radiation. Older The Ray knew the government would come to study him or exploit him, so he gave him to his brother without telling anybody. He left a light image of the baby that would eventually consume itself. He just told his wife their son died and moved on. Meanwhile, The Ray grew up thinking his uncle was his dad. Right up until his uncle died and told The Ray the truth on his death bed. And all of that is pretty much the same as his pre-Zero Hour origin, I think! But it was important during Zero Hour that every series got a Zero Hour book to explain their origins for all the new readers jumping to DC now that all the continuity errors were fixed and it was going to make complete sense.

The Ray #0 Rating: C. I don't expect a special Zero Issue to advance the plot in any way so this issue lived up to my non-expectations. It even ends at basically the same point as the last regular issue as The Ray's mom acts confused by this strange teenager trespassing on her property. Even the origin story was a long-winded version of information already expressed in earlier issues. I began reading this series hoping to realign my perspective and read with the same sense of wonder I once had for comic books. But I don't think I can ever regain that feeling I once had that every comic book series was telling a story that was going somewhere. I once thought that the worst thing about dying was that I wouldn't be able to learn how the comic book series I was reading would end. But that's never been the point of most comic book series. No wonder I loved Elfquest and Cerebus so much. Because they were written with an end in mind (Elfquest more than Cerebus but Dave Sim already had the 300 issue thing in mind when I began reading it, so, you know). And, sure, I don't want to rush to the end of a well-written story just because I need to know how it ends. But I'd like to know the journey meant as much to the writer as it does to me. And if the writer of a story is simply writing whatever comes to mind to fill out a page count from month to month, I feel cheated now. There was a time I didn't realize that was a thing. But now that I've seen it, I just can't go back to the excitement and wonder of thinking, "What is going to happen to The Ray's relationship with his family?! How will it affect his super heroing? And what, exactly, is his super heroing anyway? He doesn't seem to have any plan aside from buying a fridge and he's not even working on that plan." Hmm, maybe the whole point of this comic book is that adult life is so complicated that all of your tasks simply become digressions. All of your beliefs and philosophies which propel you to do the things you do mean nothing to the universe which will continuously wear you down with problems you weren't expecting. Didn't some famous jerk-off once say something about life being the thing that happens while you're making plans? Maybe that's what this comic book is about which is also what growing up is about. And maybe that's why so many adults become soulless automatons with no underlying set of ethics to guide them through social interactions requiring empathy and compassion. Who has time to think of anybody else when you're busy putting out fire after fire intent on destroying your life's plans?

I don't have this entire series but now I'm hoping that The Ray never gets that fridge until the final issue.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Ray #5

The Ray Senior has six armpits.

It's hard to believe there was a time when comic books didn't acknowledge who did the cover. I suppose publishers simply thought comic book nerds were so rabid for the medium that they could instantly recognize the artist without any credit. Or maybe they figured if the reader was truly interested, they'd scour the cover to find the signature. That would answer the question, right?!

Oh yeah. Okay. That fucking helped nobody.

In 1994, good luck figuring out who the fuck this signature was by. Sure, you can read "Nichols" in that fucking doodle but that probably means you'd merely assume Art Nichols did the cover (if you even knew who the fuck that was). But no! This cover was by Joe Quesada and Art Nichols! Fucking Joe Quesada. How delusional do you have to be to think that a J stuck to a giant fucking rendition of Saturn would read "Joe Quesada" to anybody who didn't already fucking know that that was his pretentious signature?! I suppose if my understanding of the musculature of the human body was on Joe's level, I'd want to obfuscate my name too.

Some people who have only grown up with the Internet might not entirely understand my issue. When they first encountered an artist they really liked, they probably learned all about that artist immediately. But back in 1994, if your local comic book store owner (and the owner back then was almost always the clerk (okay, maybe not in 1994. But in the 70s and early 80s, definitely)) couldn't answer any questions you had (if you could bring yourself to actually engage them in conversation, of course), you were shit out of luck. Sure, you might send a letter to DC and then hoped they'd answer it in a future issue of the comic book that maybe you were still continuing to read. Or maybe you'd have a more knowledgeable comic book friend. But what you almost certainly didn't have was an easy way to find out answers to mysterious things. Maybe you were lucky enough to have AOL or Prodigy but was your question being answered so important that you would submit yourself to a comic book AOL chatroom? Almost certainly not! You'd just live with a mystery for awhile and hope that maybe, some day, you'd get satisfaction.

I'm definitely not saying it was better in the past! If you somehow got that out of what I just read, you're probably a bit too defensive and maybe you should relax a little bit.

And speaking of generation gaps, this cover is apparently about a generation gap! It's father vs. sun in a knockdown, drag-out battle that absolutely nobody fucking cared about! Most of us bought this issue thinking, "I hope The Ray finally buys that fridge!"

I know what the Oedipal and Electra Complexes are but what do you call it when you want to both kill and fuck your father?

The Ray is drunk on the energy he absorbed from the Light Entity. Older The Ray seems angry and violent from the energy. I'm sure once the energy dissipates, the two will have said everything they needed to say and they'll hug. And judging from the above panels, maybe they'll suck a little dick too.

Older The Ray absorbs The Ray's powers and teleports him all over the world to teach him that the world has problems that can't be solved by punching Doomsday in the throat. And they certainly can't be solved by a reckless teenager using his powers to fly to Hawaii to get laid and murder other super heroes. So Older The Ray decides he needs to take away The Ray's powers forever. I don't know how he has that kind of power and why he didn't do it when The Ray was younger so The Ray could have a regular childhood. He probably decides to do it now because he's simply an asshole. And also maybe because Zero Hour happens next issue.

Except it's all some kind of test and The Ray doesn't ever actually lose his powers. This story definitely isn't making Golden Age The Ray any fans. Was he always a gigantic asshole? Maybe Christopher Priest just believes the same thing I do: dads are kind of dicks.

Some people think the song "Cat's in the Cradle" is sad but I think it's a triumph of the spirit! Stick it to that fucking asshole old man, kid!

Finally, Older The Ray screams at The Ray about how much he sacrificed to give him a decent life while his son, The Ray, just weeps uncontrollably. Because why the fuck should the son care what the parent sacrificed when that decision cost the son so much? And the father didn't fucking care about that at all. It's just "Me me me!" and "Look what I had to go through!" and "You don't know how much I suffered!" But all the son fucking wants is his father. Nothing else fucking matters and why should it? The son is angry and hurt and upset and he doesn't need to hear his father's excuses or rationalizations or explanations as to why he wasn't there. The bottom fucking line is that he wasn't there. He was never there. And now that he is, he thinks his son somehow owes him unconditional love? Fuck that guy.

But in the end, they hug because Older The Ray maybe sort of gets it. His son just wants a father, not some guy teaching him how to be a super hero. It might be a happy ending but I'm fucking pissed. I hope Zero Hour erases Golden Age The Ray from existence!

I hope Issue #0 resolves the fridge situation.

The Ray #5 Rating: B-. I know a lot of father/son relationships never have problems. But a lot of them do. And, eventually, many of those fathers and sons work through their problems to become friends of sorts. But fuck that bullshit. I'll take on their bitterness and resentment and hatred and keep it stored safely in my cold fucking heart. I will cherish those feelings of ill will and hurt. I will become an Anger Elemental and I will makes sure that fathers everywhere never again perceive a world in which their child owes them something. They owe you fucking nothing, no matter how good or bad you were to them. Accept what they can give you and stop being a huge fucking prick, Lloyd. I mean anonymous fathers.