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Tuesday, October 31, 2006
So, you know this made me happy:
Though, after rewatching the episodes of Justice League Unlimited contained in this box set, my over-whelming emotion was annoyance at being reminded how terribly ham-fisted the whole Cadmus storyline was. Which was, really, a weakness in the show from beginning to end. Individual episodes are superlative; the "big picture" through-story for the season was terrible. Even the generally better final season suffers from a lame deus ex machina cop-out of an ending.
So, I find it frankly hilarious that one of the more contentious and angst inducing gay news stories to surface recently is the shock and dismay that has been uttered at the stunning realization that in the video-game Bully, boys can kiss boys. Now, it's not as if this is anything novel in games programming. Most of the "open ended" games that have come out, notably The Sims and Fable have included the option of having your character in the game be gay. Bully seems to have been specifically targeted by moralists, however, because the game's publisher also makes the "controversial" Grand Theft Auto series of games, so naturally this all must be part of a plot to corrupt America's holy and virginal youth. Reaction from people who have played the game is mixed, to say the least.
I must admit, I never thought of looking at the game twice until I heard about the boys kissing boys angle. And then, I realize that I don't like Rockstar's approach to games very much, and I move on. Besides, I still haven't finished Justice League: Heroes or Kingdom Hearts, and I'd like to finish at least one of those before the new Legend of Zelda game comes out.
Oh, Roy Thomas, Danette Thomas and Ernie Colon, you've made me very happy.
Hellbent is the film that's been popularly branded as the "first gay horror film." It's a bit of an exaggerated identification, as there have been lots and lots of very, very gay horror films over the years. What sets Hellbent apart from the pack is that it's the first openly gay horror film, by an out writer and director and featuring explicitly gay characters.
In terms of being a horror film, Hellbent follows a rather cliche and well-trod path. Eddie is a gay police tech who hears about the brutal decapitation murders of two gay men in a popular cruising spot. He's tasked to hand out flyers to the community, warning them to be on the lookout for suspicious persons. On Halloween night. In the gay part of town. Yeah, that's an easy task. In any case, Eddie meets the rough trade of his dreams and he and his friends go out to cruise the Halloween party. Where, one by one, they're dispatched by a muscular, bare-chested man in a devil mask, until only Eddie and his trick are left to save the day.
It really is a terribly pedestrian, and frankly, rather dull slasher film, with an over-reliance on gore for it's thrills and a frustrating lack of any kind of personality for any of the characters, least of all the killer, who remains a cipher throughout the movie. In a certain sense, the film is a great success, because it does exactly what it set out to do: make a gay themed horror film as predictable and stereotypical as any of the other straight-themed torture and gore films can be. The only thing that sets the film apart from the pack is that the pretty people getting cut up are handsome young men instead of pretty young women.
Viewed through that lens, however, the film is more interesting than it should be. Most gay movies are fairly horrible, and while the fact that they tend to be budgeted poorly can take some of the blame, most of the blame can be laid on the fact that they only exist to try and court the gay dollar. I'm as guilty of encouraging this as any gay man (I do like to see stories that passably resemble my life from time to time, and playing "where will the gratuitous nude scene pop up" is sort of fun), so it's somewhat encouraging to see a gay movie that's not very good because it doesn't strive to elevate itself above the least elements of it's genre, not because it's pandering to a gay audience. Hellbent is a not very good movie because it's not trying to be anything other than a cheapie slasher movie, and that's refreshing.
Today's post was going to be a follow-up to the last post, specifically looking at Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge and how it can be used to illustrate the frequently homophobic uses of gay codings and themes in horror films, but I realized two things while watching it.
One, the film hasn't aged very well, and probably wasn't good to begin with. This made sitting through the film and paying attention to it extremely tedious. I suddenly found myself paging through Previews during the "talky" bits of the movie.
The other thing I noticed is that it's kind of silly to talk about the homophobic subtext of the film, when in actual fact it's all "text." The film could have had big letters flashing across the screen at certain points "GAYS ARE EVIL!" and it would have been just as subtle in its message.
So, forget that. It was a lousy film, it bored me, it was too stupid and clumsy to be offensive, and I'm not going to bore all of you by talking about it.
Instead, here's a random odd thing from a Disney comic:
And, to keep you all occupied, another one of Gold Key's "do the work for us" activity pages where you fill in your own allegedly funny caption:
This one brings up all kinds of unpleasant thoughts that are not fit for public airing.
One of the interesting things about horror movies is how very gay they frequently are. At first it may seem surprising, but it really makes a kind of sense. At their heart, most horror films are about ordinary people trying to survive the warped reality they've been introduced into by something that, in some way, violates the natural order and the way the world is supposed to be. This is not significantly different from the bulk of anti-gay rhetoric you hear from political and religious leaders. There's a certain kinship, in that sense, to gay people and the monstrous denizens of horror films, and not just in the sense that they're both preying on nice, normal heterosexual teenagers. In the bulk of horror films, these connections are unintentional or so deeply subtextual and coded as to be easily missed. But every once in a while a film comes along that plays with the themes and connections in interesting ways.
Charlie Brewster is a typical American teenager. He's a mediocre student, he likes cheesy horror films, he's got a girlfriend reluctant to go all the way with him, and he's got a vaguely queer sidekick he can push around. He's also got a mysterious new neighbor who only seems to come out at night. That neighbor, Jerry Dandridge has attracted some conversation amongst the neighborhood women. He's handsome, an agent of suburban gentrification (he fixes old houses for a living), dresses in an affected style with long coats and scarves, and has a "live-in carpenter." Charlie's mother, for one, is quite curious about the nice gay couple who have moved into the neighborhood. Charlie's a little more suspicious. He's heard strange sounds, and seen women go in who later turn up dead. Oh, and there's the fact that Jerry has fangs. In short, Charlie's convinced that the nice homosexual next door is, in fact, a vampire. And he can't get anyone to believe him.
Charlie's efforts to expose Jerry lead him into increased conflict with Jerry. As Dandrige plays a sadistic game of cat and mouse with Charlie, Charlie only succeeds in alienating his friends. In desperation, Charlie turns to horror movie host Peter Vincent. Vincent is more concerned with the fact that he's just been fired because vampire movies are old fashioned, kids today want "demented madman running around in ski masks, hacking up young virgins," to take Charlie seriously. And when he realizes Charlie is serious he hightails it out of there, only to be roped into helping Charlie's girl-friend Amy and side-kick "Evil" Ed prove that Dandridge is only human. The experiment back-fires, however, as Vincent instead realizes that Dandridge is truly undead, and he flees the scene, leaving Charlie and his still skeptical friends to their fate.
The monster literally emerges from the closet of a teenage boy. No, no subtext here.
The film largely rushes towards it's climax at this point. Jerry seduces Ed and sends Ed to kill Peter Vincent, while Jerry comes for Amy, who just happens to be the spitting image of his long-dead love. Charlie and Peter are compelled to act together to rescue Amy and stop Dandridge. And at the end, heteronormativity is successfully restored, as Charlie and Amy get back together, all the challenges to the "normal" world are dispatched and Peter Vincent gets his job back and decides to stop showing vampire films. But there are still a few interesting twists to get there. The seduction into vampiredom of Evil Ed is just that. Ed is differentiated from the rest of the cast by his dark and sarcastic demeanor, his interest in horror and the occult, and his proto-punk/goth attire. He's marked out as an outsider amongst his peers. Jerry's speech, however, hints at even more of a reason why Ed is an outsider. "I know what it's like being different. Only they won't pick on you anymore. Or beat you up. I'll see to that." It's that suggestion of bullying violence that finally triggers the gaydar on Ed. Ed's a weird kid. A more conventional narrative would have him largely ignored in school. And Jerry doesn't attack Ed to transform him, rather Ed comes to him and, in fact, hugs him. It's very much like a "coming out" scene.
The post-transformation scenes with Ed and Peter Vincent are remarkable as well, and only accentuate these queer tones. For one, Peter Vincent is played as a slightly fey but dignified aging queen by Roddy McDowall. You don't cast McDowall if you want any implications of heterosexuality in a character. It's simply not the "type" that he plays. And the vampire Ed adopts an even more outrageous and campy persona than he ever had before. If human Ed was a closeted teen, vampire Ed is a flamboyantly out queer. At one point he even adopts a strange, rag-doll drag to trick Vincent.
The heavy gay implications in Peter Vincent are hard to ignore as well. McDowall plays the character as a kind of cross between Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. He's got the faded dignity of Cushing, but the fey archness of Price as well. You have, in effect, a man known for playing gay-coded characters aping the mannerisms of two other actors who play gay-coded characters. It's a fascinating ororobous of affected mannerisms and mincing caricatures.
The relationship between Jerry Dandridge and his assistant/servant/lover Billy Cole is noteworthy as well. There are other hints of Dandridge's homosexuality, particularly a telling exchange with Charlie in which Jerry says he doesn't have a choice about his nature, but this relationship is the most prominent. The film does explicitly posit their posing as a gay couple as a cover for vampirism, but there are these incidental moments of tenderness and affectation between the two that implies more to their relationship than the standard Master/Renfield relationship in vampire narratives. It's why the introduction late to the film of Dandrige's obsession with Amy feels like a false note. She happens to look like an ex-lover, so he takes her from Charlie and transforms her into a vampire. It feels off, despite Dandridge's previously established habit of feeding off prostitutes (a brief implication is made via off-screen newscasts that Dandridge feeds on men as well, but we only see him feed off women). It's a peculiar statement of heterosexuality in a film steeped in gay characters and imagery, almost seeming like an attempt to deny the queer implications of the narrative. And, given the realities of film-making then and now, not an implausible explanation for it.
Which is why the casting of Amanda Bearse in the role of Amy is so brilliant. Seen now, years after she has come out, it only furthers the gay text of the film. But even ignoring that, Bearse's Amy is a very tomboyish character. She keeps her hair short and wears bulky, mannish clothing for most of the film. Her vampiric transformation, in contrast to Ed's enhanced sense of camp, transforms her into a slinky, long-haired seductress, the stereotypical "sexy female vamp" of so many films. It's a ludicrously oversexed and overdone vision of heterosexuality, in contrast to the relatively normative homosexual relationship of Jerry and Billy.
However, since this is a commercial film, and since this is a horror film, the monstrous queers must be dispatched. Peter Vincent successfully defeats Ed, in a scene ending with a protracted transformation sequence in which Vincent is overcome with sympathy for the boy he has just killed, and together Peter and Charlie dispatch first Billy and then Jerry, who never, it seemed, had the good sense to simply brick up the two dozen windows in his basement, rather than simply paint them black or put heavy curtains in front of them. No, it simply wouldn't be a vampire film at all if one of the more stupid and contrived plot devices of the genre wasn't present. But, not only are the queers killed and heteronormativity restored, but Charlie finally gets to go all the way with his handsomely boyish girlfriend. So heteronormativity is really restored. Though, tellingly, a hint does exist of at least one gay survivor, still in the shadows.
Of course she rides a scooter...
Fright Night is an interesting film for me, not just because of this playing with gay themes that it does so thoroughly. It also represents a kind of response to what were prevalent themes in horror at the time. Supernatural horror, especially of the "classic monsters" kind was, as it largely is now, out of fashion. Vincent's line about "demented madmen in ski masks" was as true then about the audience's taste in horror as it is today. The rise of the "gore and torture" films in recent years was mirrored in the early eighties by the masked slasher films. Fright Night was an attempt to return the supernatural elements to the horror genre, in an entertaining way, updated for contemporary sensibilities. As opposed to the peculiarly anti-sex and anti-pleasure themes of the slasher movie, writer/director Tom Holland makes a case for the sensual pleasure of the supernatural, as well as emphasizing the sense of fun and humor that those films had, as opposed to the grim seriousness of the gore genres.
"Welcome to Fright Night. For real."
In contrast to your typical tired and schlocky vampire, Chris Sarandon as Dandridge manages to make him appealing and sinister. He plays up the camp and queer undertones without ever allowing them to degenerate into a fag joke or an explicit condemnation of Dandridge for homosexuality. While largely dismissed at the time of it's release, the playing that Holland and his cast do with the conflict between "classic" monster themes and modern sensibilities and the coded gay subtext of the horror genre are still remarkable, and have not really been duplicated, or rarely even attempted to this day.
It's been awhile since I picked on comic's biggest Batman wannabee (outside Moon Knight), Green Arrow.
Oh, so that's not very good at flattery at all, then? Also, "morale builder"? Easy there, Ollie. Blatant sexual harassment is Hal's job on this team!
Yes, but what does the public at large think of Black Canary's ability to boost "morale?"
Why, yes, of course...every time I see a pretty girl, my first thought is "I bet she's some sort of agent here to overthrow the government" as well.
Anyway, this is the real gem of Justice League of America #77 (the issue where Snapper Carr sells out the team). It's something, in these days of over-sensitive fans, nerd rage, and fan entitlement you'd never see. A letter demanding the death of a character.
Such fury! Granted, given that it's Green Arrow, it's not like any of the points cited are incorrect.
And what does Ollie have to say in regards to all this vitriol being directed at him?
Elephantmen #3 by Richard Starkings, Tom Scioli, Nick Filardi and Moritat The series of short sci-fi tales tying into Starkings and Ladronn's Hip Flask series continues, with two stories showcasing the characters of Hip Flask and Ebony Hide. The lead story is a gory morality tale about the black market demand for Elephantmen illustrated in Scioli's Kirby-inspired art-style. It's a short but compelling piece that makes the book worthwhile, as the back-up story, though nicely illustrated, serves essentially as an extended introduction to the character of Miki, without actually revealing too much about her.
What Were They Thinking Monster Mashup by Giffen, Casey, Church, Stokes and several artists not in a posistion to complain
Read this review if your name is Kevin Church: This is vile, unfunny, disgusting work that pissed on the contributions of men whose boots a shiftless dilettante like Church is not fit to lick. Read this review if your name is NOT Kevin Church: The torrid psycho-sexual subtext of this Silver Age monster tales is brought to the surface by a group of talented and funny writers. Boom's various remix projects are the best of the recent trend, and the stories work precisely because they revel in the goofiness of the source material. Church aquits himself well in his published comics debut, and I'm not just saying that because he's a friend, because I would never tell him that because his head is swelled enough as it is.
Lots of manga releases that appealed to me came out this last week. I feel a large manga review post coming up. I was particularly struck by the release of both Densha Otoko and Welcome to the NHK, as both deal with somewhat similar subject matter, but one goes off in an ultimately hopeful and optimistic direction while the other delights in tearing up its subject.
My Random Gripe of the Day
Let me sum up this commercial for you all: "Hey, isn't the threat of prison rape funny? Buy our jeans!"
Kalinara has declared it Cheesecake/Beefcake week. This is a cause I can fully support. I'll have to go and dig through my comics that aren't in storage to find some choice examples, but, in the meantime, here's a nice real life example of the principle.
This photo of Paul Rudd was in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone, and it's been making the rounds online since then. It's a very nice photo of a very attractive man.
First of all, there's the face. It's pleasingly masculine without becoming cartoonishly so. It's also a face full of personality. The expression betrays a sense of humor and a strong sense of self-deprecations.
The chest has a good mane of hair on it, but not too much. There's also some definition to the musculature, but without too much bulk.
And then there's this. The part of the body where the leg joins the torso, just above the pubic region. There's an actual word for this part of the body which I can never remember. But I'm totally a that part of the body man.
And, you know, I can't recall any examples of anyone making that particular argument. What I have seen, however, is lots of people wondering why gay characters, in comparison to straight characters, seem to be getting worse treatment, especially given that they're far rarer. To go back to two recent examples, Freedom Ring's death was particularly brutal and graphic given the usual levels of violence in general audience Marvel books, and it does seem awfully coincidental that only the gay/trans characters from Young Avengers and Runaways were singled out for abduction and threatened torture.
The situation is really starting to resemble the same arguments, from both sides, that keep coming up in recent discussions of treatment of female characters in super-hero comics. Female characters get raped more often, turned evil more often, depowered more often, and most recently decapitated more often. And given their scarcity, gay characters get turned evil, killed or tortured with extreme frequency. (I think, perhaps, Tasmanian Devil over at DC is the only gay character who hasn't had one of the above happen to him at some point.) And in both cases, the "defense" from the fanboys is "well bad things happen to everyone in super-hero books, stop asking for special treatment."
And, apparently it must be said again, in the context of comics now as well as the wider political situation, no one is asking for special treatment. To return to that scene in Young Avengers/Runaways, I wouldn't have had a problem with the scene if any other group of four characters had been grabbed. I wouldn't have even had a problem if the villain explicitly chose those characters because they're queer. It's the appearance of homophobia while the text is "wink-wink-nudge-nudge" denying it that's noteworthy. No, what's being asked for is for female characters and gay characters to be treated with the same dignity that het white male characters are given, and for writers, artists, editors and publishers to be mindful of the messages they send when they do choose to have bad things happen to those characters.
To return to Young Avengers/Runaways, I doubt the scene was deliberately intended to be read as anti-gay. I sincerely doubt it ever even occurred to anyone at Marvel that the scene could be read that way. But in the context of Marvel's recent treatment of gay characters, that reading becomes hard to miss.
And it does seem to be a matter of corporate culture. Marvel has also taken a lot of flak recently for the dearth of female creators and the "frat boy" culture that seems to exist there. We don't seem to be having anywhere near these number of conversations regarding how gay characters are treated at DC. The worst that can be said of DC on the issue of late is that they seem to really really like lesbian characters to be in their books. And, you know, on a certain level it may just be pandering, but it's better than nothing. Which isn't to say that DC is perfect. Just as a counterpoint, we seem to be having the inherent misogyny conversation about DC far more often than it comes up with Marvel. And it would be nice if DC's writers and artists could refrain from decapitating any female characters for more than a couple of months.
Here, that went on longer than I intended, so here's a not-work-safe short film about a super-hero with a politically incorrect origin and what could easily be read as coded gay content.
"Mister Doctor Overkill, phD" is my new favorite name for a villain. And I now desperately want a "Bears Did Terrible Things To Me" shirt. There are so many social functions I could go to where it would be appropriate.
I dont play all the time.... I hadnt played sicne janauary reactivated this month...... Everyone I know tells me not to play... I watch a show like that... just reinforces it...... If nothing else I will take my money away from blizzard... that episode convinced me.
If anyone didn't know that they were a loser 4 playing WoW b4 u watched this episode, then you baddly needed to see it and you should be very greatful for it.
hahaha after watching that fat dude pwn all those south park noobs it gave me the urge to go ganking. So i did and had a blast camping a shaman lowbie who was ganking in darkshire until a 60 mage came to help him, then i camped his body until he quit. BAWHAHAHA
Gamers have been working hard to gain mainstream acceptance for gaming in general and for MMORPG gaming in particular for a while now. This sets us back quiet a bit; and it hurts to think that is how blizzard themselves view there 'valued' customers. I won't stop playing, but it does leave a bitter taste in my mouth whenever I send in my $15.00.
Yeah man, South Park mades fun of the community. It's because the community sucks.
That said, one thing that did bother me, was that a certain group of players was unceremonoiusly crapped on, once again, by Blizzard's PR machine. The Horde. Like the screenshots on the boxes from the original release the horde is under-represented or ignored all together. This episode will undoubtedly bring in tons of new players to the game, and naturally, they're going to want to emulate the characters from this episode. Expect a slew of dwarves named Kartmun, and other such derivatives. With Blizzard focusing more on world pvp, where server demographics actually matter, unlike bgs, I think the Alliance is going to have their natural numbers (not every server but most) advantage vastly augmented.
you can't take a joke and are extremely pathetic and youre a guildless nub lolz
Luckily we have Australian tabloid television reporters to set us all straight on what an insidious menace this horrible game is.
Lots of probably unintended comedy there. I've never quite understood the heterosexual panic over infidelity. To pay attention to the mass media, you'd think that either every married man in America is a cheat, or else that many married women are paranoid to the point of distraction. Some of the signs that your husband might be gay strike me as a bit...odd. A strong preference for anal sex Yes, because as we all know, only gay men have an interest in anal sex. Overreacts to anything concerning gay men -- extreme homophobic behavior Unusually high percentage of male friends who are gay I'm kind of curious to know how these to go together. "Hey, honey, you know that disgusting god-damn faggot at work I told you about? We're going to be working late tonight. And don't forget, this weekend I'm going camping with that filthy perverted queer from my all-male gym and the shit-stabber I met at that bar you're not allowed to ask me about." Watching gay porn on the Internet Answering personal ads on gay Web sites Cell phone bills traced to gay escort services or gay personal dating services Yeah...at this point you may as well just go ahead and add "Likes to have sex with men" to the signs that your husband might be gay...
So...the Mark Foley thing. I'm a bit worn out of the media fascination with closeted gay men at the moment, and more than a little frustrated at the lazy and homophobic "gay=pedophile" slant of the majority of the coverage. Think Progress has a nice summary of the wing-nut wings attempts to frame the debate as "gays are bad" instead of "corruption in politics and protecting sexual predators is bad." John Walsh, of all people, even briefly addressed this. There are aspects of the situation that I'm strongly in two minds about. Thinking back to my own sexually precocious teenage years, I have to say I have some skepticism regarding some of the "oh, those poor boys who don't know how to turn off their instant messages and were exposed to this degeneracy completely and utterly against their will" hand-wringing. But that's not really the issue, since the real story here should be Foley's ethical misconduct in engaging in any kind of inappropriate behavior with a minor, and one he was in a position of authority over at that. Which is not to mention the cover-up. Or the cover-up of the cover-up, as Fox News now seems determined to rewrite history and make Foley a Democrat. And, call me cynical if you must, but there's a part of me that doubts that the story would have made it past the weekend if Foley were chatting inappropriately with seventeen year old girls.
The second issue of Savage Brothers continues the comedy. Overall, it's a good and entertaining comic. The writing by Cosby and Stokes is sharp and Albuquerque's art is distinctive, attractive and complementary to the tone of the story. There's a certain point, though, about half-way through the book, where you realize that the issue is going to be pretty much all schtick with a few scattered scenes of cartoony mayhem to punctuate the jokes. It's not a bad approach to take with material like this, and it does fit the book, but the all-shtick approach can become wearying.
Second Wave #6 has a similar wearying effect. I still find the art and story enjoyable, but the slow pace of events is starting to become tiresome, especially with the speed that characters are dispatched and introduced. That the majority of the characters are, at this point, written in a broad and generalized fashion, rather than an indepth way, only accentuates the effect. Like Savage Brothers, it's a stylistic approach that, for the most part, actually fits and works with the book, but there's little feel of forward momentum and no indication that the storyline can be indefinitely sustained either.
Dorian Watches Television
I saw the first two episodes of Heroes. Overall, I liked it. There were a few rough patches here and there, but it's already far ahead of...other sci-fi serial dramas in the fact that we're only two episodes in and a) things have actually happened (as opposed to people standing around and talking about things happening), b) an actual plot is in motion, with multiple angles (as opposed to people standing around and waiting for the plot to happen) and c) there's an actual time-line the characters are working under, namely the whole "five weeks before New York goes buh-bye" thing (and, as opposed to an interminable torturing of the audience as they wait patiently for the two or three things of actual import to happen at the 45 minute mark of each episode because the writers and producers are now quite clearly just making this shit up as they go along and have no plan to speak of). No, I'm not planning on watching Lost this season, why do you ask? Anyway...I did notice some grousing amongst the comicratti about their feeling that Heroes isn't sufficiently different from actual comic book storylines. That, basically, they've seen all these tropes explored before. And, yes, these tropes have been explored before. In comic books. This isn't a show for comic book fans. This is a show for everyone else.
The other new show I sampled and enjoyed was Showtimes Dexter, based on Jeff Lindsey's novels about a serial killer working for the Miami police department. It's definitely not a show for everyone, and it requires a certain mindset amenable to the darkest of dark comedy to really get into the show. There's a strong satiric element, both in the inversion of the standard mystery structure to have the killer as the protagonist/investigator, but also of the entire genre of "heroic cop/clever forensics" that have come to dominate the American television detective novel. Instead of brave, relentless cops determined to track down every lead and bring righteous justice to the world, we're given a police force so inept, corrupt and mired in politics that they can't even recognize that they have a serial killer working amongst them.
To thank you for reading all that, here's a picture of Bud Counts.
I took two days off work to go see the Scissor Sisters on the first night of their North American tour at the Shrine Exposition center in L.A. It's probably not the best venue for a musical performance, being a large cavernous space, and apparently the band wasn't too thrilled with the venue either. But despite some sound problems it was an excellent show. By concert standards it was a fairly small space, which meant the crowd was a moderate size as well, but that just leant the performance a more intimate feel, especially given the excellent rapport the band members have with the audience. If you have the chance to see them live, I strongly recommend it, as they put on a fantastic, high energy show. And Babydaddy and Del Marquis are even better looking in person.
I took my brand spanking new and terribly expensive camera to the show with me and managed to get a few choice shots.
Babydaddy and Del Marquis, with Paddy Boom in the background
Ana and Jake
Since I foresaw the difficulties of getting into and out of L.A., and the exhaustion that would set in after the concert, I decided to take two days off work. Friday, Pete and I just sort of bummed around the L.A. area, mostly up and down Sunset and Santa Monica. We did manage to go to Amoeba for the first time. It's a huge record store, and not the sort of place I need to be going when I have a little extra money to spend. I had to call it quits after I reached the $100 point, or else I'd be in trouble. But their imports...so many things I know I'll never see anywhere else...I had to get them, it was worth it.
Getting back to the band, the new album, Ta-Dah, is really quite good. It's different from their last album. It has less of an electronic sound, and is more polished. There's a continuum in attitude and theme from the last album, though this is probably quite a bit darker than their last effort. The stand-out songs are probably the first single, "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'," "I Can't Decide" (a cheery little song about homicide) and "Kiss You Off."
And I don't usually pimp my Amazon links, but I make an exception in this case, because the management of Transworld, a major record retail chain, has refused to carry the new album because Jake Shears made the startingly true statement that CD prices are too high in chain stores, Transworld's in particular. This sort of short-sighted, "cut off your nose to spite your face" behavior from retailers always annoys me, because the message this sends to their customers is "we don't want your money." So customers who want the new album will have to go to another retailer to get it. A retailer who may be cheaper, more convenient, and provide better service. And now a customer is lost because Transworld wanted to "prove" some kind of point and keep the musicians in their place. So, go ahead and click that Ta-Dah hyper-link or one of my Amazon side-links if you'd like to purchase the album. I know Amazon is an evil-bad corporate behemoth, but at least they're not Transworld.
I did not shoot this video, but someone at the same show I went to did.
Finally, an image that sums up why I both love and hate Southern California.
Oh Marvel, Marvel, Marvel. You so badly want to pretend to be the "hip" and "edgy" comics publisher, but your politics are so deeply mired in craven and reactionary pandering to the knee-jerk bigotries of your audience that it's almost comical. Even when you're not deliberately setting out to offend, your subtext comes shining through.
I speak, of course, of Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways #3, and the ever so charming "let's torture the queers" scene:
Now, I might have been tempted to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt and read this scene at face value, as the "aliens have no legal rights and technically don't exist so we can do whatever we want to them" scene writer Wells seems to have intended it to be.
But, this is a scene in a comic published by the Marvel that brought us the "No gay characters in a comic without a mature reader label because we don't want to offend homophobes" policy. The Marvel that brought us the "Let's kill our most prominent gay character and bring him back as an evil zombie!"/"Hey, to top that, let's kill the character off in two other books set in alternate universe the same month" treatment of Northstar. And this is the Marvel that brought us the "What anti-gay policy? See, look, Freedom Ring, the gay headliner of one of our books! Ooops, he's dead" comedy of errors.
So, you know, I think they've forfeited the right to the benefit of the doubt by now.