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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

REGARDING THE DEPARTED

SPOILER WARNING! If you have not seen THE DEPARTED, read no further.

I'm a huge fan of several Martin Scorsese films — TAXI DRIVER most especially, but also MEAN STREETS, RAGING BULL and GOODFELLAS — and with that disclaimer in mind I just sat through THE DEPARTED on DVD and was gravely disappointed. It's well-crafted as expected, but seldom have I seen a film start out so well only to see the last fifth of the movie rocket down the bowl at light speed, taking the rest of the movie with it, and it did so exactly from the moment when Mark Wahlberg's character had to just leave the procedings otherwise the story would have ended abruptly rather than continuing on for another half hour. And having Wahlberg show up at the end just added insult to injury, but then Scorsese even compounded that by having a rat run across the window sill in the final shot. That ain't symbolism, it's just bad filmmaking. If Scorsese wins an Oscar for this film it will be the most undeserved throw-him-a-bone award given thus far, actually eclipsing Sean Connery's win for THE UNTOUCHABLES, which I also did not enjoy but at least I hated that one from start to finish.

And what the fuck does the title THE DEPARTED mean, exactly? Does it refer to the departure of the moviegoer's hard-earned cash? If I'd have paid to see it I would have been pissed. With all due respect, I think it's time for Marty to hang it up.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

R.I.P. LIZ RENAY, "THE STREAKING GRANDMOTHER" (1926-2007)

Liz Renay, uber-floozy Muffy St. Jacques in John Waters' DESPERATE LIVING (1977, and my vote for Waters's best film), has joined the Choir Invisible, and if there is a Heaven, I hope it's big enough to accomodate her massive lung warts. And if you haven't seen DESPERATE LIVING, rent it immediately! She was fifty-one when it came out, and she's a sleazily hot cartoon character brought to life; whether running around topless or being in danger of quite literally spilling out of her mercilessly small tops, Renay's Muffy is a hilarious comedic creation, especially during her origin story in which we see how she became infamous as "the Dogfood Murderess," a sequence that has to be seen to be believed.

Anyway, here's her info from the Wikipedia:

Liz Renay, nee Pearl Elizabeth Dobbins (b. April 14, 1926 in Mesa, Arizona- d. January 22, 2007 in Las Vegas, NV) is an author, actress, and convicted felon who appeared in John Waters's Desperate Living.

Renay was mobster Mickey Cohen's girlfriend. Renay was convicted of perjury and served 27 months at Terminal Island.

In her book, My First 2,000 Men, she claimed flings with Joe DiMaggio, Regis Philbin, and Cary Grant among many other male celebrities. She and her daughter toured with a striptease act.

Her other books include My Face for the World to See and Staying Young (Lyle Stuart, 1982). My Face for the World to See was reissued in 2002, headlined "A Cult Classic," with a foreward by John Waters.

John Waters integrated the title of Renay's book My Face for the World to See into the dialogue of his film "Female Trouble," prior to beginning the film he did with Renay.

Renay died at age 80 on January 22, 2007 in her adopted hometown of Las Vegas, NV.

Friday, January 26, 2007

OOOH, SCARY: COVEN’S “WITCHCRAFT DESTROYS MINDS & REAPS SOULS”

When my family moved to Connecticut in 1972, I was enrolled in swimming lessons at the local YMCA and my mother befriended the mom of an older student, a cute young Eye-talian girl who swiftly became my first babysitter in my new environment. I adored her because she was cute, a lot of fun, and had a fucking huge map of Narnia on her basement wall, but she also introduced me to some very good music that you wouldn’t hear on AM radio back then. Without her I wouldn’t have heard of David Bowie until “Fame” came out, and she would sprinkle my musical education with much more obscure offerings such as the 1970 album by Coven entitled “Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls.” No, I’m not kidding.

Oooooh, kids! Scaaaary!!!

It’s a curious blend of your standard psychedelia of the period and early expressions of what would come to be referred to as “devil junk,” and my babysitter unwittingly set me on a lifelong path of enjoying such ludicrous crap by bringing the LP over one night and playing it while I scribbled away on a huge newsprint drawing pad.

The music is as innocuous and hippy-dippy as it gets while the charmingly folky, renaissance fair-reject vocals kind of pass in one ear and out the other…until you read the ultra-Satanic lyrics. The tracks include such classics as “White Witch of Rose Hill,” “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,” “Pact With Lucifer,” “Dignitaries of Hell” and the thirteen-minute “Satanic Mass,” all of which are delivered with utmost seriousness, thereby rendering the whole shebang an unintentional laugh riot.

Blonde vocalist Jinx Dawson was a much more honest prototype to Stevie Nicks’s twirling, walking rummage sale “witchy” bullshit, dedicating herself to her craft to the point of getting buck nekkid and serving as a living altar during live gigs and rocking eyeliner so extreme that it would have made King Diamond go “Dag!!!” And as if that wasn’t enough, the band had a bassist/songwriter named Mike “Oz” Osbourne (no relation; this band is Californian) for fuck’s sake!

And why, you may ask, am I bringing this up? Well, the other day I went to Rockit Scientist, one of NYC’s finest CD shops, and among other purchases I found the Coven album, something I never expected to find on CD. I immediately snatched it up — along with the soundtrack to DOLEMITE, The Best of the Meteors, The History of the Bonzos (an exceptional compilation of the Bonzo Dog Doo Daa Band) and a collection of Doctor Who novelty records — and when I got home I smoked some righteous hookah pulls and listened to Coven for the first time in over three decades, and nearly laughed myself to death. Lyrics about witches whose touch causes instant death, “the Prince” transforming from goat to man and witchy chicks fucking his Goat of Mendes self were just the tonic for my malaise on that particular day, and it put a huge smile on my cannabis-addled face. RECOMMENDED, but only if you can appreciate a dead-serious album that I would have written as a parody of the genre. Oh, and the group later resurfaced to record the nauseating theme tune for the ultimate hypocritical hippy flick, BILLY JACK, so what’s not to like?

Jinx Dawson, giving her all in the name of devil junk.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

IN PRAISE OF "THE TWINS"

Man, the world would just not be worth living in without the awesome glory of boobs, and I’ll tell you that for free, jack!

What is it about the allure of a lady’s bosomy curves? The comforting roundness that enchants the eye and begs to be slowly, tenderly caressed, a softness that promises nurture and voluptuous delights, topped with that sensitive node that stiffens in welcome when tenderly greeted… They are a visually obvious aspect of woman that has fascinated me since I was but a wee, lecherous lad, and they’re an obsession that shows no sign of waning, and the kind folks at Taschen books have kindly catered to the mammalian-minded among us with the simply incredible THE BIG BOOK OF BREASTS, an enormous coffee table volume that celebrates exotic dancers and pinup models from those bygone halcyon days before the omnipresence of silicone.

Weighing just over seven pounds (seriously, I weighed the fucker on the barbecue joint’s digital scale), this nearly four-hundred page hardcover cornucopia of 100% girl flesh is nothing short of jaw dropping, with the models ranging from the zaftig to the downright freakish, but all of the sweater goblins on display are real, and as a staunch crusader against fake bobbies — unless they’re part of post-mastectomy cosmetic restoration — I applaud this flagrantly worshipful tome.

And not only are we treated to a legion of healthy-looking women of myriad ethnicities beautifying the place for pages on end, we also get candid interviews with some of the icons of the bump-and-grind/girlie mag era such as Tempest Storm (lover of Elvis and JFK), British bombshell and early PLAYBOY legend June “the Bosom” Wilkinson, Swedish Russ Meyer star and polyglot Uschi Digard, poster children for back problems Candy Samples and Kitten Natividad, and Native American/Irish Texas wildcat Candy Barr (possessed of a stunning face and form that looked like she was drawn by hot chick cartoonist/animator supreme, Preston Blair), each of whom have stories to tell that discuss their feelings about their bodies, their “unsavory” careers, and their roles as fantasy playthings for men that are utterly compelling.

Bottom line: if you’re a devotee of thermonuclear female pulchritude, you owe it to yourself to pick up this indispensable treasure chest (pun intended) and leave it out unashamedly in a place that will cause your friends and family to think you’re some kind of scurvy pervert while you know you’re only being appreciative of nature at its best. A steal at $49.95, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Trust yer Bunche!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

NO LOVE FOR THE LUDICROUS: NBC CANCELS PASSIONS



No... No! NO!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

...

Okay, I'm calm now...

PASSIONS, my vote for the hands down, most balls-out insane show on television, has been handed its death sentence, and I, for one, shall mourn.

For a daytime soap, PASSIONS had it all: witches,



demons, possible incest (sadly, they copped out on that one), a hatchet-wielding dyke who carried around her father's severed, mummified head in a backpack,



an incontinent invalid whose helper ourang-outang — in a nurse's outfit, no less — had sexual fantasies about a hunky police officer and occasionally dressed as a ninja,



a doll who came to life and mixed a kickass cocktail dubbed the "Martimmy,"



regressions to past lives of the characters during Cleopatra's reign and on the Titanic, the cast turning into the Osborns for no good reason for the better part of a week, a journey to Oz (I shit you not), kinky sex games involving costumes (my favorites being Baby New Year and Father Time being caught en flagrante, and the "headmaster and the naughty schoolgirl" sequence), angel statues in the churchyard that come to life and fight evil,



and the show's outright sluttiest character being revealed as having a fondly-remembered past in porn with midgets and Mexican donkey shows (yes, you read that right). The only thing missing were space aliens, and if allowed to continue I guarantee that the writers would have gotten around to it.

Anyway, here's the official word on this Brobdingnagian tragedy.

From VARIETY:

NBC cancels 'Passions' — Eight-year-old soap ends run

By JOSEF ADALIAN, JOHN DEMPSEY

The Peacock has pulled the plug on "Passions."

Net today will announce the cancellation of the nearly eight-year-old soap, which was known for its young-skewing supernatural storylines. Death had been anticipated in the wake of NBC's decision to expand "Today" to four hours (Daily Variety, Jan. 15).

NBC's contract for "Passions" runs until June, but since the extra hour of "Today" won't begin until the fall, it's expected the Peacock will try to extend the show through August. Net still needs to negotiate those deals with talent and producers.

Peacock was proud of "Passions," often touting its young femme numbers. Just last week, net issued a ratings release noting the sudser's No. 4 ranking among all serials among women 18-49 and its first-place tie with "Days of Our Lives" as the top sudser among women 18-34 for the first week of January.

NBC also pointed to the fact that it owns "Passions" outright, allowing it to keep any profits from the skein.

Cancellation of the skein points to the increasingly harsh economic climate for sudsers. Daytime insiders say it's likely one or two more daytime dramas could be killed by the end of the decade.

Because "Passions" is such a strong brand among young femmes, it's believed NBC will try to find a way to keep the show alive somewhere other than the network. An Internet platform is a possibility, while NBC might also talk to Disney to see if the conglom would be interested in producing a shortened version of the sudser for its successful SoapNet cabler.

Another potential home might be News Corp.'s barely breathing MyNetwork TV, which has had no luck drawing auds with its cheaply produced telenovelas.

Launched in July 1999, "Passions" was created by former "Days of Our Lives" scribe Jim Reilly, who remains exec producer and head writer. Lisa de Cazotte also serves as exec producer.

"Passions" was set in the town of Harmony, and at various times featured characters such as Timmy the doll-turned-human and Tabitha, the 300-year-old witch.

NOT YOUR FATHER'S SUPERHEROES

While virtually every other night at the barbecue joint is surrendered to the tyranny of sports, one hour of Thursday night television viewing is reserved for me and my masochistic addiction to the CW's SMALLVILLE, a teen nighttime soap opera that's just like DAWSON'S CREEK, THE O.C., and many other tales of pretty white klds with problems, only this one's about the growing-up years of Clark Kent. Yes, that Clark Kent. And part of the fun is seeing how the joint's regulars react when subjected to a heady blend of teen angst and super-powered daring do.

NOTE: not famed uber-butch dyke folk singer Phranc.

Now before you start hurling brickbats my way and rushing out to send me a gift membership to the National Organization of the Friends of Dorothy, allow me to state right now that I am fully aware of how fucking gay SMALLVILLE is and has been since the second it aired, what with nearly every frame being an exchange of "meaningful," longing gazes between a frequently shirtless and buff Clark (Tom Welling) and his future enemy Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) and all that, and that's one of the things that amuses me most about the show; obviously not being able to get away with really going there with the action, SMALLVILLE still manages to be jockstrap-a-bursting with smoldering homoeroticism, chiseled young bohunks in skintight outfits (or less), and a bevy of very attractive women who really serve as little more than a beard providing the hunks with someone to pursue in a "manly" fashion, despite the fact that the guys are for the most part prettier than the girls (the notable exception being Kristen Kreuk's Lana Lang, who's just plain mouth-wateringly cute; SEE BELOW).

NOTE: a girl.

I mean, there have been many moments over the several years the show's been on when, after Clark and Lex stand there staring each other down, all doe-eyed and shit, I scream at the TV, "Oh, for fuck's sake, kiss him, already!!!"And I know I'm not alone in this sentiment.

Then the writers began to introduce other superheroes into the mix, upping the ante and missing only a new character called "the Teabagger." Loose versions of the Flash/Impulse (rocking the slacker/hoodie look and acting like a dyed-in-the-wool stoner), Cyborg (the hot, black sports dude), the Green Arrow (blonde, ripped, and oh-so prettier-than-you, played with verve by my man Justin Hartley, formerly Fox Crane on PASSIONS), and even the much-ridiculed Aquaman are now a fixture, and their presence has rendered the gals even more superfluous, especially thanks to the outrageously hunky, Aryan Youth poster child Aquaman (Alan Ritchson),

who looks like one of Tom of Finland's super-muscular, enormously-membered homosexual fantasy drawings brought to life (think the gay equivalent to a Frazetta or a Richard Corben and you'll get what I mean).

I mean, look at this guy! Jesus H. Christ!!!

So the barbecue joint's regulars are astounded by the none-too-subtle faggotry that runs rampant on SMALLVILLE every Thursday, and they have actually come around to my side when it comes to rooting for the guys to get it over with and kiss already, but the one thing that is universally derided about the show is how the superheroes all look like a bunch of escapees from an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue rather than the colorfully-costumed mystery men who we love to read about in comic books. This past week's episode, "Justice," gives the viewers what is more or less a nascent Justice League, featuring all of the aforementioned superboys, plus Clark (in case you forgot that he was Superman, and shit), and it provided the regulars with a lot to gripe about, but the two classic comments of the evening were both directed at the "look" of the heroes.

One of our favorite regulars, Pete, looked up at the screen between mouthfuls of barbecued ribs, caught a glimpse of the Flash/Impulse in his red and yellow windbreaker and hood and asked me, "Is that supposed to be the Flash?" I said, "Yeah," and Pete looked scornfully at the screen for a moment before blurting out, "Man! These guys all look like douchebags!" Sadly, I could offer no argument to that statement.

As the episode wore on, the heroes blew up a Luthor-fronted experimental complex designed to be an R & D lab using captured superhumans as guinea pigs, and during the course of the mission we were treated to more longing gazes — this time between heroes, particularly Cyborg and Aquaman —tight costumes, and a bit of dialogue wherein Cyborg chides Aquaman for running around shirtless, to which Aquaman quips, "I swim faster when I'm naked. You're lucky I have my pants on!" which only elicited agonized moans from the whole restaurant. Then, during the final scene where the Green Arrow announces that he's forming a group of superguys with the word "Justice" in their group moniker, the heroes — minus Clark, because he has other shit to do, presumably standing around looking like the prettiest lumberjack at the logging camp — turn and walk out in slo-mo like the Resevoir Dogs or something, and what was clearly intended to be the coolest moment in the history of the known universe was pointedly skewered by our expatriate-Texan bartender, Scott, who stepped in as a narrator and said, "Well, we just saved the world. Now it's off to Old Navy."

I swear to the gods, I did not stop laughing for the next five solid minutes.

Friday, January 19, 2007

YEEEEEEE-HAH!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DOLLY PARTON!


Ever since I was a kid, I can remember the males on my mom's side of the family being staunch fans of Dolly Parton, both for her music and her, *AHEM*, "assets." My little cousin, Kelley James, put is quite succinctly with, "I like her big bubbles!," so I guess love of the voluptuous starts early in my bloodline.

I'm fond of Miss Parton not just for her outrageous figure, but also for her early work during her days with Porter Waggoner, a country legend who gets unfairly glossed over these day thanks to his incredibly dark material; while under his wing — and I wouldn't be surprised if she was under other parts of his anatomy — Dolly sang a tune from the point of view of the oldest girl in an orphanage run by a cruel guardian, and the song ends with her and the rest of the kids contentedly watching as the orphanage burns to the ground while their guardian screams in agony, trappped within the inferno. My kind of song, but I forget the title.

The other thing that sets Miss Parton apart from her contemporaries is her rather ribald sense of humor about herself. Her pendulous sweater goblins are apparent even to Stevie Wonder and she plays up that angle to looney effect, even going so far as to refer to herself as a "female female impersonator," and lampooning famous pinup imagery, such as the double-whammy of the Jayne Russell-meets-Daisy Mae Scragg shot seen below. Sure, it's mostly an homage to Russell, but the hair and the colors of the outfit simply scream LI'L ABNER.


So, happy sixty-first birthday, Dolly. Just thinking about your cartoonish aspect brings a smile to my face, and for that I thank you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

2000 AD's SHAKO

"Shako! The Eskimo word for the Great White Bear. It means simply...KILLER!"

Thus opened the 1977 serial SHAKO, a sixteen chapter, virtually plotless excuse to depict a Polar bear biting people's heads off, and I'll be damned if it wasn't funny as hell.

Running in the first year of Britain's legendary weekly sci-fi anthology comic 2000 AD, SHAKO was unique since its sci-fi hook was tenuous at best — the bear had swallowed a container of a deadly germ warfare culture and had to be hunted down by the CIA — especially when weighed against the other serials that populated the magazine's pages, most notably the nascent JUDGE DREDD.

2000 AD came hot on the heels of the cancelled ACTION, another weekly mag that catered to bloodthirsty young boys, each strip filled with wall-to-wall carnage and graphic violence, factors that made it the target of UK parental outrage, and no strip in the book was more notorious than the flagrant JAWS ripoff, HOOKJAW (note the imaginative title).

The series was nothing more than a body count on the high seas, and the plot histrionics appealed to its laddish audience not merely thanks to its outrageous level of gory mayhem, but also because it read like a strip a ten-year-old could have written, and therein lay the balls-out fun. But all good things must end or get cancelled by a bunch of parental pussies, so HOOKJAW went to the Davy Jones's locker of comicdom, and was resuscitated with an ursine stand-in for the shark in 2000 AD #20-35.

I first discovered Two-Thou (as us fans/geeks affectionately call it) during a trip to England in the summer of 1981 and have been hooked ever since, and in '86 an abridged version of SHAKO was printed in that year's 2000 AD annual. I was in my third year of college when I picked it up, and one of my fondest memories of introducing my friends to comics has to be seeing my pal John Gibson convulsed with laughter as he read the bear's murderous rampage, occasionally stopping to giggle and exclaim, "Shako!!!" in his best movie trailer narrator's voice.

No joke, the growing body of the story has no purpose other than to depict a startlingly intelligent polar bear staying one step ahead of his pursuers, sadistically setting traps for them, chomping on their heads like candy, and just generally being a big, white menace.

Among the many laugh-out-loud highlights, the two funniest bits have to be the one where a guy is in the shower and, soap in his eyes, gropes about to find what he thinks is a fluffy white towel, and the one where a Russian whaler named Sergei actually gets into a fist fight with Shako because he wants to fight an American (???) and shouts, "A left to the fish basket, Yankee!" as he punches the bear in the gut shortly before Shako tears him a new one. Chapter after chapter goes by, each topping the previous for ludicrous action, only to culminate with CIA man Buck Dollar blowing the shit out of Shako with a bazooka, only to die when the bear's carcass falls on him. What's not to love?

Remembered these days only by Two-Thou diehards, SHAKO has become a cult favorite for all of the previously stated reasons, and the entire serial was recently reprinted in 2000 AD EXTREME EDITION #18 (Oct. 31, 2006), the magazine that re-presents the harder-to-find offerings from Two-Thou's bygone days. When I saw the bear's face on the cover, I let out a yelp of surprise and delight, scooped it up and bought the motherfucker, reading it on the subway and laughing like a madman.

And in a true testament to SHAKO's cult status, there's even a T-shirt available, featuring bloody claw marks and the bear biting a guy's head off, emblazoned with the slogan,"Shako! The Only Bear on the C.I.A. Death List!"

My kind of merchandising tie-in! Trust yer Bunche and read the motherfucker, already! It'd make for an hilarious film adaptation, especially with buckets of spewing red paint, and the title character played by a really bad animatronic, the less realistic, the better.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

THE COOLEST COMIC BOOK COVERS EVER: WONDER WOMAN #189

The "new look" Wonder Woman without superpowers, in Viet Nam, dressed like a local, blowing down a fighter plane with a fucking machine gun. What more could you ask for?

Sheer artistic perfection from Mike Sekowsky (his best piece, in my humble opinion) and Dick ("I taught Klaus Janson how to spot black") Giordano.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

HEAVY HANGS THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN

Before heading in to work today I stopped off at a local Burger King for one of their exquisite Quad Stackers (basically a quadruple cheeseburger with nothing on it other than bread, bacon, cheese, and a drop of cheese sauce; one of those and a medium drink keeps me content for about eight hours). I always chose the King over McShit thanks to the flame-broiled taste of the burgers (flavor being something conspicuously lacking in the McTurd on a bun) and for as long as I can remember I have seen those cheap, gilded paper crowns given away to kids whenever they are served there. While I awaited the arrival of my latest belly bomb of choice, my gaze was drawn to one of those regal headpieces and I noticed there was writing on the inside.

I picked up the toddler tiara and stood there slack-jawed as I read the list of rules for donning the bloody thing. I was always uncertain of the vagaries of royalty and the rules and etiquette that steer it, and now, thanks to a child’s replica of the most widely recognized symbol of imperial authority, I have had all of my questions answered. What follows are the actual instructions for kingship once one dons the Burger King Crown, and I swear I have transcribed them exactly as found on the real thing.

LAWS OF THE CROWN

GAME PLAY

A) Adjust size and be the first to place on head.
B) Whoever places the Crown on his or her head first, then in a loud voice proclaims “I AM THE KING” is from that moment in charge.

ADVANCED PLAY

1. There can only be one King.
2. The King always gets his/her way.
3. The King must speak with some kind of cool accent.
4. The King makes all the imperial decisions governing selection of TV channels. Movies, radio stations, as well as popular activities like snowboarding, pool hopping and cow tipping. The king also determines who gets the remote, who rides “shotgun” and, of course, who pays.
5. Rule ends when Crown is removed for more than 3 seconds (see Three Second Law).
6. Disagreement with the King results in a “penalty.” This is decided by the King. Common penalties include: forfeiture of fries, surrender of video game controller and banishment from office cubicle.

THREE SECOND LAW

The King’s rule ends when the crown is removed from their head for any reason, accidental or otherwise. The first person to exclaim, “ONE…TWO…THREE…KING” may claim the crown.

IN THE EVENT OF A TIE

If two people crown themselves King simultaneously, the person whose birth date is closest to DEC. 4, 1954 (date the first BURGER KING restaurant opened) is King.

COUP D’ETAT

If everyone agrees you completely stink as King, your rule may be renounced. This constitutes a Coup d’etat. A new King may be crowned if the group can reach a unanimous decision. If not, the THREE SECOND LAW applies.

KINGDOM

If you are eating in a BURGER KING restaurant, your rule extends all the way to the edge of the parking lot. Off restaurant grounds, your rule extends to a radius of ten feet around you in any direction.

WARNING: This BURGER KING Crown is made of paper. Your rule may end prematurely if Crown is exposed to water or flame.

Hey, good to know!

AHEM!!! (clearing throat) I AM THE KING!!!! Now bring me my Queen!!! And my purple ermine animal print cloak! Schnell, goddammit!!!

Friday, January 12, 2007

THE WORLD’S BADDEST SUPERHEROES: BIG BARDA

Everyone goes on about Wonder Woman being the baddest of the super-women, and while I give her much respect for being the first, she sure as shit isn’t the baddest. That distinction belongs to the mighty Big Barda.

In a very wise move, Barda's unveiling was saved for the book's interior, and what a reveal it was!

First rearing her helmeted head in MISTER MIRACLE #4 (Oct. 1971), Barda showed up from out of nowhere, brazenly strode into the hero’s home like she owned the place, was rude to his dwarf sidekick, and, upon hearing that the hero was in mortal danger, wasted no time in rushing to his side to kick as much ass as possible.

Tall, tough, and straight to the point, she’s my kind of gal and has been my favorite female superhero ever since I first saw her over three decades ago.

Created by comics-god Jack Kirby — if you don’t know who he is, look him up immediately — after checking out a PLAYBOY pictorial of Semitic bombshell Lainie Kazan (see below; Gaw-DAMN!!!),

Barda’s a seven-foot tall immortal warrior from Apokolips, a fire-spewing, extra-dimensional planet that could give Hell a run for its money, and its inhabitants are among the hardest the universe has to offer simply by virtue of being able to exist in such harsh surroundings. Bred to be one of the evil lord Darkseid’s elite troopers, Barda underwent the ultra-Spartan mental and physical disciplines required to forge her into a planet-conquering soldier under the sadistic hand of Granny Goodness, along with nebulously defined “special powers training” that honed her already formidable natural attributes into the very definition of superhuman strength and resilience.

Supplemented with the multi-function Mega-Rod (stop snickering) — a high-tech war club that serves as an energy weapon and allows her to fly — and one of the most bitchin’ suits of armor in comics history, Barda’s an imposing figure indeed, sort of a Norse Valkyrie gene-spliced with Slymenstra Hymen of the comedy-metal band Gwar (seen below).

During her centuries as a trooper, Barda rose through the ranks and eventually became the leader of the Female Furies, the gender-segregated cream of Granny Goodness’s homicidal crop, and in no time became so feared that the mere mention of her girls sent the oppressed citizenry screaming in terror.

But also suffering within Darkseid’s military machine was young Scott Free — the pacifist half of an exchange of heirs that cemented a shaky cease-fire between Apokolips and its opposite number, New Genesis — a soldier who was diametrically opposed to his master’s doctrines, and during his time on Apokolips he developed his godlike escape skills, eventually fleeing to Earth where he took up the mantle of Mister Miracle, Super Escape Artist.

When Barda and Scott met as youths it was an instant clash of personalities and ideologies, the battle between the hawk and the dove writ superhuman, so it was only a matter of time before the opposites attracted. Something deep within the seasoned war-goddess was touched by the thoughtful, gentle man who was unlike anyone else on her homeworld, and at risk to her own life she aided in Scott’s journey to the Earth, eventually defecting from Darkseid’s army and joining her lover’s life of staying one step ahead of her former lord’s endless efforts at retaliation.

Once on Earth and utterly taken with human culture, Barda adapted in the most unexpected of ways: when not putting armored boot to ass, the statuesque war-goddess enjoyed being an exaggerated, over-the-top model housewife, content to fuss over her beloved husband and live a life as far removed from her upbringing as possible. But combat is her forte and Barda has fought side by side with many of Earth’s greatest metahuman warriors and proven herself among the toughest of their numbers. No joke, kiddiewinkies, this bitch has taken down Superman, for fuck’s sake, and he didn’t even hold a grudge (which may have had something to do with the porno film the two of them made while under the mind-control of Sleez; no, I’m not making that up)!

In many ways Big Barda reminds me of a much more honest version of what Wonder Woman’s supposed to be about; an embodiment of the fierceness and tenacity of the female, completely indomitable and heroic, yet loving and nurturing with her friends and loved ones, but with the personality quirks and foibles that make an interesting individual. Short-tempered, brusque, apt to respond to a situation with her fists rather than negotiating like a pussy (as she would no doubt put it herself), fiercely protective, very funny without realizing it, rather vulnerable beneath the surface, each of those traits reminds me of many women I know and is what makes Barda unique and a genuine pleasure to read about.

Wonder Woman has little of that, instead being a mostly characterless template (if handled by the wrong writer) from which all other superwomen sprang, and that’s cool, but give me the Aphrodite from Apokolips over Diana any day.

And allow me to go on record and flat out state that the story where Barda hangs out on Wonder Woman’s home island and is defeated in a sparring match against WW is a load of horseshit! Yeah, Diana’s a badass and one of DC’s “big three,” but Barda’s been around for centuries, kicking ass nearly every day against ultra-violent, sadistic shit Diana couldn’t even begin to imagine, so Barda’s got the advantage thanks to sheer hours logged in! That fucking princess gets everything…

Well, at least my girl has made it onto TV screens via the excellent JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon.

And talk about what could have been the greatest comic ever, but never came to pass, and drawn by Steve (NEXUS) Rude, just to make its non-existence that much more painful:

So here's to Barda, and may we someday see a DC/Marvel crossover wherein she puts her armored boot right up She-Hulk's wisecracking green rectum!

COMIC BOOKS ARE FOR IDIOTS: SPANKIN' THE AMAZON

"The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound... Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for stable, peaceful human society."

-William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, polyamorist, and real-life bondage-freak.

According to Dr. Frederic Wertham's infamous anti-comic book treatise, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT (1954), the artists who created comic books intentionally filled the pages with hidden illicit imagery and morally questionable content, thereby corrupting young readers and sending them down a path to inevitable delinquency. Among other postualtions, Wertham proposed that Superman was the ultimate fascistic power fantasy, Batman and Robin embodied a homosexual fantasy of a grown man and an underage boy living together in a socially unacceptable manner, and that Wonder Woman offered up the lesbian analog to the aforementioned homo rompery.

Well lemme tell ya, the Wonder Woman comics may not have been as sapphically oriented as Wertham suggested, but the early years of that strip were positively bursting at the seams with blatantly up-front S&M imagery; bondage with chains or rope are a commonly recurring theme, along with much discussion of submission and dominance, and all manner of strange spanking scenarios. And speaking of which, here's perhaps the single strangest spanking image I've ever seen in an old school Wonder Woman comic:

And check out Diana's face; she's totally digging being disciplined with a hairbrush by legendary salad-dodger/proto diesel dyke Etta Candy, in front of an audience of babies! What the fuck is going on here???

Anyway, here's a small gallery of bondage tomfoolery with everybody's favorite Amazon princess.




And you've just gotta love this one: Lynda Carter in full regalia, tied up, and by Nazis, no less!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT!!!

When I posted that obit on Yvonne DeCarlo at one in the morning, I was tired from work and feeling tasteful in my choice of photos. I have since rethought that stance, goaded by one of my stalwart readers — who also happens to be like my little brother — so here's Yvonne from her early days, breakin' out the twins.

So much for mellowing in my old age. This one's for you, John.

Man, I like them Eye-talian ladies...

R.I.P. IWAO TAKAMOTO (1925-2007)



I have always hated Scooby-Doo with a passion for copping out on real monsters in the early days, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Iwao Takamoto designed the now-immortal characters from SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU? (1969), and the motherfucker could draw his ass off.

He also designed Astro from THE JETSONS (1962),


and Penelope Pitsop from WACKY RACES (1968) and THE PERILS OF PENELOPE PITSTOP (1969).



How this dude survived the rigors of both Das Uber-Disney and the mines of Hanna-Barbera I will never know, but that just tells me he was one talented, tough son of a bitch.

LILY MUNSTER/SEPHORA IS NOW AT REST: R.I.P. YVONNE DeCARLO (1922-2006)

And now the actress who portrayed Sephora, wife of Moses in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) — one of my favorite movies, by the way — and Lily Munster, the vampire homemaker on THE MUNSTERS (1964-1966) has joined the choir invisible. I was never a fan of THE MUNSTERS because of Herman's petulant wussiness, but Lily and Grandpa, working the vampires-as-immigrant-minority angle, were a great idea and I dug them both.

DeCarlo got her start as one of the legion of sexpot starlets of the 1940's and 1950's, and she sure was easy on the eyes. Plus, she could act!

So rest well, Yvonne. And I have to say it took all of my self restraint to not post a topless shot I found of her from the early days; if this were an obit note on Tracy Lords or someone of similar fame/infamy I would not have hesitated, but I guess I'm mellowing as I get older.

Pfooey.