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Saturday, November 30, 2013

A SERIOUS REALITY CHECK




Folks-

After the recent deluge of material, you may have noticed my absence during the last two weeks or so, so allow to me to explain. 

Long story short, I'd already figured my meds for diabetes and hypertension needed adjusting and I planned on getting that looked into anyway, but a weird feeling of pressure — pressure being the important term here, as opposed to "pain" — in my chest awoke me very early on the morning of Tuesday the 12th, so I checked myself in at Park Slope's Methodist Hospital to see what was the matter. It turned out that my meds of late had failed to properly regulate my conditions and the feeling I'd experienced was my body making note of that fact, so what was intended to be an observational period of perhaps 24 hour ended up stretching out for several days as the doctors did assorted jiggery-pokery in figuring out what was needed to set me right. 

During all of the assorted testing and such, it was discovered that there was some very minor blockage in a portion of my heart that could be handled via medication or I could instead just get a stent inserted and that would keep the passageway clear on a permanent basis (provided I'm more diligent in taking better care of myself, which I will be). I opted for the stent and I had the procedure last night, which was extra-awesome to a FANTASTIC VOYAGE fan like me (it's my all-time favorite science-fiction movie) because I was wide-awake and coherent for the entire procedure — though the insertion point for the manipulator wires and the fiber optic camera was numbed with a local — and I got to watch the whole thing happen live on the video monitor. I was utterly fascinated and I felt no pain whatsoever, so I advise a policy of "no fear" should you ever be confronted with this particular option got heart procedures. And the whole thing was over in about twenty minutes, after which they kept me overnight for observation. Oh, and the doctors (and a close friend who also happens to be a doctor and a damned good one at that) all told me in no uncertain terms that I caught the heart problem very early, so I was smart to head in when I did. 

And, for the record, I feel perfectly fine and spry and though there's a lot more to the whole several-day adventure, but let it suffice to say that if your body tells you there's something "off," listen to it and don't be a macho shithead. Life's too much fun to miss out on and there are a ton of friends/loved ones who would be devastated if you went permanently tits-up for something that could have been taken care of during a hospital stay of a mere few days. (My friends who I consider family came out of the woodwork with support, so much so that I practically had to turn some of them away with a firehose.) Make sure you're around for as long as you can be. No bullshit.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday, November 08, 2013

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)




Roughly two years after the events of the first Thor film and an unspecified time after THE AVENGERS, the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Earth after quelling assorted conflicts on several worlds in the nine realms of Norse myth, a job that has his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), sizing him up as next in line for the throne of Asgard, the home of the gods. Once on Earth, Thor finds that his love interest, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is inadvertently the host to the Aether, a major-league power source coveted by the dark elf Malekith (Christpher Eccleston), who seeks not only to exact vengeance for Asgard's long ago victory over and near-destruction of his race, but also to destroy all nine realms of existence when they perfectly align for the first time in ages. Needless to say, Thor has to save Jane from the force that has taken up residence in her body and kick Malekith's elven ass once and for all while preventing the complete and utter destruction of everything, but the odds are very much stacked against him and the success of his plan depends on the participation of his imprisoned evil/amoral step-brother and god of mischief, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Will Thor save Jane and the universe, aand will Loki betray his brother or find redemption?

THOR: THE DARK world is a more entertaining followup to the the first Thor flick, largely because the origin minutia and setup is out of the way, and this time around what we get is a pretty-to-look-at spectacle, replete with romance, action, and humor. In short, if you're looking for an exciting piece of light entertainment that pretty much subscribes to the modern formula of a popcorn-muncher, you'll probably dig it. I certainly enjoyed it, but I have to clarify that I enjoyed it as a brain-optional romp where the plot and character development take a backseat to the action and the visual wonders wrought by CGI. And what there is of a plot contains a number of surprises that I won't spoil, but here's the short list of elements worth considering:
  • I saw the film in 3D. The 3D adds absolutely nothing to the proceedings, so save your money and see the regular version instead.
  • The film's director, Alan Taylor, has helmed several episodes of GAME OF THRONES, and it shows. Some of the scenes in Odin's throne room felt like we were in King's Landing rather than  Asgard.
  • Tom Hiddleston once again steals the movie with his indelible portrayal of Loki. In fact, I dare say he's the best thing in the entire film. If you enjoyed his previous outings in the role, you won't be disappointed.
  • Christopher Ecclestion as Malekith certainly wields considerable power and has an army of heavily-armed elven warriors who fly about in massive spaceships and smaller fighters, but he's really not that interesting as a villain. He's simply there to be a powerful threat with little definition of who he is, and his army and their battle scenes are pretty much a rehash of the Chitauri aliens from THE AVENGERS (who weren't that interesting in the first place). The screen time spent on Malekith and his forces would have been better spent on further exploration of Loki's arc.
  • The romance between Thor and Jane continued to fail to arouse any interest from me but the individual viewer's mileage may vary. Jane Foster is a character I've loathed since I was five years old and even her updated/re-imagined iteration for the 2000's leaves me apathetic. I much prefer Asgardian warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander), but she's once again given rather short shrift. Elaborating on her status as Jane's romantic competition would immeasurably add to the proceedings, especially since all she has to do is wait until the mortal Jane inevitably grows old and croaks, but nothing is made of the rivalry save for Sif cutting Foster a couple of nasty looks.
  • The Warriors Three — Fandral the dashing (Zachary Levi), Volstagg the voluminous (Ray Stevenson), and Hogun the grim (Tadanobu Asano) — are on hand, but Hogun is left to stay with people in Vanaheim early in the story, so Sif more or less takes his place. I do NOT dig splitting up the Warriors Three...
  • The film's final act plays out like a game of Portal taken to ridiculous extremes.
  • The movie brings the larger-than-life superhero action, and at times it was almost like I could feel the blows from Mjolnir.
  • One of the most endearing hallmarks of the Marvel Age of comics was its sense of humor, and the film features strong and very funny lashings of that aspect. There are those who may take issue with it, but I felt the humor fit just perfectly.
  • As per usual for Marvel movies, the viewer is advised to stay all the way through the credits at the end. This time there are two Easter egg sequences, the first of which features an interesting piece of casting for a certain character who makes his live-action debut here, while setting up part of the plot for what I'm predicting will be THE AVENGERS 3...
Bottom line: THOR: THE DARK WORLD is a serviceable entry in the Marvel movie tapestry, but it's more of a snack than  meal. I had fun with it but I won't be running out to see it again anytime soon. And a close friend in England saw it when it opened in the U.K. and immediately wrote me to rant about how he felt it was the worst Marvel movie ever, I love the guy like a brother but we are frequently at odds when it comes to our opinions on movies, so I called bullshit on  his opinion by writing back to ask if it could possibly be worse than DAREDEVIL or either of those appalling Fantastic Four movies. He unequivocally answered "no," so make of that what you will. (NOTE: Since first posting this review, my friend in England wrote in to clarify that he meant he felt the movie was the worst film thus far fro Marvel Studios. DAREDEVIL and the abominations that are the two Fantastic Four flicks were not made by Marvel Studios. Just so we're clear on that point.)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

ELECTION DAY FUN WITH MY MOM

The latest in Westport assholism, as reported by my mom: She just called to tell me that when she went to vote this morning, a volunteer for one of the candidates approached her and said "Remember to vote for Whitney...Like Whitney Houston!" After she'd cast her vote, my mom pulled the guy aside, intent on not shaming him in front of anyone else, and told him "First of all, don't tell me who to vote for. I vote for who I want. Second, why did you feel the need to use Whitney Houston when trying to guide me to vote for your candidate? I'm obviously a person of color, and as such I find your assumption both patronizing and offensive. DON'T DO THAT TO AGAIN." She said he fell all over himself apologizing, stating he'd previously used Eli Whitney as a reminder touchstone, and he thanked her for her advice. And while telling me of the incident, she wished she'd thought to say to him "I'm not even a Whitney Houston fan," closing the account with "What an asshole!"

PLASTIC (NOT SO) FANTASTIC LOVER: The true and sad chronicle of one man's journey into artificial onanistic shame

WARNING: The following post is definitely NOT safe for viewing at work, in front of the kids, or by those who are offended by reality.

Dear Vaulties-

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I approach the discussion of all manner of topics with a certain raw candor. This time around I'm baring a part of my soul in regard to one of the most personal aspects of an individual's existence, namely the fine art of masturbation. With that caveat and the one found above in red, you have been duly warned about content and you are free to bail if such topics squick you out. As for the more adventurous among you...

Let's keep it real and admit that we all occasionally have the urge to relieve stress by "having one off the wrist" or "relaxing in the gentleman's way," and in recent years the means for guys to facilitate the process of partner-less DNA-spewing have moved well past the usual options of one's hand, folded slabs of beef liver, and the ever-reliable gym sock (which, if left under one's bed unwashed for a length of time, becomes classified as a "bachelor's boomerang"). Women long ago realized the salacious benefits to be had with vibrators, once commonly sold as "massagers" and still coyly marketed as such under names like the "U Touch," the slogan for which is "If you can touch it, you can relieve it" (no one under the age of sixty will be fooled by its TV ads featuring a gaggle of women presenting a bride-to-be with gifts at her bridal shower), and even the common adjustable shower head on a hose has been re-purposed to reportedly spectacular effect when applied to the female genital array. Women's masturbatory explorations are widely accepted as a simple fact of life and even discussed in public forums, while the idea of men enjoying wank toys is still very much stigmatized and seen as rather aberrant, so for the most part men keep the existence of their self-pleasuring secret, despite everyone in the world knowing and understanding that we wring the weasel with abandon when moved to shuffle off some knuckle-children.

When it comes to male masturbation toys, the ne plus ultra of the form would be the Real Doll, and I've discussed that previously. It's pricey (at just pennies shy of seven grand), more or less the Aston-Martin of partner-free relief, and, consequently, the average Joe Sixpack will never experience one. The much more affordable alternative is the Fleshlight, an elementary model of which will set you back by under fifty bucks, and it is about that gewgaw of self-gratification that I tender the following true-life observations.

About two months ago, a former girlfriend with whom I'm still rather close sent me a belated birthday present in the form of a Classic Pink Lady Fleshlight and a sixteen-ounce bottle of water-based lube, accented with a note advising "Think of me when you enjoy this." I admit to being rather flummoxed by the gift, largely because when exposed to assorted odd items for the purpose of male pleasure, I have  been known to observe, "What the hell happened to just plain old jerking off?" but I decided to keep an open mind and eventually get around to giving the disembodied pussy a test drive. It took me a few days to get over the initial trepidation but when I finally took the Pink Lady out of its package and gave it close examination, I was more than a little bit intrigued.


The catalog photo of the no-frills Classic Pink Lady Fleshlight.

Once freed from its packaging, the Fleshlight looks like nothing so much as a large, sturdily-designed coffee thermos, with a narrow end that looks like it could fit comfortably in a car's cup-holder. It features screw-off caps at either end, one to access the faux vagina and another that acts as a carburetor to allow variation in the vaginal canal's level of suction/physical accessibility.

The sealed Pink Lady.

With the top cap unscrewed, the Pink Lady's replicant vulva is exposed and my first impression when gazing into was that it looked like a pussy that was manufactured in a horny mad scientist's lab, with all of the interesting details that make the real item so eternally fascinating reduced to only the most rudimentary and characterless sampler of lips and ridges surrounding a yielding introitus.

The exposed Pink Lady.

The fleshy portion is lent support by the exterior housing (aka "the vaginal Slurpee cup") and is easily removed for cleaning. When taken out of its housing, the flesh sheath is very rubbery/wiggly and very soft to the touch, but it in no way bears tactile resemblance to human flesh in general and the inner recesses of a lady's glorious secret haven of goodness in particular.

The inner flesh sheath, removed from its housing.

It's easily cleaned with mild soap and warm water, and when held in hand it reminded me of the de-shelled conch I handled a long time ago in Martinique. And when it comes to its ability to accommodate the range of sizes of the male member, the sheath's elasticity proves considerable enough to be able to slip over my hand and forearm with ease.

Vaginal flesh sheath, or a conversation-starting fashion accessory? YOU decide!

With the general examination out of the way, it was time to take the Pink Lady for a test drive, so I applied a generous helping of the lube to the sheath's lips and interior, manually stimulated myself to enough tumescence to plug myself into Pink Lady, and had at it.

First of all, the lube was cold, which is not a sensation that the average penis craves. Second, I'm a big fan of actual pussy. A very big fan. Therefore, please trust me when I tell you that the act of carnally connecting with the Pink Lady bears no resemblance whatsoever to the sensation of the irreplaceable real deal. The same can be said of no-frills manual masturbation, but in that case one is not expecting one's hand to yield anything resembling that cherished tactile experience. It's basically shuffle for a while and you're where you need to be. The Fleshlight, meanwhile, requires the lube prepping and a decent amount of fiddling about in order to render its grip comfortable — remember the adjustable carb — so I couldn't help but consider all of the preliminary steps in getting down to the action. But worst of all was the realization during the act that I was more or less fucking a thermos and must have looked quite ridiculous. When I finally crashed the yogurt truck, I felt a profound sense of disappointment (coupled with shame over the thermos epiphany).

After cleaning the Pink Lady and storing it away, I left it alone for two weeks before giving it a second go, this time armed with a clear understanding of exactly what I was getting when I once more plugged myself into it. Again my hand was far superior to the supposed state of the art in affordable equipment for pumping out population paste by one's lonesome, and I'm sad that my friendly ex wasted her money on something that from now on will take up real estate on my shelf with a glass eye stuck in its fleshy pink orifice as a weird piece of ribald/disturbing decoration. I swung by the local Toys in Babeland and priced the item and bottle of lube to see just how much that kind goddess spent on the gift (including the bottle of lube), and the final tally came to just shy of a hundred bucks. Allow me to be very clear on this: NOT WORTH IT. Since retiring my Pink Lady, I've read many online reviews from guys who claim to love the things, but several of them were at least honest enough to admit that they had nothing else to compare the sensation to, so their opinions should probably be discounted. There were a number of negative reviews that more or less matched my own opinion, so trust those.
Bottom line: While I appreciate my friendly ex's very sweet thought, I found the Fleshlight to be considerably less pleasurable than simply taking matters into my own hands, and since a Fleshlight is pretty much just a glorified coffee thermos when you get right down to it, it would also make for one hell of a drinks tumbler at parties. It would also make for a novelty opening to a bong if one stretched the flesh sheath over a bong's inhaler pipe, but it would get really nasty after smoke passed through its lips with regularity. Plus it would probably turn carcinogenic when coupled with the vapor.

Don't puke. I assure you it was thoroughly cleaned long before this photo was taken. Plus, I'm just not that fond of the taste of semen. (Oh, don't be so shocked. What, you never passionately kissed your girlfriend after she gave you some oral kindness? Yeah, right...)

Monday, November 04, 2013

NY COMIC CON 2013 Day 4: The rather mellow final hurrah.

Well, dear Vaulties, we've made it to the final day of the 2013 NY Comic Con. As per usual the last day was much more low-key than those preceding it, but the funhouse reflection from the Geekiverse nonetheless shone brightly.

Mama Fett.


Rocky Balboa.



Brain slug.

Two generations of Catwoman.

DRAGONBALL Z in the house!

The awesome Kitty-Kitty, by far my favorite oddball cosplayer who shows up regularly at the major East Coast cons.

Lola.



The awesomeness of Asian Green Lantern.






An impressive handmade Loki hat.

Gotham gals.

A Dalek and Prince Robot IV.

Party on Wayne and Garth!

I just love it when families get into it.

Maleficent.

More Gothamites, featuring an exemplary Batman.








Madrox, the multiple man.

Paper Man and the object of his desire.


The Falcon.

Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon. (She made their costumes.)


What the hell is that?

It's the Schwarzenegger version of Mister Freeze! Amazing!


With college buddy, Marvel Bullpen brother, and dear friend, Jared "Mountain Man" Osborn.

Marvel Girl and a pair of Rogues.

Wee Sadie: "Who the fuck are all these weirdoes?"

Leela and Raven.

The glow of the Green Lantern.

Jamie Botero, making for a lovely Wonder Woman. (Down, boys! She's only sixteen!)




(L-R) Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Terra, A.C., mirror universe Captain Kirk.






The Mike Deodato Wonder Woman.

A hand-drawn New Gods tee by Paris Cullins.


Here's one for DOCTOR WHO fans. *shudder*

"Wrapped up in books."

The royal couple of Attilan: Black Bolt and Medusa.

The Khaleesi walks among her people.

A Bruce Lee-inspired Iron Man tee.

Batman Beyond.

Surfin' Batman!











Columbia from THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

A Wonder Woman booster represents.

The stunning Freya as the Black Canary.


Gotta love her attitude!

Hawkgirl, a character I've always loved and one whose visibility over the past decade-plus was immeasurably aided by television animation.

5pm: The day ends...

...but there's still plenty to document.



Doctor Strange at the coat check..

The Spectre.

Of the countless Gambits I've seen over the years, this guy was hands down the best of the lot.

The gateway back to mundane reality.




An exhausted Princess Mononoke and crew.

As seen while walking up 34th Street to the subway: two zombies wait on line at a packed diner.

THAT'S ALL FOLKS! Hope you enjoyed it!