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Thursday, July 29, 2021


The Masters of the Universe are back, for a new generation, and led by Teela. (Sorry, He-Man boosters.)

After hearing a lot of the complaining from lifelong He-Man fans, I decided to watch MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION to see what all the fuss was about. I figured I'd get the idea with just Episode 1, but I ended up quite invested and watched all five episodes. It was really good, and if He-Man had previously been anything like this iteration, I would have been down with it back in the days.

That said, I can see why the He-Man fan base hates it. Unlike the '80's original, it actually has an involving story, rich characterization, an all-star voice cast that nails it, and it's not exactly the same bland, actionless shit repeated ad infinitum. And if you showed up for He-Man as the protagonist, he's hardly in in it, which to me is only an improvement. He was always a nothing character, so why not shift the spotlight? That's exactly what they did, in essence making this "The Teela Show," which opened the doors for giving the rest of the cast actual characterization that was more than one-note. Hell, it even makes Orko awesome. (Yes, you read that right.)
So I say ignore the whining of incel man-babies who can't handle a female lead. It's a fun sci-fi/fantasy series that thankfully skews older than the original, and this five-episode Part 1 leaves off with a good number of questions to answer and situations to resolve, so I eagerly await the continuation. I just hope that the showrunners stick to their vision of the show and don't cave to its detractors. Seriously, it's good, simple fun done very, very well. Far better than the original ever was.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021


So, last night a dear friend who is renovating a house in Fresno, California filled me in on how some shirtless weirdo had earlier that day been on her house's porch, looking around, acting sketchy, and testing the windows. My friend, being the smartest person I know, rigged the place with tight security tech, including motion detectors and cameras, so she was alerted when the guy showed up. 
(sung) "Mystery Daaaate...Are you ready for your Mystery Date? Will he be a dream? Or will he be a dud?"
My friend eventually went out and confronted him, remaining calm and speaking in soft, reassuring tones, as is her nature. She asked "Can I help you?" and the guy politely conversed with her, asking questions about the house renovation — too many questions, if you get my drift, and that was not lost on my sharp-as-a-blade friend — and being odd in general, My friend says the dude was either mentally ill or tripping hard on something, so she treated him with kindness in order to lull him into behaving himself. As California is in the midst of a crippling heatwave, she offered the guy a bottle of water, which he gratefully accepted, and then she told him it was time for him to leave. He politely complied and wandered off, so Suzi went back inside. She also called the police and a big friend who lives across the street.
(Sung) "Open the door... to your...Mystery Date...
Her friend came outside and pretended to do yard work while keeping an eye on the cosmic traveler. Suzi also kept an eye on him via her security cameras, and she tells me that the guy noticing her garden hose and performing some kind of tripped-out ritualistic dance with it was something I should have been there to witness. Anyway, shortly after he began his dance, the police showed up, my friend had alerted the cops to the guy being non-threatening, and she also asked them to be nice because he never threatened her or harmed her in any way.
A while later, a cop, who happens to live a few house down the block, came over and filled her in on what happened after they took the welfare warlock away. Turns out he's a registered sex offender. Oh, joy!

Friday, July 09, 2021


                        Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh): Total badasses.

So, BLACK WIDOW is good enough to have held my attention, but it’s definitely a lesser Marvel flick. Not bad, per se, just lesser.

The plot finally gives us an origin for Natasha, and it's a tragic one, revealing more secrets of the Red Room. It opens with a look at barely-pubescent Natasha and her six-year-old sister, Yelena, living an idyllic life with their mother and father in Ohio. But, this being an espionage story, nothing is as it seems, and soon enough the girls are turned over by their father and drugged, subsequently spirited away for Red Room indoctrination. If you were paying attention to details dropped by Natasha in the AVENGERS films, you have a pretty good idea of what she and Yelena endured while being molded into elite professional killers. The story then skips ahead by 21 years, and we see Natasha still on the run after the events of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. After that, I will spoil nothing, other than to state that the now-grown Yelena is still under the mind-control of the Red Room, but not for long...

Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow has only really shined in a handful of the MCU movies, and while I'm sure the scriptwriters and directors instructed her to mostly play Natasha as something of a personality-void badass — with the exception of her turns in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and AVENGERS: ENDGAME — the blandness of her standard performance as Natasha makes me sad because I love the character as portrayed on the page, and little or none of what endeared me to her in the first place — 50 (!!!) years ago — has been present onscreen. Instead, this film is utterly stolen by Florence Pugh as Yelena Bolova. Once freed from the stranglehold of the Red Room, she displays personality to burn, which is good because she's clearly being set up to replace Natasha after the events of AVENGERS: ENDGAME. David Harbour and Rachel Weisz are also quite good as Nat and Yelena's parents, and that's all I'll say on that.

The film does not need to be 133 minutes long, and at times it has serious issues with pacing, a state of affairs familiar to anyone who's seen a Bond or Bourne movie over the past 25 years, and it’s needlessly over-long at 133 minutes, nearly ten of which are credits. Other than it being set in the MCU, it’s just another big-budget espionage flick. It takes place immediately after Captain America: Civil War, and it should have been released in sequence. Releasing it now comes as a case of too little too late. The time to strike would have been during the height of Avengers-Mania, when everyone and their parakeet would have shelled out the movie theater ticket price to see it. I was fortunate to have access to a friend's Plex account, and thanks to that I can honestly say that the film is in no way worth the thirty bucks Disney+ wants for it.

Lastly, by now you all know the drill, but I'm saying it anyway: If you do allow yourself to be rooked for thirty bucks, make sure to stay for the stinger at the end. I am intrigued...

Poster for the theatrical release.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021



More apartment archaeology. 
During my Marvel years, I would occasionally pick up sleazy Mexican comics from newsstands in the subway, and next to HEMBRAS PELIGROSAS my favorite was ULULA, a weird blend of telenovela, crime story, horror yarn, and porn. The titular Ulula is apparently a beautiful fashion model who gets it on with a succession of generously-endowed bohunks In extremely graphic illustrations that leave nothing to the imagination, while her "fancy" photographer gets it on with men, equally graphically.
There's something for everyone in this series, and the icing on the cake is that Ulula is a werewolf. Depending on the issue, her status as a lycanthrope often will not figure into the story at all — as is the case with this issue — and instead it's just about some hot chick with a Soo Catwoman hairdo getting endlessly plowed. 
First wave British punk scene fashion icon Soo Catwoman.
There's even an issue in which she gets pregnant and gives birth to a daughter, and the birth is illustrated in a way that is simultaneously meant to be a gross-out and erotic. I have it around here somewhere. 
I would love to see this series translated, just so I could know what the hell is going on in the story, if there even is one, as nearly every page is dominated by tits and ready-to-go genitals.


This was drawn at SUNY Purchase during the spring of 1986, when an acquaintance gave me what I thought was a date or some kind of dried fruit, but was instead a big chunk of Lebanese hashish. It was a Saturday and I ate it during breakfast in the dining hall, and once I ingested it, the guy, a friend of a friend, told me what it was. I was most displeased, and after about 20 minutes its effects began to kick in.

I hauled ass back to my dorm room and sequestered myself in its cozy confines for the next twelve hours, only occasionally interacting with people whom I called and invited in so I would not go insane. I spent hours playing records in an attempt to ground myself, but I was off on an unintended cosmic voyage. You know the sequence in WATCHMEN where Adrian Veidt eats a ball of hashish and has a cosmic vision/epiphany? I had much the same experience, and I freely admit that on a deep level it changed me and made me more aware of my inner demons.

Anyway, I was too deep into internal cosmic travel to sleep, so I drew this with a Sharpie. Anyone who went to Purchase will remember the oppressive presence of bricks everywhere, so the bricks here were drawn with an intentionally unsettling texture.

While angry at being given a super-string edible without first being informed of what it was — my first experience with such, but far from the last — the experience led to enlightenment, and in the years following, I have gone for hashish whenever it was available. A co-worker in the Marvel Bullpen was from Holland, and when she went for a visit with family in Amsterdam, she sent me a generous supply of hashish that she carefully wrapped so its scent would not be detected, and she further masked the scent by stuffing the hashish inside a half-eaten box of Crunch 'N' Much, so I got two kinds of goodies when I received the package. (I had her send to my apartment, but I had her use "Kyoshiro Nemuri" as the recipient's name.) I used what she sent for a now-legendary batch of serious brownies that I served at a big apartment party. Much cosmic awareness was achieved that evening.

Great. Now I want a hash brownie...


Monday, July 05, 2021



"Hi. I just wanted to drop by and say that while most of you are celebrating the 4th of July as a day of freedom and patriotism, don't forget that the ancestors of Americans of color were enslaved or were being horribly slaughtered in a campaign of genocide conducted by the U.S. government. To a lot of Americans who are black, red, yellow, or what have you, the fireworks and parades and all of the 'Rah-Rah!!!" patriotism of the 4th comes off as a load of — pardon my French — bull pucky, and nothing more than an excuse for drunken white people to puff out their chests and hoot and holler while blowing off their fingers with M-80's. 
"Patriotism is fine, but we should never forget that the fabric of our great nation was woven by everyone, not just by white people, like we were taught in the school texts of earlier eras. Remember the black slaves who were stolen from their homeland, brought here and pressed into hard labor at the end of a bullwhip. Remember the female slaves who were casually raped and impregnated by their randy owners, men who did not think of them as human, but rather as warm, living objects with which to sate their lust, and the feelings of those convenient objects be damned.
"Remember the proud Native Americans, whose cultures were considered 'barbaric' and therefore had to be wiped off the face of the earth. That 'noble' goal was achieved by the committing of government-mandated campaigns of genocide that also featured merry lashings of rape, torture, and seizing of land.
"And let us not forget all of the immigrants who came to this country because of its promise of welcome for all, only to find prejudice, racism, exclusion, and all manner of intolerance.
"Also, we should not forget the LGBTQ community, who, despite their more aggressive visibility in recent times, have been with us since the dawn of humankind, and have contributed to the richness of cultures all around the globe, including our fair nation. Let me tell you, America without John Waters would be a sad place indeed.
"So, on the 4th of July, celebrate all who make up the great American melting pot. Remember that anyone with love for this country and for all of its people can be a Captain America. Not just some lucky, scrawny white boy from Brooklyn. We are all in this together, and we should never forget that."