Monthly Archives: October 2014

YOU CAN’T STOP WHAT’S COMING

...Basically

…Basically

It doesn’t matter how much you work out. It doesn’t matter how right you eat. It doesn’t matter how much surgery you get. It don’t matter at all because you still gon’ die.
Rev. Theodus Drake

Death, particularly my own, is something I’ve never spent much time thinking about. Not since my great-grandmother and I had a heart to heart about it when I was about five or six. She informed me that we were all going to die. Her, me, my great-grandfather, my mother, my dog, everybody, but it was nothing to be afraid of because we’d all be together in the next life in glory with Jesus. I told her, with the definitive certainty only children have, that all of them could go and die if they wanted to but I wouldn’t be joining them. No, I’d rather stay where I was than go through all the weeping and wailing that seemed to happen whenever somebody went on to that metaphysical glory Grandmother told me about. Death wasn’t worth it to me if that was what I had to do to get there. Like I said a child’s certainty.

Living life though has killed that certainty because I’ve seen a fair share of people I’ve personally known die and came close to joining them myself a few times as well. A second grade classmate, Travis Neal, ran down by a hit and run driver walking home from school on a Thursday right after the school year had started. The cancer that killed my Uncle Jack last year after his mother, my Grandma Fields, and Uncle Jerry, his closest brother, went on to glory before him. A friend from the sixth grade, Eric McCacheren, shot and killed when a gun he and his crew were playing with blew a hole through his chest. My boy, James Moore, who drowned when the plane he was flying, dropped out of the sky into a South Carolina lake. He was enough of a pilot to save himself and everybody else from the crash but died because he didn’t know how to swim. I think there’s some irony in that but I’m screwed if I know what it is. My own brushes with the Reaper over the years from bleeding ulcers, out of control cars on rain-slicked roads, and gun-toting jealous exes with cuckolded husbands. Many other names and instances I can rattle off let me know that I’m mortal and that I and everyone else I know will truly die one day.

Isn't he cute?

Isn’t he cute?

The strange thing is that the knowledge of my mortality doesn’t scare me even if I live in a society that tries to put off death for as long as possible. That doesn’t mean I’m some kind of fearless daredevil who goes around looking for a premature end but I look at death as something that’s going to happen anyway so I accept it for what it is and try to keep moving. I’ve learned enough to know that it is something we all walk with every day and it is only capricious fate that allows us to see the next day.

Even though I’ve accepted that I only have a limited time on earth I’m not blasé about death though because I still mourn and miss the people I’ve lost throughout my life just as much as I worry about any tragedies befalling the friends and family I still have especially my younger relatives like my little cousins, my nieces and nephews, and my son. I want them all to have a full measure of this life before it’s time for them to leave here like I’ve had. Love, heartbreak, success, failure, doubt, and certainty. All of that and more is something to experience, to anticipate but not to fear. Many people I’ve known cheated themselves out of the juicier parts of living because they were too scared to take the road less traveled. I can’t be too hard on them though since there have been many times in my own life when I couldn’t even be bothered to walk out the door some days because I didn’t think I had the strength to deal with what was on the other side of it. Some of those days I would have even welcomed the Reaper if he had been out there waiting for me.

That’s all a part of this existence though. The ups and the downs of just living it is what spices up the mundane with some flavor because I know I don’t want my time here to be as tasteless as unsalted grits. When my time comes I want Death to come for me like I’m Conan with a broadsword in my hand facing off a horde of bloodthirsty Picts. I want to face the Reaper with Life’s blood dripping from my lips because I ripped its throat apart and sucked the marrow from its bones. I’m going to rage, I’m going to righteously rage because I want Death to come for me when I have more things I want to do while I walk this reality. I want to battle him to let him know I’m not done with this world because I have more books to write, more places to travel, more time to share with my child, more things I want to experience and if Death is going to take me before I do all that then it’s going to be the damnedest fight because I’m not going down easy.

Maybe I won't rage against her too much

Maybe I won’t rage against her too much

Rage, rage, rage against that dying light.

Death came for Richard one night but he wasn’t ready to go just yet. To play for time, Richard offered Death some of that good dank he was saving for special occasions. Death had some time before the next appointment in his book so he partook of the weed with Richard and went smooth to sleep. The quick thinking Richard got his hands on Death’s appointment book and switched his name from the top of the list to the bottom. Death woke up soon afterwards and let Richard know that since he’d done him such a solid by sharing that good kush with him that he would do him one in return and start from the bottom of his list.

No sticks, no seeds, no stems.  Some that sticky icky.  Oooweee

No sticks, no seeds, no stems. Some of that sticky icky. Oooweee

–Jason O. Logan

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Top 5 Things You Do Not Say to Silent Hill Fans

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

3

1. The film was a perfect faithful adaptation of the video games.

2. I am sorry but I cannot take a villain with a large triangular block for a head all that seriously.

3. Why are video games so horrendous and unpleasant any more. I miss Mario and Sonic. Back in the 8/16-bit eras no one was preoccupied with being as gross, violent, and disturbing as possible!

4. These games should be banned for being too violent and scary. No one has the right to enjoy things I dislike!

5. Nurses limping around like zombies with no faces trying to kill me! That’s nothing like my sexy nurse fantasy at all! Screw this game!

Disclaimer: The list above is for the purpose of satire and does not reflect the views of the writer.

Next Monday: Top 5 Things You Do Not Say to Final Fantasy Fans

IT’S YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR, HOMIE

Black Jesus is here to spread the Word

Black Jesus is here to spread the Word

Straight up I’m what my late but so great-grandparents would call a backslider because I have strayed far from the Christian faith in which they raised me. I make no bones about that fact because I’ll let anyone know I prefer Johnnie Walker Black to communion wine and twisting a Saturday night away to making a joyful noise on Sunday morning. My mom is troubled by my slack ways when it comes to the faith much more than me because while she’s in our family church, Baptist of course, every Sabbath praying for my soul down in Albany, Georgia, our hometown, I’m up here in NYC sleeping off my good time and if I’m lucky I’m not sleeping by myself. All that said though I’m still a sucker for the story of Jesus Christ and try to walk His path the best I can. I’ll watch THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD whenever it comes on Turner Classic Movies and the soundtrack to JESUS CHRIST: SUPERSTAR is in heavy rotation on my iPod along with Jimi Hendrix, Kendrick Lamar, and Nine Inch Nails. I make no bones about my fascination with the Judean carpenter either so I guess that baptism when I was twelve wasn’t completely wasted even if the summer locked in my grandmother’s living room and chained to the mourning bench in church trying to get religion was. Something about the accepted story of Jesus sacrificing himself on the cross for the world’s sins speaks to a selflessness I try to live by in my life even when I have a glass of J-Blak on ice in my hand.

Jesus and His new Apostles

Jesus and His new Apostles

I’m much more open-minded about JC’s message outside of church than I ever was inside of it when I didn’t have a choice in the matter so for me it wasn’t too much of a stretch to stay up after midnight on Thursdays the past two months to watch Adult Swim’s BLACK JESUS on Cartoon Network. The show from Aaron MacGruder, creator of the phenomenon that is THE BOONDOCKS, and Mike Clattenburg (TRAILER PARK BOYS) puts Jesus in a South Central LA hood, robes and all, with a new band of followers and detractors but his message of love, peace, and forgiveness is still the same.

 

It’s a good thing the message remains the same because none of the Gospels I ever read spoke of Jesus and the Apostles facing down gat-packing gangsters, angry baby mamas, and beefing rappers. Then again I could be wrong because even two thousand years ago Jesus bumped heads with similar resistance in Jerusalem in the form of the venal money changers in the Temple, corrupt politicians among the Pharisees, and the sharp end of the Roman Empire. Same message on BLACK JESUS but there weren’t any Judases or spears in the side this season at least.

Sharing the bounty

Sharing the bounty

No, the show for this arc revolved around Jesu Cristo and His new disciples trying to start a community garden as camouflage for the Mary Jane they were trying to grow to sell and spark up. A dodgy premise to say the least but Jesus (Slink Johnson) and the cast of characters along with a few horses make it work some kind of way. Characters like an opportunistic bum played by Detroit John Witherspoon and Don DC Curry as a pimp-turned-city councilman show up to aid but mostly hinder the plan. Even Fred Willard and Coolio get in on the fun in some episodes but Our Blessed Homie, Jesus, treats them all, high or low, with love and kindness whether it’s paying extortion with a smile or turning himself in to the cops to head off a riot. He wasn’t pressed about going to jail though because like He said when the po-po loaded Him into the paddy wagon, “It’s no thing because they put your boy behind a big rock one time and I still got out in three days.”

Legalize it

Legalize it

The show leaves it ambiguous if the homie really is God’s Only Begotten Son or the victim of a psychotic break because most of His miracles are the result of excellent timing nearly as much as faith in Pops. Children and His squad along with a few converted disbelievers pick up what He is laying down though which is how the story went back in the day because not everybody believed Him then either. If they did He wouldn’t have ended up nailed to that old rugged cross but even that’s up for debate by some scholars. Not to put too fine a point on it, it may be best to just Liberty Valance it all if that’s too radical a thought to ponder.

Start dressing like a real man, con man

Start dressing like a real man, con man

I enjoyed BLACK JESUS immensely as a gentle satire with some laugh out loud bits typically when Charlie Murphy was onscreen as the distrustful apartment manager, Vic. The show is not blasphemous or sacrilegious as many church folks assumed it would be before the first episode aired. I’m sure non-backsliding Christians did object to their Lord and Savior being shown cursing and blowing trees with His boys in an apartment courtyard though. However, as Johnny, a jackleg preacher I used to work with back in the day, used to tell me, Jesus was the coolest man who ever lived because He never judged anybody. Our Savior hung out with prostitutes, pimps, and thieves while always making sure that the wine never ran out. That wouldn’t have worked too good with Reverend Johnny though because he preferred that Yak over the grape every Friday when we’d hit happy hour after work.

Share the Yak, Jesus

Share the Yak, Jesus

Don’t believe the hype or the baseless controversy about BLACK JESUS because there’s more profane stuff about Him on any regular episode of SOUTH PARK or FAMILY GUY. At least they got His color right on this show despite the shiny wig he was rocking. The work is a good reminder that Jesus’s story is something universal that speaks or should speak to anyone regardless of faith or lack thereof because we all need to be reminded that we can treat each other and ourselves with a little bit more kindness in this rat eat rat world we live in whether it’s the Holy Land two thousand years ago or this New Babylon we occupy today. Universality rather than adhering to any particular dogma is definitely a concept I can get behind at this stage in my life. Truth be told though, watching this show may have made me more open to packing one of my suits and a pair of hardbottoms in my satchel the next time I go home for a visit. The J-Blak will still be there waiting for me after services are over.

–Jason O. Logan

Stay Blessed, Bruh

Stay Blessed, Bruh

Top 5 Things You Do Not Say to American Horror Story Fans

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

3

1. I do not see it as possible to invest in a series where the characters change season to season. I defy you to name one horror anthology TV show that was any good!

2. This show is so stupid! None of these characters behave realistically and everyone is despicable. I hate everyone and everything in here!

3. Gimps crawling on walls, ex-Nazi’s experimenting on aliens, and severed heads watching Roots on TV. I thought this show was supposed to be serious!

4. Why is Spock raping people? That’s not very nice!

5. They are gonna run out of horror genres to do after awhile. They are gonna get weaker and more unimaginative toward the end; mark my words. The last season will probably be American Horror Story: Creepy Boy Scout Camp

Disclaimer: The list above is written for the purpose of satire and does not reflect the views of the writer.

Next Monday: Top 5 Things You Do Not Say to Silent Hill fans

BEWARE THE BATMAN: A EULOGY

No!  He wasn't ready!

No! He wasn’t ready!

We’re about a month into the new Fall television season and in geek circles the hype is about all the new and returning shows that have sprung from the comic book genre. THE FLASH, ARROW, AGENTS OF SHIELD, and CONSTANTINE are riding a wave of anticipation from casual to hardcore fans but the show that has earned the most advanced publicity is the Batman show without Batman, GOTHAM. The Fox show tells the story of the eponymous city after the death of young Bruce Wayne’s parents and everything that spins out of that act which spawns not only Batman but influences his cast of supporting characters and enemies that are known worldwide. Despite mixed reviews, the show’s ratings have been solid for the first four episodes and personally I can say I’m truly enjoying this journey while hoping for a long run.

 

Stylin' as always

Stylin’ as always

The hype and the reality of GOTHAM is more than well-deserved but I’d like to pause for a moment to give a little light to a Batman show that recently ended, BEWARE THE BATMAN. This show however wasn’t anticipated or appreciated during its brief run and the geek world is all the poorer for it. BEWARE is an odd duck in the television oeuvre of the Caped Crusader and I’m concerned that that alleged oddness contributed to the show only lasting for one season with its last seven episodes ignominiously dumped as a financial write off during a Saturday night/Sunday morning marathon on Cartoon Network’s (CN) Toonami block last month. Many would find it difficult to believe a show about the Batman, currently the world’s most popular superhero, would fail but, alas, it is true. That is why I’m not here to bury BEWARE THE BATMAN, too many have done that, but to praise it. So allow my words to stand as a humble eulogy to a show that was more a victim of forces outside of its control than the quality it displayed on the screen.

The kids are alright

The kids are alright

Right from the jump BEWARE THE BATMAN was under the gun from fans and the geeknoscenti because it, along with the more inane TEEN TITANS GO! (TTG), was set to replace two well-regarded, highly rated animated shows on the Cartoon Network’s DC Nation block, YOUNG JUSTICE (YJ) and GREEN LANTERN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. To say YJ and LANTERN were beloved across various demographics is an understatement because even the finale episodes were the two most watched shows on the channel that week in spite of airing at ten on a Saturday morning. Those strong ratings were also a testament to the quality plotting and animation of those ‘toons that they kept and gained fans after the hijinks CN pulled with scheduling like placing them on unannounced hiatuses for months at a time with no public explanation. Pay attention because the word hiatus will come up again in this piece.

The night was too black

The night was too black

By the time the cancellations of YJ and LANTERN were officially announced, again just like the hiatuses with no formal explanations, disappointment and anger among fans was high and many were in no mood for another Batman cartoon since he has been the star or major character of animated shows continuously since BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES premiered in 1992. The cancelled shows had finally allowed lesser known characters in the DCU like the teenage heroes of YJ and the apparently radioactive Green Lantern, who was thought irredeemable after the flop of his big-budget summer tentpole movie, to prove there was more to the DC stable of characters than the Trinity of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. The spite and Bat-weariness was understandable if a bit misguided though because while TTG was barely tolerable with its simple flash-inspired animation and juvenile toilet humor aimed at immature little boys, BEWARE was a refreshingly different take from the first episode on the early days of the Batman legend.

Seriously?

This was a reinterpretation of the Batman story where Alfred was a retired secret agent who looked like an older, saltier version of Jason Statham or, if you want to go back further, more like a Cockney gangster straight out of the original GET CARTER who was just as tough and competent in a scrap as the Bat himself. Lieutenant, not Commissioner, Gordon was on the show with his barely teenaged daughter, Barbara, while the deep geek character, Katana, in a big departure from canon, was installed as Batman’s original sidekick with not a green pixie boot in sight. The look and style of the Dark Knight himself was reminiscent of the sleek black shadow style of vintage Neal Adams and Alan Davis with a Bruce Wayne who was more philanthropist than playboy right out of a Denny O’Neill script. Speaking for myself, I was happy to see Michael Holt, the future Mr. Terrific, show up in the premiere episode.

Who needs the Justice League?

Just like no Boy Wonders appeared on the show neither did any maniacal clowns, monocled water fowl, or stray cats who walked on the villainous side. No, we got new and/or obscure villains like Magpie, Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad, Anarky, and Lady Shiva with many more introduced in the seven episode marathon such as an increasingly unhinged Harvey Dent before his acid facial and Deathstroke doing his usual mercenary work. The biggest nod to the heavy hitters of the Bat’s rogues’ gallery was when the Demon’s Head, Ras Al Ghul, showed up during the show’s second arc voiced by the peerless Lance Reddick in a bit of left field casting that worked just as great as Liam Neeson’s performance in the Nolan movies.

The Demon's Head

The Demon’s Head

I liked that Glen Murakami, the producer, and the show runners went deep into the Bat’s smorgasbord of foes for a different kind of twist on the accepted mythos. I would have liked to have seen a personal favorite, Maxie Zeus, make an appearance but an updated, blinged out Tobias Whale was fun too. The lack of the more recognized scoundrels known to the larger public was said by some critics to have hamstrung the show but for me, a guy who grew up reading comics well before the first CRISIS, it was refreshing to be reminded of how deep that bench could go. The Joker, Penguin, and Catwoman have always been fun to read or watch but their omnipresence in many shows, movies, and stories made them seem more like co-stars you expect to see every time the Bat shows up than guest stars to be used sparingly to keep their allure fresh.

Batter up

The biggest criticism of the show I could find is that many were turned off by the 3-D computer generated animation that was used in favor of the more traditional and accepted 2-dimensional cel style. Some have said the CGI style looked only a few steps above the cut scenes of a common video game and I could agree with that up to a point because the streets of Gotham were oddly empty in many earlier shows along with the stilted movements of some figures during action scenes. Nevertheless, I was also patient enough to know that no show is perfect right out the box so any problems with the visuals I was sure would be taken care of with time which was the case here. Those complaints were similar to the grousing about the same CGI method Bruce Timm chose for LANTERN which honestly got better every episode. I grew up watching the cheap, rudimentary animation of 70’s Saturday morning cartoons so BEWARE and LANTERN were miles ahead of that but we live in a jaded age where the perfect is the mortal enemy of the good.

Beware-the-Batman-still_01

Only in Gotham City

The plotting though was strong throughout the show with many threads and Easter eggs being set up in every episode from Katana’s true motives and history to the building of the Bat’s relationship with Lt. Gordon and following Barbara Gordon’s steps into fighting crime from a laptop. The stories highlighted the reasons why Batman is called the World’s Greatest Detective as it showed him doing real research to learn how to track and take down his foes by searching for clues. This came in handy whenever Anarky showed up to battle and was crucial to stopping Ras Al Ghul when he took over Gotham in his arc. Batman on screen has always been shown to be resourceful but this was the first weekly show since BATMAN ’66 I can remember that consistently showcased his detective chops as much as his martial arts skills and cool gadgets. All due to a storytelling style that allowed the fantastic to walk side by side with the grit particularly when Mr. Toad, Metamorpho, and Man-Bat appeared. The show was a crime show first and foremost which set it apart from the zaniness of BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD and the superheroic action of THE BATMAN and that again was a refreshing new take.

Leaping into action

Leaping into action

BEWARE THE BATMAN had it all to be a success. Strong visuals, smart storytelling, and an atmospheric tone which suited its title character and his world perfectly. So why did it only get one season then? Many reasons on top of the ones I’ve already touched on like CN feuding with its fellow WB property, DC Entertainment, lack of toy sales, and CN screwing around with its scheduling and unexplained hiatuses (sound familiar?). All those reasons are why we only got twenty-six episodes but the biggest reason for me is my fellow fans. I accuse my fellow fans because this show was trashed even before its first episode aired in many online quarters because it dared to tell Batman stories outside of the Timmverse. Batman fans are increasingly too precious with the character because they only see one narrow way to tell his stories and if those stories don’t adhere to that particular way then they are found wanting. Since the peak that was reached in 2008 with THE DARK KNIGHT there has been a meme in the zeitgeist that everything done with the character since has been wrong. Go read the screeds about how blasphemous THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was to Batman’s character to have him retire at the end. If you listen you can still hear the howls of disappointment from fanboys when Ben Affleck was cast as the Caped Crusader for the still unreleased BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: THE DAWN OF JUSTICE. I read and hear the same things about GOTHAM now as well. I get it if a person doesn’t like something but what I don’t get are baseless complaints that are made up out of whole cloth.

Different bad

Different…bad

I’ve been a Batman fan since the first time I was scared by Adam West in a still picture on television from BATMAN ’66 when I was five years old and that fandom goes deeper than the Bat tattoo I have on my left shoulder so I know I can speak on the character as intelligently as any other fan. Right now I’m speaking as a concerned fan to my peers and I say let Batman out of the hermetically sealed container you’ve trapped him in and permit him to breathe. Let other fans that are just as invested in the character’s continued dominance as the rest of us take him in different directions we may have never thought of before. Allow any show, movie, videogame, or book to rise and fall on its own merits but don’t automatically look at it with a dismissive eye before you’ve even experienced it. Let the story unspool first before you bury it. This desire to keep the Batman stuck in some kind of Frank Miller/Bruce Timm/Kevin Conroy-influenced limbo does us and the Caped Crusader no favors. Ben Affleck’s Batman may be considered on the same level as Michael Keaton’s and Christian Bale’s one day and GOTHAM may turn out to be the BREAKING BAD of superhero television shows but we may never know if we continue to cling to one interpretation of the Dark Knight. There’s time for GOTHAM and Batfleck to become what they will but narrow-minded thinking among a loud segment of our fellow fans doomed BEWARE THE BATMAN as much as deluded CN executives who paid more attention to increasing toy sales than letting a good show become a great show.

Beware-the-Batman

The battle continues

–Jason O. Logan

Top 5 Things You Do Not Say to A Nightmare on Elm Street Fans

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

3

1. I blame this movie for making great horror cinema like the Exorcist, Halloween, and Rosemary’s Baby no longer in demand. Everyone wants blood and guts and no true horror any more.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is the best of the franchise.

3. How can you watch this? It’s so gross and violent. Watch some more wholesome material that teaches good values without the need for gore like Twilight or Glee.

4. Jackie Earle Haley pulled it off better.

5. The only scene I liked in the entire franchise was when Freddy attacked Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Disclaimer: This list is written with the intent of satire and does not reflect the views of the writer.

Next Monday: Top 5 Things You Do Not Say to American Horror Story Fans