Wednesday, February 29, 2012

THE LEAP YEAR MENACE! Apparently there is a quaint Irish custom that women may propose marriage to a man only on February 29th of a leap year. Sheesh, next they'll want the vote! I believe there was a recent silly movie that took this leap year premise and ran (or stumbled) with it. Be that as it may, since it appears to be an Irish custom, no one is committed more to the wearing of the green than our old friend Hal Jordan alias Green Lantern. Way back in 1960, in only the third issue of his brand spankin' new comic (courtesy of writer John Broome and artists Gil Kane and Joe Giella), this bizarre (in that marvelous way that only silver-age DC Comics could be) story appeared. I first read it reprinted in the 21st issue of DC Special in 1976 and what a read it is! I mean, this reads like those old Superman issues where Lois Lane is forever cooking up some scheme to prove Clark Kent is really Superman (sorry, was that a spoiler alert???) and the Big Red 'S' is forever cooking up some scheme to foil Lois' plans and downright embarrass her! Back in 1960, test pilot Hal Jordan worked for Ferris Aircraft run by Carol Ferris. Even though Carol was definitely Hal's boss in his civilian life, the writers used to love putting parentheses around the word "boss" as if the mere suggestion that a woman was in charge of a man had to be defused -- as if Hal was "humouring" her in letting her think she was his boss. Sorry, pal. She really was your boss and she signed you paycheck. Be that as it may, Hal was forever wanting to hook up with Carol but the boss lady only had eyes for the emerald gladiator Green Lantern; but for some reason Green Lantern was always putting off the amorous advances of Carol Ferris. What?!? Methinks Jordan had a few mental issues from the start; no wonder he did that whole Parallax thing decades later. Hal Jordan apparently was always one green clover short of a bowl of Lucky Charms.
Anyway, back to our story. One day in the ole office, Carol reveals to Hal her idea that, since it's Leap Year, she's going to propose to Green Lantern when he appears at a charity affair later that day. Hal shits a green brick (just LOOK at Hal's face, it's priceless!) and wonders how he's going to manage to avoid this new menace. Carol corners GL in the park and our hero decides to babble on endlessly in order to hopefully derail her attempts to pop the question. Dudes and dudettes, this is the guy the immortal Guardians of the Universe have handpicked to guard our space sector and this is the best he can come up with. But wait, it gets worse. Since GL's master plan of using small talk to derail a marriage proposal seems to be pooping out, our hero decides the best thing to do is use his power ring to create a skyscraper-sized green monster to attack Coast City. Ahem. Should Hal be asked to turn in his ring right now for reckless endangerment? Or maybe for wacky hijinx?!?! However, GL is immediately beaned on the noggin by that model airplane those kids are playing with. No, the airplane is NOT yellow (GL's only weakness) yet it still knocks him senseless. OK, he was ALREADY senseless, but you get the idea. While Carol hails a cab to take the superhero to General Hospital ("Paging Dr. Noah Drake to cure a case of. . .heartbreak")...sorry...., our huge monster wanders off. Hilariously, the leap year menace monster seems to think his name is "Chiller Diller" after an off-hand thought made by Green Lantern in the act of creation. It is also interesting to note that Green Lantern has provided his Frankensteinian creation with a demure set of crimson speedos so that Carol Ferris and the townsfolk of Coast City are not incensed by the site of the leap year menace's huge green pendulous nards dangling over the skyline. Thanks for small mercies, Hal. His delicate sensibilites offended by the anti-social attitudes of the Coasters (Coast City residents, to you), Chiller-Diller starts stomping everything in sight and soon seems to be headed towards the friendly neighbourhood stockpile of nuclear weapons! This was 1960, after all, and every small town in America had a stockpile of nuclear weapons, silly. Of course, we all know they have nothing to worry about since Coast City won't become a nuclear crater for AT LEAST a couple decades yet. Naturally, GL wakes up at the doctor's office and scoots through the sky to Anne Boleyn his very own monstrous creation. Way to go there, green guy. While a grateful military and citizenship congratulate the guy who started the whole mess in the first place, Green Lantern is once again confronted by a matrimonially-minded Carol Ferris (who must've flown there on her broomstick to arrive so quickly). Alas, all the destruction was for naught since Carol simply asked GL once again to make an honest woman of her. Ah well, the best laid plans of mice and dumbass supercops. . . But just in the nick of time, a bevy of crazed female pre-Beatlemaniacs converge on Green Lantern and, using the same leap year pretense as Carol was using, ALL propose marriage to GL at once. In his utterly noble way, Green Lantern declares that since he can't choose among them, he must gallantly decline to marry ANY of them. Case closed and the emerald asshole flies away leaving Carol Ferris boned by Green Lantern again . . . but not in the way she had hoped. Sadly, once again the only phallic green thing Carol's gonna have stuck in her this evening is a cucumber. But that's showbiz in the DC Silver Age of Comics! Bye y'all.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

WHAT I MISS (AN IDEA SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM MY ILSA*). Over at "The Season of Plum and Cobblestone", the marvelous Star* has written one of the most lovely statements about the passage of time and the changes that occur in our lives -- and the sometimes aching yearning we experience for them. I insist you click here now and go right over and read it immediately. G'head, I'll wait.
Ah, I see you're back. Now turn around and let me see the rest of ya. Ahem. Sorry, I stole that joke from Elvira. But anyway, while I'm stealing things, I might as well steal Star*'s idea and write about what I miss. And don't worry, this could go on for years so I'll try to keep it brief.


At the top of her essay, Star* talks about the old radio which used to be atop her mother's fridge. I certainly hope it was made of bakelite because I too have an "old radio" story. In the 70s, my grandparents lived in a huge three storey house on Westfield Avenue in Pennsauken. In the kitchen, the dinner table was sticking out from the wall much in the same way a diner booth table is situated. Anyway, on top of the table up against the wall was an old OLD bakelite radio from the 50s which always sat there even through meals (it wouldn't be turned on during dinner, though, whaddaya take us for?). There is nothing quite like the look of an old bakelite radio and I love them so much to this day probably because they remind me of that long lost one at my grandparent's table. I miss it so much now after reading Star*'s remembrance that I want to go out and buy one at an antique shop -- even if it doesn't work -- if only so I can sit and look at it.
Dinners with Peg. From about 1993 until her death in 2009, I used to drive every Monday to my friend Peg's house where we'd watch movies, rock out to tunes and have a homemade Italian dinner. Whether it was pasta (sometimes we would make homemades starting from scratch. . .start with the flour, make a well, get out the stainless steel pasta maker... -- oh how I miss homemade pasta) -- or Peg's baked scallops covered in melted butter and breadcrumbs, I will forever miss the laughter and the good times we had. I miss our endless cups of coffee around the kitchen table. I miss the clarion call of "Time to put the water up" which meant it was time for dinner so the pasta water needed to commence boiling. I miss making the salad: wash the lettuce, open the tin of anchovies wrapped around a caper, pour on the olive oil, the vinegar and a couple dashes of hot sauce. I miss the garlic bread she would always forget about and burn in the toaster oven. I miss my friend.
The Borders job. Along with Star*, I can only echo her sentiments about what it used to be like before things went bad there and all the wonderful friends I used to work with every day. And could there seriously have been a more perfect dream job for me than working in a place that sold books, music and movies? Of course, now we've managed to make cds into dinosaurs and music/movie stores a thing of the past. We've even managed to almost destroy bookstores and books themselves with this insidious kindle thing. Is there no end to our perfidy? There is a reason why they call it a kindle; because it's the equivalent in our civilisation to burning books, in my opinion. A real book lover doesn't want to read something on a screen; a book is more than a series of words strung together in front of your eyes. A book is a thing of beauty, a thing with pages to turn, a thing with a spine. A kindle is spineless. In more ways than one. But I remember when, back in the day (a whole decade ago) I worked in a place which brought books, music and movies to an eager population. To be surrounded by three of the most precious things in my life -- books, music and movies -- was really kinda nice.
The country. When I moved to my present South Jersey town in 1977, it was the sticks. Far out in the country surrounded by farms and fields and practically no traffic. I could ride my bike across the highway and not fear being run over; now I hesitate to even take my CAR onto the highway without risking Jayne Mansfielding myself. In the back of neighbourhood only one street away from my house was a complete apple orchard; I rode my bike through there too. Beyond that was the old Traino's farm where my mother and I would pick pumpkins in the autumn and there was a little farmer's market stall where we could buy all the fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. Now on top of that they plopped a cookie-cutter housing development with house packed next to identical house in soulless contempt of the field which once existed underneath them. There is now no time of the day or night when you can get in your car and drive somewhere without sitting in gridlock; even when I drive at 3 am there is traffic now. I miss going outside and being able to turn around without confronting a car, a storefront or an office building (usually empty) immediately in my face. My town has gone from an expansive, verdant land to a sardine can. I'm not a fan.
The Death Drill. Time was you wouldn't have to search very far for a villain with a death drill. Every well-equipped super-criminal organization had one. But now, what with political correctness and the damn Geneva Convention and sheet, death drills seem to be frowned upon these days. Another example of this country going to heck in a handbasket, I'd say! That and Miley Cyrus' career.
So there you have it. I promised I'd keep it brief. I definitely have about 82 more installments I could put up here but for now I think I'll leave it at that. Thanks once again to Star* for her original and much better executed idea and for letting me steal it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

ENNUI., n., a feeling weariness and dissatisfaction.
"Life is islands of ecstasy in an ocean of ennui, and after the age of thirty, land is seldom seen"
-- Luke Rhinehart
"Ennui has made more gamblers than avarice, more drunkards than thirst, and perhaps as many suicides as despair."
-- Buddha
"Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that's what makes it so boring."
-- Edward Gorey
"I once inscribed the word 'ennui' backwards on my forehead, and I was so bored that I stared at it in the mirror for hours. And at the end of that time, I felt like Sheryl Crow and I looked like Aleister Crowley."
-- Jarod Kintz
"Give me lust, baby. Flash. Give me malice. Flash. Give me detached existentialist ennui. Flash. Give me rampant intellectualism as a coping mechanism."
-- Chuck Palahniuk
Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe, designing futures where nothing will occur: cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning she will still predict no perils left to conquer. Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knight finds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheard of, while blasé princesses indict tilts at terror as downright absurd. The beast in Jamesian grove will never jump, compelling hero’s dull career to crisis; and when insouciant angels play God’s trump, while bored arena crowds for once look eager, hoping toward havoc, neither pleas nor prizes shall coax from doom’s blank door lady or tiger.”
-- Sylvia Plath