Sunday, December 25, 2011

Holiday Special 2011


Good day,

I know I’ll regret this later, but here’s a cover of We Need A Little Christmas from the musical Mame.


Gods, are you kidding?
This isn’t winter, this is autumn with dandruff
Everyone’s bidding
On meaningless crap and other pointless stuff now

Oh, is this your little Christmas?
Oh, is it fulfilling?
Screaming gangs of children?
Malls making a killing?
Oh, is this your little Christmas?
Are your dear hearts spillin’?
Because I’m sick, my eyes are blurry
I have to get home in a hurry

Enjoy carpooling
To some big holiday party in Newmarket
For I’ll be drooling
Over the new trailer for The Hobbit again

For I’ve grown a little older
Got a little fatter
Losing half of my hair
But it doesn’t matter
Because I’m getting a little bolder
Cutting idle chatter
And that is Christmas to me

Do you see the folly
Of exclusivity during the winter holidays?
Oh, Canada: golly!
Why not give Sikhs and Jews some extra praise, now?

So Happy Chanukah to you
Happy Gurpurab and
Festivus and Solstice
[Yes, I’m late, and it’s grand]
And happy belated Dongzhi
…And a really late Ramadan
2012 soon, but don’t fret
It’s not really the end of times yet

Don’t mind the tackiness
Of this time of year, we all know that it’s taxing
So spend this last week
With all your loved ones, curled up and relaxing now

And go have a happy winter
However you spend it
Christmas or Ganapati
Or whatever’s a good fit
But you should go watch Tintin
Right this very minute
Seriously, watch Tintin NOW
…I mean it: go watch Tintin NOW


Happy holidays,

-RWI

P.S. The Indigo Book Store close to my house has a nasty tendency to blast the Glee version of this song at full volume. If you ever needed to flush me out of a building a la Manuel Noriega, use that rendition and I’ll be in the police van after the first minute.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let's Talk About - The Batman Paradox


Good day,

                In a previous post, I had talked about improving western superhero comics. It was there that I discussed certain aspects of cape-comics that I felt need to be downplayed considerably if not completely thrown away, not least of which being the overly serious attitude generally found in many works. A few of my friends read the article and asked a question that stirred around in my head for a while: What About Batman?

And they are right in asking. Batman is not only a big name in comics but a massive pop culture icon in general. He has been interpreted and re-interpreted in a number of ways across the globe, from award-winning programs to lesser-known Japanese re-imaginings. I personally think that this is all because Batman himself is arguably the most malleable mainstream superhero in existence. Maybe not the best, but certainly the easiest to play with.

What do I mean? Let’s talk about The Batman Paradox and find out.

Some context before we proceed: I grew up with Batman merch. In my youth, I vigorously devoured some comics my parents bought, as well as some of my dad’s old single issues from the 1960s. Recently, I enjoyed The Long Halloween, and adored Grant Morrisson’s entire Batman library, Batman Secrets, and the original Bob Kane run from the 1940s. I watched the Adam West show and the Bruce Timm-animated series, as well as both Tim Burton films and the first Joel Schumacher flick in my adolescence, rightfully avoiding Batman and Robin. As a grubby university student, I had my fun with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and now as a grubby manchild I eagerly await The Dark Knight Rises and had a hell of a time with Batman: The Brave and the Bold. So, it’s safe to say that I get Batman as much as the rest of you nerds.

Everyone has the own visions of Batman’s portrayal, whether he be The Caped Crusader or The Dark Knight.  A lot of people ragged on the Schumacher films (mostly the second) because they were cartoony and overly campy toy commercials, but there were those who also rallied against Batman Returns for being too grim, and I’ve heard ordinary people compare The Dark Knight to a horror film. Certainly, we’ve had a range of styles and tones throughout the years, but which one works? Well, the answer is both of them; sometimes at the same time. This is the Paradox we face with Batman and the key to his malleability.

Here’s why: he’s a tortured, traumatized billionaire who has everything except a loving household. His parents were murdered before his eyes, and he had nobody to turn to except his aging butler. In his grief and glaringly apparent psychological torment, he enacts vague, violent revenge on the criminal underbelly of his home city…

…while dressed as a bat.

Seriously, that is such a major part of Batman and yet it is the silliest thing about him, especially since he has a bat-themed everything – a Batmobile, a Batcopter, a Batbike, a Batplane, Batarangs, and a Bat Cave. When you take away the Bat Family – which includes several Batgirls, Nightwing, a host of young boys in green undies, and Ace the Batdog – and his increasingly ludicrous rogue’s gallery, what do you have? You have a man with a lot of bat-paraphernalia and a full wardrobe of spandex suits beating people up out of a sense of justice that makes sense only to him. I remember having this conversation long ago with Loading Ready Run crewman Alex Steacy, and how he himself could not take Batman seriously because his cowl had ears.

Really, what more is there to say? When the basics of an idea are so vastly different from each other, it’s easy to fall into either side of the campy-versus-serious debate. You can make him dark. You can make him the techno-hero who casts aside his humanity and adopts the image of an animal as he beats down on assassin syndicates, serial killers, and mobsters. Yet, you can also make him silly; you can make him a total blowhard with a lot of disposable income who takes himself way too seriously, our sole defender against an array of colourful creeps and kooks.

With that in mind, he also works well in any kind of scenario, whether part of a shared universe or as a standalone character. On his own, he works because he’s an incredibly grounded hero. You don’t have to use fantastical or science-fictional elements because you could just toss in gadgets and real-world tech for him and the bad guys to play with. As part of a larger universe, he also works as a kind of misanthropic straight-man in a world gone mad. I always found it astounding how well Batman fit in with the Justice League, a group that also employs aliens, wizards, and The King of Atlantis. I wonder if the bat-suit helps in this, that dressing like a proto-furry is an image thing he keeps up so he doesn’t feel out-of-place when next to the rest of the rodeo clowns.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single mainstream superhero that has this advantage, where they can be dark and silly at exactly the same time, or where creators can use either style without it feeling out of place. Superman and Spiderman always worked best as the boy scouts, sailing in with a wink and a smile, good-naturedly disposing of bad guys in time for bed. The Fantastic Four and The Flash are just really pleasant people who experienced the best workplace accidents ever, and nobody seems to know what to do with someone like Wonder Woman.

Batman, however, can afford to be dramatic and bleak, just as Batman can afford to channel Golden and Silver Age ridiculousness. He’s the moral hero and the dark one, able to adapt to any environment and for better or for worse has become an integral part of pop culture.

See you next time,

-RWI

P.S. Some of you may be aware of Hans Zimmer’s call to have people around the world add their voices to a massive chant he’s composing for the final cut of The Dark Knight Rises. Well, I decided to add fuel to this fire and add my own. Enjoy.

EDIT: May 23, 2012. Minor, minor edits.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Flash Fiction - Rendezvous

Good day,

 Let's get back to I've A Nuking.

***

                Jessie was at the bar. A train sped by the window and rattled all the bottles and the tables and the guns people left hanging at the front. I saw the bartender, an old Caldaray with wrinkled tentacles and a mop of white hair, shudder at the noise before returning to work.  The air was thick with smoke and low on lighting.
                I made my way across the floor. I was pleased to see that the bar patrons were the usual roster of rat bastards and sex fiends I would have found in this district years ago. A scar-patterned Black man in a white cloak sat across from two Latinas with matching crab tattoos on their faces.  Standing by the jukebox in an orange sweater, a green-eyed Selek with a missing ear and grey fur watched a diminutive Asian girl with dyed-blue hair bringing him drinks. On the side, a trio of Nalg-nas, beet-red and built like semi trucks, sat around another table playing with knives and a severed hand.  A Polyp played cards with some North Croatian soldiers, uniforms and all; there was some serious coinage on its side of the table. Its opponents looked pissed.
             My focus was on Jessie, “Jess!” I called out.
She faced me. Black-haired and almond-eyed, her bronze and round face lit up when she saw me. She was in the chequered coat I got her for Christmas and a pair of black pants. She was still a bit heavy, her thighs thick and her body as broad as I remembered it. That was fine; I could never picture her thin.
“Took you long enough,” she said, holding up a glass of something awful, “I was in here for hours yesterday.”
“I got held up at the station,” I told her, trying not to mention the food poisoning I suffered on the train. “Do you have the package?”
She reached under her chair and lifted up a black suitcase. “Fourteen fucking hours of Neo Fascists talking about Mars’ economy,” Jessie told me before putting it back down again. “Why did I do that again?”
“H.Q. needs that intel.”
“I’m sure learning that the East Martian dollar has passed parity will be integral to the war effort.”
With a smile, I moved my chair closer to her. “Every minute counts. We’ll have the boys back in the office keep an eye out for code when they transcribe it all.”
She scoffed. “They’re welcome to it. Can’t believe I miss checking the radar.
My hand sought hers. “I missed you, y’know.”
“Oh, Kent,” she cooed, gripping my fingers, “I missed you, too.”
My shoulder pressed against hers. “You look great, by the way.”
She laughed, “Still fat, you mean?”
“You’re not fat.”
“I’m fat, love.”
“Don’t lie to yourself.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m fat.”
“You’re just big; broad-shouldered and wide-hipped, yeah, but not fat.”
“Sounds like fat to me.”
I sighed. A Priest of Rock once told me that men were handicapped by a need to make sense. I was starting to think he was on to something.
The doors were thrown open. Five Levennan boys entered with one of their jewel-encrusted women, diamonds embedded in her supple green skin. She was on the arm of the tallest man, a passably handsome man with a t-shaped body and long legs.
“Hey-hey!” the tall one laughed, pointing our way, “Es fat gerl from yastarday! And shae breng skennae man over to boom-boom!”
His friends joined the chuckle. I ground my teeth. Jessie looked at me and shook her head, “Don’t.”
I wanted to; by void, I did. I hated it when she called herself fat; I liked hearing it from other people even less. My body boiled with every word and joke they exchanged. In my head, I translated the odd word here and there. They were speaking in a mix of English and the West Kal Island dialect. Key words like ‘cow’ and ‘huge’ made themselves known to me. And they were making me angrier.
Something bounced off the back of my head.
To this day I don’t know if it was an orange or a baseball. In any case, it put me over. Flying from my seat, I vaulted over a table and rushed them. Years of CQC training floated to the surface. Two of his friends saw me and ran ahead, arms out to tackle me. I ducked and grabbed their wrists, rising as I slid between them. Shoulders rotating, I had them flipped. One of the remaining three grabbed the girl and leapt behind the massive man in white; his other, smaller friend fainted. That left me and the big one.
Idiot thought it was a good idea to throw a kick at me. Stepping to the side, I caught it in mid-flight. One free arm reached for his vest. My weight shifted. We tumbled onto the friends of his I tossed. Flipping myself on top of him, I gripped his shoulders and slammed the back of his head into the floor.
“You wanna fuck with me?” I asked, dropping an elbow into his face, “You wanna fuck with a government man? Eh?”
“I think he gets it,” I heard Jessie say, tapping my shoulder feverishly.
“Oh, no,” I spat, staring into my opponent’s bruised and frightened eyes, “He –”
I heard safeties being released.
I turned to see the Caldaray bartender holding two class-five hunting rifles in its tentacles, massive pump-action weapons with multiple barrels. They were aimed at me.
“Gwet,” it tried to say, “Gwet ohwet ovv my barl.”
I took the hint. Hands in the air, I rolled myself off the Levennan. My head jerked to the door and I shot my lady a look. Jessie ran ahead and I walked backwards, arms still raised. Behind me, I heard her take her guns from the hooks out front and turn a knob. I sped up.
When we were far enough from the danger, Jess started talking again.
“Well, great job,” she began, kicking me, “Not only did I waste a weekend listening to a bunch of gasbags, but you kept me waiting a whole day, then started a fight and got me kicked out of a bar when you showed up.”
“I was defending your honour and shit.”
“Defending my honour got us thrown out of a bar.
I pocketed my hands and looked at her, “You didn’t really like it in there, did you?”
Hesitating, she took a moment to take that in. “Well, no.”
“You’re welcome, tubs,” I teased her, putting my arm around her shoulders.
Jessie gave me a hard look and a soft smile. “Shut up and kiss me.”
I pulled her close and tasted tobacco.

***

 See you next time,

-RWI

EDIT: May 23, 2012. Edits.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Who I Am - December 2011 edition


Good day,

                If you’re reading this, then you’re either a friend of mine who I had referred to this page, or you’re someone who stumbled across the website by pure fluke. Either way, Welcome!

                My name is Robert and I’m an aspiring storyteller. This Blogspot account is something I set up for some of my articles, editorials, short fiction and flash fiction. It’s already been up for a year. I’ve tried to have an online presence before in the form of a failed Livejournal account (created back when I thought being random was clever), a failed Deviantart account (created back in the days when I was convinced I could draw), and a previous failed Blogspot account (created back in the days when I thought I could be an internet critic), and finally settled on this – A Collection of Literary Mishaps.

                There are three purposes of this page: the first is a challenge to get myself to write something new on a weekly basis, the third is to have an online portfolio of my work, and the second is my attempt to entertain you denizens of the internet.

                …Wait.

                Anyway, the website is called I’ve A Nuke for two reasons. One, it’s a play on how my surname is pronounced, something an old university associate pointed out to me years ago. Two, because words are weapons; if the pen is mightier than the sword, then a well-written, informative, or otherwise entertaining editorial or piece of literature is mightier than an atomic bomb.

I want to be a storyteller; I want to be an educator; I want to build bombs packed with creativity and information and throw them at people; I want to make an impact. Well, I’d like to, but I’m very worried about it all blowing up in my face.

I’ve had the website up for the past year, and during that year I’ve had some hits and misses with some of my writings. I’ve dabbled in different genres and different concepts, created serials and one-shots and others that I’m both proud of and ashamed of. I want to share my personal favourites from that with you now.

COMEDY:
                The L Series: L (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four) and Live (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four)
                Rampage
                Moment

SCI-FI
            Shrapnel
This weird superhero thing I did that I’m sort of proud of (The Hero, Interview; there are two more but they’re rubbish-y)

HORROR/PARANORMAL
                Frost Bites
                Shelter From The Storm

LET’S TALK ABOUT/REVIEWS
                Travis Touchdown
                Improving Superhero Comics
                Black Swan

                I hope you enjoy these. I’m always open to comments and criticisms, so don’t hesitate to tell me how much of an awful person I am in the comments section.

See you next time,

-RWI