Friday, January 27, 2012

Batman: 02 Christmas with the Joker

Batman is a DC Comics character, and Batman: The Animated Series is owned by Warner Home Video. If you'd like to purchase this episode, you may do so here; if you'd like to buy the DVD box set, you may do so here. This episode was written by Eddie Gorodetsky and directed by Kent Butterworth.

The Joker is hunched in a derelict Santa suit, his yellow eyes and equally yellow teeth beaming in the near dark of the night before Christmas. The cheerful Christmas anthem that plays is underscored by greasy brass notes, like aural pollution.

Arkham Asylum at Christmas, where the inmates butcher carols and the guards give suggestive glances above perfectly trimmed mustaches.

To read the rest, go to this page.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Coming Friday - The Joker!

Much like the popular films by Christopher Nolan, Batman: The Animated Series uses its first installment to introduce the flawed double - Ra’s al-Ghul/Man-Bat - and its second installment to introduce The Joker, arguably Batman’s shadow archetype. Regardless of whether you agree with that interpretation or not, you have to ask yourself one question:

(P.S. More fiction coming soon. I’ve got quite a lot of it. I just have to figure, which first?)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Batman: 01 On Leather Wings

Batman is a DC Comics character, and Batman: The Animated Series is owned by Warner Home Video. If you'd like to purchase this episode, you may do so here; if you'd like to buy the DVD box set, you may do so here. This episode was written by Mitch Brian and directed by Kevin Altieri.


Moody strains of Danny Elfman's score play as the Warner Brothers logo fades out into the front of a police zeppelin, its yellow searchlights burning like eyes in a vaguely bat shaped face. Six seconds in, and we already have more foreshadowing than some programs achieve in six seasons.

More searchlights cut through the skyline of an art deco concrete jungle, before we settle in front of a bank. Unfortunately for the executives of BANK bank, the aggressive older brothers of the silhouette from the Mad Men opening credits are doing textbook surreptitious glances outside. 

To read the rest, go to this page.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Coming Tomorrow - Batman!

Tomorrow, I'm starting a regular weekly feature on Bad Ideas. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but haven't been able to pull together for one reason or another. However, I'm happy to announce it's finally time.

Every Friday, I'm going to be recapping episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. Some of you might remember it from childhood, like I do. It originally ran from late 1992 to 1995 on FOX Kids, although I know people who have seen it later and on different channels. It's also been released on DVD, and I can't recommend enough that you buy it.

In fact, here's a link to an Amazon search where you can buy it as DVD box sets or as instant videos. Whatever format you choose, it's worthwhile.

I loved the show as a kid, and I still love it as an adult. I can say without reservation that it's truly stood the test of time. In fact, I think it's even gotten better. Usually, the accumulated cynicism of adulthood acts as a caustic element to whatever nostalgia we hold for childhood loves; things never "hit us" the way they did when we had to reach for the sink.

This is not so with Batman: The Animated Series. I'm seeing it through different eyes, older eyes, for sure, but the magic is still there; I'm still game for a ride in the Batmobile, or a swiftly tilting view of the Gotham skyline.  

Writing these recaps is going to be fun for me. That's not to say writing stories and humorous nonfiction isn't, but it is to say that they're not about Batman. Well, not directly about Batman. For a while I've been telling friends that some part of my brain is always devoted to thinking about Batman; any thought or sentence is only a hair's breadth away from veering in that direction:

  • Your baby's already three [Batman] months old?
  • What do you want to do for lunch? There's [Batman] this new place we could check out.
  • I am [Batman] so tired today!

What that means is that writing these recaps is going to be fun, yes, but it’s also going to be very much like going home. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Mother The Inventress

Remembering the circumstances behind this post still fills me with wonder; it was like watching a baby unicorn take its first steps, or having a burrito delivered by a dolphin. I'm afraid to breath too hard, lest I dispel whatever benign magic was at work. All the same, it's about time I finally shared it.

If you've never met my mother, let me just say, it will explain a lot. She's the woman that let me watch Beavis and Butt-Head with her as a kid, which led to a whole lot of laughter; this is also the woman that let me watch Unsolved Mysteries without her as a kid, which led to a whole lot of cowering under the covers at night, hiding from aliens, Bigfoot, and poorly cast reenactments. 

Hearing either the theme song or Robert Stack's voice still sends me into a panic attack.  

Like many parents, my mom is behind the curve on technology. Recently I saw that there's a Twitter feed for a 65 year old woman's adventures in the world of Skyrim. There's an entire Plato's cave worth of issues we'd have to deal with before that could be my mom, and how to use a controller would be the least of those. Plus, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be able to stop tittering at the fact that it was called "Skyrim". (Heh, tittering.)

She's had a cell phone for a couple of years, and we expected her to only use it for that most antiquated of purposes, remote auditory communication. With resignation, we knew we would never be able to tell her our organs had not spontaneously fallen out by text  - "nsidz r OK kthxbai" - necessitating a phone call instead. Along with ditches and the possible contents thereof, this is the darkest fear of mothers everywhere.

That's all changed, however; one day, with no warning, she sent me a picture of one of her dogs.

Then a picture of her other dog.

Then, inexplicably, a turkey.

This trend continued for awhile, a picture a day of a dog, a cat, or a more different kind of animal (I have no idea where the other animals came from - a park? the zoo? her secret African safari?) with text below of the "I love you, Mom" or "hope you're having a good day" variety. 

I was impressed. With no help from any of her children, she'd wrestled the concept of picture messaging to the floor. It was delightful, and I was saddened when I stopped getting my daily messages. I had grown accustomed to the parade of canine faces, endlessly staring upwards in confusion.

At this juncture it's important to note my mother has no computer, is only slightly aware of the internet, and totally clueless about the existence of memes. In fact, if I said, “meme” she'd assume I was mispronouncing “Mimi”, which is what some of my cousins call our grandmother.

Much like the penicillin spore that flew in Fleming's window, or Achimedes in the bath, I like to think of her next discovery as a happy accident. One day – Eureka! - I received a picture of a confused dog, in which the dog was directly wishing me well, instead of acting as an accompaniment to an unrelated sentiment.

A day after that, I received a picture of a cat with a caption that read "Tigger says meow." The cat's mouth was closed, so she was either lying, or expressing a reality about cats that's commonly understood to be true. I still don't know, but it was a stride forward.

Do you see where this is going? With no outside help or influence, my mother invented lolcats.

She did not reinvent them, you understand. She did not look at the conventions of the genre and decide they needed bold interpretation by a novel hand; rather, she decided pictures of animals needed superfluous headnotes and/or footnotes all on her own. It was a gradual process, wrought with missteps and doubts in the dark, I'm sure, but she finally did it. The fact that someone did it first is immaterial.

I can only hope this process of parallel innovation continues.

I want to visit her house and have her suggest we watch an old home movie. As she turns the VCR on, I want to be greeted by a video of Rick Astley telling me that he's never gonna give me up, painstakingly taped by my mother during countless hours of watching VH1 and waiting.

I want her to buy me a three wolf moon shirt for Christmas, because she thinks it looks cool and will impress the ladies.

I want her to call, only to bellow Leeeeeeeroy Jenkins - a name that came to her in a dream - and hang up.

But for now, I receive these underground lolcats - but mostly loldogs - a few times a week, each one a jewel I treasure up in my heart. I know that they're not produced in an internet sweat shop, child laborers hastily applying an Impact font and bad grammar to a picture of a dog with a hat wrestled on; these images are made fresh, with a mother's love, and the dog hats are carefully applied.

Without further ado, it's my privilege to share these images with you:

I want my mommy

Your mommy is gone my pretty hahahaha

I'm ready to go trick or treating

Sunday, January 15, 2012


We did secret Santa at work with a $10 limit. This guy in accounting knew I liked computer games, so he got me Skyroam. I guess it's like the Chinese knock off Skyrim.

You play a barbarian whose village was eaten by a dragon while you were being born and so you have dragon attacks. However, in order to replenish your attacks you have to wait for a dragon to fly overhead and have it pee on you, or at least I guess it's pee. It could be vomit. The dragon model isn't that great. Yellow-green liquid shoots out from somewhere on the bottom of the dragon between the head and the tail, and it makes this noise like it's uncomfortable with the whole thing.

The game is immersive, kinda. The villagers talk to each other a bunch, but all they talk about is something called panji fruit and how they love it. If you say you hate it, they all attack you. Since you can't target the children, they'll eventually kill you no matter what level you are. All the stuff in the shops is really expensive. I haven't earned enough money to be able to buy anything yet, so my guy runs around mostly naked, except for the axe I spawned with.

Like I said earlier, the graphics are pretty terrible. I've seen better texture packs for Minecraft. Remember the people in Morrowind, how they all looked like Morlocks or something? This is worse. The one exception is the hair for the female characters. That stuff is fabulous, like honey and silk and sunshine. There must be a Pantene potion somewhere.

Gameplay is pretty repetitive. It's like the same monster a thousand times, just different colors. FF1, basically. I use the same combo on them over and over again - I slash them with my axe, then I push them forward, then I vomit (or pee, I guess) a rainbow at them and they explode. That's a dragon power I have.

Enemies drop a lot of varied items, but I can't equip more than half of the stuff. I honestly can't tell if it's equipment or reagents for potions or monster parts or some combination of all three. Right now I'm wearing something on my head that's either a helmet or a gnoll testicle.

I guess it's a pretty good game for ten bucks.

Friday, January 13, 2012

January's Robot

For Christmas, I got a calendar featuring a different papercraft robot each month. In case you were wondering, yes, that is how you say "I love you" in Geek. I've decided to assemble and photograph each paper robot for you, so that you can vicariously share in my joy.

However, I expect difficulty. I have good reasons for this.

Believe it or not, I missed the very first day of first grade. It's true. I was a sickly child. Thus, on my first day of first grade, all the children were already learning about the letter B, like in boy, or baby. To really drive this home, we had to cut out and glue together a baby boy in a diaper who was wearing a bonnet.

(To my recollection, no one ever tried to catch me up on A. Isn't tht wful?)

Seems simple, right? Well, maybe it was because I missed the first day; maybe it's because I was scared of the giant mole on my teacher's face; maybe it's because diaper didn't start with a B, and I was thematically thrown off balance; regardless, I managed to glue the diaper entirely to the outside of the baby boy's bottom. Oops.

Mrs. Beulah Berry - who was apparently born for this lesson, and a graduate of the public disapproval school of teaching to boot - loudly called this to the attention of all the other children. Their laughter still stings, and subsequent attempts at making things with my hands have been shame wrought affairs.

But I'm not just offering pictures of my failures! (There's more?)

Has anyone else ever heard of "Monday's Child?" It was astrology for the Jane Austen set to a nursery rhyme - it used
 the day of the week on which you were born to predict your personality. It went something like:

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child was sprayed with mace
Wednesday's child is always named Joe
Thursday's child will eat a burrito

For each robot, I'll write a few lines of poetry on a level with Monday's Child. I use the word "poetry" loosely, because I'm afraid the ghost of Williams Wordsworth will touch me in the shower if I don't clarify.

This whole thing starts off with Radiacto; that's what name the calendar gave this month's robot. Personally, I think he looks more like an, an Andy. Since today was the 13th, we'll do it on the 13th of every month. I could do it on the 1st, but I don't trust myself to be able to both pay my rent and assemble a paper robot; I'd only end up trying to pay my rent with a tiny robot and gluing a check to a baby's bottom.

Behold, Andy!

January's robot got lost at the mall
even though he's 90 feet tall
At the Apple store he said wow
Too bad it's applesauce now

Andy wanted to build a bear
instead he left a crater there
It's hard to shop for giant robots
Thank the Maker for Dippin' Dots!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Do you ever think about toast? Like, really think about it?

I don't either; well, I didn't.

No one does, not really. And you know why? Because it'd be a waste of time. Almost anything is better than thinking about toast, including, but not limited to, clipping your toenails, folding jeans, cleaning the lint trap on the dryer, and actually making toast.

To read the rest, go to this page.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Johari Window - Part II

Previously two parts, this story has been collected on a single page. To read it, go here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Johari Window - Part I

“Travelers are reminded the Johari window will be opening in 25 minutes,” the crisp robotic voice said from somewhere above the long, white corridors.

“Come on!” Susan shouted, running ahead of her brother down the gently curving hallway. “We’ll be late!”

Peter shuffled his feet, dragging the large black suitcase behind him. The hand not pulling his luggage was stuffed deep in a pocket, and he blew a lock of dark brown hair off his forehead. They weren't going to be late. They hadn't been late yet, and they had done this nearly two dozen times already. However, this was their last one. For the next 25 minutes, his universe was the click clack of his suitcase’s wheels and the sound of his footsteps. After that, he didn’t want to think about it. 

To read the rest, go to this page.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm a driver, I'm a winner

Things are gonna change, I can feel it.

Happy 2012

Hello all! Happy New Year, or at least Happy New(ish) Year! Three days in, the new year smell is already fading and it's lost half the resale value, possibly a little more after bumping into that wonky curb in front of the Citgo.

Anyone's resolutions already broken, or showing signs of cracks? If so, don't worry!

There's still Eastern Orthodox New Year yet to come, which falls on January 14th. There's still Chinese New Year, which is on January 23rd in 2012. Or did you really screw the pooch? Maybe you decided to stop brutally murdering, but people kept talking at the movies, or chewing with their mouths open. In that case, you'll probably want Balinese New Year, which isn't until March 23rd.

Remember: there's no need to change yourself when you can simply change your calendar!

On a more serious note, updates have been non-existent since the 22nd. The holidays were very busy for me, but I'm working on something now that will be up later today. That is, unless I hate it and it's terrible.

Who am I kidding, it will probably get posted anyway; this blog isn't called "Good Ideas I Have Had", after all.