Friday, March 30, 2012

Batman: 10 Two Face, Part One

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. The story is by Alan Burnett; the teleplay was written by Randy Rogel; and the episode was directed by Kevin Altieri. 

Shimmering ambient noise is paired with single strikes on a xylophone. A man stands in mid-coin flip, his manner and appearance a study in chiaroscuro.

In a fog shrouded dreamscape, The Dent is on the run from a gravelly voice. He encounters the source of the voice, a solitary figure flipping a coin in a beam of light. “It's time,” the figure says, and Harvey wakes up screaming on his office couch.

He's late to a police raid he planned, showing up just in time to almost get torn in half by a hail of bullets. Relax, Harv - that's just how people shake hands in Gotham! 

To read the rest, go to this page.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Here Are Some Things

Believe it or not, the only one of these I modified was the pizza box. All the others I found out in the world.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Batman: 09 Be a Clown

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. The episode was written by Ted Pedersen and Steve Hayes; and directed by Frank Paur.

Brass instruments play over calliope music, as a shadowy figure holds hands with a boy in front of that champion of the midway, a Ferris wheel.

Gotham Acres, where – holy shit, what's wrong with their faces?

To read the rest, go to this page.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I went for a walk downtown and chanced upon this sight. "What is this horrifying assemblage of things?" I asked myself. 
Clockwise from left, we have:

  • Some button eyed dolls like the ones in Coraline, only these don't have mouths so they can't scream or tell what's been done to them.
  • A giant spear practically bristling with tetanus.
  • A bunch of empty wine bottles jutting from old paint cans, all atop a tire, like an altar to everything hobo civilization has achieved.
  • A gene spliced crab/clam, forever doomed to topple onto its back with its gaping maw thrust skyward.
  • And a careworn idol of L'oti, mad trickster deity that laughed as the Spanish brought plague to the New World.
And what nightmarish, avant garde stage production have these things been brought together for? Something out of the Lovecraft corpus, maybe? Or perhaps an original play entitled, "The Sea is a Whore and We are Her Playthings"?
These are the props, or maybe the set, for the Lexington Children's Theater production of the Little fucking Mermaid. This is announced by some metal watering cans that caught rust cancer and were left to dissolve and develop boils.
I hope parents are standing by with the tranquilizers, because this is all little Tommy will see when he tries to sleep tonight:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Meet the New Boss

From Friday, March 16th

I have felt tired & exhausted & tired for a week. I've been blaming Daylight Savings Time, possibly the way an abused wife blames door frames and stairs. I do take it as a minor victory that my brain no longer looks at the clock and reacts as if someone replaced the digits with obscene gestures. Maybe the colon between the hours and minutes was a stick person angrily giving it to another stick person. Neither of them really enjoyed it.

The weather here hasn't helped; it's going through some sort of crisis too. Last night we had a cocktease of a thunderstorm that just blew wind everywhere and finally sprinkled after I had fallen asleep, like an emo kid who waits to cry until he's in his room with the door shut. It's warm now, and sunny in the vague, meaningless way that accompanies haze and cloud cover.

Pick something, you prick.

And food? All I want to eat are cookies & cupcakes & ice cream until my insides hurt like I've got that kind of flu. But I don't. I'm too apathetic to even shovel junk food into my face until the feelings start again. 

Yesterday I turned down seven separate offers of dessert, until finally someone gave me a cookie to carry around. They knew I wasn't going to eat it. I knew I wasn't going to eat it. All the same, I had a little chocolate chip passenger for the rest of the afternoon because even relative strangers look at me and say, "Damn boy. Take this shit."

This will pass, just like all the other times before it have passed. Right now, though? It's terrible. On a scale of 1 - 10, I'd rate it as a "throbbing hollowness."

(depression why you always gotta feel new)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Batman: The Animated Series Drinking Game

I have created a drinking game based on Batman: The Animated Series, something my childhood self would never have dreamed to do. Back then, I was mainly concerned with duplicating the action on screen with my toys.

I never owned any of the villains; instead, I had an endless array of Batmen in different outfits, e.g. winter camouflage Batman, deep sea Batman, pizza chef Batman. I contented myself by thinking they were evil duplicates/clones/robots, forced to fight the real Dark Knight from atop their perch on Mt. Otherknee. I'd pivot the action figures in crude approximations of punches and kicks, the fused joint violence only an eight year old could dream up.

If you played a drinking game with Batman: The Animated Series as a child, please seek professional help.

Here are the rules I’ve come up with. I think they’re pretty comprehensive, but let me know if you have any additions/suggestions in the comments!


  • Batman makes a joke or pun about the villain going to prison.
  • Batman has an inordinate degree of compassion on the villain.
  • Villain is some kind of scientist.
  • Batman forgets he has a grapple gun.
  • Bruce Wayne uses his Batman voice, or Batman uses his Bruce Wayne voice.
  • Harvey Bullock expresses extreme disdain for Batman.
  • Villain makes a pun related to their theme.
  • Batman displays greater than reasonable human strength.
  • Villain greets our hero by simply shouting "Batman!"
  • Batman is assailed by a gas or a powder.
  • Batman survives something that would kill a normal human.
  • Alfred gets a bon mot in.
  • Batman dangles above a pit.


  • Fire gets too close to gasoline, TNT, etc., creating a massive explosion.
  • There is a sepia toned flashback.
  • The Joker gives a fully unhinged laugh.
  • Something that would psychologically scar a child happens.


  • If Bruce Wayne wears his blue sweater instead of either his Batman costume or brown suit with yellow shirt ensemble, two drinks; if he wears something entirely different, three drinks.
  • Chug while the "Batman is doing something awesome" music plays. You know what it sounds like.

People who have read my recaps, or dimly remember the show from their own childhood, may realize this game is designed for alcoholics. In fact, if strictly followed, you will never get to the end of an episode; it will be as if Batman himself snuck into your house, and took care of business - bat business.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March's Robot

April showers bring May flowers, but March brings us another robot! (If this robot business is new and frightening to you, check out the introduction.) This month's robot is a tall, military drink of water I've taken to calling Corporal Johnson.

Corporal Johnson, present visage!

March's robot was always picked last
At games like darts, or human blast

At night the others heard him cry
Solitary tears from a solitary eye

One day he joined the Robot Corps
They'd make a bot of him, for sure

Now he stands proud and tall,
The best shot in the whole mess hall!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Batman: 08 The Forgotten

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. The episode was written by Jules Dennis, Richard Mueller, and Sean Catherine Derek; and directed by Boyd Kirkland.

A jailbird harmonica trills, accompanied by blues riffs and some bottleneck slide guitar. A chain-link fence topped with barbed wire clearly demarcates the boundary between worlds.

We delve from a bird's eye view of Gotham's gleaming spires to a crumbling pawn shop. In a nearby rescue mission, Bruce Wayne is – oh my, not wearing his brown suit with yellow shirt!

To read the rest, go to this page.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Choose Your Own Adventure

When I was a kid - let's say the middle of elementary school, as I remember being enthralled by teenagers of the mighty and/or morphin' persuasion - weekend trips to the little branch library by my mom's apartment were the highlight of my week.

Contained in this library were shelves of what you'd call “books”, and I'd forgive you for that. To me, they were life lines. As a kid who liked Jeopardy and elves in roughly equivalent measure, school was Lord of the Flies with a dress code. I needed an escape.

These books did the job, serving as portals to worlds where furry little men and their gardeners carried magic rings into a land of doom; where dinosaurs still lived, and had built a civilization that made ours seem barbaric by comparison; where ancient evils awoke after millenia of imprisonment, and good men had to take up arms against them.
There was one group of books that managed to duplicate the feeling of being kicked around at school, though - the Choose Your Own Adventure series.

Choose Your Own Ruination was already taken.

Most people my age remember them, even if they don't share my particular revulsion. For everybody else, the Choose Your Own Adventure books cast YOU and YOU ALONE as the protagonist. They did this by offering you a choice at the bottom of every page, a dilemma you'd resolve by turning to another.

For example, they'd lock you in a room with an angry pirate. If you tried to kick his feet out from under him and run out the door, you turned to page 92; if you tried to sneak out the window, you turned to page 17.

This is invariably when things went to hell, which contradicted my high expectations. Having been an avid reader since Mrs. Beulah Berry shamed me into learning my lphbet, I thought I had this pirate situation in the bag.

This also helped to raise my confidence.

"How many times have the heroes of the stories I've read dealt with angry pirates?" I asked myself.

"Like infinity!" I happily responded.

"And what did they do?" I quizzed myself.

"They didn't talk about their feelings," I said.

(Being able to carry on animated conversations with yourself is an essential for every lonely, picked upon child.)

Deciding to kick the pirate, I'd promptly end up eating cutlass on page 92. Turns out trying to act like a hero when the book casts you as the target demographic of "grade schooler" is ill advised. The problem was, this happened no matter what I did.

If I tried to act like a dashing hero, I bumbled like a kid; if I tried to sneak like the child I was, I got called a coward and punished anyway. The end result was that, like an underage Dr. Samuel Beckett, I quickly ran out of fingers trying to backtrack and put right what once went wrong. In book after book, the only adventure I reliably choose was my own messy death.

Sam, Ziggy says you shoulda turned to page 33 instead of 34! Oh boy.

Even when I grew frustrated, and tried reading the Choose Your Own Adventure book cover to cover - the Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me of the series - I still couldn't find an ending that didn't involve being eaten alive by moth people or teleported into deep space sans space suit.

Whatever the opposite of a messiah is, that's my function in Choose Your Own Adventure. From the moment my feet touch soil, my every action blights the world around me. If I bent over to pick up a penny, I turned to page 43 to find a woman giving birth to a baby with a dog's head that spoke only blasphemies.

It was my initial intention to write a parody Choose Your Own Adventure. The endings would be the worst things I could imagine, so over the top that they would make the originals seem polite in comparison.

This seems like a good start.

That's when I reread a few of the books, and realized that no matter what I did, there was no besting them.

The first book I read was Beyond Escape. It's the year 2051, and two future spies named Mimla and Matt have gone missing. That was common. You'd hang out with Steven and Anchagorax, or Tara and Sizlak, or Mimla and Matt. In the process of tracking down the future spies, I ended up in a helicopter that gets shot down by UFOs.

Beyond Escape notes that I died on page 108, and is careful to explain that I did so screaming for help, in pain and all alone:

This leads me to theory one: all the Choose Your Own Adventure authors were the pen names for inmates in federal prison for hurting children. For $1.13 a week, they contributed to the burgeoning field of YA literature.

When it came time for their hearing, they pointed to their history of trying to help children. The review board, probably thinking them changed men, ka-chunked a “reformed” on some paperwork and released them back into the wild.

The second book was Prisoner of the Ant People. I was a member of the Zondo Quest Group, fighting the Evil Power Master along with Flppto, a four eyed Martian. What pure whimsy! Surely nothing too awful could happen in such a book.

How about the destruction of the entire cosmos on page 56?

This is why I abandoned my satire. The Choose Your Own Adventure books defy parody, because they're quite comfortable taking things to the nth degree all on their own; it'd be like trying to write a darker version of The Road.

This also led me to theory two: Cormac McCarthy got his start as an author for the series, mentally preparing an audience that would later eat up his joyless, existential epics.

The third and final book was The Lost Jewels of Nafouti, originally titled The Lost Jewels of Nabooti. What was fine for children in 1982 would have caused a 2005 audience to choke to death on their giggles, which also might be what happens on page 123. Instead, I played it as safe as I could.

For this, I was rewarded with the most boring ending imaginable on page 40:

That's the happiest conclusion I've ever reached. I wasn't raped to death by a pterodactyl in a broom closet; my nervous system wasn't ripped still living from my body and forced to suffer the pain of death ten thousand times a second in the Agony Cradle; I simply had to do some paperwork and go home.

Theory three: At 15 – 40 endings per book, and over a hundred books published in a ten year span, they ran out of ideas. As a result, some adult nightmares – like dealing with bureaucracy – worked their way in. I wouldn't be surprised to find out one of the endings was your wife leaving you because you she doesn't think you have a grown up job.

Overall, I came away from the experience shocked that the old patterns hold, the ritual is the same - nearly twenty years of life experience on, I'm still eating cutlass.

Cutlass: It's not just for breakfast anymore!

If anything, I've gotten worse. I don't remember “universal extinction” being on the menu before. Regardless, Choose Your Own Adventure books were an indelible part of my childhood, like Lunchables, Batman, and my complete failure to learn how to swim. They're not a happy part, but they taught me about life.

Namely, that what's right in one circumstance might not be right in another; that sometimes life shits on you, and there's no reason why; and that though failure is always, always an option, there's nothing stopping you from throwing the stupid book across the room because you hate it forever.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Batman: 07 P.O.V.

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. The story is by Mitch Brian; the teleplay is by Sean Catherine Derek and Laren Bright; and the episode was directed by Kevin Altieri.

As fits the episode title, the background could be a human brain, puzzle pieces, or swirling smoke. The score is funereal, but builds on a vaguely hopeful note.

A police car races like the devil chases it under a harvest moon. Gotham. Any night. Every night.

Renee Montoya is behind the wheel, and the rook she's partnered with grips the dashboard as she takes another fishtail turn. Amazingly, he's worried about being late, not dying in a crash. They're on their way to meet Bullock at a sting.

To read the rest, go to this page.