Catwoman

Julie Newmar is still my favorite Catwoman.

True story for the evening:  When I was in college I had the opportunity to see Adam West speak at my college and watch the original Batman movie – the one from the 1966. During the Q&A after the movie – which West had to tone down due to the preponderance of kids in the audience – one of the kids asked Adam West who his favorite villain was.

His answer?

“Catwoman.  She gave me strange sensations under my utility belt.”

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Heaven’s Ass Kickers

Way back in college, sometime in the 90s (yes, I am that old) I saw a mediocre movie about angels.  No, it wasn’t Highway to Heaven, which was a God-awful piece of dreary pulp about angels helping people.  It was The Prophecy and it starred Eric Stoltz and Christopher Walken as angels out to respectively save the soul of a general and steal the same soul.

Or something.

Honestly, the plot was kind of convoluted.

Anyway, the angels in the movie were the classic warriors of Heaven angels and were generally pretty good at kicking ass and taking names for Heaven.  If you’re ever bored, the movie’s a good way to pass a couple of hours.

A number of years later comes a much better interpretation of the fearsome defenders of righteousness in the form of a book by a buddy of mine.  The buddy is Rob McCandless and the book is “Tears of Heaven.”

So, full disclosure here: I know Rob from way, way back.  We were roomies in college (he got the best room and I still haven’t forgiven him for that), competed on the speech and debate team together and so on.  That said, I’m not plugging his book because I’ve known and respected him for, like, ever, but because he’s written something off-the-wall unique.  He’s managed to take the outlandish and bring it back to Earth and make it real.

If you want to read something clever and unique, give it a shot.  You can find it easily on Amazon, and it’s also on Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and probably some other places.

Buy Link

Rob’s Blog Rob’s Website

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“In the past, the children of angels and humans, the Nephilim, were allowed to lead their lives as they willed. But they proved too strong, too ambitious, and too cunning for their own good. They became warlords, conquerors and emperors. They caused war and strife until the Throne stepped in and forced them to submit to Its will, or die.

Unlike most of her fellows, Del, one of the first Nephilim, had no interest in conquest and domination. In the ancient past, prior to the Throne’s interdiction, she met and fell in love with Dami, a Mediterranean ship captain and trader. Together, they face down pirates and storms and try to create a future together.

In the present, Del unwillingly works for the Throne, obeying the commands of the angel Ahadiel. She helps to keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons. At the same time, she keeps herself in the Throne’s good graces. Whenever a rogue demon breaks free from Hell, she and her partner, Marrin, another Nephilim, work together to banish it.

Thrilling danger, fast-paced adventure, high-seas action, and heart-warming romance fill this novel, with a page-turning story that won’t let you put it down.”

Zero the Clown

I had the pleasure of knowing Michael Dolce in college when he was first sketching out “Zero the Clown.”  He was a Theatre major, I was a Communication major with a Theatre minor.  I think it was the first time I came across someone who had actually taken the time to sit down and write a play.  A lot of people in Theatre talk about writing the next great play, wringing the words from their minds, delicately placing them on paper, and watching actors and actresses breathe life and emotion into the black spots on the paper being the hip thing to do when you’re a Theatre major.

By the way, Theatre is spelled correctly.  It refers to the whole of stage drama.  Theater is a place you go.  Theatre is a thing you study.  You’re also supposed to sound slightly pompous when you pronounce it.  The pomposity is an affectation and in no way refers to actual Theatre people.

So, anyway, I was doing competitive speaking at the time and heard about Mike’s play and decided to ask if I could try it out at a tournament.  He agrees and the rest, as they say, is largely forgotten history.  The play worked well, my delivery of it was less than spectacular.

For years, I had wondered whatever had happened to Zero the Clown and if it ever went anywhere.  Turns out Michael Dolce (like almost everyone else on the planet) is on Facebook and has published the tragic story of Zero and some other writings and musings into a book.  If you’re interested in reading something truly remarkable; avant-garde and yet down to Earth, check his work out.

Buy Link

Michael’s Blog Michael’s Website

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“Zero the Clown and a Lovely Garden of Flowering Weeds is a lovingly crafted compilation of concept poetry, built around three essential themes; poetry for loved ones, Sonnets to Horus and a one-act play called Zero the Clown. incorporating poetry, the play is a heart-wrenching journey of resurrection from the grave of societal deceits. For fans of thematic works, Zero the Clown and a Lovely Garden of Flowering Weeds is sure to be a pleasure. For lovers of classic as well as free form verse, Zero the Clown and a Lovely Garden of Flowering Weeds will prove equally satisfying. The work shakes its fist at civilization and kisses you on the cheek all at once. It dances to the music of love and friendship, it practices ceremonial magic in the temple of your mind, and it brazenly dares you to unlearn nearly everything you think you know.”

 

Eve

If you haven’t read Henchmen, you won’t know Eve.  She’s one of the main characters and I intentionally left her somewhat mysterious throughout the story.  I had intended to flesh her out more in the sequel and accomplished some of that, but her back story didn’t fit smoothly into the rest of the narrative.  I’m trying to flesh out some of the back stories of the characters, tell some of their tales and breathe a little more life into them through a series of short stories.  The first one is obviously Eve.

Here’s the first part of Eve’s story – bonus points for anyone who can figure out which character will ultimately evolve into Eve:

 

The battle rages in the way that only Viking battles can rage.

The Romans codified warfare, and they were brutally efficient at it, partially because they loved it so much.  The Vandals and other associated groups that tore down the Roman Empire bit by bit, learned some of the art of warfare from the Romans, and added their own ferocity to it.

The English, and the other European empires that rose up slowly after the Romans collapsed into a vile heap of complacency and corruption, took what the Romans had done and expanded on it.

But the Vikings were special when it came to fighting.  It wasn’t just that they were good at it, wasn’t just that they enjoyed it; to the Vikings it was religious and the only way to get to Valhalla was to die in battle.  If you died in battle and made it to Valhalla, you got a shot at the fight that would come at the end of the world.  It would be a chance to fight side by side with Thor and Odin, taking the battle to the hated Jörmungandr and ensuring an eternity of peace.

Valhalla was the place to go in Viking mythology.  It was constant drinking and eating and fighting and fucking.  A heaven for a group of people who would find the idea of floating on a cloud and playing a harp to be a form of Hell: The Hell of Boring Eternity.

So, the Vikings fought and fought well.  In fact, they were the scourge of most of Europe during their day.  The only real reason the Vikings didn’t conquer their part of the world was they couldn’t get along long enough to actually take over.

Most people don’t realize it, but the Vikings had a martial arts system.  Actually, they probably had many of them.  Most of their systems focused on the use of weapons because, as Odin had decreed, a Viking should always have a weapon handy.  There was an unarmed form of combat, too, called Glima – which means “In a Flash” – that consisted of a lot of throwing opponents around.

So now, the battle rages.  Large men, and some fairly tough women, hurl spears, smash each other with hammers, slash and cut with swords.  Those who have lost their weapons are busy chucking each other around with a manic frenzy.  The blood is thick on the ground, mingling with the frozen turf and making the ground treacherous.

Trip over a body here – and there are many dead or dying dotting the landscape – and someone will slide a blade into you.

On a hill, not far from the battle, three women calmly watch the slaughter.  Here, in this time, they’re known as valkyrja.  They’re the choosers of the slain.  They show up frequently at battles, seeking great warriors to come to Valhalla and, eventually, fight in the final battle of the world.

They’re all blonde and all wearing varying themes on leather armor.  The tallest, Ráðgríðr, wears leathers dyed all black.  Her hair is a mane of golden blonde hair that hangs down to the middle of her back and her icy blue eyes sparkle like a still mountain lake.  She’s nominally the leader, even though there’s no real sense of hierarchy among the women.  Ráðgríðr vacillates between consensus building and ordering the others, but she always gets what she wants.

In the middle, holding a bow, and wearing brown leathers is Kára.  Her hair, like the others, is blonde, but pulled into braided pigtails.  The pigtails, coupled with stormy gray eyes, manage to make her look dangerous rather than cute.  She’s physically the strongest of the group, but is considered somewhat unpredictable by the others.  Some have gone so far as to describe her as a stormy petrel.

The third is the smallest, but that’s a relative term.  Sanngriðr is adorned in deep red leather armor, covered with a fine gray chain mail.  Her hair, like the others, is golden blonde, but she wears it in a short bob that makes her look safe and charming.  Her black eyes and severe face are a stark contrast to her hair.  Sanngriðr’s black eyes have nothing that even approaches sympathy.  Under the best of circumstances, she’s not a pleasant person to be around.  When she gets angry, she can make the gods run and hide.

These are not small women, the largest stands over seven feet tall, the shortest slightly under seven feet tall.  The three of them could probably slaughter everyone on the battlefield without breaking a sweat.

So why, if these three women are capable of winning the fight below on their own, are they here seeking warriors?  It turns out even the strongest need help sometimes and wars are won by sheer numbers, not individuals.

There is a war coming, and these women intend to build an army that will win it.  In the few years they’ve been around they’ve managed to raise an army nearly ten thousand strong, which is nothing compare the army they’ll need to build before the final battle comes.  When the forces of darkness start a war, showing up with a small army is guaranteed to fail.

The battle continues for hours, neither side willing to give an inch or cede to the other.  Whatever kicked this fight off, some perceived slight or another, was too important to back down on.

At the end, as the sun is setting, a single warrior is left standing.  Well, maybe standing is too strong a term.  He’s limping out of the battlefield, one leg badly cut, and using the spear from a fallen foe as an improvised crutch.

“He was impressive,” the first woman says.

“Indeed.  It is a pity he is still alive, he would have been useful at the final accounting,” the second replies.

The man is almost out the field of battle when an arrow silently strikes him down.  Even with a slashed leg and an arrow in his back, piecing his lung, the man doesn’t collapse immediately.  He staggers several steps before falling to his knees and crawling forward.

The first two women look at Kára with something similar to shock in their eyes.

Kára lowers her bow and returns their gaze.  “He would have died anyway,” she says by way of explanation.

“Yes, but he did not die in battle.  We cannot take him,” Ráðgríðr says.

“What you have done is against the orders,” the Sanngriðr adds.

“My orders,” Kára says, “were to find soldiers for the final battle.  I just found one.”

“He did not die in battle, though,” Ráðgríðr says again.  “He cannot fight in the final battle.”

“Kára,” Sanngriðr says to the woman with the bow.  “You know the rules, why would you violate them?”

Kára glares at her sister and lowers the bow.  “I have made my choice, Sanngriðr.  His wounds would have killed him; therefore he technically died in battle.  I just hastened his demise.”

“Kára, he is still alive.  You did not kill him,” Sanngriðr says.

“Patience, sister.  His heart and will are strong but his wounds are grievous.  He will be dead shortly,” Kára tells her.

Together, the three women watch as the man struggles to find his way home.  The arrow sticking out of his back makes him wheeze and every breath feels like breathing fire.  The slash on his leg, already infected, no longer hurts, but he can tell the wound will cost him his leg.  Thormod, the doctor in his village, is all but a miracle worker, but even his skills have limits and he has no doubt the leg will be removed.

The problem is the slash on the man’s leg severed his femoral artery.  He just wants to go home, to see his wife and newborn son, but the blood pumping out of his leg won’t stop.  His vision darkens, his limbs lose all sensation, but still he keeps crawling forward.

When the end finally comes, he sees a vision of his wife holding his son and knows that he lost.  He promised Asta he would come home to her and Einar, but he has failed them.  His final thought is a desire for vengeance.  Revenge against the king that ordered him into this worthless battle, revenge against the bastard that slashed his leg, and revenge against whatever coward shot him in the back.

The man’s name was Gosta, and, through a technicality, has bought himself a place in Valhalla.

Bullies and body image

When I was 13 or 14, I hated PE.  Actually, that’s not true, I hated PE the second I got into Junior High and our teach, Coach Johnson, immediately started in on the “you’re too fat” lines.  The jock kids immediately joined in and much fun was had at my expense.  I remember when I went out for track and had to go into the shed to get something, a discus or some damned thing, and turned around to find one kid who hassled me regularly and all his buddies blocking the door.

More hilarious taunting and the odd punch followed.  Nothing major, mind you, just enough for those idiots to feel tough.

High school PE was essentially the same fun.  Too fat.  Can’t run fast enough.  Blah, blah, blah.  This time, though, I’m pretty sure the coach was having sex with one of the senior girls.  Never called him on it, but I hope his karma caught up to him.

The whole thing did wonders for my self esteem, as you can probably imagine.  To this day, I have a deep distrust of jocks and a general hatred of people who think fat shaming is a viable alternative to not being a dick.  The difference now is I know a thing a two more than I did before and I’ve got a wicked fast right.

The long term effects of bullying have been fairly well documented and they’re sometimes accurate sometimes not.  People are all individuals, and each person reacts to stimuli differently than other people.  For the most part, I’m over all of it.  There’s only one guy I’d gleefully pummel to a pulp given the chance – the guy who cornered me in the shed – and even then only if he attacked me first.

So, yeah, I’m still not exactly what you’d call attractive in the general sense of the term, but I frankly don’t care much anymore.  That’s one of the benefits of getting older.  Oddly enough, I work out far more and far harder now than I ever did when I was young.  Still overweight, but I’m actually in pretty decent shape.  I’ve learned to enjoy the workout and the exercise has certainly made my Kenpo that much better.

I usually go to the gym at 5am.  Before you start thinking I’m totally hardcore, I’m really not.  I go to work pretty early, so I just hit the gym first thing in the morning and get it out of the way.  Plus, at night I’m pretty tired and don’t want to go, so it kind of works out in strange sort of way.

Since I go so early, I don’t eat before I go.  My body at 5am isn’t really fully functional, so I just take a pre-workout drink and call it good.  Eat some oatmeal at work and I’m fine.

The first time I actually ordered an honest-to-God pre-workout drink (from Bodybuilding.com – good site, not as crazy hardcore as you’d think) they sent me a copy of their magazine with the order.  It’s called Train and gracing the cover was a shirtless Joe Manganeillo, pumped eight ways to Sunday and looking scruffy as hell.  If you’re not familiar with Joe, he looks like this:

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Pretty buff dude.

Actually, the whole magazine was filled with guys who looked like that and tips about what supplements you need to take to look like that and what diet you should follow to look like that and what exercises were best.  They also had a section on how to take the best selfie.

I flipped through the magazine and found a few tips and exercises that I’ve implemented – jumping lunges are brutal, by the way.  I also figured out it was possible for me, yes me, to look like mighty Joe up there.  I’d just need to eat perfectly balanced meals every day, workout a few hours a day (six days a week), and take a whack of supplements.

Supplements are big in the body building world.

I don’t have the time to workout three hours a day, my schedule is hectic enough that I can’t guarantee perfectly balanced meals, and I don’t care too much for supplements.  I have taken some of their advice to heart and eat smaller amounts throughout the day, but I don’t feel like my metabolism is IN OVERDRIVE, but I do feel hungry a lot of the time and my gut is shrinking, so that’s something.

What I have gotten out of the experience of reading one issue of Train is this: I may not look like mighty Joe up there, but that’s okay.  He may be something to shoot for, but I’m way beyond obsessing about my appearance and until I win the lottery or something, I doubt I’ll have the time to put into getting his physique.

So rest easy, Joe.  You won’t have mighty Eric Lahti challenging you for your crown any time soon.

Which leads me to the final thought for the day, something my wife pointed out recently.  With the prevalence of totally ripped guys gracing the cover of magazines and starring in movies, men (as a whole) are starting to get a taste of the same body issues I’ve been dealing with all my life and women have been dealing with since the first idiot decided corseting gives a better figure.  We all take ourselves to task over how we look, be it might Joe up there or whatever starlet is considered the hottest thing these days, and it’s doesn’t do us a bit of good.

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The world has some pretty strange ideas of what men and women are supposed to look like.  Fuck ’em, I say.  I’ll try to stay in shape, but that’s just because it’s fun and a great stress reliever.

The other nice thing about getting older is I have to deal with fewer bullies these day.  The few that are out there, I can handle a lot better than I used to be able to.