Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey parody ebook: Filthy Shames of Lame



I actually greatly admire the author E L James, whose Fifty Shades of Grey has become a runaway bestseller. It was apparently originally conceived and posted online as Twilight fan fiction, but got such  following that she pulled it, rewrote it, and started selling it through a small web publisher. She's sold the rights to a major movie studio, so, yeah, she's doing all right.

She skipped the gatekeepers. Good for her! We need more of this.

The book itself, however, is. Um. Well. Let's just say that it's ripe for parody, and leave it at that. And I took it upon myself to create an ebook parody, wittily entitled Filthy Shames of Lame. It is now available at amazon.com for the kindle, and at Barnes & Noble, for the Nook(i.e.). Why not give it a chance?

Here is a brief excerpt:




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I’m indebted to my husband for encouraging my writing career, despite my lack of obvious talent. Thanks especially for first telling me that I should write a novel, a very long one, perhaps even a trilogy, despite the fact that this kept me away from you for extended periods. Thanks for putting up with extended absences; I’m sure it was difficult for you, having to spend all that time with your mates, watching football and drinking pints, without my sobering and corrective influence. I know that I was thinking of you the entire time I was writing this.
To my boss, thanks for letting me have all that time off to write this novel. I know it must have been difficult for the company to do without my valuable insights, and I’m grateful for you telling me “Take as much time as you need. Seriously. Don’t come back.” That meant the world to me (by the way – I notice the office has moved. could someone tell me where? I’d like to start back up again).
To Chastening Lame himself, thank you for the insights into your world. You are a fictional character that I created, but you taught me so much I never knew before, especially about sexiness.
To the Stinkers, thanks so much for the advice on plot, and building a believable narrative. Without your invaluable insight, this story would be completely silly and unbelievable.
And to the readers. Thank you so much for having the good taste to read and promote this book. You are so hot.


CHAPTER ONE

I stand before the mirror, eyeing myself in the mirror. My hair is unruly, and I attempt to bring ruliness to it by combing it with my comb. Carefully I brush my unruly hair with my comb. Damn my unruly hair, I think, as I comb it with my brush.
And damn my roommate, Mate, for being so sick. It’s her fault that I have to attempt to tame my unruly hair, which is behaving uncooperatively. We’re both students at the University of Washington State University, in Vancouver. Mate is on the newspaper staff, and today is the day of her big interview with a mysterious man I don’t know, even though he’s very wealthy and powerful. However, because she has a slight cough and a temperature of over 99 degrees, she can’t make the interview, and she’s conscripted me and my unruly hair to take her place.
“Won’t you at least tell me the man’s name?” I beg her, with a note of begging in my voice.
“There’s no time for that,” she whispers hoarsely. “Besides, I’m too sick. Just ask him all the questions on that slip of paper that I gave you, and record it all with my digital recording device.”
“What’s a digital recording device?” I ask.
“You’ll be fine,” she says. “By the way, would you bring me some NyQuil?”
“You mean, the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, so you can rest medicine?”
“Yes,” she says, sniffling. “NyQuil is just what I need to help me get through this very sick day.”
“I bet, if you take some NyQuil, you won’t be sick much longer,” I say.
“It’s too bad I didn’t think to take some earlier.”
I watch her take some NyQuil. Already, she looks better.
“I just wish I knew something about this man you want me to interview,” I say, wistfully, as I open the door.  “Like, for instance, his name, where he works, what city he’s in…”
“Just go!” she moans. “Do you want to be late?”
“I guess not,” I say, feeling a small tremor of panic, mingled with alarm.
I can’t believe Mate talked me into this, but Mate can talk anyone into doing anything, such as that time she talked me into having lesbian sexual relations with her. She was very persuasive. Unbidden, the memory of her persuasive powers returns to me. I remember, she said, “Let’s have lesbian sexual relations together,” and I just couldn’t resist.
And now, here I am, today, driving to interview a man that I’ve never heard of, know nothing about, and can’t find. All because Mate asked me to! I am so not easily manipulable!

I’M THANKFUL TO MATE for letting me use her Mercedes CLK. It’s a sporty automobile that gets excellent gas mileage and handles like a dream.  And its sleek and sexy lines make it one of the most attractive automobiles on the road. Yes, in a Merc you always look hot, even if you don’t know where you’re going or whom you’re going to.
I drive north on Interstate 5, toward Seattle, letting the Merc be my guide. This car isn’t just smart looking, it’s smart, period, and soon I find myself pulling into the huge, immaculate parking structure of a huge, immaculate office building that is all glass and steel and other things that architects use to create their magnificent structures, and I see the words LAME HOUSE written with decorous discretion over the front doors. I assume that this is the place I’m meant to go, and I’m grateful to be arriving on time, even though I didn’t know what time the appointment was supposed to be – something else Mate never had a chance to tell me about.
Behind the polished limestone desk there is a very attractive blonde young woman, wearing a very sharp charcoal suit jacket and white shirt, with ash grey buttons and frills.
“I’m Artlesstasia Chille here to see someone who was expecting to be interviewed today.”
Standing before this immaculately dressed and attractive young blonde woman, I’m starting to regret coming here in my University of Washington State University pullover sweatshirt (with the picture of our mascot, the Fighting Husky Cougar), and my pajama bottoms and flip-flops. Why didn’t I borrow Mate’s much more formal crocs shoes? Why couldn’t I have been born with blonde hair? I carefully tuck one of my unruly hairs back under my do rag and pretend not to be intimidated.
After a moment, the attractive young blonde woman tells me that Mr. Lame, on the twentieth floor, was expecting to be interviewed today. She hands me a security pass that reads “UNKEMPT VISITOR,” and I can’t help but note the superfluity of the gesture. Anyone could see that I was a visitor to this place, given my disheveled, slovenly appearance. I don’t fit in here at all.
I take this as a signal to go into a meditative reverie, during which I can think about my own general feeling of being out-of-place, no matter where I am in the world. I am an outsider. I often feel I don’t belong. Like I’m on the outside looking in. I’m sure there are a number of women out there, many of them book buyers, who can sympathize with my plight.
I bet, even I met an attractive, mysterious man, I would probably be so awkward that I wouldn’t know what to do to make a good impression on him. I’d probably embarrass myself right out of the gate.
I walk onto the elevator and press the button for the twentieth floor. The button itself is firm, and when I press the button, it lights up, indicating that is the floor that I’ve selected, and the floor to which I’m being conveyed. The elevator, I note, is a sterile environment, but it is still immaculate, much more immaculate than I. Even in this elegant, beautiful elevator, I feel as if I am out of place.
When I arrive on the twentieth floor, I exit the elevator, and the doors swish shut behind me. I find that I’ve arrived in yet another lobby, this one just as much glass and steel as the other one, and also as immaculate. I probably don’t need to tell you how out of place I feel. There is another limestone desk, and behind it sits another blonde attractive woman, dressed immaculately in a very sharp charcoal suit jacket and white shirt, with ash grey buttons and frills.
“Miss Chille, please wait here,” the blonde woman says. She might be the same woman I saw in the lobby, although I don’t think that’s possible, unless I’m in the same lobby, which is possible, since I was so busy thinking about how out of place I felt that I wasn’t paying any attention to the movement of the elevator.
I take my seat in the waiting area, which I could describe in detail, as a way to build suspense before I meet the mysterious Mr. Lame. The chairs are leather, and arranged around a large wooden table. Outside, through the large windows, I see a view of Seattle that includes Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, the Space Needle, the Farmer’s Market, a Top Pot Doughnut shop, a Starbucks, the monorail, and all of the other famous Seattle landmarks that a writer from England could find on google maps.
Finally, it occurs to me to take a look at the questions that Mate has provided me. For all I know, the man I’m about to interview could be a wizened, disgusting, lecherous old man of 90, with a disgusting hump on his back, and an oozing pustulous sore just over his left nostril. Or, he could be attractive. The uncertainty about the situation makes me nervous.
I’ve always been uncomfortable doing things like asking people questions, and doing research. What I really prefer is the escapism that I’m provided by stodgy old British novels, such as the Dowager Lady Empyrean’s 38-volume Women Writing Interminable Letters to One Another series.  Many is the night I’ve spent curled up in the UWSU’s special collections library (the books went out of print as soon as they were published, and were never reprinted, and only one copy of each volume exists so they can’t be checked out), with a glass of tea in one hand, and the book in the other, and thought about how wonderful it was that I was there, in the library’s special collections room, and not in some huge glass and steel building in Seattle, waiting to interview a man who could either be a vile, disgusting old man with pus coming out of a sore on his nose, or an attractive and brooding man who would entice me to do things I never dreamed I would.
I roll my eyes, to indicate to myself that I’m just about fed up with all woolgathering. I also think to myself, Whatever, so that I further get the message. I decide to use some of my observational skills, to deduce what kind of man Mr. Lame is. Since the building that bears his name is sleek and looks like it was built about 40 years ago, I decide that he must be sleek, and about 40 years old. Since it’s made of steel and glass, I decide that he probably is, too. Also, since all the employees I’ve encountered up to this point have been attractive, young, blonde women, I decide that he is probably an attractive, young, blonde woman.
Just then, as if on cue, another attractive blonde woman walks up to me. “Miss Chille?” she asks me.
“Yes?” I bleat, berating myself for sounding unconfident. I should have said, “Yes,” without the question mark, instead.
“Mr. Lame will see you in a moment. Have you been offered anything to drink?”
“Uh,” I say. “No.”
The attractive young blonde woman standing before me turns and glares at the attractive young blonde woman at the sandstone desk. “You slut!” she calls out. The attractive young blonde woman at the sandstone desk begins to cry.
“Would you like coffee, tea, or water? Perhaps you’d like wine, or a gin fizz? Would you like a white Russian? Would you like Pepsi, with vanilla flavor shots?”
“Water is fine,” I murmur.
She turns back to the attractive blonde woman behind the sandstone desk. “Hey, slut, go fetch some water for the murmurer!” she says, stridently. Slut scampers away.
“I apologize. She’s new, and she doesn’t yet know how we do things here. She will be punished for her transgression.”
There is a lascivious look in her eye.
She turns and walks away, just as an attractive, immaculate African American man with blonde dreads exits Mr. Lame’s office. He turns and sees me smiles, his dark eyes looking darkly.
“Mr. Lame will see you now, Miss Chille,” one of the attractive young blonde women says. Nervously, I shakily stand, shaking nervously, trying to not be so nervous. Gathering my courage and suppressing my nerves, I stand nervously, and head toward the door, tripping nervously as I step into the office, stumbling over my flip-flops and falling headfirst on the floor.
Oh, gosh darn it, I think! I’m so clumsy! I feel firm but gentle hands grope me, as I’m lifted off my knees. It takes all my resolve and nerve to finally force myself to glance up. Holy moly! Wow! Gosh! Golly! Howboutthat! He’s young!
“I’m Chastening Lame,” he says in an attractive voice, extending an attractive hand in my direction. “Can I get you anything? Pepsi, with vanilla flavor shots, perhaps?”
I just stand there, staring at him. He’s young, and he’s attractive. He’s more than just attractive. He’s very, very attractive. In fact, he’s more than just very, very attractive. He’s very, very, very, very, very attractive, infinity. He’s tall, and dressed in a very, very attractive suit. His hair is attractive and youthful, in a playfully unruly sort of way. His eyes are attractive. Also intense, and shrewd. His shoes are attractive. His smile is attractive.
For a moment, I’m dumbfounded, then I’m all like, “Uh…” Then I reach out and take his attractive hand, and I’m hit with a burst of attraction, a shiver of exhilaration that makes my perineum tickle with anticipation. In embarrassment, I withdraw my hand, and kegel.
“I hope you don’t mind, Mr. Lame, but the girl who was to interview you is deathly ill, so she sent me to take her place.”
“And what is your name?” he asks, attractively. He looks impassive but polite, in addition to being attractive. He seems to be a complicated man, perhaps the most complicated man I’ve ever met.
“My name’s Artlesstasia Chille. I’m studying boring old British novels at UWSU, Vancouver.”
“That’s lovely,” he says. He might be smiling playfully, or beatifically, I’m not sure. He’s like an elegant mystery. “Won’t you please have a seat,” he says, and I’m not entirely sure what he means. Does he want me to sit down, or does he have something else in mind?
He gestures attractively toward a seat.
The office is large enough to accommodate more than just one man. In front of the windows that are typical for a modern office but for some reason impresses the hell out of me, there is a large table on which six people could comfortably have sexual relations. By the couch, on which four people could comfortably have sexual relations, there is a coffee table on which five people could comfortably have sexual relations. On the wall there is a mosaic of thirty-six small paintings on which one person could comfortably have sexual relations.
“I can tell you like my office,” Mr. Lame says.
“Yes, it’s beautiful,” I say. “Business in the front, party in the back.”
He regards me now with a cocked eyebrow and a gentle, knowing smile. “You’re so right,” he says. “That is a quite intelligent observation.”
For some reason, this compliment from an attractive man causes me to blush, and I find myself blushing inexplicably. As he sits down, I wonder what it must be like to be the plush seat on which he’s now sitting. What a lucky chair that is. I bet his attractive buttocks would feel so good against the skin of my cushions, as he sank into me, supported only by my four legs…
I pull my thoughts away from that attractive direction, and take Mate’s questions from my backpack. Then, I set up the digital recorder, dropping it several times, and requesting that Mr. Lame bend over and pick it up off the floor, so that I can admire the attractive buttocks, and imagine what it must be like to have him sitting on me.
“Do you mind if you sit on me?” I ask him, stutteringly.
“Excuse me?” he asks. I can’t tell if he’s teasing me or not.
“I mean, Do you mind if I record your answers on this digital recorder?”
“Of course I don’t mind. I enjoy being recorded. Especially in… intimate situations…” he says. I can’t tell if he’s teasing me or not.
“Did you know what this interview was for?”
“She mentioned that it was for your newspaper’s special Hottest Men of Seattle issue.”
I gasp, taken aback. It’s surprising to me. “Oh. Okay. Good.” I take out Mate’s questions, unfold the paper, and for the first time I read the first question, in a very professional manner.
“You’re a very attractive man. To what do you attribute your success?”
He nods, and strokes his chin. “That is a tough question,” he says. “I didn’t realize this interview was going to be so hard-hitting. I think that what it boils down to is, I’m a people person. Also, I’m very attractive, and youthful.”
I decide that he’s arrogant, and I decide I don’t like that, so I say, “You sound very arrogant and controlling.”
He looks at me with his attractive eyes and says, “Yes. Yes I am controlling. I am very controlling.”
I feel my heart race as he speaks. I wonder why it is that he is having this effect on me? Why would an attractive, youthful, powerful, confident man who dresses attractively, has a vast personal wealth, owns a 20 story building in an area of Seattle with a view of a Starbucks and a strong personality make me feel so desirous? It just doesn’t make any sense.
“Do you like to, um, control things?” I say, swallowing.
“I am a wealthy and powerful man. I run a company that employs tens of thousands of people. If one day I decided not to be so wealthy and powerful, all the people that I employ would have to go work for some other wealthy and powerful man.”
Now I feel like I should be all disgusted, so I go, “Don’t you have stockholders to answer to?”
“I own this company,” he says. “Didn’t you do any research?”
I swallow hard again. “Sure. I did plenty of research. What is your full name again?” I ask, because I forgot it already.
“Chastening Lame,” he says.
“And, what do you do for fun, Mr. Lame?”
He leans forward, and looks at me with intense, attractive eyes. “I have many different interests. In fact, you might say that my interests are… sexy.” I’m not sure what he means, but in his eyes I can see the reflection of what seems to be sexual sexiness.
I return to Mate’s questions. “According to this piece of paper I’ve got here, you like to travel. Why is that?”
“Traveling is a great way to meet people, and try new things. That is also my philosophy of sex.”
I swallow hard again. “It sounds to me like you enjoy carnal pleasures. The tactile experience of travel is, in a way, a sort of reflection of the tactile nature of sexual relations between two people”
He nods at me, and examines me appraisingly. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. I am a very complicated man. I don’t usually give interviews.”
“Why did you agree to do this one?”
“Because that reporter was tenacious. I refused and refused to grant an interview, but she wouldn’t give up. I could tell that nothing was going to stop her from interviewing me. Nothing would prevent her getting here and conducting the exclusive interview she’d worked so hard for, unless she got a mild case of the sniffles and sent a completely unprepared friend in her place.”
“It also says here that you invest a lot of money in other things as well. Tell me, why do you invest in other things?”
He shrugs. “It’s all part of business,” he says.
That confuses me, and I can’t tell if he’s serious or not. A businessman investing in things? Whatever. “Can you tell me about your philosophy of life?”
“I don’t know if I have a philosophy of life, as such, but I do enjoy having sex, and controlling myself and others.”
It sounds to me like he’s a control freak. I decide to ask him a question that’s totally out of left field. “So, you like to possess things?”
He shrugs. “I’m an attractive man,” he says. “I enjoy the benefits of controlling, and possessing someone so that they will submit to your every want and desire. To have them give you everything you want, and to give them the same pleasure that they want, or that, perhaps, they didn’t realize that they wanted. That is what it means to be an attractive and powerful businessman like me.”
I get the feeling we’re talking about something else now, but I’m not sure what that is.
“Are you a gay?” I ask him.
He gasps, and I inhale. Then I cringe, and I shudder. Then he shudders, and shakes his head. Then I shake my head, and gag. He gags, and rubs his forehead. Then I rub my forehead, gasp. Then he gasps, and I inhale. Oh darn, I think. Why didn’t Mate tell me she was going to ask him if he was gay?
“Sorry,” I say, mortified. “I read that wrong. I meant to ask, Are you gay?’”
“I’m as straight as they come,” he says, finally, winking at me. “Emphasis on the word ‘they.’ As in many partners.”
“I’m sorry,” I say. “Not that you’re not gay, I’m not sorry about that, but, that I asked the question. It was written on this here piece of paper…” I feel flushed, and my heart is racing.
“Wait a minute,” he says, snapping his fingers. “I just noticed something – your awkward appearance, your total lack of knowledge about me, your reading questions from a little piece of paper… You don’t know anything about me, do you?”
I blush. “I know that… you’re an attractive man…” I say.
“Anyone who looks at me knows that! Are you on the newspaper staff?”
“Um, no…”
At that moment, one of the blonde attractive women enters the office. “Mr. Lame, I just wanted to remind you that your meeting with the most important man in the world is in two minutes.”
“Cancel that meeting!” he says. “Clear my schedule for the rest of the day. I’ve got to learn more about this intriguing young woman sitting before me!”
The blonde attractive woman looks like she’s just been kicked in the balls. “Ooookay,” she says, leaving.
“Tell me something, Artlesstasia. Do you have any plans for after your graduation?”
I fumble with the recorder, putting it back in my bag. “Well, I was planning on going on unemployment, like everyone else I know…”
“We have an intern program here,” he says, leaning forward, fondling me with his eyes.
“But, I don’t think I’m attractive enough to work here,” I protest.
“I certainly think that you are,” he says. “In fact, I think you’re attractive enough to have sexual relations with.”
“I have to get back,” I say.
“It’s just that, for some reason I can’t explain, I’m suddenly very interested in you, now that I know you’re not on the school newspaper.”
I stand. “Well, thanks for your time.”
“You’re leaving so soon?” he asks, also rising. “But I just cleared my schedule! Why don’t we go to one of these Seattle landmarks that I found on Wikipedia? We could go to Greenlake!”
“No, that’s okay.”
“At least stay until Delilah’s radio show starts! I’ll call in a dedication to you!”
“No, really, I should go…”
He walks with me to the elevator, and helps me on with my coat. When he touches my shoulder, I feel a tingle in my perineum. If he notices, he doesn’t mention it. Oh my gosh what is happening to me?
“Thanks for the interview,” I say.
“Oh, believe me, you’re very welcome,” he says, his voice dripping. “I look forward to seeing you again.”
We shake hands, and I wonder what he could mean by that. Why should we meet again? The interview is over, and I don’t know why he would want to see a virginal, innocent, naïve, unworldly, quirkily disheveled, slightly awkward, intelligent, young, firm MarySue like me ever again.

CHAPTER TWO

When the elevator hits the lobby, I race out of the building. Because this is Seattle, it’s raining, because it always rains in Seattle, that’s something that everyone knows about this city, and the rain feels purifying after the strange interview I’ve just had with Chastening Lame.
Never before have I been affected by a man in the way I was affected by him. What could it be about him that I responded to? His attractiveness? His power? His wealth? A combination of his attractiveness, his power, and his wealth? It’s a complete mystery to me. Why did I do it? React that way, I mean. What was that, anyway? I was all like, wha--? You know?

AS I DRIVE THE LUXURIOUS MERCEDES CLK away from Seattle, it occurs to me that I’m conflicted about Chastening Lame. On the one hand, he’s charming and attractive. On the other hand, he’s very assertive and not afraid to go after what he wants. Also, did you see the way he sat down in that chair? – homina, homina! The more I turn him over in my mind, the more my perineum starts to sweat.
How does a man like that work, anyway? He seemed so inscrutable, so cryptic, so mysterious. Plus, I pretty much totally embarrassed myself when I asked him if he was gay. And, plus, I didn’t even know who he was. Ugh. Mate Kavanaugh, my friend and roommate, is a real stinker!
There was something about his demeanor that causes me to think he’s like a man twice the age he appears. That makes me feel all the more ambivalent, probably because of my “daddy issues.” You must know about them – every young woman has them. It’s a metaphorical thing, but basically, a young woman is looking for a hot younger man who is also older than she is. Someone who can make romantic sexual relations with us harder and better than we’ve ever had it before, but also take care of us.
Oh, I just don’t know what to think, I think, then I decide to never think about Chastening Lame and his wonderful attractiveness ever again. Immediately I feel better, so I turn on a hip indie rock station, the Seattle indie rock station that you might expect a young female college student like me to listen to, and then I tear off down Interstate 5, which is a very prominent highway in Washington state.

WITH HIP INDIE ROCK TUNES ringing in my ears, I pull up to the duplex apartment that I share with Mate, my roommate mentioned in the previous chapter. I’m sure that she’ll want to hear all the details on my experience with what’s-his-name, the guy that only a few moments ago I vowed never to think of again. Thankfully, I still have that digital recorder that I used to record all of our amazing conversation, so she’ll be able to hear his deep, attractive voice for herself, and imagine just how attractive he looked sitting in that lucky chair.
She bounds to the door, eagerly greeting me, in her little pink short-shorts and her tank top. “What took you so long?” she asks. “In the time since you left I met a man, went out with him to a bar, got a little loaded, slept with him, broke up, and ate a pint of chocolate ice cream!”
Oh boy, here it comes. The great journalist’s inquisition. “The interview ran a little long,” I say.
“What was he like? The guy that I sent you out to interview?”
What can I say? That he was so attractive that he made my perineum sweat? “He was intense and arrogant. I’m glad I don’t have to see Chastening Lame ever again.”
“Chastening Lame? Why would you see Chastening Lame? I sent you out to interview Seattle celebrity and travel book writer Rick Steves!”
What?” I say. What else can I say?
“Rick Steves is a warm and approachable man! You would have loved him!”
“But,” I say. What else can I say?
“That’s why the second page of my question sheet had all those questions about traveling in Europe!”
“Oh,” I say. What else can I say? “Well, I didn’t get to the second page of the question sheet. Anyway, you’ve got an interview with Chastening Lame.”
“Wow,” she says, dreamily. “Chastening Lame. What’s he like?”
“I just told you,” I say. “He was so attractive that he made my perineum sweat.”
“That’s not what you said,” Mate says, teasingly. “You said he was arrogant or something.”
“Oh, yeah,” I say. “That is what I said. I only thought that he made my perineum sweat.”
“Anyway, I’m sorry I forgot to tell you who you were interviewing, but I guess I can still use what’s on this digital recorder. Did you happen to ask him if Rick Steves is gay?”
I roll my eyes. “I didn’t ask him if Rick Steves is gay. But I did find out that he’s not gay.”
“What good does that do me?” Mate says, as she putters off to transcribe the contents of the digital recorder.

Rick Steves likes Filthy Shames of Lame! Well, okay, he would like Filthy Shames of Lame, if he actually read it, probably. No celebrity endorsement implied. Find the book here for amazon kindle, and here for the B&N Nook.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Alan Moore is right about "Before Watchmen" -- New When Falls the Coliseum post

Over at When Falls the Coliseum, I have posted a long essay about the new "Before Watchmen" miniseries that DC is publishing this summer. Here is a sample:

I. Look on the Watchmen, Ye Mighty

Back in February 2012, DC Comics officially announced that they would begin publishing seven miniseries based on characters and situations from what many people consider to be the greatest superhero graphic novel of all time, Watchmen. The series, which will begin shipping in June, are known collectively as "Before Watchmen," which right there gives you a hint about the main problem with these books, and the mainstream comic book industry in general.

The writer of Watchmen, Alan Moore, is the most important and influential author of graphic fiction since Stan Lee. Watchmen is the most influential graphic novel of all time. Since its publication, it has been the benchmark by which all other works are measured. Most mainstream comics creators have been re-writing it for 25 years. It's a masterpiece, at least in the Renaissance sense of that term. The three primary creators, Mr. Moore, illustrator Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins, all employed every tool at their disposal in its composition. It was a unique experiment in storytelling and printing techniques, an elegantly constructed and dense meditation on the idea of supeheroism, and a deconstruction of the serial comic book form itself.

It is also ruinously flawed, self indulgent, and ultimately nonsensical. To begin with, there is that ending. As Grant Morrison noted in his book Supergods,
Ultimately, in order for Watchmen's plot to ring true, we were required to entertain the belief that the world's smartest man would do the world's stupidest thing after thinking about it all his life.
And Ozymandias's plan is profoundly, monumentally stupid -- to attempt to create a state of peace on earth by simulating a failed invasion by a giant alien Cthulu vagina, murdering millions of New Yorkers in the process.



But it's not just that the plan is stupid, and not just that it wouldn't work -- and even at the time the issues were published, there was no reason to believe that it would. It's also that the plan is vicious authoritarianism designed specifically to protect the existing power structure by sacrificing a few million civilians to save the politicians and bureaucrats who caused all of the problems in the first place. It apparently didn't occur to Ozymandias to, for example, simply assassinate the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States. By extension, this idea didn't cross Mr. Moore's mind, either -- if it had, the story would have been a lot shorter. By killing Rorshach, the dispassionate and logical Dr. Manhattan gives his approval of the plan. The audience is meant to come to the same conclusion: That a few million innocents had to be slaughtered to "save the world."

To use the language of the current "Occupy" movement, this is the type of hypothetical question that one One-percenter might ask another One-percenter: "How many of the ninety-nine percent would you be willing to kill to maintain the current power structure?" Kill too many, and there might not be enough left over to continue using for your nefarious purpose. Kill too few, and you haven't made your point. There's a balance, you see.

By abandoning the story where he does, Mr. Moore absolves himself of the responsibility to examine the ramifications of Ozymandias's stupid, immoral plan. In 1987, when that final issue appeared, the ending felt ludicrous. One needed only to look at the war on drugs -- a war declared by Richard Nixon, the president in Watchmen -- to see that life for those who survived would be made all the more miserable. Now, 25 years on, the ending rings all the more false. We have real-world evidence that Ozymandias's plan would have done nothing more than cement power for those who already had it. If you don't believe me, then wave to the drones while you read the PATRIOT Act, and the NDAA, or try getting on an airplane without being "patted down."

You can read the whole essay here, if you like.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A look at some upcoming redneck themed TV shows

Over at Fickle Pants, I have a new post in which I examine some of the upcoming redneck-themed TV shows. Here is a small sample:

NEXT SEASON'S REDNECK THEMED TV SHOWS!

Finally, after being ignored for too long, American rednecks are getting their pop culture due. Thanks to programs like "Hillbilly Hand Fishin'," "Lizard Lick Towing," "Bayou Billionaires," "My Big Redneck Vacation" (those two had record ratings!) "Sons of Guns," "Sons of Anarchy," and "Justified," TV audiences can get a taste of how "the rest of the country" lives. These programs are all so popular  -- every single one of them gets more viewers than "30 Rock" and "The Office" combined! -- that programmers have been left scrambling for ways to cash on in this trend. So this here's a look at some of next season's REDNECK THEMED TELEVISION SHOWS!

Duct Tapin' with Destiney (DIY Network)
Destiney Taylor is a former stripper turned contractor. Each week she'll visit a new home or trailer in desperate need of repair, and show the owners how a change in attitude and a lot of duct tape can work all kinds of wonders. When her repairs don't measure up, she'll sleep with the homeowners. Or ply them with beer. Depends on how they look.

Virgin Strippers (OWN)
This exciting reality show follows the careers of Lexus, Kandy, Misty Rain, Misty Dawn, Misty Sunshine, Misty Lynn, Porsha, and Sapphire -- eight strippers with a lot in common. They've all got large boobs. They've all got hot moves that drive men wild. And, they've never had missionary-style sex! Yes, these eight women will negotiate the difficult stripping profession, all the while looking for that one special client with whom they can do it in the "normal way that most of the rest of them does it"!

The Littlest Rednecks (TLC)
Meet Roscoe and Chardonnay Johnson, a pair of little people who love to go huntin', fishin', muddin'! This reality show will take you deep into their lives, so's you can learn for yourself just what it's like to be a little person, who happens to be a redneck. And what is it like? Well, for one thing, they don't let their short statures hold them back! Check it out as they equip their F-150 with pedal extenders, so they can get out there in the woods and drive up the sides of muddy hills! Watch them try to avoid fallin' into the lake when they go fishin'! The first episode features a crossover with Discovery's "Sons of Guns," as the team from Red Jacket Firearms custom builds Roscoe and Chardonnay a couple of little tiny rifles they use to shoot squirrels and other varmints. Compelling!

More can be found here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Doughnut Wrapped Bacon Wrapped Brats

Over at the lovely Fickle Pants website, I have a new piece about the doughnut wrapped bacon wrapped brats I cooked yesterday. Spoiler alert: They were delicious!

Here is a small "taste":
Here at the Fickle Pants Test Kitchen, we are constantly striving for new frontiers in cookery. Unfortunately, we lack traditional culinary skill; but we more than make up for that with a surfeit of enthusiasm and irrationality. We believe in a holistic approach to cooking. We're not entirely sure of what that means, but one night last week I had a dream in which I was waiting in line at an Ikea snack bar, where I hoped to purchase a doughnut wrapped bacon wrapped brat. When the clerk told me that it cost $10, I became indignant and walked out of the store, without even purchasing the Whätchømacällit cabinet I'd come for. I decided then and there that my dream was trying to tell me something.

I must make a doughnut wrapped bacon wrapped brat. That' s just what I did, and now that Ikea snack bar clerk from my dream can go stuff it. Anyway, here is my recipe, so that you can show those Ikea jerks from my dream, too.

First, you have to make the doughnut dough. Not having ever made doughnuts before, I had no idea what I was in for. It's an all-day process! You have to mix all the ingredients, then wait for the dough to rise. Then you have to lay out the dough on a flat surface, and let it rise again. I don't know about you, but standing around and waiting for dough to rise isn't my idea of a good time cooking, so I just left the dough alone and did other things. I watched a little TV, went for a run, ran a few errands. But you can do whatever you want. That's not part of the recipe.


You can read the whole thing here, if you're at all interested in creating something delicious.