Poditive Screwcast Ep.03: Birdman or, the Meaning of the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

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I’m Definitely Sexualizing Women (A Short Story)

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(Spencer and Reed are in the same coffee shop, some time later. Spencer, at this point is sporting a beard — that does not look good on him at all and he’s gained a little weight [not much, but a little, i.e. he’s rounder than before]. Reed looks almost the same as he used to, only now his hair is a bit shorter and he’s wearing glasses as he reads a book.)

SPENCER: Do you remember when I asked you about how- or if- I was sexualizing women?

REED: Yes, as I recall, it was when you were still under the impression that you were a reverse racist due to your guilt from America’s history of slavery.

SPENCER: We don’t need to go back there.

REED: I assumed that’s what you wanted to do, seeing as you brought it up.

SPENCER: Not to the racist part, the sexualizing part.

REED: Go on.

SPENCER: Well, I- I guess I’m only realizing this now, but I think I’m worse than I was or, hmm…

(Reed waits as patiently as can be expected while Spencer murmurs some more noises and he witnesses the cogs turning before him.)

REED: You know, I think it’d be healthy for our friendship if you work out your question before you draw me into it. Continue reading

Joker (2008) Book Review

Joker by Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo Book Review By J.K. Tares of a Clown   Way back in the good ol’ days of yore, the clown prince of crime would squirt someone in the face with a cream pie from the flower on his lapel, dance a little jig, steal a couple diamonds, and get arrested by the Batman. Then some kooky psychologist (psychiatrist?) convinced everyone that comic books are evil and are corrupting our youth with desires of dressing in spandex to battle bicycle thieves, so they created the comic book code. And much like Brody in Mallrats, we were left with sanitized heroes & villains, shallow plot lines that kept secret the big mysteries of the comic book world (like since Ben Grimm is made entirely of orange rock, what’s the deal with Thing’s thing?). But now we’ve reemerged in the rock ‘n’ roll era of pop culture where the Kingpin can decapitate someone by repeatedly slamming their head in a car door until the head isn’t there anymore. A “good dose of the old ultraviolence,” as my droog Alex would say. Also the Joker can pop pills, drink & drive, cut fat lines of cocaine, skin a man alive, shove pieces of broken glass into his fingertips as a hidden weapon to slash someone’s wrist, and bang Harley Quinn in a gorilla costume. She’s in the monkey suit, not him. And I might be mixing a couple scenes together, but you get the idea: this is a very adult-oriented comic book. I’d say “mature content,” but it’s all pretty juvenile. And the Riddler dresses like a pimp with belly button sun tattoo.  This beautifully drawn & sadistically written book is told from the perspective of Jonny Jonny Frost, the recently hired henchman/chauffeur of the titular Joker. It’s an attempt to follow close and get inside the psychotic mind of Joker, right after he’s released from Arkham because, apparently, he is cured. Somehow, as Jonny Jonny moves up the ranks of Gotham’s criminals, he reaches the conclusion that Joker isn’t crazy or insane, he’s a disease. He is madness incarnate. Even though the thought bubbles are Jonny’s, this is Joker’s story. Batman doesn’t show up until the end, so this thick single issue hardcover book is chock full of random acts of violence and atrocities against man(and croc)kind. Things get pretty dark for everyone involved, and there are parts that almost go too far. But this isn’t part of the regular Batman universe, this isn’t a story that takes place after Damian Wayne or before Knightfall, this is supposed to be a generic “what happens when Joker is out on the streets.” This could be any or every time Joker is released from Arkham.  Azzarello & Bermejo are the same creative team behind Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, another exploration of the world of heroes from the super villain’s point of view. However, Luthor is able to paint Lex in a somehow-benevolent light. He is a very smart and powerful man concerned for the safety of his entire species as they face the constant threat of a godlike alien invasion. The reader is able to feel his fear & hope for humanity, it almost makes sense to be terrified of Superman. The problem with Joker is there is nothing to redeem. Which makes the story a lot of fun but not as impactful or thought provoking as Luthor’s. Ultimately the wild events and luscious art work make it worth the read, but I can’t help feeling the finished product is slightly… off. What makes the Joker so terrifying is we never understand him or ever even think he has motives for what he does. Thankfully this story doesn’t attempt to make him a relatable character, but then I don’t really know the purpose of the book. Other than telling a really bad ass Joker tale with frickin’ incredible pictures. Seriously, Lee Bermejo knocks it out of the park, especially the pages & panels he inks himself (no offense to Mick Gray who’s majority of the inks give the characters an unsettling jagged & scarred quality). As far as I can tell, this was the first instance of them making the Joker’s grin the ripped holes in his cheeks, Heath Ledger’s Glasgow grin. The original title for this book was going to be Joker: The Dark Knight, but they didn’t want people to think it was the same as the film. I think it can be strongly argued that we wouldn’t have had as awesome a film without the inspiration this book generated. I’m excited to see what this demented duo comes up with next. I’m sure fellow Screwhead Derek would love to see a Gorilla Grodd: Fastest Ape Alive, but I think these guys would create a super kick ass Friendly Neighborhood Venom!

Joker
DC Comics
Published 2008

Hoplite iOS Review: Never Judge an Indie Game by its Graphics

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Every screenshot of Hoplite looks static; unchanging and uneventful. But reviews and comments kept the turn-based strategy on my radar. One comment in particular read, ‘Finally, a strategy game where every move actually counts.’ And while every turn-based strategy game’s marketing team is well aware of that phrase, the emphasized “actually” sold me. And at $1.99, I figured I’d give it a shot.

The commenter didn’t lie and Hoplite didn’t disappoint.

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Chauffeured by Fate (A Poem)

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I made no effort to be born,

but feel a hand in it all the same.

Youth foretold purpose by God

Adulthood saw pawns in a game.

***

To drive my destiny home,

I drink the sacrilegious dew,

But death awaits at midnight

I’m chauffeured by fate for curfew.

***

I want meaning to this life,

A rise, peak, and fall

For symmetry to know thy name

As well as an isosceles triangle.

***

And if I die along the way,

I pray I do not meet,

The person I was meant to be,

Before the tears at my wake.

For more poems, visit Derek Hobson’s Article Archive

A Hero’s Death (A Short Story)

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Even as the bullets sang through the air and others drowned in tufts of dirt; even as bombs roared black smoke and sprinkled the trenches with plings and plocks of debris… there was an overwhelming silence to Jerry and the remains of his platoon.

Though they’d never know it, the silence was felt on the opposite side where their enemies (by duty) were. One lieutenant thought, ‘They must be dead,’ before realizing such foolish thinking is what get people killed. But for a moment, he looked around him and it seemed a unanimous thought however foolish.

Jerry and his platoon had all but forgotten the war, the ominous silence hung among them like a mist. All eyes on Mark. Their throats were dry, but Mark stared at the ground, his rifle slung over his shoulder, cap bent down so they could just barely see the slits of his eyes.

The rest of them, Jerry, Shawn and Fenton were already thirsty from the war, many with dirt particles and smoke in their lungs. And that’s what made Mark’s confession all the more compromising, he spoke clear without any hard swallows. His words were true and unhindered by their circumstance.  Continue reading