Archive for June, 2009

gvd_master.jpgAll you folks in the DC area who are fans of Count Gore De Vol and looking for something to do this Saturday, here’s a pass-along-the-word for ya.

Yeah, I know this is sudden-death notice.  Get in line for the neck-bite.

What: Documentary Film “Every Other Day is Halloween” by C.W. Prather
When: Saturday, June 27 at 8:20 p.m.
Where: At the American Film Institute Silver Theater in Silver Spring, MD

The Count will be there, along with a bunch of other famous people (whom I don’t know).  There will be costumes and props to gawk at and a cash bar reception for getting tanked.  The Count will pose for pictures and sign autographs.  He’ll also be packing a limited supply of Captain 20 pictures!

Advance tickets should still be available at the AFI Box Office, so check it out yo.

Probably better information too, at the official website.  You know you have to click, The Count compels you!

Moving boxes after boxes out of the haunted house of real-world material.  Extracting this stuff from the compactoid dimensional squeeze of the grounds is an exercise in patience.  The place we’re moving into is welcoming us with new energy freed for use.  So much of our psychic reserves have been used in keeping the ghosts happy and the monsters at arm’s length.  The Chucky style doll stays.

My personal starship patrol skills were needed at a technology in music education event in DC this weekend.  There was a need to keep the photon accelerators running and that meant me tractor beaming people at the right moments to achieve idea fusion.  Bonus round ideas were assimilated by the sensor sweep, and one can’t underestimate the power of intergalactic relations by meeting knowledgeable and committed people in similar fields.  Rock the mike!

Relatives galore coming in to survey the scene.  Word travels fast when there’s a transformation in the ectoplasm of fright night.  Hopefully I can keep my mental field together long enough to accomplish remaining objectives before the haunted house deadline.  When that dimensional rift closes it’s going to be a brand new reality.  Beer and chicken wings for all!

All art projects are on hold, have been on hold for a while.  Those lucky few who have been recipients lucked out.  It’s all static as I haven’t had any time to break out the gear and do any recombinant work.  Fear not, book continues in drastically reduced baking speed, comics on the hopper, and pictures will be restored to this website soon as I can let the superstructure and engine stress points bleed off safely.  My audio show experiments will soon bear fruit, all will be coming up hot pockets of the soul!  Or at least a nice tasty sandwich on a summer meadow’s day.

July 4th will see me and the fergaloid clan shooting off fireworks to chase all the destructoids away and get the spirits poppin’ the fresh dough.  Pizza of Doom will be a happenin’ in, yo ho ho.  Rum punch and slackazoids will be a flowin’.

But for now, face to the floor eating dirt.  It’s still Terminatargh time.

What will you do when you are faced with the big monster of your life? I recreate the encounter in my own mind several different ways, with various sub-plot devices until I gather enough understanding. A meditation that is a prayer, if you like.

I live in the star-dotted, dark world of that monster. I’m tempted to believe I know most, if not 90% of the weird and unfathomable wends and weaves that creature moves throughout. I chase that monster down any path around where I live, and forget to blink an eye.

The dangerous, deep nothingness that mysterious creature falls within, I follow to the utmost. Every album cover, every childhood memory, every messed up before-life strange way I can summon up with my weird life bubbles up from ancient currents.

I remind myself that I’m not Gandalf, with a huge power level, hit point allotment, and ring of elven history to back me up. I’m doing my real world walkies and hamburger-caboose bike pedal in the face of the wooden vision of unconscious non-vision re-creation. But part of me is still hoping the person in front of me in line falls on their bike before me.

That creature shows me the monsters who are my true puzzle of serious belief. The thing has me avert the psychic meltdown ghetto-blast from those in my future who know me from the true sprout that is before-sprout fireworks. I recognize this mysterious being wishes it no longer knew when it does know and is at a level of knowing.

I come to my senses in a place my true friends have never known, but it’s okay because they got the sneak preview before the coils swam about me. All those rants about heechoids and brains? Posing.

The bees know me. They wanted to know me. Because they’re dangerous and kind too, like me.

I’m breaking for the surface. Whatever I had on the psychic-line, I’ve let it go.

I remembered back to a strange land I used to haunt.  There was a time when I knew the people of that time.  I ran into front-runners who thought they were the cat’s meow but who reeked so much thud, I didn’t know who they were.

I walked up a series of stone steps within a tower that should be so Ivy League coolness.  But I grew up knowing this climb, before the de-evolutionoids who are trying to climb the external nowadays.  I don’t know why they are climbing the outside.  Could they really not know the buckeye timber tower that burns at night once a year at the foot of the tower’s hill?  You want hot and hard-core on the outside, then it has to be a sacrifice, man!

When I looked at them, with their class-conscious smiles, I see a mob of folks who haven’t walked the long art walk of the territory.  Folks who haven’t watched the bonfire burn from bottom to top without reservation.  Buckeyes cracklin’ as the wide open central meeting space acts as a means for non-aligned folk to make their choice as to what they wish to be in the great historical rat-king pre-post-60’s-wraparound.

I didn’t know how lucky I was, stepping in her mystery’s footsteps from within, to the top inside.  My folks made me walk the way to the top.  The climb scared me to death, but you can move through it on the way up.  The fear, I think, was that I was out of my depth.

The view at the top still is gorgeous and breathtaking.  For a time I could perceive the landscape of the tree tops, like a vast ocean with small islands of old buildings poking out of the waves of green, or autumn change.  Sometimes the occasional mist or rain shrouded everything in mystery.

Then the walk down.  The most paralyzing fear.  That was when I realized I was done, walking away.  I imagined a great dragon behind the locked door at the bottom.  But I always reached the bottom, despite a few times of great difficulty, and walked away without knowing the dragon.

That mysterious creature knew me then, and knows me now.  As I descend, grown up with a mate and not knowing anything still.  I honor this strange being and recognize my shame for not understanding.

The fear is not less.  I’m walkin’ the whole lake-walk and open-space youngin’ baseline understanding from the depths of weirdness dimensional shift otherworld planar bee-optional space.  I’m letting this world’s unknown conceptional wholeness make it’s own synopsis.  My folks have been one step ahead of me in every way, and the times have been one step behind them.

That’s okay, because this time, I understand where the bees are coming from.

Okay, okay.  I’ve not been particularly positive about very many movies, television shows, or music offerings lately.  Time I put myself out there and give an example of what I do like.

I like the Underworld trilogy of movies.  Yeah I said it.

On the surface, these movies are action fantasy junk.  That’s how I went into them.  Vampire: The Masquerade rip-offs with lots of gunfire and p-leather clothing over hot bodies.  Hard to take seriously.

But there’s a message underneath that I think shouldn’t be ignored.  That the old roads are passing away, along with their long standing feuds and grievances, while a new and vital perspective is taking root.  It’s dark realism, with all the horrific 85% death rate violence that implies.  But at the end you have a completely new way of life that demands consideration.

You can ignore all this deeper meaning stuff and enjoy it for what it is.  A lot of phony intrigue surrounded by combat between two sports teams.  Quite frankly, the story doesn’t hold up to a lot of literal and practical considerations.  And I don’t much like stories where the lucky few fight it out for the future of the normal, un-powered people.

You have Underworld, which begins the story, followed by Underworld: Evolution and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.  The last is a prequel, which closes up loose ends raised in the first two movies.  We go back to the beginning for reflection on what has happened in the first two films.

Spoilers are a-cumin’ in, so ahroo!

In this dark world, unknown to most normal people, a war for supremacy rages between two factions of supernatural creatures in human form.  The vampires, sophisticated aristocrats, fight against werewolves known as Lycans.  The Lycans are street thug barbarians.  So we have a “rich versus poor”, “civilized versus uncivilized” conflict going on.

Selene, the main character, is part of an elite cadre of vampires who hunt the Lycans in the city streets.  She works for Kraven, an arrogant sub-lieutenant acting as the vampire leader while Victor (the big dude vampire leader) is away on sleep vacation in his coffin.

Against her stands Lucian, leader of the Lycans and his sub-lieutenant Raze.  Lucian is looking for a special human who is descended from the original father of the supernatural beings.  His plan is to expose this human to both werewolf and vampire bites, making the human the first hybrid of the two, a being supposedly of immense power.

The Lycans are painted as the bad guys at first (and to be truthful, they aren’t exactly great people), but as the story progresses we learn there is more going on than we presumed.  Victor’s daughter committed the unpardonable sin of falling in love with Lucian, so Victor had her killed.  Lucian is pursuing a grudge against the killer of his lover.  His attempt to locate the special human and create a hybrid is a means to get revenge on Victor and end the war between the two factions.

At first, Selene is the dutiful soldier and faithful surrogate daughter of Victor (who feels some regret at his murder of his daughter, but not enough).  As she discovers more about the feud and her part in it, she starts to side more with the special human and Lucian’s goals.

The special human turns out to be a good-hearted guy named Michael.  He rejects the world of the supernatural creatures, but has little choice but to be a pawn in their game.  I found it refreshing that a guy was the person who needed to be saved and passed around as a plot coupon for once, with Selene as the active agent in the struggle.

Selene and Michael fall in love, of course.  With Lucian’s bite and Selene’s bite, Michael becomes an “abomination”, a hybrid of the two factions with enormous power.  Basically he can whup rear end in a fight.  Together he and Selene kill Victor and send him to blazes.  Meanwhile Kraven flees back to the vampire base.

Next movie.  Selene and Michael are on the run, attempting to find out what is going on in the aftermath.  Presumably with the death of Viktor and maybe because of Lucian’s death there might be reprisals.  Michael is weak from the struggle of the previous movie, and unused to the feeding requirements of his new body.  So even though he is awesome, he’s at half strength for most of the movie–a nice touch to keep things interesting.

The big dude elder vampire with wings (the guy Viktor answered to) awakens from his coffin vacation and chases after them repeatedly, looking for a key that will unlock his brother the ultimate werewolf.  Selene meets up with the father of the supernatural creatures and receives from him his blood power, making her the new mother of all supernatural creatures.

The big dude elder vampire with wings kills father of the supernatural creatures, gets the key, and heads for the tomb of his brother.  With the vampires and Lycans in weakened confusion because of the previous movie, no one will be able to stop the ultimate werewolf from turning most humans into werewolves.

With the support of the father’s network, Michael and Selene take on the ultimate werewolf and the elder vampire in an epic combat.  The two lovers win the fight, and vow to begin a new world of supernatural beings together.  Master vampire and fully awakened hybrid together at last, in love.

Flash back with the final movie.  We learn how the vampires used the Lycans for slave labor as a result of Lucian’s special abilities.  We see how he fell in love with a vampire and how they were betrayed by her father.  The movie sets in motion the actions of Victor that define the past, and lead to the future.

Do I identify with these characters?  Not really.  They’re dark shadows of conscious existence, not something I’d like to be part of.  But I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a strong empathy for them.  Down in the depths of our “Underworld”, our unconscious, supernatural beings struggle for meaning and freedom just as surely as we do.

How did Lucian come about?  Hard to say, but he started the striving for a better world in the dark struggle.  We don’t really know what part the father played in attempting to reconcile the two sides before Selene and Michael came on the scene.  There’s a lot to unravel and unfortunately not all of the movies hold up to scrutiny.

Michael is dragged in and made a part of that world.  There’s something about the conscious world that needs to descend into the underworld to bring light to the depths.  In this world, it appears that once you’re made a supernatural creature you can’t go back to being just mortal.  So there’s no leaving the underworld once you enter.

Perhaps unraveling the vast labyrinth of the underworld isn’t the point exactly, as it’s portrayed in these movies.  What matters is making connections that heal old wounds, start new ways of thinking, and overthrow the closed minds holding back development of thinking.  Violence tends to be the solution here, and as this is dark realism the bodies pile up as the bullets fly.

But I think the definitive moments are when the characters make their choices as to what they will do.  Viktor kills his daughter.  Lucian sacrifices his special place to save the person he loves.  Selene follows her instinct about Michael.  Michael saves Selene from the car crash.

Will the new underworld be different?  Hard to say, but there’s a chance that this time, things will be different.  A change has occurred, something has stirred, and new light dawns in the underworld.

046_withinthedepthsIn the forgotten depths are old, rich blue secrets and horrifying shocks at the base of the spine.  Swim in the depths holding breath with a magic sense of things that comes naturally.  There’s people who talk about the seaweed in ways that don’t scare them, and people convinced there’s nothing in the seaweed, who will tell you all about how there’s nothing there.

Yes, nothing, the unknown, mystery teeming with life day and night.

There’s something there.

Pull open the book you just happen to have, that you read in depth before wanting to know with sincerity.  But you let it slide.  Too much, not enough to just know, understanding eludes.

Is it enough to say the magic words in your head?  Should they be said aloud?  Or is the commitment, the decision enough to start the fire of the deep shining?  Magic as in that special, beautiful miracle that is living spirit?

The words are spoken, the night is passed, the doors are unlocked.

My mirage would say I can go, but I know already he said that.  I thought I would stay here and wrestle with all the mysteries, but now I see that I’ve done all that I’m going to do here.  Just as I say goodbye to UFO Girl and My Mirage, now the time has come to leave the haunted house.

And I’m sad, and joyous at the same time.  I have to go make my own haunt now.  No one else can do it for me, I have to sacrifice my expectations of anyone doing it for me.

Coming, going.  Departure, return.  A tide this mermaid understands.  I’m amazed at how easily and quickly I’m released from the depths to surface and start packing up.

Rumbles, savage lightning, downpours, steam rising from the sticky pavement.  Every step out the door is accompanied by thunder beings and the song of water.

045_mermaidfloodI shamble down to the shower unit to get ready for patrol duty in web sector space.  Hey, what’s that sound of water dripping inside the house?  Is Bad Ronald up to something?

Nope, it’s the hard rain driving water up to the window and under to flow in a steady flow over the sill and onto the carpet.  Panic and fear!

K is out cold, recovering from a sudden bout of food poisoning.  Can’t wake her, and if she did get up, she’s got almost no maneuver points.  Why worry her.  I have to get moving furniture and boxes.  My Beta VCR is right in the path of the approaching onslaught.

Total physical activity in the moment, no time to think.  Water squishing underneith.  Carpet becoming soggy in an ever increasing amount.  Oh God I hope the fuse box to the right doesn’t start leaking.  Shine the flashlight and see drops of water beading in the switches.  This is madness.

Rain abates.  Water level slowly drops.  Stuff is moved to the far side of the basement room, or in stages up the stairs and into the living room.  All is chaos.  Cats are wondering what is going on.  Somehow I manage to email work that I’m having an emergency damage repair.

I sit down and have a 30 minute nervous breakdown as the shock washes over me.  I haven’t felt this out of it since I got hit by a car on my bike.

K regains auxiliary power and comes downstairs to see me cowering on the couch.  She sees the stuff everywhere and thinks I’ve gone on some crazy moving kick.  Then she sees the mess.

We get towels galore, rent a rug doctor and miracle of miracles we soak up all the water.  Email and phone the landlord but no response.  Maybe he’s on vacation I suppose.  Bring in fans and dry the carpet up pretty good.  This takes about a week of soaking, stomping, wringing, blowing and vacuuming.  Wow the rug doctor is awesome.

K and I sit down on the couch to watch a nice romantic movie, drink a few beers, all that good stuff.  Then the storm comes in again, hard and fast.  We look at each other in fear.  One of us has to go down and see if the towels are holding.

K goes down first.  The towels are not holding.  The water is pouring in ten times worse than before.  Panic and fear is ten times worse, just to keep up.  Someone pees their pants.  Bail and throw anything cloth-related in reach at the waterfall of water streaming into the house.

The nightmare really begins.

025_creature.jpgFinally getting a handle on the mess from the wave of water. Sorting it out psychologically has been exhausting. The last week has been a crashing surf on my head as I head into June. It looks to be such a busy month as I meet obligations, run errands, and struggle to stay current on the chores that keep me somewhat sane.

Been looking over the things my Bad Ronald leaves on my nightstand to read. One day he leaves a rough sketch of a mermaid dwelling contentedly in the burned out ruins of a shipwreck, surrounded by treasure. And bones. She sleeps happily, colored in such a fashion as to be clearly supernatural.

My friend Xtine shared with me a dream about the magical Melusine many months back. I didn’t know what to make of her dream then, but now I find myself looking up anything I can find on the internets on this magical being. Sensor readings, come to me!

Many tales tell of the blessings bestowed upon human beings in their interactions with supernatural beings, and the loss of those blessings when the human breaks some taboo. Human weakness always puts a fly in the soup it seems, and you don’t get a second chance to make it right.

There are also tales of the “happily ever after” variety, where faith is kept and both live on in harmony. The tale of Melusine isn’t one of those. But I don’t think myths and legends are static things, they change as people change.

Perhaps the mermaid is a vehicle for the energies of the unconscious, a means for us to interact with the unknown. Vehicle seems too impersonal even though there’s an impersonal element to these beings.

See, there’s this huge loch in the backyard of this here haunted house. And on really rainy days the waves wash close to the foundations of the house. The beastie that lives in the loch (are they even separate elements?) has been known to do all sorts of mischief. And here I am with a handful of clues and a calling to investigate.

Okay mermaid, it’s on. Ready or not, here I come.

042_rogue.jpgJust the other day, as I was going through piles of papers from the past, I came across my high school geology notebook. I spent a lot of time doodling pictures in that class. Most of those doodles were sketches of my bored subconscious mind wishing it were somewhere else. Fun to revisit, but ultimately not worth saving.

However, on one page I found a lot of doodles of my favorite X-Men characters at the time. In particular Rogue and Wolverine. But it was Rogue I most enjoyed drawing, and seeing my old enthusiasm for her rekindled a few memories from when I was really into mainstream comic books.

For those not in the know, The Uncanny X-Men comic book I’m talking about tells the continuing story of a band of superheroes that are mutants. That is, they were born with their powers because they belong to a new species of human beings emerging in the modern era. They are hated, feared, and misunderstood by normal humans and superheroes because of this.

Many of the stories have to do with the X-Men struggling against persecution and prejudice. They are “good guys” who use their powers to stop “bad guys”, but because of their bad image, they often end up with no thanks or even blame for the crimes they stop. They work for the acceptance of mutants in general society, but it’s a hard struggle.

My cousin collected the comics, which is how I was exposed to their stories when I was a kid. But it wasn’t until I ran into the cover of X-Men #182 that I was hooked, and started to collect comics seriously.

X-Men #182 is focused on Rogue. The cover shows her standing over a wounded comrade, standing firm against a hail of automatic gunfire from some unknown foe.

What struck me was how determined she looked. She was dressed in some sort of tres-chic punk outfit, and had a white stripe painted through the middle of her hair. The image she presented was one of confidence and individuality. I had to buy the comic and find out what was going on! From there I started collecting back issues to find out what Rogue’s story was.

Rogue’s mutant power is the ability to absorb another person abilities. When she touches them with her bare skin, the person goes into a coma for an amount of time equal to a multiple of the time she touched them. While the person is in a coma, Rogue is able to access that person’s memories (useful for finding out secrets), skills (she can suddenly pilot a plane), and most of all—their superpowers.

Rogue can “absorb” more than one person at a time. She can’t absorb the power of heroes who are energy beings, or extreme physical differences (e.g., wings or a tail). Robots are immune to her power.

She was originally a villain. Her adoptive mother was Mystique, the shape-changing leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The Brotherhood was a group opposed to the ideals of the X-Men. They believed the only way mutants could be safe was to rule over normal human beings.

Rogue was just a snotty, arrogant teenager at the start. Her power made her useful in a fight. She could absorb one superhero, then work at absorbing several others. In one fight, she absorbed most of the Avengers and took on Thor!

It was around that time she discovered a serious drawback to her power. If she touched someone for too long the transfer became permanent. The victim’s mind would be wiped clean and Rogue would retain the victim’s personality within her own psyche as a separate personality. This made it impossible for all but the most powerful telepathic mutants to read her mind.

She ambushed Ms. Marvel as part of a plot to “power up” in an attack on the Avengers to free the Brotherhood’s members who had been captured. She needed the powers of Ms. Marvel for a long time so she held on to her victim for a while, making the transfer permanent (but she would find that out later).

Ms. Marvel’s real name was Carol Danvers, and she was an old friend of the X-Men. In those days the Avengers and the X-Men were on-again off-again allies. Carol was a kind of superwoman character. She could fly, had super strength (could bench press fifty tons), was invulnerable to normal harm, and she had a seventh sense that warned her of danger, allowing her to dodge attacks. Looks like that seventh sense didn’t work so well this time.

While Carol Danvers became a Jane Doe at the local hospital ward, Rogue at first reveled in her new stolen powers. But soon the Carol Danvers personality started taking control of Rogue whenever she was exhausted or daydreaming. Rogue began to lose her mind, finding herself living two lives.

Worse, she found herself losing control of her absorption power. The slightest skin-to-skin contact would trigger a transfer, and the risk of another permanent transfer seemed to have increased. She no longer had the willpower to assert her own wishes against Carol with additional victims in her head.

Her adoptive mother Mystique couldn’t do anything for her, and her Brotherhood buddies were not the empathic type. So she turned to the X-Men for help. This was a controversial move for the X-Men and a real test of their ideals. Could they take in an enemy, someone who had tried to kill them and had essentially murdered one of their friends by robbing her of her very identity?

Rogue was allowed to join the X-Men, but she wasn’t trusted. Carol Danvers (who had been hanging out with the X-Men as part of her recovery) decided to sever her ties with her old friends over the decision. Worse, since they were now harboring a criminal mutant their already poor image took a hit.

Despite all that, Rogue put her life on the line for her new companions. She proved herself again and again until her teammates began to reluctantly trust her. When she started to lose it again with her personality battle, the leader of the X-Men gave her the strength to trust her own power again. Rogue discovered remorse for what she’d done as a villain and for the first time began to allow herself to feel.

All this came back to me, looking at my doodles. A complicated character with a tough cross to bear, cool powers, and awesome outfits. She changed my conception of what a superhero could be and how much you could develop a character over time.

I flash back to the good scenes:

  • Rogue standing in front of Mariko (a normal person), taking heavy laser fire for her because of kind words, sacrificing her life to save someone she would have let die a month earlier. Eliciting sympathy from Wolverine who swore he’d cut her to pieces, letting her absorb his super healing power so she doesn’t die.
  • Rogue and Storm talking to each other about Rogue’s recent suicidal leanings. Rogue confessing that the first time her powers manifested was when she was making out with a boy in her bedroom. The terror it made her feel. And Storm, who had once fought Rogue with every ounce of her being in a scuffle at the Pentagon, offering her bare hand in trust to Rogue to show her she could control her power.
  • Rogue standing on the bridge where she stole Ms. Marvel’s powers, reliving the awful moment of tossing Carol’s comatose body into the river below with a bellow of victory, and breaking down in tears at how wrong she had been. Realizing she’ll have to live with her shame for the rest of her life.
  • Rogue being the last of her teammates standing in the face of the indestructible, unstoppable mutant-hunting robot Nimrod. Her teammate Shadowcat touching Rogue’s cheek just before she passes out to tell her how to beat Nimrod. Rogue absorbing all the X-Men at once, and using their combined powers to beat Nimrod to a standstill and force the robot to flee. Damn that was phat!

Hearts for Rogue, all the way.