Astonishing same-seX-Men

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Big news: issue 51 of the Marvel Comics Group’s Astonishing X-Men will feature same-sex marriage. On the cover.

Canadian superhero Northstar, aka Jean-Paul Beaubier (and sometimes Jean-Paul Martin), who first appeared in the pages of the X-Men during the late-70s, was established as gay in the early ’90s; it made the headlines in 1992. A couple of decades later, same-sex marriage has been made legal in New York State. In real life. And as so many comic book superheroes reside in New York, this reality will be reflected in comics. So Northstar is to wed his lifestyle choice partner Kyle Jinadu in an issue that will hit the stands in the US towards the end of June.

“Our comics are always best when they respond to and reflect developments in the real world,” says editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics – who publish the title – Axel Alonso. “We've been doing that for decades, and this is just the latest expression of that."

I do recall a time – around the mid-’90s – when a fatal disease was decimating the mutant population of Marvel’s comics: an analogy for the AIDS epidemic. This latest development sees mutants – the most reviled of subgroups within the comic book universe – address issues more directly.

“Let me make it clear – this story begins with a marriage, but it ain't over with the marriage," Alonso says.  "We'd be doing the story a disservice not to reflect the controversy around it.” Thus, while a lot of Marvel Universe characters will be attending Northstar's wedding, not everyone is going to accept the invitation or the validity of Northstar's vows. “At least one of Northstar's team members is going to turn down the invitation, and that's going to make for an interesting dynamic."

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Writer Marjorie Liu may be laying it on a bit thick, however. This is a storyline dealing with the outcasts’ outcasts: “Here are two people, trying to live their lives – mutant and gay, black and gay – empowered in their own ways, living life on their own terms.  It doesn't matter that it's a superhero comic, the message is: You can do the same thing."

That message is precisely the problem for One Million Moms, a conservative Christian group who are part of the nonprofit American Family Association (considered a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Centre). One Million Moms are irate at Marvel, and at rival DC who are promising to reintroduce one of its ‘major iconic characters’ as gay. The Moms argue that kids mimic their superhero idols, so it’s only a matter of time that little boys will want have same-sex relationships “like their heroes”:

“These companies are heavily influencing our youth by using children’s superheroes to desensitize and brainwash them in thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable,” they argue. “Children do not know what straight, homosexual, or coming out of the closet even means, but DC Comics and Marvel are using superheroes to confuse them on this topic to raise questions and awareness of an alternative lifestyle choice. These companies are prompting a premature discussion on sexual orientation.”

Obviously, all those kids who have lifted cars, managed to leap over  buildings in a single bound, bare-handedly stopped bank robberies and undertaken other such activity – all because their superhero idols have – will also develop a carnal lust for people of their own gender not because they actually feel those emotions, just because it happened in a comic and they want to imitate it. But perish forbid they might want to know stuff, and expect their parents to answer their questions and furnish them with knowledge (like, ‘where are the dinosaurs in the Bible?’) Shut that down straight away.

The fact that DC (or should it now be ‘AC/DC’?) are trying to keep up with Marvel (or should it now be 'Marvelous’?) is… typical as ever.

So who would the major iconic DC character be who is coming out of the closet? Let’s face it, could be anyone, given they spend a lifetime maintaining buff physiques, in body-hugging Lycra.

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Probably won’t be someone with a sidekick – that’s far too suss. Bruce Wayne has a duty of care for Dick Grayson, so there can’t be any Batman/Robin shenanigans. Wouldn’t be the Superman who hangs out with Jimmy Olsen. Could it be Green Arrow? That robin hood/man-in-tights thing is a bit much. Maybe Aquaman. I hear he sleeps with the fishes. Smart money is gonna be on Wonder Woman – forever a gay icon.

Interestingly, Marvel is now owned by Disney. It’s a bit suprising that the conservative family entertainer is fine with it. It’s not likely an original Disney character will be ‘tying the knot’ with a same-sex partner. If one did, who would it be? Scrooge McDuck? Cruella DeVille? Those recedivists The Beagle Boys, perhaps, cos you know what goes on inside…

Other Disney acquisitions that would seem obvious  are likewise avoiding the controversial plot development. Disney owns the Muppets, for example. Decades of smirking remarks about Sesame Street’s Bert & Ernie have given away to an active campaign to have them wed (though nobody’s asked their opinion, or that of Ernie’s Rubber Ducky, of course…) to no avail. Although a more obvious choice would be those bitchy theatre critics Statler & Waldorf (you know, the cranky old guys in the balcony…)

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From the Dec 9, 1999 edition of The Daily Nebraskan

Marvel’s making the most of it, of course. There are variations of the cover, one of which depicts the weddings of several superhero couples: Cyclops (Scott Summers) and Phoenix (Jean Grey); Ant Man (Hank Pym) and The Wasp (Janet Van Dyne); Wanda the Scarlet Witch and The Vision… But there’s a space on the front cover for your own photo. Nawww.

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Of course, this could just be a way to sell more comics, given that kids today have so many other things vying for their attention. Back when Northstar was invented, there was no internet, there were no home computers, there were less television stations, entertainment was not a mouse click away. Lots more kids used to read comics back then than do now.

I’m not just being cynical: there’s quite a bit of lead time before issue 51 of Astonishing X-Men is out. Issue 50 is only just being delivered.  That’s the issue where Northstar pops the question. All this furore, before they’ve even set a date. But at least a lot more people have now actually heard of this Canadian mutant called Northstar. He was never one of the bigger names in the superhero pantheon, so nobody – few non-Canadians, anyway – knew just how fabulous he is. Until now.


’Ullo Victoria!
Gotta New Obscenity Law?

ULLO VICTORIA


** Beware - this one is explicit.**
**Do not proceed if you are easily offended.**

**Or Victorian.**


In honour of Victoria's new legislation to combat swearing, may I dedicate Alexei Sayle’s ’Ullo John! Gotta New Motor? – Part IV. (Originally available as a remix on a 12-inch single, I believe.)

(Once again: contains strong language; proceed with caution; do not play in Victoria.)

 

 


Velocirapture:
Hurtling towards the End of the World

(thanks to @mrtonymartin for tweeting the link to this clip)

A lot of people, it would seem, are talking what many more other people would consider absolute crap about the end of the world; scatology about eschatology, if you will. Elaborate mime enactments thereof are a special kind of hell on earth, but if you can s it through that, you can deal with my two  bits. First, here’s Elvis Costello performing ‘Waiting for the End of the World’:


So the world’s gonna end this evening. In a way I’m glad: I’m between decent-paying gigs, got taxes, bills, and – if the happy clappy fundies are anything to go by – hell to pay. But before I get my hopes up, I’ve got to confess (so to speak) that I’ve been here before: in high school, some time in the late-80s, the world was also supposed to end. I remember I had a 4-unit maths exam looming and essays due, and quite frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to study or read relevant texts or do anything other than whatever I did in late adolescence. I had new guitar chords to discover; Python episodes, newly released on VHS to watch; and those Frank Zappa records weren’t gonna listen to themselves! But I’m glad I crammed some differential calculus and imaginary numbers and actually cribbed some Prude and Party Sex notes.

I’m assuming there won’t be some intense conflagration this evening. Which is a pity – since I’m due to do a spot of open mic stand-up at the Oriental Hotel at Cooks Hill, Newcastle, which is a formidable bear pit of a pub at the best of times. So I suspect I shall die tonight, anyway – on stage…[1]

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But if the world does end, look at the bright side: we finally get to find out what happened to the dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden – making it The Velocirapture.

Were dinosaurs destroyed in the Great Flood after all? Was the serpent in fact a larger, entirely different reptile than the snake that is commonly depicted? If so, why didn’t he just eat Adam and Eve and have done with?

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(Image lifted from this website)

But if the Great Rapture doesn’t take place, if whatever the current equivalent of the Hale-Bop comet doesn’t bring about the end of the world, or at least the mass suicide of fervid cultists, prepare for the Great Cognitive Dissonance. And synchronise your watches for the next one.

Meanwhile, enjoy this rapture death, from the Six Feet Under episode entitled In Case of Rapture:


Now I’m gonna leave the last word on the ratbag fringe faithful to Messrs Bennett, Cook, Miller and Moore, AKA Beyond The Fringe:

 


Oh, and look, the final word, as posted on Satarista Paul Provenza’s Facebook page (added middle of the following week):

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Footnotes

1) Not really. I mean, it may happen, but I’m not crippled with fear, for two reasons: I’ve played the Oriental before, and I was the only comic who didn’t die that night. And I may still die tonight, but I’ve already died the most horrific, shattering stage death and lived to tell the tale. But that’s a tale to tell another time.


Let Fran Foo read your tweets for you!

Don’t you hate having to read tweets firsthand?

I know I do.

That’s why I’m so pleased to read the work of journalists like Fran Foo. Franny, why don’t you have a fan page on Facebook? You are so clearly Walkley Award quality.

And as for News Ltd breaking the story, I wanna be the first to say I can’t wait to be charged to access articles like this on your site. Nothing wrong with your ‘user pay’ model at all. Not when the ‘Rupert pay’ model produces this level of keen journalistic mind, shining an ever-enquiring light to reveal the greater truths.

Now excuse me while I tweet the link to this blog about a news story featuring tweets about Facebook – which will end up as my status update on Facebook.

(Thanks to Mikey Mileos for bringing the ‘article’ to my attention, and for pointing out that a blog was a waste of time – “Josh Elliott from Perth said it all”!)


Shania Twain's Husband Swap - that don't impress me much

**this one’s got some naughty words, so beware**

It’s a strange thing, how, as you get older, you somehow learn to appreciate country music. Proper country music. The outlaw variety, with – as Frank Zappa said in the song ‘Truck Driver Divorce’ – ‘steel guitars crying all over it’… sung by proper country singers like Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash. But pre-American Recordings with Rick Rubin Johnny Cash. Certainly not Shania Twain country.

Shania Twain first appeared on the scene when I was still working in a top 40 chart music store. Or rather, its Classics and Jazz department (ie ‘classical music’ and jazz, but calling it ‘classics’ meant it could be show tunes and middle-of-the-road older stuff as well…)

I couldn’t help but give her a nickname. That’s what we did with all artists. New Kids On The Block were New Kids With No Cocks. Val Doonican was Val Croonagain. The Doors were The Bores (were they ever!) Neil Young, as time went on, lived up to his nickname of Neil Old. The Rolling Stones were the Strolling Bones. Kate Ceberano And Her Jazz Sextet were Kate See-no-bra And Her Tit Sex Jizz. Bob Dylan was Baaaaaaahhhhhhb Dylaaaaaaaahhhhhn (but you had to do his voice when you said it). And Shania Twain was… well, you had to pronounce her first name like an Aussie country bloke saying ‘showing ya', so it was like ‘sho’in ya’. Her name was Sho’inya Twat.

That has no bearing on this news story, reported by The Daily Beast, about Shania Twain shacking up with Frédéric Thiébaud, the pair having consoled each other after Marie-Anne Thiébaud nicked Twain’s hubby, Robert Lange.


Protester Fail

Here’s what I think:

If you’re going to go to all the trouble of making a poster to take with you to a rally, try at least to display it in a manner that will convey the message you actually wish to get across, rather than its opposite.

Not like this guy at the recent Julian Assange protests in Australia.

Protesterfail


Spanish facial

Harpo Marx had a regular bit of shtick. It was a ridiculous and hilarious face he’d pull, known as a “gookie” (rhymes with ‘kooky’ rather than ‘cookie’). Something I saw this week reminded me of it. And of Eric Bana.

Vertical gookie

“No, wait, let me explain…”

Supremely immature and tasteless, it looks like, me taking this line of humour. But this was my genuine reaction as the news story played out, with its scientists and journalists assembled for the unveiling of the latest miracle of modern science: the first totally transplanted face. And the face actually works: the tear ducts cry; the facial stubble grows.

Well, the face mostly works. So far.

When the new face was revealed, it was a bit confronting. My response: “That’s what you gave him? I mean, yes, I saw the ‘before’ photo – it is an improvement. No, it really, really is. But…”

With therapy the face will look more… facial. And even if it didn’t, I’m no oil painting so who am I to judge?

It’s just that, when they had the guy talking at the press conference – with a new face that clearly can’t smile or emote or do anything at the moment other than look like an oversized mask – he sounded pretty much as he looked, only moreso. Suddenly I had a vision of that scene from Young Frankenstein, when the ‘monster’ (Peter Boyle) sings ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’. Well he doesn’t; Gene Wilder sings it. Boyle joins in at the appropriate moment by bellowing ‘Suuuuper-duuuper!’ and ‘Putting on the Riiiiiiiiiiiiitz!’ – like a drunkard who was never taught consonants. Although, ‘Oscar’, as the Spanish transplant recipient is known, was speaking his native tongue; maybe all Spaniards from his part of the country sound like that.

Again, this is supremely cruel of me – likening this genuine modern miracle to some comedy (a fine comedy; a work of art, when it comes to comedy, but a comedy nonetheless). However, the analogy actually works: an assemblage of cutting-edge medical scientists, before the representative world press, to show off the latest breakthrough in medical science: sewing together a man using parts from another man.

And yet I feel justified in poking fun. When Oscar spoke, the most obvious thought was, ‘Wouldn’t you wait until the face works enough so that he can talk? Wouldn’t that look more impressive, before the assembled scientists, journalists and viewers around the world?’

But then I realised, in addition to revealing how amazing the latest breakthroughs in medical science truly are, such a press conference needs to take place to acknowledge: the science works. The funding is justified. Publicise it, maybe more funding will be forthcoming. Once again, modern science truly is amazing. Oh, brave new world!

But I still think Eric Bana can play Oscar in the biopic.


The saga continues…

  Pelic-han solo

Shortly after his arrival at Cloud City, Pelic-han Solo is betrayed by Lando Calrissian, who hands him over to Vader to be used as bait to trap Luke. Vader intends to keep Luke in suspended animation via carbon freezing and selects Pelic-han as a test subject for the process, encasing him in carbonite. It is in this state that Vader hands him over to Boba Fett,who will take him to Jabba the Hutt…