Saturday, August 18, 2012

That Time Kristin and I Went to the Fair (2 Years Ago)

Sometimes I go do something, and take a whole bunch of pictures, and somehow never get around to writing anything about it. I realized the other day that this happened when Kristin and I went to the Tennessee Valley Fair together. In 2010.

My whole goal in going to the fair wasn't to go on rides, or play games, or even to eat fried things on sticks (although that last part eventually happened). Instead, I just wanted to take some photos of shiny lights and colorful midways.

Mission accomplished:

carousel (1)

stuffed turtles

rides in motion

Especially this one, which was the picture in my head that I wanted to take when I decided that I wanted to go to the fair:

the fair at night

I don't remember if Kristin even wanted to go to the fair, but I didn't want to drive, so I somehow convinced her to go and to drive. I might have offered to buy her ticket, which happens sometimes when Kristin doesn't want to do things I do, but it's entirely possible that she bought her own ticket and was excited to go. It's been two years, and I can't really remember.

I do remember that we were mistaken for a couple. Kristin and I tend to bicker and snap at each other a little, because we are both often cranky, especially in the presence of crowds. We were having some snippy discussion in line while waiting to get tickets, and this lady turned around with a big smile and said, "Awwwww, is this your first fair together?"

"Yes?" I answered. And, so far, our last fair together, although that's not been a deliberate choice. We just haven't felt like going to the fair again.

"My boyfriend just hates doing stuff like this!" she continued. "I just have to drag him out of the house."

I was about to explain that, "Oh, we're not dating," (I wasn't going to go straight into "because I'm gay" because we were out in the public at night in Tennessee, and that's not always a wise choice), but Kristin giggled, wrapped her arms around my arm, smiled sweetly, and said, "I have the same problem."

"Oh, that's so sweet!" random lady continued, while I thought about maybe pushing Kristin under the carousel, just to watch her die.

carousel (2)

carousel (3)

"Isn't it?" Kristin said, smiling at me with beatific adoration. I had been kind of a cranky bitch earlier about something or other, and this, clearly, was my payback.

"Do you want me to take your picture together?" random lady asked.

"NO," I answered. Random lady somehow chose not to interpret this as hostile, and directed all of her attention to Kristin, who was still hanging onto my arm with both hands.

"My boyfriend hates having his picture taken, too!" and then they both giggled, united in their shared burden of non-photogenic boyfriends. "You know, I have a coupon for some money off the tickets. Let me get it for you."

"Oh, thank you," Kristin cooed.

"Yeah, thanks," I added, doing my best not to grumble. It was a nice discount, so I guess I should have been more thankful.

Anyway, we finally got inside and wandered around for a while, staring at things and stopping a lot so that I could take random photos:

bubble ride

game booth

the midway

ferris wheel gondolas

ring of fire

world's smallest woman

world's smallest horse

creepy mermaid

and right when we started to get tired and hungry, we saw it:

cheese on a stick

The Fried Cheese Emporium.

fried cheese

What else would you eat at the fair, really? You don't come to the fair for apples or a salad or all organic tofu nuggets. No. You come to the fair for fried things on sticks, and the fair is happy to provide:

fried cheese on a stick

Maybe you can't tell from the size of the cheese log compared to the salt shaker, but that was a massive hunk of fried cheese. I'm not sure what the recommended daily allowance of fried cheese is per day, but I bet that thing exceeds it. It was so huge that I had trouble eating it:

eating the fried cheese

But I gave it my best attempt.

And then when I got home I was too tired to blog about the experience, probably because my body was falling into some sort of coma.

A delicious, cheesy coma.

Full of cheese.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Frenemy of My Frenemy is Also My Frenemy: "Lois Lane" #60

I've written before about the Silver Age comic wackiness that was "Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane", but I don't know if I've ever conveyed how consistently batshit insane that comic actually was. Supergirl or the Legion of Superheroes had the occasional moment of crazy, but every single issue of Lois Lane was insane. Not only that, but most of them also had Lois trying to get Superman to marry her as a central plot element, upping the insanity so that instead of just having an issue where Lois turns black for a day, Lois becomes a centaur, or Lois is turned into an old hag, the story also includes Lois have a distraught moment of, "Why would Superman ever want to marry me now that I'm ___________?"

The blank is, of course, filled in with things like "married to Satan", "cursed with gargoyle feet", "imprisoned for trespassing", "a bearded lady". It's this kind of consistent insanity that makes me treasure every issue of "Lois Lane" that I own, and why I have the Lois Lane Archives on my wish list. When you need a smile, you need a nice, completely insane issue of Lois Lane.

Given what I've said about the consistency of the comic, though, I do want to talk about a very special issue: #60, from October 1965. Another central theme running through "Lois Lane" was her constant rivalry with Superman's other girlfriend, Lana Lang. Lana was Superman's childhood sweetheart, and came back into his life as a glamorous television reporter, a journalistic rival for Superman's heart that Lois was both friends and enemies with. The reason why "Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane" #60 is so unusual is that it's one of the few times in the entire series that Lois and Lana manage to put their competition aside and team up:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (1)

Although they're only teaming up to punish Superman for not proposing to either of them.

Before we launch into the issue, let's have a few words with the ladies themselves, shall we?

lois chatting (1)

lois chatting (2)

lois chatting (3)

lois chatting (4)

lois chatting (5)

lois chatting (6)

Maybe not. Let's just get to the comic.

Our story opens at a charity celebrity party, hosted by Lana and Lois. Like many career women in the 1960's, Lois and Lana are dressed in a way that speaks of their equality and professional accomplishments:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (2)

They manage to get along for about ten minutes, until Superman shows up to sit in the charity kissing booth, at which point an all-too-predictable version of hell breaks loose:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (3)

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (4)

and Superman finally freaks out and loses it on both of them:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (5)

He's so pissed about it that the next day, when he agrees to take them to his Fortress of Solitude so that Lois can write a story about it and Lana can film a TV spot, he spends the entire trip continuing to lecture them:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (6)

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (7)

I'm sure, in his mind, that Superman thought he was doing the right thing, and that they two of them would take these words to heart, learn something, and become better people.

Superman forgot that both of these women are insane.

He leaves them alone for a few minutes:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (8)

and when he comes back:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (9)

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (10)

they've put themselves into 5000 years of cryo-stasis just to get back at him. Because that's what a normal, not insane woman would do, right? Leave her entire life, family, home, career, and civilization behind just to get back at a man who yelled at her?



Superman, who didn't learn a damn thing from his earlier lecturing, decides to fly into the future when they wake up and lecture them again:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (11)

There's a tiny problem, though:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (12)

Lois and Lana are now starring in a comic book version of Death Becomes Her. They've crumbled into little piles of astronaut ice cream.

Superman, rather than shrugging and getting on with his life, spends several pages trying to go back in time to stop them from getting into the deep freeze chamber to begin with but he runs into one of the crushing inescapable paradoxes of time travel: If you go back in time to stop someone from doing something, they have to have done it, or you have no reason to go back in time. Guy Pearce discovers this in the remake of The Time Machine when he keeps going back in time to keep his fiancee from getting shot, and she keeps getting shot because he wouldn't have had any reason to build a time machine if she didn't.

Defeated by this paradox, Superman spends a few minutes thinking about the good times he's shared with Lana and Lois (probably a short few minutes), and then decides that if he can't stare at them, he can at least stare at their miniaturized Kryptonian lookalikes in the Bottle City of Kandor.

You heard me.

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (13)

In the Silver Age, there was a whole group of Kryptonians living in Kandor who looked exactly like Superman's friends in Metropolis. At this point in the story, there's been so much crazy already that you just kind of accept this with a shrug and move on.

So what does Superman see when he looks at the doubles?

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (14)

That the doubles are hiding Lois and Lana in Kandor, and that the doubles are also insane.

It turns out that Lois and Lana, left alone in the Fortress, contacted their doubles, and the four of them (two of whom live in an artifically maintained bottled environment and are completely dependent on Superman for the survival of their city) cooked up a plan:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (15)

The Kandorians risked angering the caretaker of their entire civilization in order to help some alien Earth-women that they just happen to look like, for no reason other than that Lois and Lana asked them to. I would say that Superman is the only one in this story who isn't insane, but after all of this he still manages to forgive them, and just be happy that they're alive.

Lois and Lana, on the other hand, have learned nothing:

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #60 (16)

And then in issue #61 Lois becomes the Reptile Girl of Metropolis.

And in #62 Lois and Superman run for the Senate.

Because this is just how things rolled, month to month, in "Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane".

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Your friend, the Gay

I was trying really hard to not post here about the Chick-fil-a thing, because I will just get ranty and I didn't think I had anything to add, and also because I've been posting the hell out of my Facebook about it, but this morning someone I respect, who I thought I was close to, had a picture of a chicken sandwich captioned by "Free speech never tasted so good!" in her Facebook feed and I hit the limit of my temper.

First I defriended her, and then I left this as my facebook status:

[Joel] thought he was going to make it through the Chick-fil-a debacle without defriending people, but apparently this was not to be.

In case I was somehow horribly unclear earlier in the week, let me reiterate: This is not a free speech issue. The guy running CFA can say whatever he wants about his values, his religion, and his beliefs. My issue is that he is not just talking. He is taking the money you are giving him for chicken, and using it to legislatively force the entire country to believe as he believes.

If you are friends with me, then "gay people" are not some group you hear about on the news. They are me. Every time you hear someone say, "Gay people" or "LGBT" or "fag" in a sentence, mentally substitute the words "my friend Joel". Try it. "My friend Joel should pay the same taxes as me, but not have the same rights." "It should be illegal for my friend Joel to live that way." "It should be legal to fire my friend Joel for being my friend Joel." "My friend Joel is disgusting and is going to burn in hell." Once you finish doing that, ask yourself if you and I should actually still be friends if you feel that way about me.

If, after you ask yourself these questions, you can't stop yourself from joyously buying chicken to help oppress me, then by all means, do so. But please, keep the fact that you are actively trying to hurt me and all of the people who happen to be like me, rather than like you, to yourself. Otherwise, I will see it, and I will defriend you.

We will not speak of this again, because your friend Joel is angry, and going to the office to work it off.

I'm not going back on Facebook for a while (by which we all know I mean, "At least an hour!"), because I clearly need to cool off. I'm hurt, and I'm going to sulk.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The X-Men "for girls"

A while ago, Lego made some headlines and waves on the internet when they announced their new line of Legos for girls. The response from most people online was a slightly outraged "Legos are unisex. Anyone can love them. The idea that you have to make them pink to sell them to girls is sexist, condescending, patronizing, and insulting." I agreed, but the line turned out to be a huge seller for Lego, so maybe they were on to something, after all. Blame it on societal gender construction and social norming, savvy marketing, or just a love of shiny things, but Lego gambled and seems to have come out ahead.

Marvel Comics, on the other hand, did not end up so lucky.

Back in 2009, Marvel decided to jump onto the "teenage girls love Manga" bandwagon, and decided to repackage the X-Men as a manga property that they could market toward teen girls. Just marketing their regular comics to girls apparently never occured to them, or they figured they'd have to stop being somewhat sexist and start drawing the girls with more clothing and less cleavage. Either way, someone somewhere at Marvel greenlit "X-Men: Misfits", I bought it out of curiousity and stuck it on my reading pile, and then noticed it this morning when I was rearranging my "books to be read" stacks:

x-men: misfits cover

This thing is awful.

Our story focuses on Kitty Pryde, high school student, who suddenly in this story has overbearing older sisters that don't exist in regular comics. Kitty is a mutant, and is offered a scholarship to Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, which is how these things tend to go in the comics fairly often, too. Sure, in the comics Kitty's original invitation to the school involved kidnapping and mind-control, but this is a reimagining, so I was fine with a slightly cleaner entry for the character into the X-Men standard setting. Kitty arrives at school, where she is immediately an object of popular fascination.

Because she is the only female student.

Yes, that's right. In an effort to market the X-Men to teenage girls, Marvel Comics cut out almost all of the female members. (I say "almost" because Storm and Jean Grey are teachers, although Jean is only mentioned and doesn't actually appear. And while I'm reasonably sure that no one is going to read this and go, "What? No Lifeguard? No Stacy X? This is an outrage!", characters like Rogue, Psylocke, Emma Frost, Dazzler, Marvel Girl, Polaris, Jubilee, Pixie, Armor, and even Husk or Marrow have their fans.) You wouldn't always know it from the art, though, because sometimes the boys look like girls:

x-men: misfits (5)

Seriously, I've gone back and reread that page three times, and I still have no idea who Kitty (on the left) is talking to in that scene. I think the one on the right might be Longshot, based on similar hair and necklace in an earlier scene where Longshot and Havok tried to give Kitty a makeover:

x-men: misfits (1)

It's not so much that the boys often look like girls. It's more that they all look like each other, and they all wear the same school uniform, so you can't even tell them apart by costumes. The Hellfire Club, the clique of popular boys that wants Kitty to join them, consists of Havok, Quicksilver, Longshot, Angel, Forge, and Pyro, and for those unfamiliar with comics I'll just sum it up by saying that it's a lot of fair-haired white boys. Drawn in black and white with similar facial features and almost always seen in this book as a group, they tend to just run together into a mass of sharp noses and sparkly eyes.

Girls like that, right?

You know what girls don't like, I guess? Action. Up until the very end, the only fighting in this book consists of boys fighting over Kitty. There aren't any villains, since Pyro and Blob are students, Magneto is a teacher, and Sabretooth is a waiter in the dining hall. Not only that, but there aren't actually any X-Men in this book. There are X-Men characters, but there's no team that goes out to fight villains and right wrongs, and that lack leads to some really odd reimaginings of familiar faces. Cyclops, for example, is still an uptight stick in the mud in this story, but instead of being a stick in the mud about human and mutant relations, mutant rights, or the stress of leading a team of misfits and freaks to save a world that fears and hates them, Cyclops is an uptight jerk:

x-men: misfits (3)

about his veganism.

x-men: misfits (6)

And Colossus, who is in here as a teacher:

x-men: misfits (7)

received what is without doubt the worst redesign in the history of the character:

x-men: misfits (8)

Yes, that's right. The Soviet strongman, the steel powerhouse, is now the fat robot from the Oz books. I can only imagine what the response of the mainstream comics' Colossus would be to this abomination:

I must break you.

Yeah, probably something like that.

Overall, this book is pretty awful. There's not really an actual story, the characterizations are weak, and the art isn't to my personal taste. While I normally wouldn't say that automatically makes the book horrible for everybody, I did notice that the end includes a preview for a Part 2 that has apparently never been released, so it can't be just me who doesn't like this.

It was probably also unpopular with girls.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pictures of July

Instead of rounding up my leftover pictures, I was sorely tempted to write another entry about Chick-fil-A, but I don't think there's anything left on the internet that hasn't been said about it and I'm not feeling particularly articulate.

Instead, let's look at some pretty (or not) photographs from July that didn't make it into any blog entries:

1) Fainting Goats for Sale

fainting goats for sale

This is taken through the windshield of Elizabeth's car when we were trying to find an estate sale that was way out in the middle of nowhere in South Knoxville. Tennessee is actually known for their fainting goats, so we weren't surprised to see some for sale. It was more that the spray painted sign pointing toward a dead end in the middle of the woods fairly screamed "horror movie".

2) Blind Melon

blind melon

I wanted seedless watermelon at Kroger, but they only had see-less.

3) Rainy Florals

The neighbor directly above me has several hanging plants with large pink flowers, which tend to fall from her balcony onto my porch. I saw some in the rain, and was struck by how pretty the fallen blossoms were:

rainy floral (1)

rainy floral (2)

I much prefer them to the cigarettes that fall from the balcony above hers, but I often scoop up those cigarette butts in a dustpan, carry them upstairs, and dump them in front of that neighbor's door. I never do that with the flowers.

4) Mr. & Mr.

Target now carries gay marriage greeting cards:

mr. and mr.

Even in Tennessee.

There's hope for people yet.