Monday, December 31, 2007

Don't Lose That Humber


Sorry, but my outrage is rather disjointed today.
  • Welcome to Gotham City, where the moon is not only full every night of the year, but also careens about the sky like a freaking pinball, in order to keep Batman's big, chunky head in silhouette. Sure, the constant earthquakes and tidal waves are a bitch, but at least the city's number one hero can look way cool!
  • I can't believe "Humber" is an actual brand. And yet it is. I'm still pissed off about it, though.
  • "Blasting away like an Apollo Missile"? Huh. Do they even make those anymore? The name itself takes me back to my time traveling days, when the Cold War gave every romance an undercurrent of existential doom. Kind of like a Hemingway novel, but with synthetic fibers. Wow. I have nostalgia for a nuclear warhead!
  • That poor, desperate dope in the foreground? No, it's not the baddie who got punched through a window. It's just the last dude who tried to make sense out of Don Newton's page layouts. All y'all, do yourself a favor: give up on that shit now. Before it destroys you.

Out You Pixies Go!

Okay! So it turns out the whole "you've always smelled peculiar" thing was just an office joke, engineered by Storm Boy. And I had unknowingly turned the tables on them by showing up with Ox's musk still in full effect. Haw! Storm Boy was gonna tell me right away, but I sort of didn't let him. (When I told him to shut his goddamn pie hole. Er, oops.) At any rate, things are cool between Storm Boy and me now. I've even arranged a date for him, with this Bismollian Bear I know. Former child actor, named Darzil Hek. Maybe you've heard of him! But probably not, because he never got any starring roles. Alright, enough of this jabber. Let's hop back into the story of "The Perfect Fighting Machine!"


FREEZCH! The sound effect that dares you to pronounce it!

But of course, this isn't a sound effect at all. It's a cleverly-hidden political statement.

A forgotten scandal of the 1970's involved the Carter Administration's secret arrest and imprisonment of 5th Dimensional imps. The feds worried that an America that was already suffering from "stagflation" might be further destabilized by wish-granting djinns, leprechauns, and fairy princesses. By the closing months of 1977, a steady stream of imps was flowing into the government's containment facility (Lamport Detention Center, called "the Lamp" by its prisoners). This spurred the formation of a resistance group: the Multi-dimensional Imp Liberation Force, or MILF for short. MILF's efforts started with a simple letter-writing campaign, but soon escalated to spectacular acts of tomfoolery, such as levitating the Pentagon, the replacement of several thousand gallons of "regular coffee" with Folger's Crystals, and the production of the movie version of "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The FBI raided the imps' main hideout -- the Haunted Shack at Knott's Berry Farm -- and the ensuing showdown ended with the deaths of nearly all involved. Most of the imps were reasoned out of existence, using the controversial (yet amazing) Randi Method. The FBI agents were, nearly to a man, either tickled to death, or inflicted with critical pie-to-the-face injuries. At the end of the day, a lone lawman staggered out of that house of death, dragging with him a single imp. The prisoner's name was Zch.

In-depth coverage of the case by Rolling Stone and the Village Voice turned Zch's plight into a cause celebre. Vanessa Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary about him. Country Joe and the Fish announced plans to record an entire album dedicated to Zch, but music producers declined to work with them, on the grounds that they actually sound pretty crappy once the acid wears off. It's rumored that Jim Henson attempted to smuggle Zch out of his cell, by concealing the imp within his own beard. And, of course, Denny O'Neil mischievously wrote the message "Free Zch" into an issue of Detective Comics. (O'Neil hadn't counted on Don Newton's overwrought panel compositions requiring the "hidden" message to be broken back down into its component words.)

By 1979, however, the world had forgotten about Zch. Other than a few retro-vintage Gap t-shirts and a brief mention on VH1's "I Love the '70s", Zch has disappeared from the national zeitgeist. But Zch is still here. Not in our hearts, perhaps, but in a soundproofed cell somewhere in the Mojave desert.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sweet Smell of Distress

I got a heck of a shock, this morning.

I suppose the whole thing started around 4 AM, when I stopped off at Ox's house for some krullers and space-java and three solid hours of violent, frothing-at-the-mouth sex. After showering, I noticed that Ox's musky scent was still lying heavily upon my person. Since I rather enjoy that singular odor, further ablutions were out of the question. So the smell of Ox isn't to everyone's liking! It's an "acquired taste." (And so is the way Ox's taste.) So what? It's really only noticeable to folks when they're within five or six feet of me.

I decided I'd have to nip my office-mates' objections in the bud. As soon as I strolled into the agency, I cleared my throat, and called everyone to attention.
Me: I'd just like to say something to you about the way I smell...

Frigid Queen (interjecting): OH THANK GOD. I thought you were never going to bring that up.

Me: Huh?

Nightmare Boy (grinning): It's no big deal, 'bro! We're pretty used to it, by now.

Dentata Damsel (barely audible): It's nice of you to finally acknowledge it, though.

Me: Wait, what are we talking about--?

Rainbow Girl: Your odor. Don't worry, I warned everybody about it when we first started working here.

Frigid Queen: Yeah! You know. Your odor. It's like a really old corned beef sandwich, heavily impregnated with rocket ship exhaust, and maybe a touch of sewer gas? That smell.

Me: I don't--! Wait a minute, you're saying that I've always smelled bad?

Tusker: Oh, no, no... it ain't bad, exactly; it's just that you don't expect a human being to smell that way.

Nightmare Boy: But hey! If you can't help it, then who are we to judge?

Me: Um. Thank you.
I stumbled over to my desk, past Storm Boy, who was laughing his ass off. He started to say something, but I growled "Shut up...!"under my breath, and he clammed back up. As I sat down in my chair, I could hear his muffled snickering.

I believe the way I feel right now can best be summed up by this panel from the Split-Man story in "Strange Adventures" #203 (August, 1967).


Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Glove You to Death

Storm Boy's cloud is finally gone.

Yesterday, I went looking for the guy, with the plan of clobbering him about the head and shoulders until he cried "Uncle!" (Or "Daddy!" I'm not particular.) But he wasn't at home. I decided to check out his favorite haunts. I looked in dance halls, milk bars, Pottery Pod, Evolvo Lad's Gym, Prairie Maw Funnybook Downloaders. Nobody had seen him. Hours later -- and soaking wet -- my route swung back towards his apartment. Now, there were scores of media lorries pulled up all around it, and a throng of people with cameras. A long red carpet snaked from a rocket-limo up to Storm Boy's door. That could mean only one thing: Eyeful Ethel was there!

I pushed my way through the mob, growling, "Give me some privacy, you vultures!" But nobody was taking any photos of me. Even though I took care to strike several intimidating/sexy poses! What the hell--?!

When I used my special "pirate knock" (so they'd know it was me), a portion of the door shifted into transparency, revealing Ethel. "Not yet," she said. "Maybe come back later. I'll call you." From somewhere behind her, Storm Boy wailed, "LEAVE STORM BOY ALONE!" (Yikes.)

The cloud dissipated by the time I'd made it back to my own place.

Late last night, Storm Boy showed up at my door, looking nervous, his eyes downcast. He cradled a big box in his arms. I didn't know if the box contained roses or a tommy-phaser, but I decided to let him in, regardless. He stammered a few incomprehensible words at me, his eyes red with tears. The box hit the floor. The next thing I knew, he had thrown his arms around me and was sobbing into my beard. "I'M SO SORRY!" he cried. His voice quavered, Mary Tyler Moore-like.

I sat him down on a fur-strewn slab of rock, and poured us some space-java. "I didn't even realize what I had done, when I started seeing Ox," he said, sheepishly. "I thought I was over you! I honestly didn't notice how much the two of you looked alike until that stupid white hair showed up in your beard. It looks really hot, by the way."

"I'm glad you think so," I chuckled. "'Cause I'm keepin' it."

He took a sip of space-java, and smiled haplessly at me for a moment. "Oh! I made you something. To make up for the storm cloud." He presented me with the box.

Inside was a pair of golden metal force-field gauntlets, both of them emblazoned with a light-up display in the shape of a white-and-purple crest.

"They're like your bracers," he explained. "Only the force-fields are shield-shaped, and they shoot out of the palms. Also? You can project a shield and then move it around by moving your hands. The shields maintain their integrity for up to six seconds, although I'm working on ways to make them last longer."

I pulled them on and strolled over to a mirror to admire myself. Through an open window I could see a stray vran digging a hole in my yard. I slid a force-shield under the beast, and flipped him like a pancake over the fence. He ran off, yelping. I grinned at Storm Boy. "These are kick-ass! I'm gonna design a whole new costume around them!"

"That'll be... nice," Storm Boy offered. I could see by his face that he was still feeling uncomfortable.

I sat down next to him, and put my arm around his shoulder. "Listen, buddy. I'm gonna get you through this. I know plenty of beefy, furry dudes. And a lot of them would love to meet you, I bet! Say! Ox has this friend who calls himself "Stink Bug", maybe we could double-date, if you don't have a problem with short guys, and--"

"No, no!" Storm Boy exclaimed, laughing and crying all at once. "I've had enough of smelly men. I mean, it was hard enough when I was just dealing with your odor!"

"Ha, ha, ha! Wait, what?"

"Never mind." He wiped the snot from his nose, and got up to leave. "See you at the office tomorrow?"

I showed him to the door. By then, Cootie had curled up inside the open box and had fallen asleep. I spent some time playing with mastering my new gauntlets. Then I grabbed some fabric and some leather, and sat down at my sewing machine.


(And a larger view.) I wanted to show off my sweet new tats, so this outfit is topless. (You're welcome.) I continued the crenelation them on a snappy new metal belt. The boots feature my signature "calf spats", plus a cut-in on the front that mirrors the crest on my gauntlets. A domino mask completes the look. As for my hair, well, I had been thinking of growing out my goatee even before I got assigned that "Undercover Santa" mission. I had hesitated, though, because I was worried it might start to block the nifty castle cut-out that Silvercat had designed. With the castle shape moved to the left, I can let my beard get longer and still show off my logo. Y'know, I might have trimmed my whiskers back just a tad too much, but I can grow them back out quickly enough. If I feel like it. And I buzzed my hair both out of necessity -- because Storm Boy's cloud had zapped multiple bald patches into it -- and just because it looks more bad-ass.

Oh, and the white in my beard? I'm guessing some of you might complain that it makes me look old. You know who doesn't think it makes me look old? Everybody else from my home planet, where it's the norm for twenty-something dudes to have white in their beards. HONOR MY CULTURE, JERKS! Er, sorry. I guess I'm just a little sensitive about these things.

Finally, since I got the crenelation tattoo idea from "Extreme Blockadeover" finalist, Dr. Tectonic, I'd like to offer him the same prize I gave to Silvercat: I'll draw a picture (or two) for him. Whatever he wants! (He knows how to get in touch with me.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Since My Man and I Ain't Together


There's a cloud over my head right now.

Just a tiny one, mind you, but it follows me around wherever I go. Even indoors. And it just sits up there, about a foot over my head, raining on me. Every ten minutes or so, a petite lightning bolt shoots out of it, and singes my scalp.

Fucking Storm Boy.

Yesterday, I had to let Ox down gently, and explain to him that while I thought he was an amazing person (and bonerifically sexy), I didn't feel like I could commit myself to one guy right yet. He was devastated. (Naturally.) I patted him on the shoulder, chucked his chin, and quoted some lyrics from Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield." This got us both hot again, and we made out for a while. During one of our rest periods, I brought up the subject of Storm Boy. I didn't say anything about Storm Boy using him as a sexual stand-in for myself. I only said that he was a friend of mine, and that he had "mentioned" Ox. But I could tell by the look on Ox's face that he had pieced together the rest of it. Ox said that Storm Boy had never said the first syllable to him about me. No surprise there. After making love to Ox several more times, in several different ways, I regretfully bid him au revoir. Soon afterwards, I got a visi-phone call from Storm Boy.

"WHAT DID YOU DO?" were the first words out of his mouth. I let him bitch at me for a couple of minutes, out of politeness.

I then proceeded to tear him a new one. I pointed out that the whole mess could have been avoided if he'd just been honest with both Ox and me about what was going on, and why. "So you like to chase after some Bear," I told him. "That's all well and good, son. Only next time, step out of your comfort zone and aim yourself at one who doesn't look like me."

Storm Boy maintained that I "didn't want [him] to be happy" and that I would have put myself between him and Ox (an interesting visual) no matter what. And then the little ingrate demanded an apology! The best I could muster was, "I'm sorry the raw, brute power of my sexuality bends all male humanoids to my will." Storm Boy ended our conversation when he repeatedly smashed his visi-phone into his bedside table.

The tiny cloud showed up an hour later.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Day the World Ended

In my defense, I was drunk off my ass.

And I hardly think the blame for this whole mess can be pinned just on me.

Criminy. I screwed up so bad, I can't even believe it. Holy balls.

But maybe I'd better explain, huh?

Let's go back to yesterday, when I was stuck in that damn hover-biker bar.

It was hard to see, and it smelled ripe. And so did I, I'm sure. Amadan sweat, at full strength, has defeated every antiperspirant ever devised. I could still feel that Drogann guy's ass vibrating on my crotch, like a phantom limb or something. And there was this guy, givin' me the come-hither signal from across the bar. I could tell he was a looker: big muscular dude, around my height. His ruggedly handsome features were complimented by a shaved pate and a massive, white-streaked beard. As I made my way over to him, I became intoxicated by his scent. Beyond the sweat, and the rich aroma of pipe tobacco, there was something else. It was tangy. Like the inside of a gym bag. But in a good way. Without even saying a word, we started kissing, and groping each other. I ran my hands over his smooth scalp, and tried to brush the dopey-looking "dark beast ear" headband off of it. That's when I realized he wasn't wearing a headband. What I had taken for "ears" were actually fat, fleshy protuberances. It only intrigued me more.

We found a secluded spot for making love. I could tell he was used to being in charge, but my vast knowledge of pressure points and wrestling holds soon settled that. The floorboards trembled. Because some ya-hoo had crashed a tunneling battle-tank (the kind with the big spinning drill on the front) right into the bar! Crazed Solstice rioters pushed their way through the hole, only to be met by angry, drunken hover-bikers. Back-to-back, my new lover and I battled our way through the mob and out into the streets.

Together, we braved untold hazards: collapsing buildings, rocket-car pile-ups, streets flooded with noxious chemicals, overflowing sewers. And we did it all while barreling through violent mobs and evading the searchlights of Lallor's draconian police forces. When we'd clobber a guy with a bottle of liquor in his hands, we'd nab it and drink it, ourselves. But the thrill of violence was far headier than any alcohol.

On the edges of the city, the dangers grew less frequent. We stopped to renew our passion on the floor of a (nearly) abandoned Infernal House of Pancakes, and then we climbed to the roof, to snuggle. Satellite debris was still streaking through Lallor's bruise-purple skies. The city's burning downtown district was spread out before us, like dazzle gems on the cloak of some barbarian emperor. We had been in the middle of it, and survived. I felt more alive than I had ever been. Triumphantly, I fired up my pipe, and saw that my lover was lighting a pipe of his own. A fellow pipe-smoker! Even better. I knew in my heart that this man wasn't going to be the "great love of my life," but we did seem to have forged a great bond, and I hoped to enjoy his company in the future. Frequently. We talked of many things, deep, philosophical, spiritual and profane. At last, my thoughts took on a gossamer quality, and floated right out of my head. Only a warm sense of belonging remained. The last thing I clearly remember is the pair of us strolling arm-in-arm into a tattoo parlor...

I awoke to find myself in a strange bed, in a very old house. The room was saturated with the peculiar odor, which had fascinated me in the hover-biker bar. Here, it was unleavened. It was a commanding smell. Overbearing. Merciless. But in a good way. I sniffed at the blankets. The scent had penetrated them. And not just the blankets. It had gotten into my beard, and my skin. I ran my tongue over my teeth. Within my mouth, the odor had transformed itself into a taste: something between vinegar and a burned steak. It was odd, but strangely pleasant.

I sat up and tried to figure out where I was. That's when I saw the tattoo that encircled my right bicep. It was a thick, purple line, in a crenelated pattern. I looked down, and saw a second tattoo over my left nipple. It was a large tower, silhouetted in purple, imitating the cut-out on my super-hero costume. I could hear the shower going in another part of the house. I slipped out of the bed, and pulled on my boxers. As quietly as I could, I padded about the room, investigating. Through the window I spied a neighborhood filled with tiny homes, all of them quite old, but in good shape. Next door, an elderly Bismollian cleared satellite debris from his lawn, by eating it. On a table, I found a small clay pot, bearing sigils that looked vaguely familiar. Likewise, the piles of blankets had patterns and colors that I'd seen before, someplace else, years earlier. I wandered into the hall. The running shower was behind a door at one end of it. Steam wafted through the keyhole, carrying with it a concentrated dose of my lover's aroma. At the hall's opposite end was a modest, tidy living room. Quaint wet-plate photographs dotted the walls of the hall, hanging from dainty ribbons. Each one featured humanoids from whose foreheads jutted knobby horns of varying lengths and girths. In some of the photographs, the horns were emitting pale wisps of smoke. And everyone in the photos had black hair, with a thick white streak running down the middle. Even the beards and mustaches had this solitary white streak. That's when it hit me: my soul mate was from the same world as Polecat! That's where I'd seen those design motifs before: in the ugly-ass clothes Polecat had sewn when we were in high school together!

It struck me as funny. I hated Polecat, mainly because he was a sniveling, acid-tongued little twink who stank like a cheese-fry fart. Not that I had even seen him since our school days. I remember he had vowed to take some kind of revenge on me. (Him and about a hundred other guys from that school. The Blockade Boy Revenge Squad! They even had their own page in the yearbook!) I wondered why Polecat smelled so differently from this mysterious man I had slept with. Maybe it was all the greasy foods he liked to eat, or, hell, just because he was a teenager and going through "that awkward age." And here I was, having just rolled out of bed with a guy from the same planet as a dude I utterly despised.

As I pondered this, I ambled back into the bedroom. My reverie was cut short when I stumbled over my own costume and crashed headlong onto the floor. A metallic squeal signaled the shower cutting off. My lover called to me from the bath, asking if I was awake. His voice was a gravelly baritone. Very butch, very hot.

I could hear the sink faucet run, briefly, along with the brusque scraping noises of a scalp razor. We had a good laugh over how he had mistaken me for a man of his own species. He asked me if his scent was going to be a problem, and I honestly told him that it wasn't. He said that the other guys he had dated couldn't wait to scour his aroma off of themselves, as soon as they were done in the sack. But that was all over, now. As far as he was concerned, I was The One. Supposedly, I had "ruined him for all other men." I didn't feel the same, but I hated to ruin the mood, so I fobbed him off by saying something sexy and vague. When he complimented me on my own manly aroma, I suggested that we spend a lot of time together, working out and playing one-on-one moops ball, so I could work up a good sweat for him. What the heck, right? I thought I could let him down gently once we were face-to-face.

The faucet squeaked off, and the door opened. He strolled out, rubbing his face with a towel. That's when I saw that he had the same tattoos as myself. He lowered the towel from his head, and smiled, playfully, at my dumbstruck countenance. "Hey, don't blame me!" he purred. "The matching tattoos were your idea."

I think I replied, "Yeah, that sounds like something I'd do." But I was having trouble focusing on the tattoos, because I could finally see that this guy looked a lot like me. Similar jawline, similar eyes (although his were a soft gray, while mine are green). And come to think of it, his voice was awfully similar to my own.

With an aw-shucks nod of his head, he proffered a furry hand to me, and said, "Gosh, I don't think we ever even told each other our names! I'm Rale Toran. Well, when I'm out super-heroing, my codename is 'Musk Ox.' But you can just call me..."

"...Ox," I answered for him, as my guts threatened to heave up a river of alcohol. I held out my own hand, which was suddenly quite clammy, and very, very cold. "It's nice to finally make your acquaintance."

Storm Boy was right.

I really do "ruin everything."


Monday, December 24, 2007

Oh, There's No Place Like a Hover-Biker Bar for the Holidays


Yeah, I'm writing this post drunk. SO WHAT?

Sorry. I'm a little testy right now. Lemme explain.

I got my final paycheck from my Undercover Santa gig at the Mall of Lallor. That was fine. They even threw in a bonus for all the extra business I was able to drum up; it seems that I was their most unforgiving, brutal Santa Claus ever, and it brought in the Solstice fanatics by the rocket-load! And those nuts, they'll spend space-cheddah on Solstice merchandise with such abandon, you'd think Gold Boy himself was crapping his gilded turds directly into their purses. I interrogated respectfully asked one of my Santa job clients about this phenomenon. Apparently, they believe their odds of achieving (wholly imaginary) salvation increase with every new piece of tie-in junk they purchase.

However. I can't deposit (or, to be perfectly honest, cash) the damn paycheck because the freakin' banks are all shut down. So that's Sucky Thing Number One.

Sucky Thing Number Two is how Eyeful Ethel was going to throw her employees a lavish Solstice Eve party at work today, but had to cancel at the last minute due to civil unrest. It would have been a fun bash, too, I bet. Everybody was there, save for Gadfly Lad, of course, and Storm Boy, who had visi-phoned in sick with something unpronounceable and contagious. (I bet he's canoodling with that "Ox" guy right now. ...Huh. Apparently, I believe in "Ox" after all! It's a Solstice miracle!)

We had just finished decorating the office and were wondering why the caterers were late, when that blimp I saw last week drifted by our windows. Which was a bad sign, considering we're only on the third floor. We all rushed over to "ooh" and "ah" at it. (Okay, so maybe it was more "AAAAA!!!" than "ah" but still.) The last "N" in its lighted slogan flickered out with a burst of sparks, changing its dire prophecy to "THE END IS EAR." Abruptly, the blimp banked upward and soared into a radioactive cloud. Mere moments later, it emerged, heading in the opposite direction and sinking rapidly. Several sky mutants clung to it. Its tail burst into flame. It planted itself nose-down into the public square a few blocks from us, and exploded. It was a sight to behold -- the conflagration featured an impressive, multi-stage display, with fountains of sparks; whizzing, boomeranging debris that shot gaily into the sky; and a stunning Roman candle sort of sustained burst. It was way better than most fireworks shows I've attended -- and I've attended a lot! About halfway through the blimp's lengthy demise, the lights blinked out in the nearby buildings. As if by some secret signal, hoards of rioters flooded into the streets, and started beating the shit out of one another. Then our own building went dark.

Ethel swore, loudly. Then she sighed, "Sorry, folks. Solstice is canceled. I'd advise you to all get home as soon as possible. You know, before things get out of hand."

I tried to visi-phone Klup, but I couldn't get a signal. Nobody could. The reason for this became apparent once the blazing communications satellites came pouring out of the heavens. One smacked squarely into Nightmare Boy's gloss-black Lallorghini XE rocket-car. "Oh, come on--!" he moaned.

"Didn't see that one coming, did you?" I quipped. He laughed, albeit ruefully.

As we hustled our asses out of there, I gallantly offered to walk somebody home. The only taker was Nightmare Boy.

I only had to clobber a handful of rioters at first (while Nightmare Boy cowered behind overturned baby carriages and other bits of detritus) but after six blocks or so, the crowds started getting thicker and meaner. Nightmare Boy's eyes looked positively wild, as he nervously checked street signs and his wristwatch. At one point, we had to retreat into an alley.

"Where are we?" demanded Nightmare Boy.

"Around Tcheru and 59th," I replied. "And don't take that tone with me."

He glanced at his watch again. "Duck."


"Down on the ground! NOW!" As I blinked at him, utterly confused at this change in his demeanor, Nightmare Boy tackled me. I was about to smack him in his beautiful face when the engine block from an exploding zoom-lorry sailed overhead, right where my head had been.

Nightmare Boy rolled himself off of me, and smiled. "I saw that one coming! Oh, and you're welcome." He burst into the universe's suavest-sounding giggle fit. (It was very George Takei-like.) He hopped to his feet and extended his hand to me.

Flushed with embarrassment, I allowed him to help me up. "Thanks, dude," I said. "And I'm sorry I've doubted you. I guess you're not a big phony after all!"

"Not all the time, anyway," he grinned.

I scouted the other end of the alley. The chaos was less-pronounced on the adjoining street. I motioned for Nightmare Boy to join me. I explained to him that the crowds were getting too thick and too violent for us to safely make it all the way to his home, and that we were better off finding some place where we could hole up until the next morning.

I noticed that a hover-biker bar across the street still had its lights on, and suggested it to Nightmare Boy as a suitable spot. Two muscle-bound patrons tumbled out the establishment's front door, trading punches. Then they started to make out.

Nightmare Boy's pallid complexion blanched to lily-whiteness. "I think I see a dance club a few blocks down," he gulped. "That would be good, too."

I squinted, trying to make out anything beyond the veil of smoke he was pointing at. "What, behind that overturned acid tanker and the Burning Effigy Parade? Good luck with that."

In front of the hover-biker bar, the two men had interrupted their make-out session to resume belaboring each other about the head and groin.

"I'll take my chances," replied Nightmare Boy. Convulsively, he darted out of the alley, and disappeared into the haze.

So here I am, by myself on Solstice Eve, in a hover-biker bar. I'd be tempted to brave the riots again, except the owner has had to activate the inertron shutters. No one enters; no one leaves! The Solstice carol videos belched out by the holo-box are bracingly gory affairs, but around their twelfth repetition they've lost their luster. The floors have filmed over with a combination of dirt, melted radioactive snow, and various bodily fluids. There's nothing to eat except soylent snacks. The heater is stuck on "blast furnace" level, which means I'm currently swimming in my own perspiration. I've been in three fist-fights already. None of them have ended in a make-out session, goddamn it. My vision is blurry. (Whether it's from the alcohol, the chokingly thick clouds of cigar smoke, or the pool cue chalk that nailed me in the eye when I first entered, I'm not sure.) An hour ago, somebody vomited into the complimentary bowl of rum punch. And to top it all off, the owner just came around with a box of those tacky dark beast ears (on headbands) for everybody to wear. I put some on. Because I don't care, anymore. "The end is ear," indeed.

...Hold the visi-phone! There's a hot, beefy dude "making eyes" at me, and he's got the brawniest arms and the lushest salt-and-pepper beard I've ever laid eyes on! I'm gonna walk over there and see if he wants to "wrestle." It looks like this day won't be a total loss, after all!

Happy Solstice, everybody!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Feelin' Kinda Splotchy

Mmm... hat.

Yup, the Mess was the ringleader in the case I was investigating. As this body's former inhabitant doubtlessly must have said on such occasions, "I'll be hornswoggled!"

Casualty report!

Tusker: treated for minor xenon gas inhalation; demanded (and received) a bowl of ice cream prior to his release

Dentata Damsel: temporary hearing loss caused by exploding pog; has been "yelling" a lot, which for her means talking in a normal tone of voice

Me: bruises on throat from being elbowed in the windpipe; wrestling with that vibrating dude has left me horny as all get-out

Gadfly Lad: legs broken in twenty-three places; is recovering quite nicely and should be released in a week; I plan on visiting the brave li'l trooper in the hospital quite often (as long as that bitchy girlfriend of his isn't there).

But currently, Gadfly Lad is sleeping, and he can't have any visitors at all. So now's a good time for me to catch up on some belated business: continuing the "Splotchy" story meme that Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator tagged me with! And Jon, I'm sorry I didn't get to it sooner, but my life has been crazy-hectic with all this Solstice Season hullaballoo. Anyway, here goes!

I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)

"That's strange," I said out loud to no one in particular. My fingers slowly reached towards the jar again. My body experienced a wave of apprehension as weighted blanket covering me as I did so. The jar was completely frozen.

I picked it up and stared at it, my fingers stung with little knives of chill. "What the..." again I spoke aloud. Then I realized what had happened with a shock. Suddenly the jar flew from my hand. It shattered creating a collage-like mixture of frozen applesauce and glass shards on my kitchen floor, the lid lazily rolling to a stop across the room. (FranIAm)

I half noticed at first glimpse that there was something odd amidst the solidified apple sauce as I reached for the broom and the dust pan. As I knelt down to clean up the frozen mess, I could clearly see a tiny figure within the goopy mess. It was a human eye, with tiny arms and legs! I resisted my initial urge to pick it up with my hand, and then reached down to scoop it up with the dustpan. The eye looked up at me in horror and gave out a frightening high pitched screech as it ran for the living room.

I was dumbfounded by this turn of events. I didn't even like applesauce - And I had guests coming for dinner! It would not be proper to have a homunculus eyeball running around during the appetizer - I had to think fast. I crept into the living room so as to not startle the small creature. The eyeball was under the coffee table, peeking out from behind one of table legs. When I approached, it quickly darted under the couch!

I got on my hands and knees to look under the couch, but I could not see the eye through all of the old newspapers and dust bunnies that had accumulated under there. I had to hurry! the guests were coming at seven o'clock, and I had not even started the buffalo chicken skewers with blue cheese dipping sauce yet! Not to mention the couscous and the broccoli noodle salad. (Zaius Nation)

I shook my head and leaned back against the wall. Surely this couldn’t be happening, surely there isn’t an anthropomorphic eyeball running around under my couch. It just couldn’t be real, could it?

“Ahem,” a little voice squeaked. “Ahem.”

I looked all around for the source of the voice. I finally found that it was from the eyeball peering around the back of the couch. I leaned in and looked at it closer. It still appeared to be uneasy (I mean, I’m sure that’s how it appeared, but then again I’m not all that certain about behavior patterns of walking eyeballs.

“Did you say something?” I asked it.

“You’re not going to poke me are you?” it asked. “I hate getting poked.”

“Uh no,” I answered dumbfounded. “I won’t poke you.”

“And you’re not going to lock me away in a jar of applesauce are you?”

“No, I’m not going to do that,” I replied, still bewildered by the sight in front of me.

“OK.” He made the eyeball equivalent of a nod, hitched up a pair of nonexistent trousers, adjusted the chimerical hat on his head, and walked up to me. “I am forever in debt to you, sir, for freeing me from the confines of that jar.”

“OK, sure,” I smiled lamely. “How’d you get in there?”

“The evil wizard trapped me in there,” he answered. “He knows the only way to trap a geneye is to use a jar of applesause.”

“You’re… you’re a geneye,” I managed to blurt out. I may not get the appetizers done, but this may be one heckuva party anyways.

“At you service,” it bowed. “And to thank you for freeing me, I would like to reward you with two wishes.”

“Oh, so you’re like a genie.” It all started to make sense to me now. No, not really.

“Yes,” it rolled its eye. “Like a genie, only we’re geneyes. They sure do know how to warp a good story in Hollywood, don’t they?”

“Yeah,” I agreed, again dumbfoundedly. “So I get two wishes? What about three?”

“Ugh!” the geneye slapped the top of its head, or the top of its eyeball at least. “You get two. Two. Only two. That’s how it works. And no wishing for more wishes, we’re onto that. Aladdin tried that once, it wasn’t pretty.”

“OK, so I get two, let me think,” I said thoughtfully. Screw the party, this is way more interesting.

“Yeah, hurry up, I don’t have all day,” the magical homunculus eyeball tapped it’s foot. “I’ve got places to go.”

“OK, OK,” I answered. Well, I could always wish for a lot of money, except that never works in the stories. The villain always wishes for riches and gets trapped in the cave with the gold, or sent to the bottom of the sea with it or audited by the IRS because of it. As much as I’d like to pay off the mortgage, I don’t think I can.

“Well?” it asked impatiently.

“I want peace on Earth and good will toward men,” I say with a forfeiting shrug.

“Peace on Earth and good will toward men?” it repeated. “Is that one wish or two?”

“One,” I replied. “You know, ‘tis the season and all.”

“Nice choice,” it nodded. Then the geneye snapped its fingers. “It is done.”

I felt it. For one moment, I felt nothing but peace and joy all around me. Others felt it, too but no one would ever be able to explain it. All around the world, people stopped what they were doing and just enjoyed the moment. Evil men stopped thinking evil thoughts and just smiled nicely. The hurt, the sick, and all who were in pain be it physical, mental, or spiritual, felt the warmth of a brief reprieve. Bells rang. Angels sang. Then I felt it end.

“Hey, that was nice,” I said. “Why didn’t it last?”

“Come on,” the magical being snorted. “I’m not that powerful. You got one more wish.”

One more wish. What should I wish for? Hmmm. (Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator)

My deep and meaningful thoughts were interrupted by the opening bars of ELO's "Strange Magic." My cellphone was ringing! I examined the caller i.d. It was my dad. My gaze darted between the geneye and the phone. The geneye tapped its little foot. Jeff Lynne continued to croon, tinnily.

"I have to take this," I mumbled. The geneye emitted a melodramatic sigh.

Dad wanted to talk (at length) about some television show he'd just watched. I put him off with an excuse about the dinner party. As I slipped the phone back into its holster, I said, "I wish he'd stop calling me whenever I'm in the middle of something STOP! DON'T YOU DARE!"

The geneye smiled, benignly. "Don't dare what?"

"Don't grant that wish! It didn't count!"

"Of course, I wouldn't grant that wish! I mean, obviously, you weren't even talking to me."

"Sorry. I guess I've seen too many movies."

"Sure, sure. But still, that would've been pretty low of me, wouldn't it? I'm not a sadist!" A tinge of resentment had entered its voice.

"I said I was sorry! Okay, so... the wish! Oh, I know! I wish that everybody in the world was..."

The geneye groaned. "Hold it right there! I can only make world-wide wishes last for a second or two. Figure it out! Try thinking locally."

"Well, how many people can you affect permanently?"

"I don't know. A couple dozen, maybe. But I'd have to know their names, and they'd have to be located within, I dunno, ten, twelve miles from here."

I couldn't think of anybody I knew who was in need of serious help. But what else to wish for? My mind was a blank. And I still had to prepare for the dinner party. Oh, how I was dreading that party! My friends and I had started a monthly "dinner club" a few years ago, but since they'd all started getting married and having kids, they'd become tired, boring drones... zombies, practically. It was going to be a long, awkward evening. Unless...

I clapped my hands and shouted "YES!"

The geneye flinched, startled.

"I've got it!" I cried. "I want all of my dinner guests to be charming and clever. Like... 'Algonquin Round Table' clever. Can you do that?"

"No problem. Show me your guest list."

I tag the following people to continue the story, however they want:

Gryphon Rose

Paul and John

Gyuss Baaltar



The Fortress Keeper


E-Mail From a 30th Century Henchman


Dear Naa Mah,

Well it looks like Im going to miss spending Reverence Week with you and the boys this year due to me getting thrown in Takron-Galtos again so first off im really really sorry about that. Please be certin to tell Ham and Shem that daddy loves them and is away "on importent busness" or whatever excuse it is your giving them nowadays. Thank you I love you.

I should of knowen from the start that this latest job of mine was gonna go south on me as my employer in this case aint nobody big-time like a Starfinger or a Time Trapper or nothing but is instead some screwy kid who won a crapload of space-cheddah off an unauthorized "scratch and win" lottery or something. He calls hisself "the Mess" which is apprapoe because I dont think he never took a shower in his life I mean he could at least use some of that Atomic Ax Body Spray like the Perswader advertises on the holo-tube. Also he aint got no ambishun to be a crime lord he only wants to revenge hisself on the Mall of Lallor as it got depossitted onto the spot where he lived and he got trapped under there for a bunch of years living on the vast stores of snack pouches and soda drums he could scrounge outta the other trailer pods you know the ones where the inhabbatints already left or died or whatever and the radiashun from the ground soil didnt help none either so now hes all crazy in the skull and hairless to boot on top of already being kinda fat and pale and grubby plus hes addickted to home shopping and his "criminal headquarters" is cramped as all get out what with the nick nacks.

So anyway the Mess is really into these things they got on Lallor called "fallout globes" where its like a plasto-bubble filled with water and white plastic granyools and they got a minyatyoor reproduckshun of a famous Lallor monyumint in them and you shake the plasto-bubble and it looks like deadly radiashun is falling on the building just like it did after the Atomic Wars and still does sometimes if Im going to be perfecktly honest. And he picked up one of those globes on one of the rare ocayshuns he tunnels outta his den like a freaking maggot or some shit in order to buy more scratch-off tickets. Thats when he got the idea to sistermatickly shrink down the Mall of Lallor store by store by store and put it into globes only the globes are filled with this fancy-ass liquid they call "suspendum" on account it preserves stuff real good. Why he dont just shrink the whole mall down really really small and just get the damn thing over with all at once is beyond me or he could just put it in a bigger globe I dont know Im not an expirt. See the problum with doing it one store at a time is after a while the Mall catches on and then they hire ackshual SUPER HEROS to proteckt it. Like one time this crazy old homeless-looking fucker jumped on top of the get away car and then he changed hisself into a metal berrickade and I just narrowly got outta there with my life and then this other time this flying kid no bigger than my hand chases after us but Karel nailed him with a neurel granade. After that I wanted to shut down the whole operashun right then and there but the Mess wouldnt go for it and why would he I mean hes crazy but what threw me for a loop is how nither of the other guys would back me up! I think the problum was they aint been in the biz for near as long as I been and they still beleeved they were invinsibul well Ill tell you what when you been in the space-pokey as many times as I been you figyur out when to cut your losses. On the other hand you know this is the only work I can get and Im trying to put some money away for Shems and Hams collage fund and this "Mess" joker was only paying us the other half of our fees upon the jobs compleeshun so I felt like I had to stick it out a while longer.

So anyway it was Saturday nite and the Mess was bilding hisself a gingerbread pod only he was eating most of it so it was slow going and Karel was sitting in the corner all fucked up from too much oxygen and Drogann was watching like his ninth strate hour of that live streaming Omnicom program Whore Dorm and his eyes were kinda glazed over but who could tell really the way he shook and I was bored off my ass waiting around for something to happen so guess what happened then. No guess.

The front door fell in with a THUD and I saw this creepy broad (well she had a nice shape on her I must admit I mean I aint made outta stone) standing there and she spit the doors chewed-up hinges on the floor! And behind her was that homeless guy and he got the mini-kid on his sholder and behind them was this big walrus-man with dental tools which is co-insidently the reason why Im now missing both my front teeth so consider yourself warned I just wanted to prepare you before your next conjugal visit sorry thanks for understanding. And anyway praise the Luck Lords the Messes tunnels were so narrow cause all these super heros got jammed up at the door or else I woulda been done for right then and there.

The Mess shouted "Minyuns attack!!!" with gingerbread crumbs shooting out of his fat mouth and that term always pisses me off but hey he was paying the bills so I sucked it up like I always do. I fumbulled for my phaser-pistol and I got a few shots off but it didnt matter none as the homeless guy squeezed in front of the creepy gal and turned hisself into a steel wall. The teeny flying kid swooped down on me and snatched my weapon right outta my hand. Then the walrus-man pounced on Karel with his own phaser-pistol and Karel freaked out and whimpered "Dont phaser me bro!" and I saw the walrus-man hesitate which gave Karel enuff time to blast him with a spray of gas from the spare xenon gas tank that was sitting next to him and then the walrus-man kind of choked and staggered backward and losed his grip on the weapon. Drogann charged at the homeless guy who shots these force-field things at him from his wrists but they passed right thru Drogann who just kept barrelling forward and then he pinned the hero agenst the wall and his elbow was at his throat and I saw the homeless guy was starting to pass out but his big bushy beard ackted as a cushun between Droganns elbow and the homeless guys wind pipe so it was taking a real long time. And the hero was trying to grappel with Drogann but Drogranns non stop vibrashuns made him real slippery. Mean while I was fending off the lady and the kid. The curvy dame ran at me with her teeth nashing and her eyes just looking insane but I hit her with one of Karels blasting pogs and she went flying into the Messes collecters case of commemerativ sporks. The kid buzzed all around me like a winged wampus and he pummelled me with a teeny electro-mace but he made the mistake of getting too close so I grabbed him and plucked his fakey wings off and thru him on the floor and stamped on him also for good meashur. As for the Mess hisself well he was down on the floor with his wormy hands over his head crawling crawling crawling.

So it looked like were winning but that never lasts like it ought to if you ask me. The homeless guy kneed Drogann in his vibrating nads and while Drogann was reeling from that he headbutted him and punched him in the face a coupel times. Karel grabbed a blasting pog from his belt to finish off the walrus-man but the walrus-man blindly lashed out with his dental pliers and shattered Karels helmet and Karel freaked out for realsies this time saying "NO NO NO NO" only he was laughing the whole time and he got this big toothy smile and fell ass-backwards onto the floor stiff as a board. Too much oxygen. (I hear they got him in the hospitul ward now.) The homeless guy grabbed me by the coller and he smashed me and Drogann both into the table where the Mess was working on the gingerbread pod and our heads went CRACK just over and over and the creepy gal and the walrus-man got theyre electro-cuffs out to put us into custody and suddenly ZAP!

I dont think nobody knew what happened at first but as it turns out the Mess had set up the shrink ray and pointed it at us so everybody found themselves on the table top and really really small. I saw the Mess over by the ray and he was huge and really far away and he had this nutty smirk on his chubby hairless face. As for myself I was pissed off about the whole thing to tell you the truth but then the Mess aint never had to work the damn thing before so I guess he didnt know how to adjust the apperchur settings so maybe I need to show more understanding for my fellow man but on the other hand fuck that noise. So we started fighting all over again. Drogann and me ran into the gingerbread pod for sheltur and we lobbed gumdrops and salted nuts outta the windows at them but the homeless guy snagged a candy cane and used it like a battering ram to bust the door down. The creepy lady clobbered me with a lickerish whip and even tied my sorry ass up with it and the walrus-man laffed his goddamn ass off but then he got a look on his face I didnt like at all and then out came the dental tools. The homeless guy and Drogann went at it mainly wrestling I suppose and the homeless guy kept getting Drogann in this bear hug where Droganns ass was pressed smack dab agenst the homeless guys crotch and I swear it looked like the homeless guy was getting off on it you know what with all the vibrashun and such. After like the seventh time this happened Drogann panicked I guess and he vibrated hisself thru the table-top and thats the last I seen of him and I have this awful idea that maybe he over-did the vibrating and kept going right thru the floor into the ground and now hes stuck down there with the grubs and the fossils and he cant see or breeth none which means hes dead. Anyway right then we got hit with the reverse-setting on the shrink ray and with four full grown adults on the table it busted and we all ended up in a heap on the floor under slabs of mega-sized gingerbread and I wanted to make a brake for it only the now-gigantic lickerish whip was still sinched around me. And we looked around and we saw the dinky flying kid only now he was almost normal size and he was supporting his two smashed legs by leaning hisself on the shrink ray tripod and he looked nearly as pale as the Mess did and he was sweating like there was no tomorrow but he was grinning too.


And where was the Mess you ask well Ill tell you. The kid held up a empty jelly jar with the lid on and the Mess was inside cause the dinky kid shrunk him down! The kids smile went all wobbly and he started to faint but the homeless dude grabbed the dinky kid while the creepy gal snagged the jar.

Thanks to Lallors new "speed trials" I got convickted and sentenced in under thirty minutes of my arrival at the court house so they hustled my ass off-planet right away which is just fine by me as it is Solstice Season on Lallor and from what I hear the whole damn population goes apeshit with riots and mass-murders and line-dancing and such so Ill just kick back in my comfy cell if its all the same to you.

Your loving husband,
No Ah

P.S. Please come visit just as soon as you possibully can and dont forget to bring those soylent butter cookies those are always a treat thanks.


Friday, December 21, 2007

The Unusual Suspects


This morning, Gadfly Lad and I had a conference-visi-phone call with Eyeful Ethel. The investigation is really chugging along. And it's about goddamn time, too! Lallor's Solstice Season is almost done, and with it, my "undercover" job as Santa.

The mysterious chemical in those bottles that dropped out of the getaway zoom-lorry? A contraband, extra-dimensional fluid known as "Suspendium." And it just so happens that several bottles of Suspendium were reported stolen from the Space Museum's Gallery of Liquid Curiosities. The fingerprints collected from that crime scene match the ones on the bottles. And sure, the perps had used a Fingerprint Scrambler (another fine product from BrainGlobeCorp) but we still managed to decipher them! We now have four "persons of interest" in this case. Three of them have long criminal records. And all of them have been "off the grid" for years!


No Ah*: Rimborian career criminal. Worked as a henchman for Grimbor, Doctor Regulus, Pulsar Stargrave, and multiple Starfingers. Skilled fighter and sous chef. Flunked out of grade school, beauty school, and clown college.


Karel Henrick Van Schoonhoven: Native of Xenon, where by pure coincidence, all the names sound Dutch. Explosives expert, adult film director. Must wear bubble helmet that simulates atmosphere of home planet, but is addicted to "huffing" oxygen. Never blinks, due to lack of eyelids.


Drogann: Kaffarian voyeur. Freak accident imbued him with uncontrollable power of super-vibration. He can shift his molecules through walls, but he ruins every photo he's in.


Meyer Qayd, a.k.a. "The Mess": "What, me bathe?" This hapless yokel has no prior convictions. That said, we have discovered that he grew up in a trailer pod over which the Mall of Lallor is sitting, this very instant! Y'see, Lallorian construction companies rarely bother to demolish condemned buildings. They'd much rather build the new structures off-site, and then just drop them on top of the old ones! Gentlemen, we have a motive!

But who are they all working for? I mean, if it turns out that the Mess is some kind of mastermind, I'll eat my hat. (Admittedly, this wager is a win-win situation for me. Even if I lose, I'll have an excuse to go hat-shopping!)

*Edited to fix punctuation error.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Some Live Like Ozymandias

Yesterday, my coworkers and I went up to the First Planetary Bank of Lallor, so we could all enjoy seeing my brutally handsome countenance forever immortalized as a giant... um... art... thing.

Eyeful Ethel's rocket-limo pulled up in front of the bank, just as Gadfly Lad and I were nearing it on our humble feet. Tusker, Rainbow Girl, Dentata Damsel, and Frigid Queen quickly piled out. They were followed by Nightmare Boy -- who was wearing his mobile visi-phone headset, which resembles a motorcycle helmet. He didn't say much the entire time, aside from the occasional, drowsy-sounding "Eyeful Ethel's Detective Agency, please hold" and some muffled snoring. Finally, Ethel herself stepped out of the conveyance, onto a red carpet she keeps for such occasions! And sure enough, the moment she emerged from the rocket-limo, a jetpack-wearing paparazzo zoomed by, and snapped a photo of her. She tilted her head coquettishly, and smiled for him.

I thought it was awfully nice of Ethel to take the time to join us, considering how busy she is with her public speaking engagements, and her book club, and her signature line of gourmet tabasco sauces.

I wondered where Storm Boy was, but I decided to keep that to myself. Too many people already have the misguided opinion that I'm seething with jealousy over his entirely hypothetical romance with this "Ox" character. But no, I just regret making him mad at me. Even though I can't figure out how I even did it in the first place! Heck, just two nights ago I showed up at his apartment, about 1:30 AM, unannounced and heavily fortified with space-wine... to make amends! And if I just happened to catch a glimpse of Ox, well, that would have been a convenient coincidence. But Storm Boy refused to even let me inside! (Blockade block!) I started in on the little speech I'd prepared, but Storm Boy interrupted me, and said, "I'm sorry, Blockade Boy, but I can't even look at you when you're... like this." And of course, he was making this sour, wincing face, and only looking at me from the corners of his eyes, with his head all twisted sideways, the whole time I was there. Just like I used to do with him! WHAT THE HELL?! I tried again to talk, but he just said, "Goodbye, Blockade Boy," and (gently) shut the door in my face.

On the slow-moving X-ray treadmill that takes you into the lobby of the bank itself, the eight of us chatted excitedly about what sort of medium would be portraying my magnificent visage. I envisioned a mega-sized, working diorama of my skull, made out of swords, and axes, and other cool weapons. Spiky maces for my eyeballs, perhaps. Ethel surmised it could be a dynamic holo projector. Tusker imagined -- or maybe he was just hungry for -- a butter sculpture. Dentata Damsel wondered if it might be inflatable, like those bouncy fortresses they have at kids' birthday parties, and the art patrons could enter it through the back of my head, and exit through my mouth (sliding down my beard). As with most of her ideas, her complete lack of vocal modulation made it impossible for me to tell if she was serious. After what felt like days, the treadmill jerked to a halt, and deposited us into the bank's spectacular lobby.

And then I saw it.


A mobile.

It was a fucking mobile! With a big red clown nose! Gah!

I'm pretty sure Gadfly Lad, Ethel, Tusker, and Rainbow Girl all managed to hold their tongues. Frigid Queen had her hand over her mouth, but audibly tittered, plus she was shaking all over, like Michael J. Fox on crack. Dentata Damsel's blandly agreeable mug barely moved, while it emitted a percussive, congested snorting. And Nightmare Boy laughed so hard, he hyperventilated and briefly passed out. I can't be one-hundred percent sure of any of this, however, because I was too busy screaming "MOTHERFUCKER!" over and over.

I'm afraid I made a real scene. I must have ranted about that goofy mobile for a good twelve minutes, at least! I think everybody else was mainly amused by me at first, and then they got kinda terrified, and towards the end, boredom set in. When I'd finally run out of invectives -- and steam -- I was left just standing there, all red-faced and panting, fixing the mobile with a goggle-eyed stare. Behind me, I could hear my coworkers muttering in exasperation.

"Up on the housetop, bitch, bitch, bitch, 'Santa,'" sighed Tusker. (Like he should talk--!)

"Drama queen...!" mumbled Nightmare Boy.

"The mobile, as an art form, has enjoyed increasing prominence on Lallor ever since the Atomic Wars," droned Gadfly Lad to nobody in particular. "Why, in the Modern Museum of Lallor alone, there are..."

It was Rainbow Girl who clasped my shoulder and said, gently, "You know Klup meant well, right?"

With no little amount of resignation, I conceded that point.

Rainbow Girl pointed out that it was a rare thing to be the inspiration of such a prominent piece of art, and she added that nobody had ever made any artwork because of her. The others chimed in to say pretty much the same thing -- except for Eyeful Ethel. She just grinned at me and said, "Remind me to show you the holo-painting I posed for. That no-talent doofus made my hair look like Spider Girl's."

Heh. It's strange: I put up with Weight Wizard's constant murder attempts for umpteen years (exactly how many years I can never be sure, thanks to this dimension's damn sliding timeline) but I was more upset by Klup's artistic hackery. As one of Amadus' greatest anonymous poets once said, "I have a heart of steel, but an aesthetic sense as tender as the hairs of a child's biker 'stache." Hmm. I'm going to have to ponder that one for a while. Seeing as how I'm so deep and wise and shit.

*philosophically puffs on pipe*

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Space-Cheddah Diggers of 2987

I had kind of a "freak-out" at work, yesterday.

Y'see, I kinda spent most of the money I'd saved up... on those tickets for "Sweet Chariot." I'm poor again! I've had to buy all my beard-grooming products and back-hair styling tools on credit! (And that shit ain't cheap--!) Anyway, I was doin' the Santa thing, and this one client, he made the mistake of telling me he'd just embezzled several wheels of space-cheddah from his bank. So I asked him how recently it had happened, and he told me it was just before he came to the mall to get absolved of it. And he still had the stolen loot on his person!

I think you all can guess what happened then.

Yup. I "confiscated" it. (For his own good.)

Then I went a little nuts. From that point onward, every punishment I dished out involved me taking people's space-cheddah away from them. I could see the mall's event coordinator getting nervous. How were people going to pay for crap they didn't need if I was taking all of their funds? I gave her the "relax" gesture -- the one where you cup your hands and kind of pat them downward, like you're building a sand castle or warming your mitts on some guy's ass cheeks. The less-orthodox Santa worshipers in line began to slink away when they realized what was going on. Fortunately, the hardcore types got so into it that they started visi-phoning their friends, and then the line was twice as long as ever! And it was packed with folks who insisted that I take all of their space-cheddah! I had a mammoth pile of the stuff goin' by the end of my shift. I finally had to fashion my cape into The Universe's Largest Bindle and just dump it all in there. When I made my triumphal walk down the stairs, all of the mall's executives were at the bottom, with their arms folded and sour expressions on their pusses. But before they could say a word to me, I undid the knot in my cape, swung it around like the hammer toss competition at the Space Olympics, and whipped all that space cheddah directly into a crowd of orphaned, feral toddlers who were getting escorted out of the mall by gun-toting security officers. I shouted, "CHARITY, motherfuckers!" and bolted for my dressing room.

I phoned Klup, to check on how the gigantic sculpture (or whatever) of me was going. He said he was finishing it up, that very night! I'm going to gather everybody from the agency for a "field trip" to go see it today, at lunch. I'm pumped!

On my walk home, I realized I still had a little crumble of space-cheddah in my pocket. Seriously, how did that get there? I guess I'll never know. *looks around, nervously* Anyway, I saw one of those pushy Solstice Season charity workers on the corner, collecting for the post-Solstice reconstruction efforts. They're a little bit like your own "bell ringers", except for the civil defense helmet, and the megaphone, and the "bloody red barrel" with the bio-hazard symbol on it. And this lady, she was on all four corners of the intersection, simultaneously. Which is when I realized it was Rainbow Girl! Rainbow Girl Yellow was closest, so I sauntered up to her, nonchalantly tossed the space-cheddah into the barrel, and with my plummiest, most elegant baritone, purred, "A mere trifle, my dear woman. But one must think of the little people."

For about a half-second, she was annoyed. But then she saw it was me. "Bite me, Sasquatch," she shot back, with a grin.


Before I could go on my way, she grabbed my arm. "Wait up! I gotta tell you what happened today at work: Tusker punched Phantom Lad!"

Of course, I had to stay and hear all the details.

It turns out that Phantom Lad had started loitering around the office again, since I wasn't there. And Tusker was having a bad day, with nothing going right. Some time after lunch, Tusker dropped a huge stack of files, right in front of Frigid Queen's desk. He swore like a star-sailor. And Phantom Lad took a break from macking on Frigid Queen to say to him, "Looks like somebody needs to get laid!"

And here's the beauty part: Tusker immediately put his fist into Phantom Lad's face, before he even had a chance to turn all immaterial like he always does. And while that douche-nozzle was laid out on the floor, blood streaming from his busted nose, Tusker leaned over him with his fists cocked, and said "Maybe I should just keep hitting you in the face! Maybe that would be a good stress-reducer for me!" (Attaboy! I'm so proud of him right now!)

So Phantom Lad scrammed out of there, with Frigid Queen following close behind and shooting a few mysterious smiles at Tusker. And then Nightmare Boy picked his lazy ass up from behind the reception desk, rushed over to Tusker, and shook his hand. "Dude!" gushed Nightmare Boy. "You're cool!" And then he invited Tusker to go out clubbing with him this weekend, so he could show Tusker how to be a "playa."

For the rest of the walk home, I swear Lallor's radioactive haze looked a little rosier than usual.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Duke of Hurl


That's why I avoid eating spicy foods (or getting drunk) before a fist-fight. Poor "El Grando!" Not only is his Mardi Gras mask busted, but he's gotten chipotle-scented vomit all over his fancy mariachi costume.

Also, I'm pretty sure they stole the whole idea of a "red self, slipping up from behind" from a film I once saw. ("Superman Red, Superman Blue-Balls." I give it four-and-a-half stars. Out of ten. The sex scenes were hot, but the sound design was atrocious.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Love in the Time of Ball Cancer

So it turns out, "Glub's" name is really "Klup." Also, I now suspect Flev may be suffering from severe nasal congestion. (Think about it.)

I had just enough time after my shift to change clothes, splash on some Hi-Tri-Jitsu cologne, and dash to the theater so I could meet Klup. He was a vision in this figure-hugging spandex number that hinted at every single piercing below his neckline. Plus, there was a peek-a-boo cut-out at his waist to show off just a hint of pubes. I growled appreciatively, and proceeded to eye-rape the bejeezus out of him. It was a good start to the evening.

The management had installed metal detectors, due to the Solstice Season unrest. Klup and his bazillion piercings almost didn't make it inside the building. But a stern look from me (and an individually wrapped slice of space-cheddah) smoothed things over with the security guard. "Sweet Chariot" itself was very enjoyable -- one of the better productions I've seen of this show. I particularly applaud the casting of Android Gerard Butler as Judah Ben-Hur. What a looker! (Fear not, music fans; they'd implanted him with Android Thomas Hampson's baritone voice box.) Klup had never seen the show before, but I could tell he was utterly enchanted by the spectacular musical numbers, like "If My Slaves Could See Me Now" and "It's a Leprous Face."

The famous chariot race was just beginning (finally, a good reason for theater-in-the-round) when one of Lallor's famed Spontaneous Riots spilled into the theater, through the atomic blast exits. So basically, all hell broke loose and the show came to an immediate halt. It was chaos. Nearly everybody -- rioters, security guards, androids, and theater patrons -- broke into a Western-style donnybrook. The security guards didn't even use their phaser pistols! What the hell? Nope, they were just hitting and kicking folks like everybody else. I was holding my own in that brawl, but I quickly noticed that Klup was getting piled on. He wasn't even hitting anybody! He was just defending himself with his arms. And crying. So I had to wade in there and scoop his ass up. With Klup cradled in my arms like a freaking baby, I punched my way out of that scrap. Once I made it to the sidewalk, I sprinted several blocks, and got us just out of range of the shock wave from when the theater blew up.

Klup told me he was worried about making it home, what with all the Solstice crazies on the streets. So I did the gallant thing and accompanied him back to his studio. On the way, I entertained him with a recounting of the remainder of "Sweet Chariot". I even gave him my rendition of the hit song, "I Love To Cry At Crucifixions."

I gotta say, Klup lives in a pretty bad neighborhood, what with all the graffiti, and the burned-out husks of rocket-cars, and the gangs of feral toddlers, and the sky mutants abducting people up into their glowing clouds. No wonder he had six different force-fields on his door! "I know, I know," he said, as he disabled each one. "But the rent's a dream! And it's just so much more 'real', don't you agree?"

Klup showed me around his workshop, and I swear, I still couldn't make heads or tails of anything. All I could see were big, curving plates of metal stacked up everywhere; the odd spool of industrial-strength inertron cable; and some odd metal spheroids, bigger than my head (which is already kind of hefty). Everything was covered in soot. By way of accomodations, Klup had a compact refrigerator, a king-sized velour mattress (no bedframe), some throw pillows, and a ginormous armoire. Klup cracked open a bottle of space-wine, and we talked about the vagaries of Art. I wanted to bring up my life as a costume designer, but since my real identity is doubly-concealed right now, I had to play dumb. (Damn it.)

Then Klup asked me if I could do a favor for him. He was worried about getting testicular cancer after getting caught in a recent fallout storm without his lead codpiece, and he wanted me to check him for lumps. Then he emitted a startled little squeal, because he realized that one of my fur-bearing mitts had already slipped into his peek-a-boo cut-out and was groping his balls. "Way ahead of you, kid," I purred to him. Then I told him how he could do a favor for me.

The sex wasn't as professional or as thorough as I'm used to, and sure, the neighbor's pit-maw was howling at us the entire time (how it even got into Klup's apartment in the first place, I'll never know)... but it was genuine, and I hadn't felt anything as sweetly sincere as that since Weight Wizard passed away.

Afterwards, Klup seemed energized. He said that I "inspired" him, and that he wanted me to pose for a new installation he was working on for the First Planetary Bank of Lallor! The artwork is supposed to be in honor of some long-dead Lallorian hero -- so long-dead that nobody even knows what he looks like, anymore. So in this case, Klup wants to use my handsome face! Sweet! Klup had me wear a replica Sugyn helmet he'd picked up at a pod bay sale, and then he started sketching me. I struck a ton of sexful poses. I vaguely recall Klup telling me that I didn't have to bother because he was only drawing my head and that I sure as hell didn't have to be nude, but I was workin' that helmet (and everything else) so fiercely, I barely noticed he was even there.

Much too soon, I had to return to the mall for my next shift. With one last passionate kiss, I left sweet Klup for the harsh Lallorian streets.

Klup's a nice guy. I wouldn't mind seeing him again. If only he wasn't such a little pussy, though--! Ah, well. We're just having fun. It's not like I'm going to spend the rest of my life with him. And besides, he's going to put a huge image of my likeness in the lobby of a bank! That'll rock! ...Hang on. I'm getting a visi-phone call. From Klup!

...Klup says the new project is going really well, and he should have it completed sometime this week! He says he's "really captured my essence!" (Yes, repeatedly. Haw!) But seriously! This is awesome! I'll be sure to take a picture of it for you all. *happily whistles "Rich Man's Shurg" from "Sweet Chariot"*


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Don't Let My Beard's Bugs Bite

The test results came back on those mysterious white granules I found in that spot where the suspect's rocket-car had been parked. Turns out they're just plastic. That's it. There's nothing in the least bit extraordinary about them.


However! We actually managed to prevent a store theft the other night, which was kind of the whole reason Eyeful Ethel's agency got hired. Oh, and when I say "we" prevented it, I mean Gadfly Lad did. Better yet, he scored some more evidence! Yay, team! ...Er, I mean "good for him."

Ethel got the genius idea of putting Gadfly Lad on patrol outside of the mall, with a night-vision camera. So now we have some fuzzy, noncommittal video of two guys setting up some sort of weapon on a tripod, presumably a teleporter or something, and they're aiming it at the Radio Pod electronics store in mall sector 7-C.

Gadfly Lad went after them before they could fire it up, though. So they collapsed it and threw it into the back of a zoom-lorry they'd stolen, and then they took off. Gadfly Lad gave a good chase, but after a few miles, they tossed a neural grenade at him. I've seen the feed from a traffic monitor they had passed. It's pretty brutal. I mean, he's not permanently injured, but just to see him flattened out on the ground, having a seizure... well, it's pretty hard to take. Now, I really want to pound on those dirtbags. On the plus side, when they took a real tight corner, a couple of plastic jars filled with a mysterious fluid bounced out of the truck. So now we have some more chemical evidence, and maybe even some finger prints!

I found all this out from Ethel and the mall's security guys when I showed up for work. I found Gadfly Lad in our dressing room, still shrunken down to doll-size and "sleeping it off." He looked spent, the poor li'l fella. His teensy chest heaved. With a shiver, he clutched himself and curled into a ball. I was so touched, I picked him up (being careful to not wake him) and laid myself down on the couch in his place. Then I tucked him under my beard, like it was a blanket.

Okay, so maybe that wasn't the best idea in the world. Or I at least should have warned him I was gonna do it, 'cause when he eventually awakened, he flipped out.

Heh. Oops!

I guess it's a good thing I have that date tonight with Flev's buddy, Glub. (Or maybe his name is "Blug". Or "Gulb"? I dunno. It's some goofy Lallorian name.) At any rate, it'll be nice to think about something other than work.


Friday, December 14, 2007

They Weren't Steaming Before He Got In


Whosoever knows fear burns at the audit of the Accountant-Thing!

That's the sign of a good detective, by the way: he's not afraid to get his socks all squishy. Of course, he's going to need about three hundred luxurious, sensual bubble baths with copious moaning and grunting and bossa nova music and candles everywhere and the windows open before he can get the swamp-stank off of him. But that's just a hazard of the job.

This panel is from the lead story in "Strange Adventures" #203, and it's loads better than the godawful "Split-Man" tale that snagged the cover. Not that it would take much. But still.

If I had to complain -- and I do, frequently -- it would be about the hero's overuse of scare-quotes (see above) and ellipses (see below).


That key's going right up his nose, isn't it?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Spilt Man


This sentiment crops up frequently on the "comment cards" I have my boyfriends fill out at the end of a date.

Speaking of which... I'm going out with that friend of Flev's this weekend!

I visi-phoned him just now, and set the whole thing up. His name is "Glub Tortu", or something equally stupid. But who cares about the name? Dude is hot. His "friendly muttonchops" are large and (begging for somebody to be) in charge (of them). He's also pierced to high heaven, which is normally a turn-off for me, but on him, it somehow works. I asked him what kind of art he does. After about five minutes of him explaining it to me, I still don't know. All I can say for sure is that he's a blacksmith, and he produces mammoth "installations" of some sort. Whatever. He seems like a cool guy, anyway. Bonus points: he didn't mind when I ordered politely asked him to remove his shirt and dance around for me. That's always a good start.

I'm taking him to see the touring android revival of the classic musical adaptation of Ben-Hur, "Sweet Chariot." I'll let you guys know how it goes. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Everything Must Go

Last night, we lost another store.

And naturally, it happened on my shift. Balls.

Y'see, when my security shift extends past regular mall hours, I change from Santa Claus into my other other (other) identity: Gud "Whiskers" Florpzu, prematurely-grizzled mall custodian. That means I just wear a backwards baseball cap; steel-toed work boots; suggestively-unzipped coveralls with no shirt or underpants; and a rolled-up copy of "Barely Legal Clones" magazine in my back pocket. And I drag around a sonic mop and a hover-bucket, and occasionally I pause and pretend to clean the floor. If I hear a suspicious noise, I'll turn myself into one of those little folding plastic signs that say "CAUTION: FRICTIONLESS SURFACE".

So! It was nearing 2 AM, and I was on the lowest level, doin' my thing, when a terrible groan reverberated through the mall. It sounded like metal beams getting wrenched apart. Scanning the darkened complex with my multi-spectrum I-noculars (an officially licensed Eyeful Ethel tie-in product), I saw a massive cloud of sawdust billowing out of and quickly obscuring the Lumbak Liquidators discount flooring outlet. Lumbak's is -- or was! -- all the way at the opposite end of the shopping complex, two levels up, by the way. Eschewing the mall's slow-ass levitator platforms, I bounded up the stairs, four at a time. As I bounded towards the dust cloud, I encountered the mall's real custodian, working the riding hover-vac. Since my adrenaline was in the red zone -- and for the sake of DRAMA! -- I kickboxed him off of it* and commandeered the thing. I shifted it into high gear (a surprising 140 kilometers-per-hour!) and hurtled into the roiling cloud. I air-skidded to a halt when I suddenly found myself outside. Above me should have been Lumbak's ceiling. Instead, I was looking at Lallor's fallout-ridden sky, dotted by a few malfunctioning spy satellites; plus a private blimp that flashed the message, "THE END IS NEAR." And instead of Lumbak's floor, I could see the rafters of the Old Space Navy on the lower level. Thank the Luck Lords, I was driving something that floated!

Before I could back up, a blinding light exploded into my eyes. The next second, I was airborne.

At first, I thought I was floating. Then, I realized that my keen Amadan brain had merely altered my perception of time (as it often does in times of stress) and I was actually perceiving the world in slow-motion. I traveled in a graceful arc over a primer-gray, rusted-out (29)'72 Parakat GT rocket-car. As I neared the tail-end of the vehicle, I grabbed onto one of the fins. Time sped up again, and I winced as my arm was nearly torn from its socket. Avoiding the blast of the rocket engine, I clambered over the car until I was standing on its hood. The windows were tinted black, so I couldn't see who was inside. I screamed at the driver to stop, and when that didn't work, I dug my security badge from my pocket and slammed it against the windshield. The driver kept swerving, trying to throw me off of the rocket-car. That really pissed me off. With a powerful leap, I did a back-flip off of the hood. As I landed in front of the car, I changed into a steel wall. Only I didn't land quite right, because the fucker just ran over my sorry ass like I was a fucking ramp. And of course I hadn't finished changing yet -- my face is always the last to go -- so now I have a black eye. I changed back and fired my forcefield bracers at the car. It was too far away by then. Damn it.

I trudged back to the mall and set about collecting evidence. I could tell exactly where the rocket-car had come from, by the scorch marks in the adjacent parking tower. There was a thin trail of white granules leading up to it. (Drugs? Plastic explosive?) I scooped some into an envelope. The agency is still waiting on the results from the crime lab. We've already learned that the rocket-car was reported stolen yesterday morning, although the owner claims she had never tinted the windows. Huh.

As I'm writing this, I have another hour to go before I have to put on my Santa Claus get-up. So I'm still dressed as "Gud", and I can hob-knob with the rest of the mall staff. Like this dude named "Flev", who's in charge of the mall's seasonal props and window displays. Flev brought me a mug of space-java about ten minutes ago. We joked and bullshitted a little, while we watched his staff erect another giant tent to hide the spot where this latest vanished store used to be. Flev says he wants to set me up with a friend of his: some artist guy whom he describes as having "friendly muttonchops and an even friendlier mouth." Sounds like fun to me!

And I sure as hell could use some fun right now.

*And if I accidentally hurt you when I did that, I sincerely apologize, Duplicate Boy.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mayday! Slope-Shouldered, Mouth-Breathing, Racist "Bandito" Character at 3:00!


That "head-band" is many things, but "legendary" isn't one of them. (By the way, I caught "Winston and the Diggers" back in '66. They opened for the Beach Boys at the Coco Beach Surf-a-Go-Go Festival. And they sucked.)

So, what wondrous abilities do you think that zany Aztec-Kirby helmet will bestow?


Oh. Gesundheit, I guess.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Everybody Was Feng Shui Fighting


Never rearrange your furniture without consulting Batman first!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Fa La Lallor La

Blockade Boy explains all about the Solstice Season on Lallor.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Manic-Depressive Man!


It's Dante's "Divine Comedy": the kick-ass version! Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer! Directed by Michael Bay! Starring Matthew McConaughey as "Splits" Dante, rugged, occasionally-shirtless man of adventure! Thrill as he battles CGI devil-dogs! Co-starring "the Rock" as Virgil and Jessica Alba as Beatrice! Special appearance by Vince Vaughn as Satan!

Ugh. I'm "growing blue" just looking at the shitty artwork. I'm pretty sure this is the same hack responsible for that "Tom Morrow" crap.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Appellation Emergency Room


This is Batman's super-power: the ability to punch cool new nicknames into criminals' faces.

Oh, it's true. Just ask good ol' Shok and Ock up there. Before this fight, they were known, respectively, as "Reginald Q. Humpwater" and "Fitzburton Llewellyn-Lopez." "Shok" and "Ock" have a lot more zest, I'm sure you'll agree. If you're a henchman with a boring name, just get in a tussle with Batman and voila! Instant street cred and a tough new moniker. Just be sure to catch him in a good mood, or he'll saddle you with something humiliating, like "Dinky Dong" or "Fartmonster."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blocky Derides Again


Wouldn't it have been awesome if their answer had been "Nope"? And if Batman thought "Screw it, I don't care!" and then he spent four pages whaling on the antique store's hapless cleaning crew? And then, when they were all unconscious, he planted guns and knives and packets of cocaine on them (which he keeps for such occasions).

Just like you and me, Batman takes his pants off one leg at a time... while doing the splits. Take a gander at the Bat-Shadow. In brash defiance of all known physical laws, it's falling the exact opposite direction of everyone else's. I guess Batman just has an instinct for standing where the light is the most flattering. (This is one of many similarities between Batman and Marlene Dietrich.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

And Then the Ears Pop Up With a Satisfying "SPROING!"


It's not so much that Batman could be anybody you know.

It's that anybody you know could be Batman.

Think about it.

Are you concerned about illegal wiretapping, or the government's current desire to press firemen into an army of makeshift snoops? That's nothin'. Try living in Gotham, where every single person in your life -- coworker, best friend, family member, lover -- is, in all likelihood, a masked vigilante who is just itching to punch you in the face.

(It makes for some very interesting editorials in the DC Universe version of Salon, that's for sure.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

"I'm the Goddamn Pizza Delivery Guy!"


Mmmm... piping-hot fish sticks, delivered straight to your mob hide-out, by the Gorton's Fisherman himself!

Since this panel is from "Detective Comics" I'll give you exactly one guess as to who the delivery guy is. ...What? Hell, no, it ain't the Elongated Man! Wow! You suck at this!

Okay. Here's what I don't understand about Batman's "sting": none of the mobsters are surprised to see him, which indicates to me that they really did order a pizza. So... what? Does Batman constantly monitor the phone lines of pizza delivery places, hoping that one of them will get a call from a suspicious address, by somebody with an Italian accent? (Profiling!) Or -- and this would be even better -- does Batman advertise in the Yellow Pages as a pizza joint? He would have to check the phone numbers of every call he got, and just flat-out refuse to deliver to any upright citizen. Which sounds needlessly jerky, until you remember that Batman is a total dickweed. And then it all makes sense.

Or maybe the real delivery guy is just off-panel, with a batarang in his skull.