Friday, March 14, 2008

Suck One, Blocks ( by guest-columnist Storm Boy)


[Being a literary adaptation of an upsetting alternate reality glimpsed at the Time Institute]

I stayed at Hek's about six hours, and except for the fact that I lost one of my calf-spats between the sofa-cushions, and was nearly inhaled by Hek's pet dark-beast (which had grown alarmed by its master's cries) a pleasant time was had by all.

At three-of-the-clock on March the ninth, looking flushed and enervated, I returned to my own bachelor pod, to clean up a bit, and drop into bed.

And it was while I was at the flat, towelling the torso after a much-needed sonic shower, that my man Blocks suddenly brought the name of Tusker Lafeaugh-Snapple into the conversation.

As I recall it, the dialogue ran something as follows:

SELF: Well, Blocks, here we are, what?

BLOCKS: Yes, sir.

SELF: I mean to say, home again.

BLOCKS: Precisely, sir.

SELF: Seems ages since I left on my date.

BLOCKS: An impression, no doubt, made stronger by the marked dearth of text-messaging, sir.

SELF: Now see here, Blocks! I refuse to be one of those men who is a slave to his valet!

BLOCKS: Just as you say, sir.

SELF: Good. Well, Blocks! What news on the intergalactic intraweb? Anybody been blogging or e-mailing or anything since my abs.?

BLOCKS: Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple, sir, has been a frequent blog-poster.

I stared. Indeed, it would not be too much to say that I gaped.

This Lafeaugh-Snapple, you see, is one of those freaks you come across from time to time during life's journey who can't string three words together without exhausting his vocabulary. When I asked him once if he couldn't find the time to earn his high school equivalence diploma, he said, no, because he had a holo-vision set in his living room, and he studied the habits of reality-programme lingerie models.

I couldn't imagine what could have driven the chap to such prodigious blogging. I would have been prepared to bet that as long as the supply of reality-programme lingerie models didn't give out, nothing could have shifted him from that soylent-puff-stained couch of his.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir."

"You got the name correctly? Lafeaugh-Snapple?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, it's the most extraordinary thing."

"Indeed, sir."

"But what on Lallor can have driven him to do so?"

"I am in a position to explain that, sir. No doubt you have observed of late an added note of courage in Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple's dispostion?"

"Indeed I have, Blocks. Deuced annoying, that. Nobody with Tusker's mouth should be in the habit of smiling so broadly."

"Yes, sir. If I may be so bold, however, I would venture that his friendly muttonchops have the happy effect of mitigating that deficit."

"Yes, thank you, Blocks. I am fully aware of your influence in that matter."

"Yes, sir."

"No further reminders of your stylistic prowess will be needed, Blocks."

"Indeed not, sir."

"They are suitably impressed upon my gray matter, Blocks. If you have any further tales of muttonchops, handlebar moustaches, Donegals, soul patches, or Dundreary Weepers, trouble me with them no more!"

"Very good, sir."

"I should hope so, Blocks!"

"Yes, sir."

"At the end of the day, a gentleman's gentleman must needs preserve the illusion that all decisions a la mode spring fully-formed from the brain of his employer!"

"I hasten to remind you, sir, that I am a valet and not a miracle-worker. But if we may return to the subject of Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple--?"

"Ah, yes. His courage, or something-or-other."

"Yes, sir. I confess that I exerted my influence in that matter as well."

"Now I follow. Now I understand. But wasn't it all due to Tusker's excessive boinking with this new girl of his? 'Cajun Kid', wasn't it?"

"Regretfully, that person was a lady of the evening whom Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple had mistakenly contracted for a fortnight. I believe their interactions ended with the young woman kicking him in the 'nads and taking his wallet."

"I say! A rummy patch of luck for old Tusker! A prostitute, eh? I had wondered why she was always looking at her watch."

"Keenly noted, sir."

"Her changebelt was likewise a source of confusion to me."

"Without question, sir."

"Well, don't dawdle, Blocks. You were saying something about Tusker's courage?"

"Yes, sir. Mr. Lafeaugh-Snapple confided in me that he was paralysed by feelings of inferiority to everybody he knew. This included his fellow workers in the Eyeful Ethel Detective Agency, as well as several fast-food clerks and small children. And yet, with very little prompting on my part, he could summon whole lists of their defects. I merely advised him to type these lists into his Omnicom, so that he might consult them prior to a meeting with one of these persons. Thus armed with a feeling of superiority -- however ill-deserved -- he could conduct himself with the swagger of a Rimborian ganglord."

"Egad, Blocks! And why was the chap blogging so furiously this evening?"

"It seems that he has misplaced the Omnicom, sir. It is an event, you will doubtless apprehend, of no little concern to him. His initial blog post concerning the Omnicom revealed only the bare minimum of details. As the hours passed, however, his blogging became more candid. He even revealed the Omnicom's password. Said password being, in point of fact, 'password.'"

"Really, Blocks! This is too much!"

"Rather, sir. Furthermore, the anonymous party who recovered the Omnicom has posted its contents on numerous gossip sites. I should, at this juncture, assure you that although your penchant for sniffing my used undershirts is now common knowledge amongst the technorati, I personally have no objection to your doing so. "

A throbbing at the temples told me that our conversation was at its saturation point.


[Author's note: I saw this scenario unravel on Earth-Wodehouse just last night, via a Time Institute monitor. I swear, that place is addictive! Also, I have an addictive personality. Things I've been addicted to: space-wine, doughnuts, Blockade Boy, pointiness. Nobody else wanted to go to the Institute with me, so I "flew solo" as they say on Thanagar. No big whoop. I thought maybe I could pick up a cute guy there. I didn't. No big whoop.

My review of the recording? Two thumbs way up! Cool parts: the clothes (of course!), everybody having an English accent, Blockade Boy as my own personal "monkey butler". Not-so-cool parts: me almost getting eaten by a dark-beast, the idea that Blockade Boy is smarter than me. Yeah, that sucked one. Still, I was in a good mood when I left the Institute... until Blockade Boy called me on my Omnicom, and pretty much hollered, "YOU NEED TO LOOK AT TUSKER'S BLOG! NOW!" And it turned out that all the Cajun Kid/Omnicom list/stolen password/gossip site crap happened in my reality, too! Only a few days later! What the hell, people?

Tusker didn't show up for work today. Which? Is just as well. I mean, now that everybody on Lallor knows about Gadfly Lad's bedwetting problem; and how Dentata Damsel has been moonlighting as an Omnicom-sex operator for people with very sensitive hearing; and that one time Nightmare Boy knocked over a convenience store and only stole a carton of "x-tra petite" space-condoms; and how Rainbow Girl once threatened to kill a Science Police officer's dog in order to get out of paying a parking ticket; and how Frigid Queen hired Sun Woman to burn down Phantom Lad's house; and the intimate details of Eyeful Ethel's insider stock trading; and how, okay already, I still sometimes rifle through Blockade Boy's garbage for any garments he might have thrown away, so I can sniff them. Oh, and all that stuff about Blockade Boy pretending to be his own twin, so the U.P. can't arrest him on fraud charges. So the whole office is in chaos right now. It's positively swarming with Science Police. They arrested Ethel and Frigid Queen and Nightmare Boy and Rainbow Girl, and they tried to arrest Blockade Boy. But after an exciting kerfuffle, Blockade Boy escaped -- but only after making certain everybody heard his vow to "disappear into the night" (it was like, ten in the morning) and "embark on a new career as a dark, mysterious 'fashion vigilante.'" Goddamn Blockade Boy. Oh, and he's taking Cootie with him, and making her wear a mask and a little cape.

It sucks, you guys. Or as English-Flava Me might say, "It's a sticky wicket!"]

(cover image stolen almost wholesale from this)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oh, As IF (an editorial by guest columnist, Storm Boy)




Blockade Boy and Tusker and I took our lunch breaks over at the Time Institute the other day. We have a friend who works there, and he sneaks us into the restricted areas, so we can spy on folks in alternate timelines. It's such a hoot, you guys. This one time? We saw a timeline where Princess Projectra was a giant snake? Which makes total sense if you think about it. Oh, and in this one, the Legion clubhouse was actually a guy? Only I had a hard time believing that one, because the building he turned into was only about the size of a potting shed. What. EVER! But seriously? You should check out the Time Institute if you ever get the chance.

Oh. That's right. You totally won't! Tough luck, bitches!


Our friend whispered to us that a new timeline had popped up, one where people who were just jerks or losers in our timeline were straight-up psychotic, and also, like, every third person in existence had been horribly maimed. Blockade Boy was all, "We gotta check this shit out," and before you could say "doodly-doodly-doop", we were kicking it in one of the Institute's private screening rooms! Our friend started the popcorn machine, while we got our minds blown.

In that timeline, Tusker was a big, gray monster with unbreakable bones and a cool haircut, although even that version still had a broken tusk, which? Made us all laugh our asses off! Even Tusker! Blockade Boy punched him in the arm and called him a "dumb jerk", only in a brotherly way? And Tusker shot back, "Bring it, Grape Ape! I'll smash you with my unbreakable bones!" and it was just so great, you guys, especially thinking about what a self-conscious loser he used to be. (He's still kinda dumb, though. I'm not being a bitchy queen here; it's just an honest observation.)

Alternate Rainbow Girl was just as pushy and annoying as ever, but her powers didn't work the same at all. They were tied into something our friend called "the Skittles Force" version of the Green Lantern Corps. Whatever that means. He seemed awfully contemptuous of the whole idea, though. I guess it's an "insider" thing.

Alternate Eyeful Ethel? Was a schoolmarmish weirdo with her hair in a bun and these cartoonishly-oversized glasses like Jackie O. by way of Charles Nelson Reilly.

Alternate Blockade Boy? We never saw him. And our Blockade Boy got worked up into a real hissy-snit over it. Our friend pointed out that this jacked-up alternate timeline didn't seem to have an Alternate Gadfly Lad, Alternate Dentata Damsel, or an Alternate Nightmare Boy. But Blockade Boy just stomped out of there, nominally to go smoke his pipe, but? Everybody knew he just wanted to stew in his own stinky juices.

Which leaves us with Alternate Universe Me.

Hmmm.... what can I say about Alternate Universe Me?

For starters? Kinda handsome. If you're into guys with skinny forearms. The blue contact lenses? Interesting choice. And the scars are surprisingly rugged. But the hair? Has got to go. For you 21st century dudes? I'd call it "very Kenny G." Or maybe "very 'the lead singer from Quiet Riot.'" But either way? It's not good.

But here's what really chaps my ass (and not in a good way) about Alternate Universe Me:

He's a melodramatic crybaby douche-nozzle.

I mean, listen to that drivel. He had a whole shitload of anesthetic-free radical surgeries because why? He didn't pass his Legion try-out? That's it?

Lend me an ear, Alternate Universe Me. That is, if you haven't already paid some quack sawbones to lop the damn thing off. Just listen, and listen good.


Grow some balls! Or, failing that? Borrow some other dude's. (They'll let you hold 'em, if you ask real nice.) I've been where you are. Feeling inadequate, and all that nonsense. I actually tried to kill myself one time! And I became an alcoholic! The difference is, I actually had some decent fucking motivation. I was bankrupt and homeless, and my marriage had imploded.

What you're dealing with? Ain't shit.

If I were you -- and thank the Luck Lords I'm not -- I'd cancel my next surgery, I'd pay for a more flattering outfit and a decent haircut, and then I'd get my bony ass to the nearest time bubble and fade the fuck out of your screwy dimension.

That place ain't healthy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Flub Connection (by special guest-columnist, Storm Boy)


I love the "golden age" of Bismollywood.

And I love bears!

So? When Blockade Boy told me he could set me up with an ursine acquaintance of his -- a former child actor in Bismollywood holo-films -- I "didn't think twice", as they say on Colu. I mean, we should have been a perfect match! Right?

The man's name is "Darzil Hek", and to be perfectly honest? I'd never heard of him before. But! He's been in a ton of classic holo-films! So I figured the gossip would be choice. Heh-heh. Shows what I knew!

Blockade Boy fancies himself my "dating adviser", since he has intimate knowledge of the space-bear mindset, and also he's a complete control freak. He said I should meet my dates at a "neutral location" and to never go home with them until I knew them better. Yeah, okay. I can "do it" in the trunk of a rocket-car, if need be. And I have. But? When I asked him if he knew any of Darzil Hek's favorite sexual positions, I was taken aback to hear him tell me, "Aw, HELLS, NAW. No sex for you, pally! Not on the first date!" (Madness! Am I right, people?) And then Blockade Boy told me that my problem is that I'm too fucking-eager, and that I need to "build a relationship" (or some crap) with my dates before I give myself over to them physically. He stressed the fact that if I had sex with Darzil right away, it would destroy our chances for romance. At least, I think he said that. I kind-of had stopped listening at that point. Besides, he's the biggest man-whore I know! Own it, ya phony holyman!

Oh, and Blockade Boy also made me promise to text him on my Omnicom at several pre-arranged times during the date itself. Yeah, that was never going to happen.

So anyway? I met Darzil Hek at this Bismollian restaurant -- not one of those cheesey chains, like "Bismol MacMattercuddy's", but an honest-to-the-Luck-Lords family-run rustic pub. And? Darzil was hot: a tall and brawny fifty-something guy with a big silver beard and a pelt to match -- not to mention a firm, beach-ball-sized gut (bonus!) that made me salivate, and also produce some other secretions. Oh, I just wanted to fondle him for days! We spent about fifteen minutes just complimenting each other, and saying different things that we wanted to do to each other, and sure, all the other patrons in that tiny lobby were giving us the stink-eye, and clamping their hands over their kids' ears, but so what. I'd found myself a "love connection"!

Well, let me tell you: Darzil Hek can really put away the inedible food. He must have downed at least four boron fajitas and maybe twice as many pleather-and-aluminum roulades. As for myself, well, I'm from Earth, so the only thing on the menu I could digest? Was the filet-o-cardboard. (In a charming irony, the take-out boxes are also made of cardboard.) No problem. I was getting a kick just out of watching Darzil eat!

Darzil explained that he met Blockade Boy through Dylbyrt Staad, Blockade Boy's uncle. He said that Blockade Boy was a "sweet kid" and "very accommodating." (Heh-heh.) Around 9 PM, I got a text from Blockade Boy, demanding to know why I wasn't texting him. I texted him back to cram it. Darzil offered to show me his home-theater set-up, back at his swingin' bachelor pod. Naturally, I agreed!

Darzil had a whole bunch of old holo-films in his library. And he had appeared in every one of them! He let me pick a couple for us to watch, so I went with two of my favorites: "Meet Me In Smallville" (starring the incomparable Judzil Gar and adorable little Margzil O'Brizil) and "Leave Her to Shanghalla" (starring the frostily-beautiful Genezil Tern and the boringly bland Cornzil Wyl). I was psyched. Darzil promised to give me a live "commentary track"!

And? That's how things went all screwy. (And not in a good way.) See, it turns out that Darzil is deeply bitter about his time in Bismollywood! Maybe it's because he was more of a journeyman character actor than an actual star? Or maybe he's just a resentful jerk-off? The universe may never know. But anyway, we were sitting on that big comfy love-seat of his, watching "Meet Me in Smallville", and we were kind-of snuggling, but Darzil kept fidgeting and working himself into a bitter froth as he told his "insider stories"... all of which had to do with some petty injustice he'd endured at the hands of a director or a makeup artist... or a caterer! Oh, Luck Lordy, the freaking caterers! Every time Margzil O'Brizil would flounce into a scene, Darzil would go off on a tear about what she got to eat, compared to what he was given to eat. Like, one day Margzil was given an entire hover-bike engine for lunch, while Darzil (like all the other supporting actors) only got a bowl of assorted lock-washers. Oh, he was railing at the heavens over that one. Have I mentioned that this happened over forty years ago? And he's still rabidly angry about it? I was like, "Bitch, you better step that shit back a couple of light-years!" (Only I didn't say it out loud.)

But it was Darzil's commentary on "Leave Her to Shanghalla" where he really "went squirrelly", as they say on H'lven.

The nanosecond Genezil Tern showed her face, Darzil just laid into her. He jabbed a furry digit at the flickering image of Genezil, and he said, "See? See what she's doing there? That's called indicating."

I asked him if that was a good thing, because what the hell did I know? I mean, when it comes to the world of actors, "I know just enough to be dangerous", as they say on Rimbor.

And Darzil said that "indicating" was not good; it's when an actor does like a pantomime facial thing of showing what their character feels, instead of really "feeling it" and somehow radiating it outward from their very souls, like the "process" school of acting teaches.

Well, I couldn't hold my tongue anymore (and not in a good way), because I finally started talking back to him. I pointed out that the "process" school of acting wasn't conceived until maybe ten years after the holo-filming of "Leave Her to Shanghalla." Which meant? Darzil was excoriating that poor woman for not adopting an acting style that hadn't been invented yet.

From there, it just got worse. Darzil ripped Genezil Tern a new one, left, right, and sideways. It was so annoying, you guys! Such negativity! And me, I'm all about the positive energy. Am I right guys? ...Guys? Aw, suck one.

Anyway -- to be honest -- I'd always thought Genezil Tern was the epitome of Old Bismollywood glamour, so I felt kind-of obligated to defend her. Finally? I asked Darzil, point-blank, just why he had a problem with her. You know what his reason was? She wasn't friendly to him. That was it. He said she was "very cold" to him. And I said, "Well, she wasn't a very happy person, if I remember right. I mean, she was institutionalized around that time, plus? She had that miscarriage. She had a pretty rough life, is all. I mean, I'm sorry the two of you weren't 'best pals' or what-the-hell-ever, but shouldn't you be over this by now? For realsies! It's fucking lame."

Well, Darzil got all sulky, like the overgrown kid he is, and he reeled off some spiel about how many wheels of space-cheddah he'd paid out to Titanian psycho-mechanics, to help him get over his Post-Traumatic Child Actor Disorder. Oh, and also about how I was a "jerk" and how he never wanted to see me again, like ever.

And we both slumped back in the love-seat, and watched the holo-film, without saying anything. On the holo-platform, dramatic music swelled from hidden speakers, and Genezil Tern's character threw herself down an escalator.

And I looked over at Darzil's ruddy, handsome face, with those hurt-filled eyes of his. And I tenderly took his hand, and I said, warmly, "So, do you wanna screw, or what?"

As Darzil manhandled me onto my stomach and yanked my trousers off, I texted Blockade Boy one last time:
wtf darzil big whiny baby going 2 pull trigger on this 1 stfu

Monday, March 10, 2008

Marked Man-Candy: A Memoir (by special guest-columnist, Storm Boy)

It started with the "tattoos."

So. It's New Year's, just a few days after I designed Blockade Boy's new gauntlets, and then? I look at that bulky ol' suit I'd been schlepping around? And I get to thinking about how all the weather-controlling mechanisms in the lining weigh, like, a metric ton? And I decide, SCREW THAT NOISE. Because hey! They're doing wonders with miniaturized circuits these days! So why shouldn't I get in on the action?

And then I have one of my clinically-diagnosed "brainstorms".

So? I redesign all the machinery in a lightweight transdermal form that I can graft directly to my nerves. And the fierce part? Is they look like tattoos. Big, green lightning-bolt tattoos. They run from my fingernails all the way up to my shoulders! Plus? There's a way-cool lightning-bolt tattoo on my forehead!

From there? It kind of "snowballs", as they say on Tharr. I look at myself in the mirror... naked, which I haven't done in maybe five years? And I say to myself, "That's a lot of look."

So I take off my glasses.

Which? Is a big step for me, since I'd given them a totemic status in my own personal mythology. And I can see right away (if I squint) that I look way better without them. I mean, forehead tattoo? Plus glasses? Equals "trying too hard." I know, I know: unlike slathering both your arms in tattoos, heh-heh. Oh, cram it. But yes, if you must know? I go right out that very night and get my eyeballs fixed. I even have them dyed gold because why the hell not. And to those of you who are still freaking out over this news? Get over it. "Signature looks" have an expiration date, don't you know, and then? They turn you into a walking caricature of yourself. Like Charro, or Elvis, or Ghandi.

So anyway? I show up at work the next day, wearing a big hoodie with nothing underneath, and walking all slouched over, and my head all bent down, and the second I step through the door? I clear my throat, all dramatic-like? And I rear my head up proudly and I rip the hoodie off, and I say, "Behold, BITCHES!"

And then I see the only other person in the room is Blockade Boy.

(I felt so gross, you guys.)

But? I decide to "soldier on", as they say on the Khund homeworld. And with only a teensy crack in my voice, I say, "Guess what I did!"

And without missing a beat, he says, "You got your arms pickled."

And I say, "Suck one, Stanley's Monster," and then? I conjure up a dainty cloud and shoot a lightning bolt out of it, right at his big, clumsy feet! That shuts him up. But then he stalks over to me, and I can't read his expression, and he starts giving me the once-over. He even does that Vincent D'Onofrio thing, where he bends at the waist and looks at me all sideways, and I'm kind of freaking out, to be perfectly honest about it.

He straightens up and smiles at me, and with a basso profundo note of respect in his voice, he growls, "Weather-controlling tats. Nice."

And I gulp, and I smile a little, and then he puts his hands on my shoulders. And he says, "You know what you need, don't you?"

And I tell him, "Yeah, but I thought we'd both agreed it was best if we saw other people."

He punches me in the arm (which hurt like a bastard) and laughs that "deep booming laugh" that I grew tired of, like, five years ago. And he says, "Good one, pal! Naw, what you really need is a new costume! Somethin' with shorter sleeves. Show off those new tats!" And then his eyes go all crazy like they do sometimes? And his gaze goes wandering off into the stratosphere, like he's a Brobdingnagian Norville Barnes, and then he grabs me, and he shouts, "YOU HAVE TO LET ME DESIGN A NEW COSTUME FOR YOU! ALSO, YOU'LL HAVE TO SHAVE YOUR MUSTACHE AND DYE YOUR HAIR!"

I start to say, "But I don't want to shave my mustache," but he actually shakes me a little bit, and he yells, "DO IT!"

And then? He apologizes. Like he always does after one of his outbursts? But he walks me out of the office to the gourmet space-java place down the street. And we have a really nice talk where he lays out a makeover plan that he claims is guaranteed to net me some mad dingus. And you know what? I believe him!

So I dye my hair a honey-blond, to coordinate with my beautiful golden eyeballs, and also? I grow out the top and the sides a little. Finally, I adorn my glorious visage with some pointy (of course) muttonchops. And? I'll be darned if Blockade Boy's costume doesn't make me look like a whole wheel of space-cheddah. (Er, that's a good thing, by the way.)

Check me out, bitches!


I was worried that shaving off my glorious 'stache would ruin my space-bear cred, but Blockade Boy assured me that I never had that to begin with. So no harm done, I guess. This look really does suit me better, I have to admit. And my huskiness and my "tats" and my furry 'chops somehow combine with the twinktastic preppie finery of the costume to create some sort of aesthetic love-bait for space-bears. I'm not kidding! I can't pass a construction site anymore without getting cat-calls from all the burly, bearded laborers. (This is no idle boast. In fact, just to make sure they're actually referring to me, I make certain to walk past those places several times a day.) And space-ports? Forget about it!

As for that "blind date" Blockade Boy set me up on... er, yeah. It didn't work out exactly like I'd hoped. But more on that? Tomorrow.