Cinequest 2020 was cut short. Three flicks I liked.

Fried Barry. My mind was bent! And not by the Mindbenders shorts, which were a bit tame in my opinion, maybe I am getting jaded. But in the movie Fried Barry, a drug addict is abducted by aliens, his body is taken over by one of them, and Barry/alien experiences stuff on Earth for the first time, mostly at night. Do not expect 3-act story structure. Barry goes from dance floor to flying over hills to rescuing child prisoners to giving a prostitute a big and very fast surprise, and Barry speaks very few words. Instead, Barry emotes with wide intense trying-to-comprehend eyes, a wild mop of hair, a mouth alternately stone-face Buster Keaton and Tina Turner’s Acid Queen, and a lanky, electro-shock moving body. Fried Barry reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix’s one-man-performance in Joker. The director told me others had made the same comparison. This movie pushes the hard-R line, but you have never seen anything like it. The soundtrack’s hard base beat is a match for Barry. He inspires me to create a character sorta like that, if that is physically possible. Fried Barry is one of a kind.

Asking For It. A comedy about a young woman being stalked, and stepping up to fight back. Actually, the young woman gets a lot of help from a tough, snarky, strong new roommate (Irene Morales). And no help at all from the police (best you-hate-him but he-makes-you-laugh obnoxious cop ever). I talked with Irene Morales, and she was much like her character, I wish I had more friends like her. When I asked the director and actress about what they like and dislike in women in today’s movies, and I said I have created a super heroine, the director said she disliked when the message is delivered with a overly heavy hand, and Irene said how can some superheroines run without their boobs flopping them off balance? I absolutely see her point, but I always wondered how their costumes do not give them super-wedgies while fighting the baddies. Maybe my mind is a bit lower than hers. They said the movie was about 10 percent improvised, and the cast knew how to toss in even better lines. Fun movie, great characters.

Breaking Fast. A gay muslim romantic comedy. I saw it in the California Theater in San Jose, and that was the right venue. It had the audience laughing and applauding. Before I saw it, I was concerned that the lead character would be too perfect, but the movie expertly played his niceness and his flaws. And when he meets his love interest, and they said they both loved Christopher Reeve’s Superman, I was rooting for them. But I loved even more the lead’s best buddy. A flamboyantly gay character: kinda swishy body language, his gay voice lets you know that he loves musicals, and I was a little surprised I liked him. A LOT! If you remember my review of the Catwoman movie (scroll to the last paragraph), its gay stereotype character made my blood pressure go nuclear. Why did I love the Breaking Fast best buddy? Because he was funny, confident, smart, and heartfelt. You laugh WITH him, not AT him. Breaking Fast knew the difference, and the director of Catwoman never will. (Did I mention that the food on the screen looked so good, I could have sworn I tasted it?)

The rest of Cinequest 2020 has been postponed to August. I intend to be there. I have other Cinequest movie reviews that I intend to post also. Stay tuned.

I am headlining at Red Rock Coffee open mic Monday March 2!!!

Red Rock Coffee, 201 Castro Street, Mountain View, second floor. The open mic starts at 7PM. I will go on at 8PM and do a 20 minute set: the complete version of The Intellecta Rhapsody (Super Holly argues with, then joins with the Intellecta Car to fight the super-tank-stealing Rocky the Gangster), and the end of The Malevolent Mystery Meat (Tucker and Wrigley, the boys with super puppy powers, must save Super Holly from evil school cafeteria ladies). Both of those short stories won audio story awards at San Mateo County Fair Literary Contest. And both are car chases. I am hoping people from work and others will be there. I have been practicing to get this down to 19 minutes or less. I am not being paid for this one (most open mics do not pay). But I will have fun. I shall FEED on audience energy! Cue evil laugh: MOO HAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!

P.S. I had thought about performing the chapter in The Comic Book Code titled “Intellecta Overdrive” where the background music is Mona Lisa Overdrive from the Matrix Reloaded. But that is cover music, as in no way will I ever own any rights to it. At a tiny open mic, no one really cares about that (as long as they do not put it on YouTube where it will likely be taken down. But now, I have to think about being recorded, and using those vids to build up more online video/audio stories. There is lots of good royalty free music out there. I will use a new piece called Toy Piano. It sounds great for kids and kids at heart. I got it at the YouTube Audio Library. Great site for great musical backgrounds.

Invulnerable, but not boring!

Nickelodeon’s superhero comedy show, The Adventures of Kid Danger, is in its final season. This show is one of my guilty pleasures. It is mostly about Henry Danger, the sidekick to the superhero. Captain Man is heroic, handsome, conceited, pontificating, brave and bold, and his superpower is… hmm, let’s do a flashback.

THE NICKELODEON WRITER’S ROOM. A BRAINSTORMING SESSION SEVERAL YEARS AGO.

Writers are sitting around a table. A guy in a Spongebob t-shirt says, “We gotta get into this superhero thing! Lookit all the moolah those movies are making!”

A guy in a Superman t-shirt(size XXXXXXL, he is build like the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy) sits with a sourpuss pout. “Yeah. At Marvel. But didja see DC’s Man of Steel?”

A man in an Iron Man t-shirt sighed deeply. “Why don’t you tell us for the two hundredth time?”

“Making Superman and his dad follow that objectivist crap?” The Supes-t-shirt guy stands up, making his 49 inch waist wave and roll like a tsunami. He thrusts out his pudgy arms to strangle something invisible. “If I had the power of time travel, I’d strangle Ayn Rand! WHILE SHE’S STILL IN HER CRIB!!!”

He sits back down—THOOM!!!—and crosses his arms, which makes his blubbery chest stop bouncing a few seconds sooner.

A young woman in a Black Widow t-shirt glares at him. “Hey, it’s only a movie, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”

Supes guy turns red in the face. He opens his mouth and clenches his teeth. “I will let that go. I see you are new here. But we must respect the fanboys!”

The woman meets his fiery gaze. “And fangirls!”

The man nods. “I totally concur! We must give the children Marvel type heroes! Flawed! Funny! Heroic!”

The woman nods, and wipes off a tear. “Like Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.”

Everyone at the table puts their hand over their hearts and choruses, “Ernest and Tim, we hardly knew yee.”

The Iron Man guy says, “Okay, let’s do a kid sidekick show. Kids like seeing kids. All we gotta do is create a superhero, and we got it!”

Supes guy and Black Widow gal shoot him withering glares. “Really? A kid hero-worships the hero? Where’s the FUN?!?!”

Iron Man guy says, “Oh, when the superhero is being shot or hit or something, and everything just bounces off, the kid can scream when he almost gets caught in the crossfire and the hero stands, hands on hips, heroic smile, and says, ‘You cannot hurt me!'”

The woman’s lips curls. “I hate him already.”

Supes says, “Bah! The reason Superman is hard to write is that he is invulnerable!”

The woman says, “Don’t forget the…” she pantomimes a big fat yawn, “perfect personality.”

Supes says, “Of course. We can make our superhero conceited, full of himself!” He stands again, hands on hips, and thrusts out his ample chest and belly. “A hero with a hilariously obnoxious personality!”

The woman smiles. “Where’d you get that idea?”

Supes says, “But there is that problem of invulnerability. If nothing can hurt him, where’s the danger?”

The woman says, “You know, it’s funny. Superman has bled, he’s even died.”

Iron Man guy says, “He got better.”

The woman says, “My point is you are either 100% invulnerable or zero percent.”

The writer’s room door open fast, smacking Supes in the butt. A pizza guy enters the room. “Pepperoni and anchovies?”

Supes guy stumbles, holding his butt. “Ooo! Ooo! Ooo! That smarts!”

Iron guy laughs. “Ain’t you invulnerable?”

The woman ogles Supes. She smiles big, bigger, BIGGER! Her eyes look like fireworks are going off! “Eureka! Yes, YES, YESSSS!!!”

Supes guy glares at her. “What is so frakin’ funny?”

The woman says, “What if Superman said, ‘Ouch?'”

Supes guy’s eyes light up also. His smile become that of a great white shark about to feast on unsuspecting, 18-21 year old, muscle-beach, sculpted lean meat surfers. “Yes! YES!!! HE IS INVULNERABLE!!! BUT…”

The woman rushed up to him and hugs him! “But he still says ‘OW!'” And the woman and Supes guy dance around the room, not caring how they bash the table and knock over chairs and spill pizza and high-caffeine colas.

Supes guy says, “Think of the slapstick! Boulders bounce off his big stupid cement head, and he says, ‘Ouch, ooo, owie!'”

She laughs. “Lasers bounce off his chest, and he scream, OOOOCH, my nipples! If we can sneak that past the censors.”

Supes laughs, expertly spinning her. “We’ll call it hot purple nurples!”

The woman laughs as she whirls to a stop and embraces him to get right up to his face. “But you know what he needs!”

Supes dips her. “Of course. A catchphrase.”

The woman smiles wickedly, then winces. “Ooo, kink in my back!”

Supes’ face gets worried. “Are you hurt?”

She smiles. “No. I’m okay.”

Their faces, mere inches apart, light up. He says, “THAT’S IT!!!”

She says, “Anvils bash his head, rockslides bury him, huge burly wrestlers pick him up and bash him onto the hard concrete floor, and he says ‘OW OUCH OOO THE PAIN,’ and then he gets up and smiles and says…”

Supes lifts her high and they crow together, “I’M OKAY!!!”

He sets her down. “We need a skirt in the show also.”

She says, “Of course. Two guys together doing dangerous stuff? Get a smart girl to be the voice of reason!”

Supes lowers her. She smiles up at him. They say, “I think I love you!” They kiss.

Iron guy munches pizza and says, “Ah, I love when ideas come together. Take that, Ayn Rand!” He shakes his fist at the heavens. “MOO HAHAHAHA… wait. Wrong direction.” He shakes his fist toward the center of the Earth. “MOO HAHAHAHAHA!!!”

OKAY, BACK TO DAVE!

Captain Man, a hero who is indestructible, but who still says ouch. Who gets bashed and mashed and comes back for more. I wonder where they got that idea…

YEARS AGO. THE MARVEL BULLPEN.

Stan Lee is shaking his head. “Guys, we need a new type of hero and we need one now!”

Roy Thomas and Les Wein (Hulk and Spider-Man t-shirts, respectively) say (respectively), “Uh, how about a teenage superhero?” “But bulletproof?”

Stan looks like someone force-fed him a lemon. “What? No! If he’s invulnerable, we just got a younger and even-more-boring Superman!”

WHAM! The door opens, hitting Stan in the nose. The pizza guy says, “Uh, pepperoni and anchovies?”

Ron and Les jump out of their chairs and huddle around Stan. “You okay? Does it hurt? You gotta little nosebleed!”

Stan pulls a hanky out and dabs his nose. “Nah, I’m fine, it’ll get better.”

Les Wein’s eyes light up. “Yeah. YEAH!!!”

Roy says, “Wait… YEAH!!!”

Stan looks at both. “What?”

Roy and Les babble together: “A hero who is tough and fights and gets shot and stabbed and punched and kicked and lasered and smashed! AND HE HEALS UP AND GETS BETTER!!! REAL FAST!!! And he fights again with the fury of a honey badger!”

Stan says, “Um, how about a wolverine?”

Les says, “Iron Man has armor on the outside, so he never says OW.” Les grins wickedly. “But what if this Wolverine guy…”

Roy says, “Is armored on the inside! Invulnerable skeleton! Bullets blow bloody holes in him! Swords stab into his chest and out his back! Knives gouge hunks of flesh off his arms and legs! And he gets up and heals fast and says…”

Stan Lee shouts, “‘Is that all yuh got, bub?'”

Stan and Roy and Less hug and jump for joy. “The blood! The gore! The violence! The kids will love it!”

Captain Man and Wolverine. Invulnerable does not have to be boring.

Spoiled Joker

SPOILER ALERT! I am gonna talk about the Joker movie and I am gonna reveal stuff in it and that could spoil it for people who still have not seen it but intend to (and I can’t believe anyone would wait longer than I did to see it). So if you don’t want to know, then read no further, for spoilers await you all, with nasty big pointy teeth!

I enjoyed the movie. I can tell you in two words why it got the Oscar nominations: Joaquin Phoenix. This movie boils down to his one man show. His painful, heartfelt, bone-deep performance in mind, mind, and soul would have been just as glorious even if he was alone on an empty stage, performing in front of a packed auditorium. That is not my complaint.

My complaint comes from being a whiny fanboy. This Joker is too far from the comics. He is the Joker, right? Then how come he can’t tell a joke?

I do open mics. I know how to stand in front of a coffee house crowd and perform my stories. But I always read the story, either from my iPad or from printout on a primitive papyrus medium. At open mics, I admire the stand-up comics the most, for theirs is the toughest act. No script, no music, just them and the audience. When the Joker first did his stand-up act, he was fumbling, barely able to get through it, it was cringing. When he go on the talk show later, he still did not tell any jokes. Instead, he whined about nobody caring about him, and oh yeah, he shot those rich kids, why don’t you care about me me me?

Did the scriptwriters think that if he gave a good performance at a comedy club, then, POOF, all his financial and psychological problems would disappear in a puff of smoke? I know from personal experience that a few stage performances do not bring instant success. Why make this Joker a loser on the stage? Even at the end, after the rioting crowds worship him, the movie sticks him into a mental institution, snatching his feet right out of the jaws of victory. Sure, the Joker is crazy, (oh yes he is, Mr. Phillips, why do you think he takes meds?) but he is also supposed to be smart. This Joker is not as dumb as Lex Luthor’s henchman Otis (“It’s amazing that brain can generate enough power to keep those legs moving”) but he is in danger of getting close.

The screenwriters should have made him good at joking and still not get financial success, that kind of thing happens in the real world ALL THE FRAKIN’ TIME!!! That would have fit perfectly with this movie’s theme of class warfare (a great theme to use, especially in America). Why not have him perform well enough to get a hint of success, but the upper class pressures him to punch down instead of up?

Joker = a person who jokes. This Joker could not joke if you pumped him full of laughing gas. And he is supposed to become The Clown Prince of Crime? How’s he gonna lead a gang when he can’t lead himself? I will watch a sequel to enjoy, to love, to bathe in another brilliant performance. But this ain’t my Joker. I heart Mark Hamill.

P.S. As for the ending, I do not buy that it was that old, rotting, annoying, and downright lazy plot device of “it was just a dream.” I’m not supposed to carry the story, the story is supposed to carry me! Get a frakin’ backbone and make your story work.

Crossover: Super Holly and Squirrel Girl!

Squirrel Girl’s comic book run recently ended with issue #50. (Very small spoiler: with the best Deus Ex Machina EVER!!!) Hot-headed Super Holly could learn from Squirrel Girl. Squirrel Girl often talks and empathizes her way out of a jam, while Holly tends to punch first and talk later. Super Holly would envy Squirrel Girl’s sensible costume, which likely never rode up.

She started out like this (drawn by the amazing Steve Ditko).

But after that, and before her Squirrel Girl series, she looked a bit more, ahem, superheroiny.

Maybe this happened because of my Super Holly Hansson and Squirrel Girl crossover short story, which I am posting right here, right now. Enjoy.

THE CAPITAL CITY OF LATVERIA. DOCTOR DOOM’S ROYAL CASTLE. HIS MAIN LABORATORY. A FRIDAY. 7:32 P.M., LATVERIAN TIME.

“I am Victor Von Doom,” said the armored man in the green hood and cape. “I do not know you. But you have trespassed into my kingdom. I shall deal with you later.”

Super Holly Hansson’s neck muscles tensed at the most bloodcurdlingly threatening (yet polite) voice she had ever heard! But she was not going down without a fight, along with heroic superheroine battle banter! “When I’m at Starbucks having coffee with a delightful, lighthearted, and smart superheroine and computer geek, and she starts vanishing in a teleportation beam, did you not think that I would hug her to go along for the ride so I could punch out the jerk who kidnapped her?” Holly GRRED and SNARLED and ROWLED as she punched the walls of her telephone-booth size force-field cell: POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW POW!!!

OW. Holly stopped punching, puffed steam out her nose, flexed her fingers, and watched her bloody knuckles do the fast-healing thing. She hadn’t made the slightest dent on the transparent force field. This Von Doom guy knew his business. All during Holly’s punching and snarling, Doom’s cold steely eyes behind his scary iron mask stayed locked on Holly’s. He hadn’t batted an eyelash.

His contempt bathed Holly’s soul in liquid nitrogen. “And did you not think that my teleporter would sense your presence, analyze your powers, and deposit you into an appropriate holding cell?” He turned his back on Holly and walked toward the laboratory table upon which Squirrel Girl was strapped with thick steel cuffs on her wrists, ankles, waist, and neck. Above her was a glowing panel as big as the lab table.

Holly had complemented Squirrel Girl on her sensible supersuit: green vest jacket, tan pants, boots, and shirt. And pockets. But no cape, spandex, exposed belly button, plunging neckline, or rising buttline. Squirrel Girl looked at Doom like a teacher looking at a willfully stupid student. “Victor, this is too mad scientist even for you. Do you want to talk about it?”

Doom’s armored hand grasped a large dial on the control panel. “Share your next bit of empathy carefully, Doreen Green, it will be your last.”

He slowly turned the dial clockwise. The panel bathed Squirrel Girl in pink light.

No, NO!!! Holly punch-punch-punched and kick-kick-kicked and headbutt-butt-butted the force field! “STOPPIT YOU FRAKIN’ BULLY, OR I’LL PEEL THAT TIN SUIT OFF YOU AND STUFF IT UP YOUR—”

“Super Holly Hansson,” Squirrel Girl yelled, “manage your anger!” Holly stopped punching and stared at her new friend. Doreen stared back with annoyance. “This light doesn’t hurt, it just tickles a little. Could you try talking instead of threatening?”

Holly growled, “Sorry. But once upon a time, a big bullying villain strapped ME to a table and bathed ME with green lutefisk radiation! I almost lost my lunch. And my life!”

Squirrel Girl smiled sweetly, her eyes seemed a little out of focus. “Aw! Did the big strong super lady get an upset tummy?”

What the FRAK was that? Then Holly saw it. Squirrel Girl’s sensible short pants were getting shorter, shorter. Her shirt’s neckline… Holly hissed! It was plunging downward! Holly screamed at Doctor Doom, “WHAT THE FRAK ARE YOU DOING TO HER?!?!”

Doctor Doom casually cast his gaze upon Holly. His iron mask matched his voice: dismissive contempt. “I am converting the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” he turned away from Holly and slowly turned the dial again, “to a standard superheroine that I can easily defeat. One that is… beatable.”

Holly stared in horror as Squirrel Girl’s shorts both crept up her hips and melded with her shirt, Doreen was gonna get supersuit wedgie! Squirrel Girl’s waist narrowed, her legs lengthened, her chest (more and more exposed because her spandex and fur supersuit’s V-neckline slowly crept toward her belly button) expanded and deepened into… NO! Holly remembered her favorite Batman t-shirt (signed by Adam West!) being ripped asunder when her superpowers first manifested, along with her former A-cups super-sizing into… Holly pounded her unstoppable fists on immovable force field again! “NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOO!!!”

A gasp like the coo of a winded dove: “Holly… stop.” Holly forced herself to stop punching. Squirrel Girl’s wonderful, sweet, smart, computer geek girl face was now pouty-pink-plump-lipped and high-cheek-boned and big-mascara-eyed and pixie-nosed! Lips that fanboys would long to smooch whispered, “Find… his… pain.”

Holly wanted with all her super heart to scream, FIND?!?! I WANNA GIVE HIM PAIN!!! But Squirrel Girl’s eyes pleaded so hard that Holly said, “Victor, why? Why destroy what she is? Why erase her essence?”

Doctor Doom let go of the dial. Squirrel Girl was still bathed in that horrible pink light, her face getting princess pretty. Doom turned to Holly, his green cape ominously fluttering. His unyielding stance, iron mask, and burning unblinking gaze focussed on her like a battleship gun. “I have beaten the Fantastic Four. The Avengers. The Silver Surfer. The world-devouring Galactus. I often battle the devil himself to a standstill. But Squirrel Girl beats me. Defeats me. That humiliates me. That I shall not allow.”

Holly kept her voice even. “You seem like an alpha villain. You even run a country. In my world, the most powerful supervillain does that. He was first motivated by hatred of the fanboys who humiliated him. But he came to see that his hate weakened him, so instead—”

Doom finished for her. “He loved and protected his country. As do I. As for Squirrel Girl, she will soon closely resemble you. Except for your prominent nose. Like you, Doreen will soon be more prominent… elsewhere.”

Holly forced herself not to flare up! “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

“My mother,” said Doctor Doom, “is in Hell. Someday I shall free her. I do not battle the devil because I like the smell of brimstone.”

And Holly knew Doom’s pain, for she had the same pain in her heart. “I lost my mommy. But I try to honor her memory. And now you fight dirty, underhanded, and outright sexist, just to defeat an opponent. What would your mother say?”

It was not easy, staring down Doctor Doom. Holly dared not let her gaze flicker, even as the shadows on Doom’s iron mask made it a glowering skull of death, and his cape darkened into a green thundercloud, and his armored body seemed to restrain itself from hurling all his scientific and magical power at Holly in one galaxy-vaporizing bolt.

Seconds agonizingly crawled by.

Doctor Doom turned his back on Super Holly. He grasped the dial and turned it hard over, counter-clockwise.

The pink light stopped. Sexy Squirrel Girl and her skimpy supersuit morphed back to normal and practical. The metal bands strapping her to the lab table opened. She sat up, hopped off the table, hugged Doctor Doom, and said, “I’m sorry for your mom.”

Doom aimed his metal gauntlet at the pink light panel and blasted it into scrap. “I give you my word that I shall never do that again. When next we meet, Doreen,” and Holly could have sworn that Doom’s iron mask smiled, “I expect you to be unbeatable again.”

Squirrel Girl smiled at him. “You too, Victor.”

FIVE MINUTES LATER. A STARBUCKS NEAR DOREEN’S COLLEGE. A TABLE NEAR A WINDOW.

Holly took a big gulp of her yummy super-large banana iced mocha. “My supersuit isn’t tight, it’s snug. And I admit it, talking it out can work better than punching it out.”

Doreen smacked her lips after a swallow of peanut-butter mocha. “Yeah, but sometimes punching works too…” She sniff-sniff-sniffed. Her eyes widened. Her big bushy tail rose up and twitched. “Uh oh!”

Through the window, Super Holly saw a man marching toward the Starbucks and wearing a red high-collared cape, dull blue shirt and boots and swimsuit-shorts, and tight red pants. Hordes of young ladies marched behind him, gazing at him like he was THE Greek God of Hot Handsome Sexiness. His head was that of a chimpanzee (or was it gorilla?) with a huge-jawed sexist smile. He howled, “I, The Mandrill, need that tall, hot, sexy, blue-clad and red-caped buxom and leggy blonde babe to join my ferocious female fighters as my second-in-command, where she will lust for me with all her mind, soul, and incredibly super-stacked body!”

Holly put her elbows on the table and her head in her hands. “You know this guy?”

Squirrel Girl leaped to her feet. “Unfortunately I do! You got a gas mask in that yellow hip purse?”

Holly slowly stood from her chair, shook her slightly fuzzy head, and admired that ape guy. She sighed, “You know, for a guy with a lower primate cranium, that Mandrill isn’t bad looking.”

Squirrel Girl’s face got all up in Super Holly’s with a shout, “TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND HOLD IT! RIGHT NOW!!!

Holly did. Her head cleared. Okay, that monkey man looked a teeny bit hot, but he was a helluva lot more sexist!

Squirrel Girl turned toward that ape guy and put up her dukes. “The Mandrill has pheromones that can enslave females. I can counter that with my personal musk! Like this!” Her tail rubbed under her nose. “Holly, how long can you hold your breath?”

Holly grabbed a napkin, grabbed an autograph pen from her purse, and wrote, “15 minutes easy!”

Doreen smiled like a hungry boxer, her two big front teeth looking like they could gnaw through a battleship! “Plenty of time! I’ll do the battle banter.” She ran out of the Starbucks and toward the Mandrill and yelled, “Eat nuts and kick butts!”

Holly flew after her. Great catchphrase, so much shorter than my “Give up or get beaten up by a girl!”

P.S. I know you want this.

Story Critique: Super Holly wouldn’t do that!

At my critique group yesterday, I handed in a draft of the audio story I intend to enter into the San Mateo County Fair Literary Contest. And one lady who usually likes my writing did not like Holly saying “OW!”

This story is set in Hollys future when she has been married to Cal “The Intelletual” Critbert for a couple of years, and is very very very very pregnant. And she is stubbornly out fighting crime, facing the feared Ma Barker gang, when she is hit with labor pains. Since the music for this story is The Blue Danube, her cries of pain sing along with it: “You’re under arrest— OW OW! OW OW! You have the right to remain silent— OW OW! OW OW!” And finally, “Anything you say— OW OW! OW OW! Can used against you— OW OW! OW OW! In a court of lawwwww, OW OW OWWW, OW OW, OW OW, OW OWWWWWWWW!!!”

The lady felt Holly should not be vulnerable, because Holly has always been strong. In other words, she has read enough Super Holly to say, Holly wouldn’t do that. (I am not posting that story yet because it was rougher that what I usually hand out to my critique group.)

Ladies commenting about Holly has happened before. When I performed The Intellecta Rhapsody at my presentation at Half Price Books, one lady said Holly would not whine. I think she felt Holly would not plead and beg the Intellecta-car to please please PLEASE help her stop a giant super-tank driven by Rocky the gangster from running over the roadblock fronted by her beloved Uncle Pops. No, Holly would not whine!

Actually, Holly can be vulnerable, and can even whine once in a while. I have always wanted Holly to be very human, and flawed. (Superman can be so perfect, and so boring!) But these ladies did classic fangirl behavior (my hero would not do that!), and that makes me feel good.

Holly being flawed might lead to another post. At a small comic con, I met a guy who played a superhero on TV when he was a younger man. He felt that a recent movie about that superhero should have been heroic. Hero meant being an icon, not being flawed. He might address this in a book he is writing about that acting job. I will likely buy it, he told good stories on his panel. But I would disagree about his view of heroes. Superheroes are more interesting when they are human. Flawed. Internal wars as well as external. Indiana Jones has a snake phobia, Holly is creeped out by spiders. Superman is polite and well-mannered when taking the bad guys to jail (yawn), Holly gets so mad at the bad guys that steam rockets out her nose when she is about to go super-heavyweight boxer on them.

So thank you, my fangirls. May Super Holly continue to entertain you. I will try to keep Holly true to her heroic, brave, fierce, and flawed self.

P.S. One year ago, Batton Lash, the artist and writer who did the cover art for Super Bad Hair Day, passed away. He helped design Holly’s costume, and he had the perfect idea of Holly having an up-arrow on her chest. Super Holly and I will always miss him.

Well, here’s another racist mess you’ve gotten me into!

This cartoon is from the graphic novel American Born Chinese by award-winning indy comics creator Gene Yang. Looks like a young adult novel that can teach well. But some writers don’t learn.

I read articles about the Romance Writers of America controversy about Courtney Milan criticizing Kathryn Lynn Davis’ novel as a “racist mess.” Milan is half-Chinese. Davis is white (like me). I wondered about exactly what Milan objected to, I suspected she was upset for a reason.

I went to the source. I googled Milan’s Twitter on this subject (click here to read it for yourself). I read the bits of the novel that Milan had trouble with. Guess what? It is a racist mess!

The half-Chinese, blue-eyed (is the other half super-duper Swedish?) protagonist describes Chinese characters as “turned slightly yellow from the London sun”. Are they trying out for The Simpsons?

Don’t forget their “slanted almond eyes”. Funny, the protagonist was raised in China, but she does not say white characters have chalky skin and round eyes. Milan said, “She’s literally describing absolutely normal people to her as if she were a white woman talking about a foreigner.”

I get that. I even grok that. I am a straight older Christian-raised white guy who grew up in a dairy community (ah, the sweet smell of silage). If I had ever described my Japanese-American character Kittygirl or her mother as having yellow skin and slanted eyes, my critique group would have roasted me.

I value my critique group female opinions on Super Holly (go easy on the boob jokes, Dave!). I had Kittygirl admire Super Holly’s long blonde hair; they said Kittygirl should not be envious (so Kittygirl loves her own long black hair, it’s like a cape!). I ran my Fred “Flex” Lexington character (super-powered gay bodybuilder) past a gay minister friend (and Macintosh user!); he pointed out stereotypes to avoid. (Lesbians should not throw themselves at Holly, gays don’t throw themselves around! I agreed, but there is evil and good superpowered emotional control in the story. I will rewrite to improve my slapstick kissy-kissy. Writing is learning and rewriting.)

I am a technical writer. I talk to engineers. Expert sources. People who know what they are talking about. People who do not just write it, they live it. Kathryn Lynn Davis, try a tech writing gig in smart, diverse Silicon Valley. You can learn something.

P.S. Boy oh boy, did I have trouble phonetically writing dialog for Kittygirl’s Japanese-born-and-raised mom. Hey, I’ll replace all the Rs with Ls! Then I’ll replace all the Ls with Rs! And… uh… no.