Kids at Avengers Endgame: To shuddup or not to shuddup?

Ooo!!! Ooo!!! I just saw Avengers: Endgame!!! Yuh wanna know who DIES?!?!? DO YUH, DO YUH, DO YUH?!?!?!

Well, I ain’t telling. Go see it yourself. I took advantage of being between technical writing gigs and I saw it today, the day it opened (if you don’t count Thursday night). It was tough to get a seat, but I got one at the Great Mall: front row center, the one luxury seat in the house that would not fully recline. Sigh. To my right were eight kids of various skin tones. (I know it was eight because my seat was A9.) They made a little noise.

I will pause here to let you think about them and about me. I am a fanboy in my early 60s. I am Swedish ancestry, meaning so white that if I stand next to a bright light, you can see some of my vital organs. You’d think I’d be grumpy at those dang-nab kids making noise. (I once believed that blabbing during a movie should be added to the death penalty list.)

You’d be wrong. When these kids did some whispering, I resisted the urge to hush them, they were not loud. Their eyes and ears stayed glued to that screen. Not one lit up their cell phone. During the big climactic battle scene was when they made noise. They cheered when Thanos was clobbered and when Spider-Man swung into the picture and when Captain Marvel flew in and did what she does so well. When a big bunch of Marvel superheroines stood side-by-side ready to take names and kick ass, the girls in those eight harmonized like cheerleaders. And when Black Panther showed up ready for battle, one black girl crowed with pure joy: “Black Panthah, Black Panthah!!!” That made me smile, a young girl getting to see someone who looked a little like her on the big screen.

I digress here for a moment. Many years ago, I was listening to (ugh!) Rush Limbaugh. (I believe in getting to know my enemy before striking a match.) A young black man had called in to say he wanted more role models in America. Rush responded with the most obnoxious sentence in this universe, nay, in the entire multiverse: “Why don’t you use me as a role model?” The young man laughed and said, “You?”

No, Rush. Just NO! I like vanilla, but there are other flavors, some people are other flavors, and that cry of joy from that young black girl blended into the movie like music. Those eight kids were the happiest, cheeringest, having-the-best-time-at-the-movies-EVERingest I have ever seen.

I have had a bad experience with kids at the movies. At the first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie, the theater was filled with kids (mostly white) who climbed over the seats like a jungle gym, wrestled, blabbed about anything except the movie, and never even once looked up at the screen. When I left, a young black lady asked me if I’d been in that theater. I said yes, rather unhappily. She said she’d been there too and had complained to the management, but the management didn’t do anything. I complained to the management and got a free ticket. I still wonder if that was white privilege in action.

Take your kids to see Avengers: Endgame. If they cheer, let ‘em. But if they blab or wrestle or climb or any combination of that triple, smack them in the back of the head and say in your best Chicago leg-breaking thug voice: SHUDDUP!!!

Advertisements

Captain Marvel and Super Holly: Let’s you and her fight!

I saw the Captain Marvel movie. Loved it, of course. But I wondered: who wins in a fight, Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers or Super Holly Hansson? (When two mightiest-of-the-mighty superheroes meet for the first time, they ALWAYS fight! But why?)

A FEW MILES AWAY FROM SOME CITY IN THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. A FEW HUNDRED FEET STRAIGHT UP.

Captain Marvel wipes a drop of blood off her lips, thrusts her hands toward heavyweight-boxer-posed Super Holly hovering ten feet in front of her, and photon-blasts Holly’s up-arrow chest-logo! ZZZZAP!!!

Super Holly is knocked back fifty feet. “OW OW OW OW OWWWWW!!! That really STINGS!!!” She flies toward Captain Marvel, punching telekinetic-transparent blue bowling-ball fists onto Captain Marvel’s kisser! POW POW POW POW POW!!!

Captain Marvel says, “OOF OOF OOF OOF OOF!!!” and raises her fists just in time to parry Holly’s super right hook. But not Holly’s left uppercut: BIFF!!! Then Holly and Carol get close and personal.

POW POW POW POW!!! “Take it back, Captain Marbles!”

ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP!!! “I have nothing to take back from you!”

“You know what you said!” PUNCH PUNCH KICK KICK PUNCH!!!

“I did not start this, but I shall end it!” PUNCH PUNCH FEINT HEADBUTT-KERRRRUNCH!!!

“OOOTCH!!!” Holly rubs her beaky nose and smiles with respect. “Good one! Your mommy teach you to fight dirty?”

Captain Marvel aims her glowing hands at Holly’s face. “No, your nose happens to be a big target! And I don’t remember my mother.”

Holly’s smile instantly vanishes. Her lips tremble. She blinks her big, liquid blue eyes. Her voice cracks: “You… you don’t? Nothing at all?”

Captain Marvel takes a closer look. “Holly? Are you crying?”

Holly wipes off a tear. “I lost my mommy and daddy when I was five. My Uncle Pops was a great father figure after that. But I miss my mommy every day. I do everything I can to hold onto the memories. That’s why I wear the strawberry lip gloss.” Another tear goes down Holly’s cheek. “My mommy smelled like strawberries.”

Carol lowers her glowing fists, and the glow fades out. “You poor thing.”

Holly floats closer. “No, you poor thing. You don’t even know what you’re missing.”

They hug. They sob. And they fly to the nearest coffee shop.

A TABLE AT A COFFEE SHOP PATIO.

Carol sips an iced coffee and laughs. “Harry Headbutt sounds like a hoot! We have a big hulking guy too, but he tries to be good. But does that Icy Guy always get the best of you?”

Holly slams down her third iced mocha, licks her lips, and smiles. “Ice Cream Guy. And somehow, he does. That Thanos guy sounds like a real tough customer.” Holly sighs. “Too bad I wasn’t around to help.”

Carol sips her coffee. “I would have welcomed that. In the fisticuff department, you’d have given him a run for his money.”

Holly laughs. “Yeah, it would have been fun to belt him in his big fat mouth right when he starts pontificating about genocidal righteousness. Why didn’t that idiot just double the resources?”

Carol swallows her coffee and cocks her head. “I should have asked him that. But defeating him would take more than super-strength. The power of his Infinity Glove would have been more than a match for you.”

Holly smirks. “Really? Hold up your right hand, kinda like you are about to snap your finger and erase me from existence.”

“Um, okay.” Carol raises her hand and prepares to snap her fingers. Then she smiles wickedly. “And now, with a snap, I shall erase you from—”

“Yoink!” Holly is holding her right hand up, and it is holding Carol’s glove. Holly is smiling wickedly.

Carol looks at her gloveless hand. And back to Holly. “Neat trick.”

Holly tries on the glove. “Hmm, a little small. All I did was right-hand pantomime my telekinesis into your glove, expand it, and yoink off the glove.”

Carol nods and giggles. “I would have loved to see the look on his big purple face.”

Holly hands back Carol’s glove. “Of course, Batman would have beaten Thanos. Batman’s the smart one.”

Carol waves her hand dismissively. “A guy in a bat suit? When there are lives at stake, I’ll fly that plane. Costumed wannabes should stay grounded.”

Steam blasts out Holly’s nose. She stands up, fists cocked and ready! “YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!!”

Carol stands up. “I’ll do no such thing! We should leave the battle to us soldiers, not to a guy in a Halloween—” BIFF!!!

Holly has her left hook cocked and ready! “Not so easy insulting my idol with a mouth full of knuckles, is it, Captain Marbles?”

Carol wipes a drop of blood off her lips and raises her glowing fists. “Punch me again, and I’ll put my photon blast in a place it is not supposed to be!”

And the fight is on. Again.

She-Ra on Netflix: Thumbs up!

I binge-watched the rebooted She-Ra some weeks ago. I was not too hopeful, judging from the previews I’d seen. But this show is what the Battlestar Galactica reboot was: a hell of an improvement on the original. I am old enough to have watched the original Battlestar Ponderosa, I mean Battlestar Galactica, in the 1970s. I have historical geek cred.

(Warning: spoilers ahead, but you should have watched this by now anyway!) When I watched the original She-Ra cartoons in the mid 1980s (if you tell anyone I did that, I will hunt you down and kill you), it was painfully obvious that the stories were about selling action figures to little girls. The new She-Ra stories are about the relationships between the characters. The center of season 1 is the arc of Adora (okay, She-Ra) and Catra: friends to frenemies.

She-Ra is what all interesting heroes should be: flawed. As with the original, She-Ra starts on the evil side, and jumps ship when she sees how evil her side is. But the new She-Ra has trouble controlling her powers. She was sheltered and easily fooled by the Horde until the Horde nastiness was shoved right into her face. (Maybe she grew up on Fox News.) She is chock-full of self doubt. (Super Holly Hansson does not have that problem, she’s been punching out bullies since pre-school.)

The original She-Ra cast reminded of what my nephew said many years ago when he picked up an action figure and said, “Dis is dah good guy,” and he handed me another figure, “and dis is dah bad guy.” You got to know their entire character in 10 seconds. They didn’t evolve. The new Entrapta evolves nicely! I admit that my character Crestley Smusher is heading in her direction: amoral ultra-geek, siding with wherever the greatest technological challenge is. But even the characters who are estblished fast are fun. The new Scorpia’s personality delightfully BOOMED into my face: bubbliest burly henchwoman EVER! The new Shadow Weaver / Hordak dynamic takes prepping for back-stabbing to new heights. I remember what Siskel and Ebert said, the strength of the hero is measured against the strength of the villain. Shadow Weaver is wounded and hurt and you should never turn your back on her.

I read that there is LGBT representation. I believe it, but for me to be sure, I have to see them lip-lock, and I doubt that will happen anytime soon. The new Bow has relationship issues with Glimmer, he was complimented on his belly-button-exposing shirts by one of the Horde guys (hint hint?), and he often moves like a ballerina. The original Bow, other than his flowery taste in clothes, reminded me of the Animal Man comic book where the Red Mask said about Captain Triumph: “Nice guy, but he had the personality of a deck chair, ya know?”

Check out the new She-Ra. I look forward to season two. More character relationship arcs! More strong villainy! More Scorpia bear-hugs! More Sea Hawk burning his own boats (that guy must be secretly rich).

P.S. For you whiny fanboys who want the original Barbie doll She-Ra with the bit of 80s cleavage, you can ogle Super Holly. But not too long or she’ll warn you once, then punch you twice.

RIP Stan Lee. Humans entertain, gods bore.

A bright light has gone out in the world. I was but a kid when Spider-Man and Fantastic Four were first published. Compared to DC Comics at the time, Stan’s characters were more flawed, more human, more fun. Super Holly Hansson is the Superman of my writing world, but she is not a perfect boy scout. She is a geek girl with a short fuse. Lesson learned.

John Trumbull ran an article a while ago that showcased Lee’s dialog when some of the jerkier fanboys would say it was ALL Kirby and ALL Ditko and Stan just took all the credit. In the article, John showed a panel from Fantastic Four, Lee’s writing and Kirby’s art.

And one from New Gods, Kirby’s writing and art.

Have I mentioned that one way to have Super Holly Hansson give you a fat lip is to call her a goddess? Putting “Gods” in a title puts me off. Fellow writers tell me that they like how Holly is “very human.”

On Stan Lee’s Fresh Air interview, he asked Terry Gross to imagine a monster: 12-feet tall, purple skin, breathing fire, two heads. In the 1960s, a typical superhero would have said, “A creature from another world – I’d better capture him before he destroys the city.” Spider-Man might say, “Who’s the nut in the Halloween costume?” Stan said he tried to do dialogue that represented the way real, flesh and blood, three-dimensional people would talk. What better writing advice can I get?

Stan loved making original sound effect words: “btkooom” (the third O is, of course, silent) and “PFZZAKT” (a bullet going through a wall). I have been a little lax with crazy original sound words lately, but I admit that I still love Harry Headbutt punching Super Holly and then she clobbers him with five: THOOM! POW POW POW POW POW!!! THOOM! POW POW POW POW POW!!!

Stan said he used those fun alliterative names (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, Sue Storm) because he had a bad memory. I use them too, I like their sound: Holly Hansson, Katsuko Kimura, Cal Critbert, and my favorite: Harry Headbutt! (Nice when the name says a bit about the character.)

P.S. I was going to have a Stan Lee type character in my stories: Dan Mann. But I already have three older men in Super Holly’s life: her Uncle Pops, Bennie the rubber cop, and Lash the barber. So I am gender-flipping Dan Mann into Fran Lee. When I FINALLY finish The Comic Book Code, Fran will be the head of a Marvel-type company who publishes Holly’s graphic novel, The Last Super. She will know comic book history. She’ll be Jewish. And she will have some of HERstorian and writer Trina Robbins in her soul.

Kittygirl loves wasabi ice cream artwork!

At Campbell Con, I had Nelson Kuang (instagram: BurntGreenTea) draw Kittygirl enjoying an ice cream cone and saying her favorite ice cream flavor. (That is the ice cream that Kittygirl likes in my short story, “The Fiendish Brain Freezer,” in my Super Bad Hair Day book on Kindle. Super Holly likes strawberry.) Nelson put Super Holly in there also, that was nice of him. I love this anime look! Dig those Kittygirl claws!

I am updating Super Bad Hair Day: don’t buy right now

I decided that my CreateSpace book needed to be at least 130 pages so I could have a proper book spine. I got it up to 140 with more short stories, an audio script, and some Super Holly artwork. I submitted a new Word page interior and a new PDF cover with a REAL SUPER SPINE with a REAL TITLE AND AUTHOR NAME on it! Yay! CreateSpace is currently reviewing my changes.

I will also update the Kindle book. That will likely take a few days. I am working full time, so this weekend is most likely.

So if you are thinking of buying my book, hold off. Soon you will get twice the bang for your buck. The Kindle version will stay at 99 cents, but I had to raise the CreateSpace price by 50 cents to $6.50. At least now, if you buy the CreateSpace version, you will get more of a real book.