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Cousin Mitt Is Still a Lying Sack of Shit

My adjusted gross income for 2018 is $7,195, and I owe $268 in federal income tax. Mitt Romney is still a lying sack of shit. It also cost me $74.83 to file my taxes after a $50 courtesy discount on being told that I was not allowed to free file because I worked on a 1099 despite an income well below the federal poverty line (IRS.gov says that if you don’t have tax deducted from your paycheck, you are legally obligated to file, no matter your income). The IRS then nickel and dimed me for a $6.67 convenience fee.

Willard Mitt Romney (1947 – )
10th cousin
Lenore Emily LaFount (1908 – 1998)
Mother of Willard Mitt Romney
Alma Luella Robison (1882 – 1938)
Mother of Lenore Emily LaFount
Rosetta Mary Berry (1843 – 1918)
Mother of Alma Luella Robison
Robert G Berry Jr (1823 – 1905)
Father of Rosetta Mary Berry
Nancy Russell (1799 – 1889)
Mother of Robert G Berry Jr
Oliver Russell (1777 – 1841)
Father of Nancy Russell
Ellis Russell (1730 – 1802)
Father of Oliver Russell
Ebenezer Russell (1688 – 1761)
Father of Ellis Russell
Elizabeth Nurse (1665 – 1734)
Mother of Ebenezer Russell
Rebecca Towne (1621 – 1692)
Mother of Elizabeth Nurse
William Towne (1597 – 1673)
Father of Rebecca Towne
Jacob Towne (1632 – 1704)
Son of William Towne
Deliverance Towne (1664 – 1744)
Daughter of Jacob Towne
Mehitable Stiles (1700 – 1733)
Daughter of Deliverance Towne
Samuel Gould (1727 – 1791)
Son of Mehitable Stiles
Eli Gould (1766 – 1848)
Son of Samuel Gould
David Gould (1797 – 1869)
Son of Eli Gould
Ann Eliza Gould (1840 – 1895)
Daughter of David Gould
Lula Louise Brown (1871 – 1922)
Daughter of Ann Eliza Gould (adopted)
Osburne Amos Hutchins (1902 – 1982)
Son of Lula Louise Brown
James Frederick Hutchins (1941 – 2007)
Son of Osburne Amos Hutchins
Scott Andrew Hutchins
You are the son of James Frederick Hutchins

My mom told me shortly before she passed away that she would get invitations for Gould family reunions, so I think it’s fair to consider Mitt Romney my cousin even though it’s the result of an adoption. (Everyone is under their birth name, Rebecca Towne is better known by her married name, Rebecca Nurse.)

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Book Review: Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess Archives, Vol. 1 by Robert Kanigher

Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess Archives, Vol. 1Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess Archives, Vol. 1 by Robert Kanigher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This first (and so far only) continuous volume of Silver Age Wonder Woman stories (prior to the O’Neil/Sekowsky depowering) is juvenile fun. It’s unquestionably a relaunch in issue #98. I don’t know when they introduced the idea that Diana was a statue brought to life, but it wasn’t here. It’s a bit reminiscent of Marvel’s Venus from ten years earlier with its hybrid romance/superhero style. The absurdity level is high as Diana somehow gets enough metal from a penny to make the longest bridge in the world. We get several stories of Wonder Woman as a child, including shortly after her birth, in which the gods present her with the gifts she has long been said to have–Athena, Aphrodite, Hercules, and Mercury (it wasn’t until the Pérez run that they went consistently with Greek names, only to introduce the Roman gods as separate entities in issue #51).

The first issue tells Wonder Woman’s origin anew, with new artists Ross Andru and Mike Esposito (Andru’s Spider-Man was the first version I saw as a kid–his art evolves through this volume but never to that illustrative quality), and Paul Kupperberg’s introduction points out the silliness of everyone competing in a Wonder Woman costume with a mask. One major difference between this origin and original and subsequent versions is that Queen Hippolyta wants Diana to win the competition. In other versions, Hippolyta does not want Diana to compete and leave her, being the princess and the queen’s only daughter–Hippolyta being the only mother on Paradise Island, although this also runs into plausibility because the community seems tightly enough knit that Hippolyta would know everybody. This element is made particularly strange when young Diana is shown her future as Wonder Woman (249), which would give her foreknowledge that she would win the competition that might make her slack off (compare this to the Legion of Super-Heroes blocking Superboy’s memories of Supergirl’s existence) Steve Trevor is brought in as if a new character.

The following issue introduces two oddly named characters, General Dartwell and Paula. The standard-named General Darnell soon appears in the volume (he even mans a self-driving car for testing on page 291 and passim), but Paula does not appear again. Although a scientist, there is nothing her to directly connect her with Paula von Gunther, Diana’s friend who was kept prisoner on Paradise Island for her work with the Nazis (done under coercion while her daughter was held captive). It also launches Diana in a rocket that looks like the invisible robot plane that she will continue to use until after the Crisis.

Some really stupid things are on display here. Steve Trevor’s gun won’t fire because guns haven’t been invented yet (104). The principle that allows a gun to fire has always been true. Usually comics back then tried to be at least modestly educational about science, and the idea of an invention being attached to a point in time is particularly silly. I recall a Marvel horror reprint from the 1970s in which the generator for a time machine failed to work based on this ridiculous principle. A few pages later (108), Wonder Woman calls one of Columbus’s ships “the Pinto.” It’s too early for a swipe at Columbus based on the car (introduced in 1971) being infamously shoddy. On page 205, we get a reference to “caveman dialect” as part of Diana’s education. It comes in handy later in the story when she encounters dinosaurs and cavemen on a moon of Saturn (as in Supergirl comics at the time, the creators couldn’t resist the compulsion to put dinosaurs and cavemen together, explained away by here being a moon of Saturn and there being a “lost world” valley. The dinosaurs on page 217 look like the famous Taiwanese “dinosaur” figures that gave rise to a number of Dungeons and Dragons characters such as the Owl Bear and Rust Monster (although we don’t see those two in particular).

Since this was a follow-up on the revival of The Flash (although the stories still imply Wonder Woman is the only superhero in this diegesis), there’s some pretty heavy Flash-isms–Diana vibrates through walls (114), weapons used against Diana expanding when exposed to air (156), and finally, Wonder Woman pulling her lieutenant uniform from a link in her lasso which expands on exposure to the air just like Flash’s costume (314). One way this series ignores ideas in other DC Comics is the failure to make any reference to the friction caused by moving at high speed through the air (e.g. 188) which is frequently mentioned in The Flash, Superman, and Supergirl comics of the time. The Flash is protected by an aura, and Superman and Supergirl have to take their civilian clothes off to move at speeds this high because they would be burned up by the friction, while their costumes are treated with unspecified chemicals to prevent this. Kanigher seemed to have a thing for Saturn, even though it would be portrayed completely differently merely a few months apart (compare page 191 to page 213).

If the covers are any indication, Diana gave up her boots for sandals in issue #39 and was in the sockless ballet shoes in which she is seen in this volume and the Silver Age Justice League issues by issue #43 (September/October 1950). In the last issue of this volume, #110 (337), the flat shoes get heels, which would seem would be a foolish accoutrement, but she actually makes specific use of them on page 347.

A number of story elements are repetitive in this volume, such as dealing with giants,duplicate Wonder Women, contests and competitions, and Diana making horseshoe-shaped magnets for no other reason than for child members to look and say “that’s a magnet” (50, 270). On page 145, Tara the photographer calls Wonder Woman, “Tara,” which suggests how rushed things may have been. While Marston’s stories carry an incredibly strong and contemporary level of continuity (perhaps beaten only by Johnny Thunderbolt! and Scribbly and the Red Tornado, oddly enough, as you can see from The JSA All Srar Archives Volume 1) relative to the time they were published, Kanigher doesn’t seem to have put much thought into either the stories or to repeating himself.

There are not many supervillains in this volume. Duke Deception, formerly known as The Duke of Deception, an early Marston villain who is a deputy of the god Mars and who influences Dr. Psycho (I told you the Marston stories were complicated) returns for one issue. We also get one each for characters called the Time Master and the Gadget-Maker. Few of the stories have villains, more often having Diana either in competition or dealing with accidents and natural phenomena. The volume closes with a story about an alien robot princess (Princess the #1003 of 2,785 princesses) who wants to be human and wants Steve Trevor, who is sent back to her race with the compassion typical of Wonder Woman, encouraging them to treat her with love and attention so that she behaves. The essence of Wonder Woman is still to be found in this volume, even if it’s been heavily watered-down by comparison to Marston’s original and to Pérez’s 1987 relaunch (as of this writing, I have read up through #64 and annual #4 of the 1987, but very few more recent appearances to make further comparison). Did Kanigher hate Wonder Woman? It’s not clear that he did, but his repetition of ideas, a complaint I had for Jack Kirby‘s contemporaneous Challengers of the Unknown by Jack Kirby, is the only real indication that he didn’t put a lot of thought into what he wrote, but could just as easily be symptomatic of the time, and an assumption that the assumed child reader wouldn’t pick up on any of this. It should also be said that the series was published eight times a year (skipping March, June, September, and December–the thirteen issues of this volume span not 13 months but from May 1958 to November 1959), making it even less likely that the original audience would have read the issues in as close proximity to one another as readers of this volume.

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Film Review: Teeth (Mitchell Lichtenstein, 2007)

This review was posted on Facebook in 2009 and thankfully, I was able to preserve it before Michael Booth got my account disabled.

 

Mitchell Lichtenstein states in the documentary Teeth:  Behind the Scenes  that Teeth is a female empowerment fantasy, but that he is not sure whether the film is a feminist film.  I think that it certainly is, and its bleak ending is the key to this interpretation in a film full of subtext to which it occasionally falls prey.

Lichtenstein, a son of the pop art painter Roy Lichtenstein, is as influenced by comicbooks as his father was.  While his father focused on creating pastiches of the war and romance comics popular in his day as full-canvas paintings that mocked the printing style of old comicbooks, Mitchell has his hero, Dawn O’Keefe (Jess Weixler) living in the loom of two coolant towers of a nuclear power plant, although nothing is ever mentioned in the dialogue about it.  Lichtenstein insists that Dawn, who (if this is a horror story) is structurally the monster, is not a monster but a superhero.  She is allowed to live at the end, but her entire world is shattered while she is still a minor without even a diploma.  The only plausible feminist turn for her story to take after the film ends is for her to be constantly on the run like the Hulk, and only able to use her power if she becomes prey for rapists, and if she goes out looking for trouble and deliberately making herself prey, she is no hero.  And what is she going to do for her livelihood, steal rapists’ money?  Vigilantism is, of course, illegal (although several superhero teams get an official pass), but if she runs around stealing her victim’s money, she becomes more like a villain, and then her story reverts to the anti-woman myth from which it derives.  As several involved in the production say in the interviews, she is able to protect herself, but unless she has some sort of disease immunity, her power may be more trouble than it is worth, in addition to any emotional trauma it may cause.  Condoms certainly are going to be of no help to her.

I first encountered the myth of the vagina dentata in the Apache version as reported by Joseph Campbell.  In that story, only three women had vaginas at all, and they of course had teeth, and all the other vaginas in the world made up their dwelling.  The “hero” gives the women, “craving intercourse” in Campbell’s words, an elixir that destroys their teeth, after which he “show[s them] what vaginas are for,” then dismantles their house and supplies each woman with a vagina.  [The quotations are from memory.  I do not recall which book this is, but it is not The Power of Myth.]  In my unfinished, unauthorized Monster in My Pocket screenplay, by specializing on the monsters-as-characters, I turned myths such as those of Medusa (given multiple references by Lichtenstein, though never touching on her origin, which Ovid considered a deserved punishment for having been raped (or at least doesn’t create a counterargument for Perseus’s statement as such)), for example) on their heads, but here the message should be clear—it’s a myth that glorifies a man taking multiple female partners and justifies it by establishing the women as sexual predators.  Dawn’s research in the film reveals just how universal this legend is, and when she explains the myth to Ryan (Ashley Springer) as something that exists in all cultures, composer Robert Miller creates a mixture of multi-ethnic drum and wind instruments building on the score.

The film falls prey to its own hypocrisy early in the film, in which a diagram of how a penis becomes erect is considered perfectly acceptable by the school board for the high school health curriculum, but a diagram of the vulva (a word which the male teacher (Taylor Sheppard) can’t allow himself to say, but which Ryan correctly uses) is censored with a large gold sticker in all the students’ copies.  Ryan tears the page trying to remove it.  Ryan insists that showing a vulva is no different from showing a penis and questions the teacher for claiming otherwise.  The teacher is unable to answer.  Dawn claims that it is because women have a natural modesty, which results in jeers from students both male and female.  The film falls into this trap, because it shows penises but no vulvas, other than the diagram when Dawn removes the page from her book and soaks it in the sink to remove the censoring label.  Her face does not seem revolted at all at its appearance, though the very act of this censorship seems geared to make women ashamed and fearful of their bodies.  She is more concerned that hers is abnormal.  Granted, it must be acknowledged that no actor shows off his personal anatomy in the film, and we see only prosthetics.  Lichtenstein felt that it would be insulting to Weixler to show her anatomy on camera, and it must be admitted that a view of a prosthetic vagina dentata would probably be less than satisfactory.  Still, it reinforces the hubub created by Janet Jackson’s mere nipple in a live television broadcast, while a pre-recorded Survivor broadcast was allowed to show an uncensored penis without any fines from the FCC.  Most of the shots of the male anatomy could be achieved just as effectively with blood sprays and reaction shots, but presumably the graphic physical violence was necessary to sell the film to a horror crowd.  The fact that this could pass with an R-rating is indicative of the conservative factions in this country that run the MPAA.  I recall reading an interview in Video Watchdog in which the producer of a horror film in the 1970s noted that he was forced to put the naked men in his film in merkins (pubic wigs) so that their anatomy did not show.  The women’s natural pubic hair was considered sufficient.  Now merkins are very commonplace to depict female frontal nudity, because the MPAA seems to find the female genitalia NC-17 material, while the male genitalia merely R-rated.  I do not accept the claim that they are merely reinforcing the public’s standard in this way.

Dawn, it must be said, begins the film as an abstinence advocate of a group that, as best as can be said, is not so extreme as to insist that the first kiss be at the altar, as such groups do indeed exist, though (this group encourages dating and dancing, albeit at a distance and with mocking song lyrics by David Lichtenstein, another son of Roy), because of the indoctrination of the group, Dawn is horrified when she finds herself up in the middle of the night almost giving into temptation to touch herself in a fantasy of her wedding night.  Many more moderate abstinence groups, while not encouraging such behavior, would tell people not to have such guilt about it, as the closest the Bible comes to discussing it is Leviticus mentioning ritual uncleanliness after a sexual release of any nature, marital or not, so long as fantasies remain marriage-focused.  This group’s promise ring is a translucent red found by the costume designer, Rita Ryack.  Ryack says in the featurette that she is not impressed with the symbol as it appears on the T-shirts, but it does seem to be subtly symbolic of the female anatomy.  Dawn and others explicitly point out that this is not just for girls, so the organization is not overtly sexist, but the attitude is that the virginity is a gift that the giver must leave wrapped and unexamined before giving.

In an incident she apparently no longer remembers when asked, her stepbrother, who has never forgotten shows her his privates in a wading pool, and then demands to see hers, and gets bitten.   Her stepbrother, Brad (John Hensley) is obsessed with her, and responds by being a polar opposite, blasting thrash metal and constantly dealing with his physical needs with Melanie (Nicole Swahn), for whom he has no respect.  Interestingly, at a couple of points when Dawn enters Brad’s bedroom, one can clearly see a cobra image on Brad’s wall near the door.  Snakes have a long history as a symbol of feminine power that Freud more recently interpreted as a phallic symbol.  The double-edge of this symbol colors both scenes with subtext.  The snake imagery appeared earlier in the film as the children Dawn speaks to chant about Eve and the snake, directly tying the snake to femininity and indoctrinated fear of sexuality.  Nothing the children say is quoting the Bible, but is an extremely misogynistic interpretation of the Bible story.  This scene emphasizes Dawn’s exile from the group after she was date raped by one of its members, Tobey (Hale Appleman).  She never tells anyone of the rape, nor ever says the word, because her body responds by dismembering her attacker.  The attack occurs in a cave, with all the symbolism that entails, and either intentionally or because of the freezing water one must swim through to reach the cave contributing to shock, Tobey does not survive.  Dawn explicitly broke up with Tobey because of the sexual tension he was causing her.  In a deleted scene, another couple from the abstinence group, Gwen (Julia Garro) and Phil (Adam Wagner), unaware of the post-breakup meeting with Tobey to which Dawn agreed that ended in the date rape, state their belief that he killed himself over the breakup.  Knowing that the rape ties directly to his death, which, not even sure if it occurred or was a dream, she needs to return to the scene to confirm, she is forced to keep silent about it.  She also considers the rape reason to discard her promise ring.  Even when she acknowledges to the gynecologist (Josh Pais) that she is sexually active, and he tells her that the exam room is a safe place for secrets, she is unwilling to acknowledge the rape, and ultimately maims him in the funniest of the gore scenes.

Because her mother, Kim (Vivienne Benesch) is terminally ill and in pain (presumably with cancer, though that word is never uttered, either), Dawn really has no one to turn to, and is convinced that she has to go to the police.  After her breakup with Tobey, Ryan has become friendly with her, and she goes to him now.  He lives in his parents’ garage and has an intercom with which to call them.  Ryan reads books on female sexual pleasure and he has a box full of feminine massagers.  He is gentle with her, respectfully allows her to bathe in private, then seduces her, using his massagers on her until she is ready to let him in.   She has succumbed to the indoctrination of the other side that encourages casual sex.  She feels sexually liberated for a moment, and admires herself naked from the waist up in the mirror.  After she puts her shirt back on, he tempts her into having sex again by turning on his clitoral stimulator.  This time, she takes the supposedly more empowering on-top position, and she does not remove her shirt.  As she enjoys him, Ryan picks up his cell phone and starts taking to his friend.  He has won a bet.  He tries to put her on the phone.  She is thoroughly ashamed at the prospect of being out on the phone during intercourse, but shouts an instinctive “no.”  She continues intercourse with him as she argues about his violation of her sacred oath, then in an imagery laden line, he says that her mouth is saying one thing while her “sweet pussy” says another.  The most gruesome scene is reserved for the vilest offender (Tobey’s date rape was not premeditated), but she does not see it that way, ashamed of herself as she leaves him behind to call for his mom, who remains oblivious that it occurred during sex.

Dawn comes home calling for her mother, but finds her unconscious on the floor as Brad and Melanie have sex with the door open.  Dawn calls 911, but Kim does not survive.  The nurses allow Dawn to embrace Kim’s dead body.  Before Bill (Lenny van Dohlen), Dawn’s stepfather, can arrive at the hospital to sign the death certificate, Brad sics his vicious dog, Mother, upon his father, calling her off only after a serious bite to Bill’s neck.  Brad is conspicuously absent when Bill and a very guilt-ridden Melanie, whom Brad told Kim’s screams are normal, so Dawn goes home, dolls herself up, and seduces the stepbrother who has always wanted her, shoving off his attempts to get her from behind.  The angst in her face is quite palpable, disgusted at what she is allowing him to do, and her intent in mind, she seems to be wondering if she is indeed a monster.  In spite of what happened to his finger as a child, he is shocked when he cannot find his penis until it drops from under her nightgown.  She then releases Mother, her name tying in with a passage Dawn read regarding the mother element of the vagina dentata myth.  Mother consumes it all except the pierced glans, which she regurgitates.  Although Dawn allows Brad to live, she realizes that she can never return home, and bikes away, still in her nightgown and slippers and in heavy baby-doll makeup, only to hitch a ride with a dirty old man (Doyle Carter).

Dawn’s eyes flash knowingly in the final shot before the credits.  Is this Wicked, in which a slightly different person is shown turning to an evil monster as a matter of circumstance?  The film left me thinking about Dawn’s options, upon which I speculated earlier in this essay.  She can wander around running from law enforcement like the Hulk.  The filmmakers do not seem to see Dawn as a victim because she has this power, but what can she really do with it?  Perhaps she could go after known serial rapists and get any potential sentence against her commuted, though that seems limited to the slightly comicbook-like world she is in.  Without a diploma, she’s really in a worse state than David Banner in the television version of The Incredible Hulk, changing names and jobs repeatedly (though admittedly, that show could get pretty implausible to,  David earning things like pilot’s licenses under false surnames like the one Dawn used with the gynecologist, Cobb).  The prospect of meeting a kind man that treats her properly and give her no reason to “Bobbitt” as it were (she never does anything with the men’s testicles, so “castration” is not an appropriate term, and “penectomy” implies surgical precision), seems inherently anti-feminist, though it may well be Dawn’s dream.  While there is certainly a female empowerment aspect to vagina dentata, it doesn’t prevent rape, only punishes it, and in such a messy and disease-prone way that it’s not the protection the filmmakers seem to think that it is.  That the film stays with Dawn after all the maimings and focuses on her nonverbals as she copes with being raped, whereas most horror films would remain with the physically-injured party, Lichtenstein is, correctly, I believe, more concerned with Dawn’s psychological pain.

Although I find that the film is brilliantly achieved, I think there are things Lichtenstein and his crew really did not think about when they were making this film.  Are we really to believe than Dawn is simply going to reject the modest person she was?  As Cunégonde says in Voltaire’s Candide, “Though a person of honor may be raped once, her virtue is only strengthened by the experience.” (from Chapter 8, translated by Robert M. Adams).  Dawn’s conditioning does not allow her this perception.  She interprets it as meaning that she is now sexually active, but she is clearly not happy about it.  She was always more modest in how she dressed than Gwen, and in a deleted scene, reveals that she has trained herself to see only G-rated things, ignoring the sexual imagery in advertising and willing to see only G-rated movies.  Ryack says that this is because Gwen and Phil were raised in the program and Dawn was not, something that could have been made clearer in the film.  The fact that she is a relative newcomer to participating in the program and quickly shooting to the top as a speaker in spite of some obvious awkwardness (presumably at her age, no one expects her not to have this) and overemphasizes the ideals it embraces in order to fit in is certainly a part of her character that is not quite explained in the film.  If she is attracted to the program because of its ideals and is then swept up by its dogma, do people really drop those core ideals from their psyches after traumas such as Dawn’s?  I suspect that without the program, she would have been more readily willing to indulge her wedding night fantasy, and less convinced by her lack of virtue had she still been raped (by someone she, after all, met in the program and probably would not have become involved with otherwise), less easy to seduce, and less likely to become an “avenging angel” as one of the crew put it in the featurette.  Cunegonde’s belief does seem to indeed be buried in Dawn.  Tobey tells her he is pure “… in God’s eyes.”  In the context of the scene, I initially thought he had meant that someone had touched him inappropriately.  This scene made me believe that Dawn had forgotten the childhood incident that was so meaningful to Brad, or else she would have said that there was a time in which she had been touched inappropriately.  She seems to think that Tobey’s virtue is unharmed.  During the date rape, he says that he needs to do it because he “ha[s]n’t masturbated since March,” and this is clearly to what he was referring earlier.  At the end of the film, she seems to have discarded any notions of virtue and believe that her job is to harm those who would violate women, even though it of itself obligates her to be a victim.  This is definitely a feminist message, but as a female empowerment message, it is very weak.  It seems to be the sort of feminist message that gets the more moderately conservative riled up about feminism, even though conservatism generally does endorse revenge, at least when done by men.  This is reflected in the way the film’s advertising compares the film to Fatal Attraction and presents Dawn as someone who willfully harms men, although this is only what she becomes when she maims Brad.  She does not maim Ryan deliberately—her verbal and nonverbal cues indicate that it is an anger response that she immediately regrets.  The conservative advertisers of the film felt compelled to portray her as a nightmarish villain.  The big question that the film never brings up, though, is why, in a culture in which oral sex has become so popular and pervasive, would a vagina dentata even scare men anymore?  It’s very rare we hear of someone biting a rapist in a case of forced oral sex.  I recall hearing exactly one such story on the news that occurred on the IUPUI campus while I was still in high school.  Perhaps the filmmakers wanted women to use this strategy as often as it should be.

Ultimately, though, for all the film’s comicbook trappings, overt gags, and mutant powers, the human relationships are realistic, which makes me tend to think a more realistic after-film life for Dawn.  Her rape is an unpleasant wake-up call that may ultimately be defining a life full of rape in which she survives by deliberately making herself a target.  It would be perverse for her to enjoy this and hell for her not to.  The story may superficially involve female empowerment, but it is more about what was described in the featurette about women adapting to the world run by men, no matter whether it is for the better.  In this sense, Teeth is a feminist film, and a dire one.

The Problem With R.L Stine’s Man-Thing #1

I have collected this series, but have not read it due to my living situation the issues are in storage, and I wanted to read some interstitial issues first (which I also have in storage):

Extraordinary X-Men (2016) #9
Civil War II: Choosing Sides (2016) #5
Deadpool V Gambit (2016) #3
Deadpool V Gambit (2016) #4
Deadpool V Gambit (2016) #5
Foolkiller (2017) #1
Old Man Logan (2016) #14 – ‘Monster War: Part I’
Old Man Logan (2016) #15 – ‘Monster War: Part II’
Doctor Strange (2015) #17 – ‘State of Misery’
Spider-Man/Deadpool (2016) #15 – ”Til Death Do Us… Part 2′

This is really disappointing. When I initially read that Man-Thing was able to speak, I though it was picking up on Man-Thing self-actualizing as the Vogornus Koth and speaking the universal language, which actually made sense for the character. Thinking like Ted Sallis did as a man is a shift of gears quite a bit. The idea of the universal language was that even among speakers of the same language, he would sound comprehensible whether guttural slang or eloquent language would be better understood by the listener, but he certainly didn’t return to Ted Sallis’s personality. It was an evolution of his development as guardian of the Nexus of All Realities, not a reversion to his pre-transformation self. I wish Marvel would have given the series to me. I would have had Vogornus Koth return to the Everglades with Satana and have them reunite with Jennifer Kale and clear up that stupid satanism thing in Elektra #9. People who think Jennifer Kale is a satanist are clearly uber-fundamentalist Christians who can’t tell the difference between paganism and satanism. Jennifer and the Cult of Zhered-Na are clearly pagan, and their faith is structured so similarly with Christianity (god Valka, executed prophet Zhered-Na, adversary Thog) that even that is basically window dressing.

Movies and Cool Stuff

Man-Thing is quite possibly the strangest major character in Marvel’s extensive roster, but thanks to the work of numerous talented writers, I have recently developed a genuine obsession with this bizarre swamp monster. After flourishing under the pen of the late Steve Gerber in a seminal run on Adventure Into Fear, Man-Thing was awarded a self-titled solo series in 1974. Gerber returned to continue the epic saga he began during the events of Fear, ultimately producing work on the character which is yet to be topped to this day.

After reading his fascinating stories, I needed to know where the tragic tale of Ted Sallis would go next. The search for answers led me to Man-Thing’s second solo series from 1979, briefly headed by Micheal Fleisher before X-Men superstar Chris Claremont took the helm. Although I believe the series to be a competent exploration of the character, it failed…

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Life In Plastic Halloween Special: 13 Demons of the Ars Goetia

Nerditis

Orobas06

Happy Halloween, everybody! ‘Tis the season of monsters, which have always been a great love of mine. Monsters are cool! Yay monsters! So, since it’s Halloween, I thought that I should provide something a little more monstery than usual. And since we at Nerditis never do things by half-measures, that means it’s time to look at DEMONS FROM HELL.

Demons are pretty much the ultimate monsters. The idea of evil spirits has been mankind’s big fear since we lived in grass huts and caves. No matter how far back we go, long before zombies and vampires were even a blip on the radar, people feared that spirits of pure, unquenchable evil would devour them.

The Ars Goetia (pronounced “Goh-et-ee-a”) is part of The Lesser Key of Solomon – a Renaissance-era occult book that purports to be King Solomon’s guide to wisdom. See, instead of Solomon asking God for wisdom and…

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Life In Plastic: Special: The Night Parade of a Hundred Demons

Nerditis

Kaiyodo-HyakkiYako

“Hey, Rid,” you say. “I like your toy reviews and all, but remember that one time you used toys to talk about obscure mythology? When are you going to do that again?”

How does right now sound?

Japanese religion, mythology, and folklore is different in concept than what most westerners would find familiar. Lots of folks would nod and agree and point to Buddhism, but it goes deeper than that. At its core, traditional Japanese religion combines aspects of Buddhism, Shinto, and animist traditions that predate both of those. The Japanese concept of spirits and spirituality is far removed from the way we categorize things, which is why it can be hard to discuss the Yokai.

Kaiyodo-AzukiArai

Yokai are Japanese… spirits, creatures, ghosts, monsters, goblins, and who-knows-what. All of the above terms apply, but none of them exclusively. A Yokai might be a ghost of a person, or a ghost…

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Life in Plastic Special: The Bishop Fish and the Sea Monk: Toy Cryptids

Nerditis

A little while ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who is currently teaching a Church History class.  I brought up the Bishop Fish, and he was so amazed that he asked me to show him everything I could find about it.  So… I ended up researching this.  And since it also ties into a bunch of toys, well, it’s worth including!

As far as photos go, the toy photography is near the end.  The reproduced artwork is… dun dun dun… historical documentation!  Awesome!

The Bishop Fish and the Sea Monk

BishopFishAndSeaMonk-Conradgesner-HistoriaAnimalium
Illustration from The Historia Animalum

The Bishop Fish and Sea Monk are two 15th and 16th-Century European cryptids – a cryptid is a legendary monster that has “confirmed” sightings, as opposed to a creature tied to myth. For example, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Mothman are cryptids, whereas the Manticore, the Hydra, and the Phoenix…

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