Good time of day to you! I’ve uploaded all the old posts from the Words and Slurs blog. Words and Slurs was my first attempt at a blog and revolved around the idea that writers are heavy drinkers. In the coming weeks, I’ll be editing or deleting the posts as needed to stay inline with the nerd theme of AMK Writes. Editing: one more reason we can have nice things.
No Holy anything, Batman
Robin, the Boy Wonder has a terrible PR agent. His image is tainted by cheesy catchphrases, a bare-legged costume with pixie boots, and rumored romantic feelings for Batman. He’s never had a decent live action portrayal, and in a culture where the masses get their comics fix from explosion-heavy movies (and some television), that doesn’t translate well for his overall image. Despite that, seventy-four years after he first appeared in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940), Robin has become an iconic and essential character in not only the Batman mythos, but in the DC Universe.
The primary source of information on comic book characters is found in – surprise! – the comics (but not all comics, just certain ones considered “canon”). Television, film, and theatre are all adaptations, which means they’re free to tell their own stories in their own style. The 1960’s Batman TV show used a very campy style to show off their cartoon caricature version of the Batman universe (and Robin’s image has suffered greatly because of it). Other adaptations follow the source material more closely and present the characters in a more positive light (such as the ever-popular 1990‘s animated Batman series). No matter how popular any of these show are, they’re still adaptations.
So who is Robin? The boy behind the mask is a little more complicated than he might seem because there have actually been five canonical Robins. Comics can get really crazy sometimes, for all sorts of reasons (story, ratings, and money, for example). Characters grow up, die, and get rewritten (or erased) all the time and it’s easy to get lost in the crazy. Here’s a brief breakdown of each of the Robins:
Richard “Dick” Grayson
As the original Boy Wonder, Grayson’s origin is well-known: he grew up in the circus with his parents – all three were acrobats in a troupe called “The Flying Graysons.” When his parents were killed in an “accident,” he was taken in by Bruce Wayne, who eventually taught him the ways of the Bat. He has one of the most significant relationships with Bruce Wayne because he’s had the most time with him. Bruce himself says no one knows him better than Dick Grayson, aside from perhaps Alfred. Grayson and Wayne both suffer from a tortured past, but rather than obsessing over it and allowing it to define him, Grayson has allowed himself to move on. He’s level-headed and rational, and very personable, but he’s also cocky and can let his emotions get the better of him. His acrobatic prowess is what really defines his fighting style. As he got older, he became one of the founding members of the Teen Titans, a group of sidekicks looking to distinguish themselves. He eventually grew out of the sidekick business and started a solo career as Nightwing.
After Dick Grayson grew up/got fired/quit, Batman found a new protege in Jason Todd. Jason has a couple origin stories thanks to a reality-altering event called “Crisis on Infinite Earths” – an event that not only reinvented him, but led to his death four years later. Imagine a strawberry-blonde Robin with an origin story identical to Dick Grayson who suffers from Dick Greyson envy. Now forget that. Imagine instead a very angry street orphan living in a rough neighborhood who tries to steal the tires off the Batmobile. That’s Jason Todd. Batman takes him in and trains him as Robin to help Jason learn to control his rage before he becomes a criminal. Todd is the anti-Dick Grayson: he’s a rebellious pre-teen who smokes, swears, and defies authority (including Batman’s). His biggest red flag is his suggested willingness to kill the worst of the worst (Batman doesn’t kill – rule number one). Batman even sidelined Todd from active patrol, but that didn’t stop him. unpopular with the fans, and in late 1988, the fans were given the ultimate option during the “Death in the Family” story arc: save or kill Jason Todd. A 1-900 call hotline was set up and over 10,000 votes were placed. With a 72 vote margin that is still debated today, Jason Todd was killed in epic fashion: the Joker beat him to near-death with a crowbar and then blew up the warehouse they were in. Batman sees Jason’s death as his ultimate failure and never stops carrying that weight. Luckily, no one stays dead forever in the comic book world. Jason Todd was resurrected in 2005 and became the anti-hero Red Hood.
Tim Drake came on the scene a few months after “Death in the Family.” He’d seen “The Flying Graysons” as a young kid and deduced Dick Grayson’s Robin identity from an old video of Batman and Robin capturing the Penguin. Batman was an idle of his, but after Todd’s death, Batman became more psychotic and Drake believed that Batman needed a Robin to maintain his sanity. After a lot of work and butt-saving, Drake got his wish and became the third Robin. He’s an amazing detective with a genius-level intellect and has been trained to be an excellent fighter. If you see Robin fighting with a Bo staff, that’s Tim Drake. He’s an extremely hard worker and that dedication makes him come off pretty serious, but he’s a balanced guy overall. Drake, like his good friend Dick Grayson, sort of graduates from being Robin and becomes Red Robin. He’s currently the leader of the Teen Titans.
That’s right, Robin was briefly a girl. There was a moment when Tim Drake was forced to stop crime fighting because his father found out about it. Stephanie Brown is the daughter of a minor Batman villain called Cluemaster. She didn’t like her father’s criminal actions and donned a costumed persona of her own (called Spoiler) to secretly help the cops and vigilantes. When Drake hung up his cape, she convinced Batman to take her on. Like the Robins before her, though, she was impulsive and didn’t like to listen. Batman gave her the boot because he didn’t think she could be trusted in the field. She was persistent to prove herself, but her actions started a gang war that got her (temporarily) killed. Not long after she resurfaced, she became the new Batgirl. When DC rebooted their universe in 2011, she was basically deleted. She’s only recently returned, but as Spoiler.
The three boys who held the title of Robin had been like adopted sons to Bruce Wayne, but Damian Wayne is an actual blood relative. He’s the offspring of Bruce Wayne and back-and-forth villain Talia al Ghul. He’s a test tube baby and a trained assassin. He’s very violent and thinks nothing of killing, but his biggest fault is his self-importance. He thinks he’s real hot stuff. After Bruce Wayne dies (he comes back to life later) and Dick Grayson takes up the mantle of Batman, Damian is chosen over Tim Drake to be the new Robin. Grayson feels Damian needs training and guidance to prevent Damian from going down a dangerous path. Damian is actually pretty similar to Jason Todd, and just like Todd, sidelining Damian proves disastrous. Damian recently died a hero’s death and has yet to resurface, leaving the position of Robin vacant.
There’s no wonder like the Boy Wonder
So there he is: Robin. He’s had five canonical versions, but they all have some things in common. Robin is young. He’s accepted out of necessity – to save (someone) from a dark future. He has potential, but he’s got a lot to learn. With youth comes impetuousness, no matter how disciplined or studious he may be. Maybe because of his youth and the joys that can bring, he has the ability to balance out the dark and brooding Batman. With time, luck, and sometimes resuscitation, he can grow into a formidable crime-fighting foe. Boy Wonder becomes Man Wonder, which completely loses its charm.
If you’re looking for some Robin action, but aren’t ready to jump into the comics, the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) is a great place to start. None of it is strictly canon, but there’s some really cool character stuff that happens. Amazing things happen with these guys as they get older. The bickering that happens when all the Robins are in the same room is awesome. Total personality clash.
*all images in this post were taken from Cover Browser
Man of Steel 2 is happening and it’s confirmed that Mr. Man, Mr. Batman is on board. If you don’t already know, Superman and Batman are BFF’s, so the idea of seeing these two share an IMAX 3D screen is ten steps past excitement generating. Information about the new movie is pretty much limited to casting announcements and even the title isn’t set in stone (so far it’s being called Batman vs. Superman), so we don’t have a lot to go on. Speculation Goggles: ON! Why would these two super friends be pitted against each other? No, it’s not just for dramatic effect. There’s a logic to this, and I believe it’s thanks to one of the bigger flaws of the first movie…
BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN (ECHO, EcHo, echo..)
…the mass destruction of Smallville and Metropolis. Superman (once again played by the Henry Cavill) is meant to be the hero of Man of Steel, but from Batman’s perspective, Supes isn’t looking too heroic. With Ben Affleck being cast as the Dark Knight, we’re looking at a universe in which Batman has been Dark Knighting for some time. He’s tired. He’s moody. He’s not going to put up with some new guy’s crap. Superman, the new alien “hero” has more than earned a position on Batty-boy’s “To Watch” list.
The fact that Mr. Blue Tights was thrown into being a hero will be irrelevant to Batman. He’ll see destruction and chaos and a complete disregard for the safety of civilians. Not very hero like, Super-dupes. In fact, Superman saved Lois Lane (a love interest) and Martha Kent (his mom), and that’s about it. To someone who wasn’t privy to the cinematic details, that’s awfully selfish. And it’s not like either town was given a chance to evacuate, so whether fighting Faora or Zod, the destruction levels border on that of a nuclear bomb (minus some radiation -who knows what those terraformers left behind). It doesn’t take the World’s Greatest Detective to see how narrow-minded and careless someone got in his pursuit to stop a team of galactic terrorists. Terrorism to stop terrorism? The Bat does not like.
“Oh,” Bats says while viewing footage of the chaos from the Batcave. “If that weren’t enough, you went and killed your adversary? No, no, no. That won’t do.” (I’m so good at channeling Batman.) Batman is going to come at Superman full force with a hot poker to brand “Crime doesn’t pay” on Big Boy Blue’s forehead. Bruce Wayne, on the other hand, will be happy to lend a financial hand to the relief efforts. Humanitarian Extraordinaire! He’ll probably focus more on helping others (maybe even work with a certain Luthor), and will be less concerned with the would-be Blue Boy Scout.
A slight side-note: we know that Gal Gadot has been cast as “Diana of Themyscira,” but that doesn’t automatically mean she’s Wonder Woman yet (she probably is). We also don’t know what other beloved DC heroes are active in this universe; we assume the Justice League members are around because we anticipate a JL movie in the coming years. We do, however, know that Batman collects extensive data about friends and foes, so if anyone would know about active heroes and villains, it would be him. It’s possible he’ll reveal that information in conversation with Alfred or maybe even in conflict with Superman (“you’re more annoying than that lantern fellow”). Batman doesn’t give his trust out like candy in a parade, so even if he knows about other heroes it’s not a given that he trusts them. Even more unlikely is that he’d see a newcomer like Superman as a possible ally.
SUPERMAN VS. BATMAN, LEX LUTHOR, and HIMSELF (he’s very sad)
On the other hand, Superman is still figuring out who he is and where he fits in this world. He was pretty broody himself through most of the first film. By the end, we see he has a new sense of purpose, but he has yet to come to grips with the consequences of his actions. Clark Kent is trying to leave his nomadic days behind him. He’s got his new job at the Daily Planet and his relationship with Lois. So if he’s busy budding a romance and struggling to cope with and make amends for the chaos and death he was forced to bring about, having some masked vigilante swoop in and chastise him is not going to make him very happy. Meanwhile, Metropolis has been ravaged, and who better to swoop in and pick up the pieces than Lex Luthor (played by Jesse Eisenberg). Humanitarian of the Century! The people will love him, but we know him better than that. It would be so easy for Lex to paint a big ol’ target on Superman and unleash an angry swarm of [Metropolites?] on the freshly spandexed flying man. Lex would be free to enact any kind of dastardly genius plan he chooses. Pile on the problems!
And then there’s Tall, Dark, and Broody’s personality. Batman can come off as mean, violent, stubborn, and bossy. It’s hard to get along with that. Someone with a wholesome midwestern sense of morality is going to find that very off-putting. Hell, even Batman’s own family finds it hard to deal with sometimes. It’s not conducive to friendships.
Oh, but Princess Diana wants to crash the party, too! It’s possible that the Zod conflict catches her attention and brings her to Metropolis. Superman comes face to face with another superhumanoid, but she’s clearly not like Zod and his merry crew. Non-evil superhuman? That’s new. She’s confident in who she is. She’s lived her whole life knowing what she can do and she’s never had to be afraid of it. If someone asks who she is, she tells them. That’s the kind of life broody Clark Kent wishes he had. I doubt he’d find that threatening, more like she’s a kindred spirit. And she’s beautiful. I’m sensing love triangle. It doesn’t have to be a big deal (please don’t let it be a big deal). Clark Kent loves Lois Lane but this newcomer understands Superman and that’s cool. Flirt, flirt, separate. I don’t see Superman and Wonder Woman being together in this universe.
There’s a lot of potential conflict in this new movie. My biggest hope, though, is that it remains a sequel. The majority of the casting announcements are Superman characters, so I think there’s good potential of this being a sequel. Wonder Woman was a bit of a curveball and it’s understandable to be worried that there’s too much going on in this movie, but I think it has a real shot if they keep it as a Man of Steel 2 that heavily features Batman and guest features Wonder Woman. I’m not sold on a newly established Lex Luthor being a big enough villain to warrant the full attention of DC’s Holy Trinity, but I’ll admit I’m very critical of the guy. Superman also has a lot of maturing to do, so if we do find out about other heroes, I hope it’s through minor dialogue or similar to the easter eggs in Man of Steel. One thing’s for sure, though, Supes and Bats are going to have an epic brawl.
Batman vs. Superman or Man of Steel 2 or whatever it’s going to be called is scheduled for a May 6, 2016 release date, but due to a strange showdown with Marvel, I wouldn’t be surprised if this changes. The DC movies have a long history of changing dates and being pushed back or cancelled, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. I’ll stomach it, but only because I believe these guys want us to have the best possible movie. Time will tell. *This is an updated post from the old blog
When someone asks “what I do,” I smile and say that I’m a writer. It’s a very generic answer that always gets a follow up question. It’s like introducing yourself as a businessperson; it craves more specificity like my sweet tooth craves a three-layer chocolate and fudge lava cake with a side half gallon of ice cream. Generic titles like “writer” and “businessperson” are like onions and ogres: they have layers. Do you write fiction or nonfiction? Novel writer? Short stories? Television and film? Plays? Journalist? Blogger? WHAT DO YOU DO?!
At the heart of my version of “writer” is a story chaser. Like the storm variant, I love the thrill of following a good story to its dramatic conclusion. With great masochism, I revel in the bumps, bruises, scrapes, and gashes I collect along the way because I love the experience. It’s not an uncommon passion, really, and that level of passion is not limited to stories. Fitness enthusiasts who put themselves through physical pain on a daily basis are probably doing it because they love the experience. Results are great but they’re superficial. Experience is what has the power to change who we are. I love stories because the experience is thrilling no matter what medium they’re expressed though. I saw Man of Steel in IMAX 3D (a life-changing experience), and as the credits rolled and everyone else was leaving, I sat still because I was emotionally drained. My body ached in the strangest places from sitting in those chairs for so long, but I needed a moment. In fact, it was such an ordeal, I had to take a few weeks off from the superhero genre to recharge (I like the movie, but it has some major issues).
Books, television shows, movies, and video games are just a few vehicles for story and all offer their own unique experiences that swaddle the story chaser in blankets just as addictive as they are soothing. It’s hard for me to look at story-based things as distractions (even when they become distractions). Most of the video games I play are story-based and therefore not automatically distractions. Injustice: Gods Among Us is a distraction (the tablet version is especially addicting). Last year’s Tomb Raider, though, is a playable movie, not a distraction (until about the fourth playthrough). But isn’t the real beauty of good stories is that they keep us coming back? There’s always something new to discover. I’ve watched Empire Strikes Back twice in one sitting because it is a damn good story. Even after countless viewings, I still find story points I didn’t notice, character building info, and minute details in the setting that expand and enrich the story world. I’ve also spent a ridiculous amount of time playing Arkham City. On a side note, alcohol consumption can keep the gaming experience fresh long after you reach 100% completion.
A good story embeds a little piece of itself within us (or maybe it’s the other way around) and for me, because human interaction is difficult and verges on overwhelming at times, it provides a connection that I can’t always get with other people. After a difficult day or during rough times when all seems lost, a good story can cut through the dense foliage and banish the dark demons plaguing my mind. I don’t have to explain myself – I don’t even have to know why I’m upset – I just lose myself in story. It may be escapism, but it leaves me more functional and less hungover than alcohol, so I consider that a win.
Still, as rewarding as chasing stories is, there comes a point when the chase becomes like the human body on a diet of chocolate fudge lava cake: it’s not enough. It’s time to pick up new tools to create the narrative that is wanted and needed, but that can’t be found anywhere else. Passion becomes practice. Story chaser become storyteller. I don’t mean to get too definical (that is now a word), because definitions feel limiting. In fact, I like the term “writer” because it’s so broad. It can take you anywhere, and there’s magic in that. I write because I need story. I write because there are stories I want to experience that no one else is telling. And at the end of all things, writing is just another way to experience a story. It’s a real life Choose Your Own Adventure. Story chasing is the “why” behind my writing and it’s a better way to describe what I do. Yes, “writer” is a vague description, but the method of delivery is irrelevant as long as the story can be told.
Are you or someone you know struggling with numbers? Struggle no longer thanks to Star Wars!
I have Return of the Jedi on in the background and I started thinking about the new trilogy coming, which will be numbers 7, 8, and 9 in the franchise. My mind wandered to the old counting song from Sesame Street, and it occurred to me that someday we could use Star Wars as a learning tool for children to count to 12. Shenanigans? Neope.
It starts with the DVD’s or Blu-Ray’s, or whatever…images on a screen. The kid sees the numbers on the label and learns to associate the numbers 1-12 with images or memories from the corresponding movies. We can do it now as long as we only need to count to six. I’ll demonstrate:
Pod Race – Big Bugs – Lava — Death Star – Snow – Ewoks
Or using the love stories:
Children – Kissing – Babies — Threesome – Love – Siblings
That got weird. But you can imagine how useful this could be for counting to 12 and for harnessing creativity. DOUBLE WHAMMY! And maybe it’s good for sounding super crazy. TRIPLE WHAMMY!
Let’s take it further. 12 Days of Christmas? More like 12 Days of Star Wars. Recovering from an addiction? The 12 Steps of Star Wars. And if you’re Christian and need to remember the 12 Disciples of Jesus, I’m sure Star Wars can help with that too. For advanced players, the Jedi High Council had 12 members, so have fun with that.
Struggling with equalities? Star Wars can help.
Revenge of the Sith is greater than Attack of the Clones and Phantom Menace but less than Empire Strikes Back
Ewoks are less than Wookies
Episodes 1-3, 4, and 6 are not equal to Empire Strikes Back
These droids are not equal to the ones we’re looking for.
1 Anakin + 1 Padme = 2 babies
According to Obi-Wan’s statement about a Jedi’s lightsaber, 1 Jedi minus 1 lightsaber = 0 lives left
The possibilities are endless. The only catch is that we can’t go back in time again, like we did in the prequels because the prequels established that lower numbers correspond to earlier periods of time. We already have 1, 2, and 3, and if we go further back we have to start using Roman Numerals. I tried singing the counting song with those and it’s messed up. “i, ii, iii, 1, 2 – 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 – and 8 and 9″. I don’t need any help sounding like a wacko. The earlier periods of the Republic would be amazing to see on screen, but the pooch has been screwed and we can’t have it all until there’s twelve canonical movies. After that we can go Land Before Time, stop numbering, and go to the days of the Old Republic. Sith War? I think yes.
Star Wars: Episode 7 comes to theaters on December 18, 2015.
“My god, that dress makes you look fat.”
“It’s not the dress, it’s me.”
“Oh. In that case, you look great!”
She twirls around the room as she puts in a pair of gaudy earrings. I finish buttoning up my vest and slip on my jacket.
“Well, hun, how do I look?”
She pauses for a second to look me over, then resumes her spinning. “Like someone put over-sized clothing on a stick.”
I take a long look in the mirror. “It’s the tie, isn’t it?”
“Yes, dear, it’s the tie. Try the yellow one.”
“You don’t think the yellow one makes me look bloated? I always feel like I get bloated twice as fast when I wear yellow.”
“Wear the blue and yellow tie with stripes and take one of the pills in the medicine cabinet.”
“The yellow one.”
Epiphany hits me and I almost knock over my wife’s bottle of fancy perfume.
“You don’t think that the pills are what cause the bloating, do you? I mean, why are the anti-bloating pills yellow if it’s the color yellow that’s making me bloat in the first place?”
“Only one way to find out, dear.”
“You’re right. No pills for me tonight!”
She sways back and forth, checking out her finished result in the mirror.
“Plan to sleep on the couch tonight, just in case.”
“Oh of course, my love. I thought that went without saying.”
I finish the wrap-and-twist nightmare that is putting on a tie. “I think we look great.”
The doorbell rings. “Oh the caterer is here,” she says. “Would you let them in, dear?”
I’m so excited I trample down the stairs, almost tripping over my feet on at least two occasions. I take a moment to breathe before I open the door. Okay, this is it. Here we go.
“Hi there,” the caterer says with a smile. He seems to be just as excited as I am. He’s wearing a yellow jacket. “One large taco pizza, cheesy breadsticks, and a chocolate lava cake?”
“YES!” I slap my hands over my mouth. My eyes couldn’t be more open. “I must apologize for my exuberance. It’s date night. The lava cake is a surprise for my wife.”
His smile grows wider and he has to take a step back. “Oh, wow! She’ll be so happy. They’re very good.”
“Don’t I know it!” I can’t stop looking at his yellow jacket. It would be rude to ask, but I do wonder if that color makes him bloat more. At the very least, how does it affect me? The risk seems too great; I must take one of the yellow pills. I don’t want to turn into some sort of balloon man.
I pay the caterer and tip him quite well. He bids me a happy date night and I close the door just in time to see my radiant wife glide down the stairs.
“Everything alright with the caterer,” she asks.
“Dandy, except-” I stop myself.
“Well, his jacket was yellow and I’m concerned for him.”
“He might not have the same condition as you, m’dear, but if he does, I’m almost certain he took a pill as well.”
“Yes, I suppose you’re right.”
She hooks her arm into mine and I escort her into the dining room. Rather, she escorts me, since I’m carrying the dinner and am prone to tripping. The table is set, the candelabra is lit, and the football game is on.
“I have a surprise for you,” I say as she sits down. I push in her chair for her.
“A surprise, you say? After all these years, you still manage to catch me off guard. What is it?”
“I got dessert! Chocolate lava cake. Don’t worry, it’s not real lava,” I say with a wink. Her smile disappears and her expression changes to concern. “Oh dear. What’s the matter?”
“You forgot I’m allergic to chocolate.”
“I’m afraid so.” Fortune is with us when for the second time tonight, epiphany strikes one of us. “I have something in the medicine cabinet that will do the trick, but I have to time it just right. You’ll have to be ready with it. It’s labeled ‘Epinephrine.'”
I didn’t sleep last night, oh dear god, I didn’t sleep last night. I tried watching a movie. Fail. I tried laying in bed and clearing my mind. Two hours later, epic fail. On any other Saturday I would probably have just gotten up and played video games, maybe popped a top (probably popped a top, because drinking), but I agreed to cover someone’s shift this morning, so I had to get up at dawn.
At 3:30 I said “Fuck it all” and cleaned the apartment. So at least that’s done. I had enough time to actually prep for the day instead of shoving things into my backpack at the last second. I made a decent breakfast and watched some more movie. I’m a 1950’s married couple bundled into one schizophrenic package. “The place looks great, hun,” I say to myself. “But the eggs are overdone. Now, I’m not going to ask you to remake them, but you are going to have to make this up to me somehow.” “How about I don’t sleep with the mailman again.” Cue laughtrack. Infidelity.
All of this could have been avoided if I hadn’t make a huge drunken rookie mistake. I got drunk last night (surprise) too fast (double surprise) and passed out (that’s my thing, that’s what I do). That’s all fine, I do that
all the time on rare occasions and only on weekends. The problem is that I don’t know what time I passed out (I suspect it was around 7, possibly earlier, I don’t know. I started around 4:30 I think. It’s all a blur.) I woke up at 11. So I took a 3 hour coma and then tried to go to bed. I also got up at 11 am because of a non-drinking related bout of restless sleep the night before. How the howdy do was I supposed to go back to sleep after all that rest?
Good things that came out of this: the apartment is clean, which means I can’t put it off like I know I would have (now if I could just get myself to do laundry); I had plenty of time to drink mass quantities of water so I’m not hungover AND I’m ready to dehydrate some more; my parkour class that was supposed to happen immediately after work was cancelled; I should have no problem getting to sleep tonight (fingers crossed); and I got two blog posts out of it all (because why blog if you have nothing to say). Hooray! Good things.
The lesson here is if you’re going to drink by yourself at home, drink responsibly. Don’t let your drunk ass pass out at 7pm when you know you have to be up when the rooster crows. The seasoned pro gets his drinking done early so he has enough time to sober up before bed, but I failed to maintain consciousness and pretty much screwed the poodle’s puff on the whole ordeal. Way to be, Aaron. Way to heffing be.