Friday, February 24, 2017

Jimbo Goes To The Movies: 'The Lego Batman Movie' Review (2017)

Next to Batman and Robin, it's the funniest Caped Crusader flick to date. Except, you know, all of the humor is intentional this time around.

By: Jimbo X

Did you people hear about the jury in Missouri that found a a former Dairy Queen manager guilty of involuntary manslaughter because one of her teenage employees committed suicide

Without hyperbole, this is the single most terrifying court ruling of my lifetime. It means we have a precedent now to legally punish people for the actions other people voluntarily decide to take. If the ruling stands, the floodgates of an absolute Orwellian nightmare will swing wide open, and there's virtually no limit to the amount of damage that can follow suit. 

Here's the thing about this particular case. We're not talking a wrongful death that came about because of gross negligence, an actual jury decided that some lard-assed 17-year old loser's suicide was DIRECTLY caused by one woman's actions - in this case, allegedly throwing a cheeseburger at him and supposedly forcing him to clean restaurant equipment on his stomach.

But that woman DIDN'T cause this sad sack land whale by the name of Kenny Suttner to off himself. What CAUSED Suttner to kill himself was Suttner consciously deciding to kill himself. Not only is the bulk of the blame for the suicide on his part, LITERALLY the only person you can blame for his death is his goddamn self.

The way this sorry assed jury saw it, though, is that this Dairy Queen bitch is RESPONSIBLE for tons of fun's death in the same way a drunk driver is responsible for the death of someone he rear ends in an accidental collision, or the same way a theme park with faulty wiring in its swimming pool is responsible for a guest getting executed. The actual physical harm that resulted in Suttner's death wasn't the consequence of his manager's actions, nor was his manager's gross incompetence and/or negligence physically responsible for Suttner's death. That's not opinion. That's a concrete, indisputable fact. 

So what the court decided was that even though Suttner and Suttner alone decided to kill himself via a self-inflicted injury, a person who had absolutely ZERO responsibility for the conscious, voluntary actions of somebody else WAS FOUND RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH.

Am I the only person who sees just how dangerous this kind of thinking is? This is a court of law in the United freaking States of America declaring that even though a person consciously, voluntarily decided to pick up a gun (again, of their own accord and sans ANY sort of coercion whatsoever) and then consciously, voluntarily decided to blow their own brains out, it was actually somebody else responsible for the actions that resulted in death.

What sort of doublespeak New Age hippie-dippie commie New World Order horse shit is this? It's LITERALLY as if a court of law decided that somebody possessed the body of another human being and "forced" him to kill himself. No jokes, no exaggerations - it's the SAME goddamned legal ruling. 

Just how the FUCK did the court decide that this manager bitch and this manager bitch alone was single-handedly responsible for that fatass twerp shooting himself, anyway? It was well documented that chubby tits was picked on at school, so how do you know some kid in geometry class calling him Jabba the Hutt wasn't the moment he decided to commit suicide? Or what if the "trigger" for his suicide didn't have anything at all to do with anybody picking on him? What if he just had an existential epiphany one afternoon that his life wasn't going the way he wanted it to go, he didn't really have a future to look forward to and recognized he had the freedom to end his pointless existence right then and there? 

The court can't possibly know what the kid was thinking before he committed suicide, and even if they did, the indisputable fact of the matter is that HE - not the DQ bitch, not any of the kids at school, not the man in the goddamn moon - was SOLELY responsible for shooting himself. He got the gun. He pointed it to his head. And he pulled the trigger. He's 100 percent responsible for his own demise, and to argue to the contrary isn't just illogical, its abandoning law and science in favor of some sort of metaphysical mysticism. "It's like the ghost of her bullying became a corporeal entity at that moment and TOOK CONTROL OF HIS MIND and MADE HIM self-harm," this jury LITERALLY fucking decided.

Shit, if that holds up in court, then does that mean that every time an employee gets laid off and kills himself, the CEO of said company should be found guilty of manslaughter? I mean, it's a pretty direct cause and effect there: guy A decides guy B should be fired, guy B is sad because guy A shit-canned him, so guy B kills himself because guy A hurt his feelings so much. 

Or what about college students that go crazy and shoot up the campus because they failed a mid-term? I mean, technically, what made the guy pick up an AR-15 and go Rambo III in the library was him getting a bad grade from one of his professors, so why shouldn't we make the professor who failed him legally responsible for the mass shooting altogether?

Hell, why not blame the NFL for domestic abuse incidents? Had the Falcons not blown that lead in the Super Bowl, old Jimmy John Del Ray down at Shady Oaks Mobile Home Community would've won $100, but because they hunched the pooch in overtime, it cost him $300. And, of course, that anger is what compelled him to slap his live-in girlfriend upside the head with a size 10 bowling ball - therefore, the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL should be held legally responsible for Brittani's broken orbital socket.

In all three of the scenarios above, anybody with half a fuckin' brain in their head realizes the free will element. A wholly unrelated thing may have made them angry or upset or suicidal, but the only thing responsible for the dire actions was the person consciously making them. But apparently, that's something the jury in Missouri just couldn't pick up on

Hell, why stop here? Let's say some radical racist motherfucker decides to shoot a mosque or something. How about instead of putting him in prison, we put the people who wrote the blog posts that "red pilled" him on trial for felony murder, since without their hateful rhetoric, he never would've become a rancorous racist killer to begin with

Or shit, how about putting online commenters who call a Tumblrina "fat" or "unattractive" in a federal super max because those hurtful, hurtful words caused her to develop "anxiety" or "depression" or any number of temporary emotions we've recently decided are actually terminal mental illnesses

In fact, simply not agreeing with some sort of LGBT activist on the proper definition of "biological" might be enough to make them feel "unsafe," which in turn could make them less cognizant of their surroundings. So when they trip over a sewer lid they weren't paying any attention to, YOU HOMOPHOBIC TWITTER TERRORISTS ought to be the ones paying for his medical bill. Hey, it's cause and effect, just like the Suttner case, ain't it?

For all the kvetching First Amendment lovers do over "hate speech" proposals, really, it's "anti-bullying laws" that pose the greatest threat to free expression these days. These utterly absurd laws literally reconstitute symbolic actions - i.e., formerly 1A-guaranteed right to speech, print and physical expression - as having the same legal weight as PHYSICALLY attacking someone. That means criticizing someone verbally can literally be reinterpreted in a court of law as the same thing as punching somebody, or shoving their head in a commode; under such horribly, horribly drawn up legislation, calling someone a "homo" or "baboon" can put someone in jail for just as long as someone who sets a car on fire, or even tries to stab somebody. 

And in today's victimization-obsessed society, we're TEACHING kids to soak up perceived persecution like a sponge. Instead of telling kids to overcome their adversities - or even telling them to suck it up and stop taking everything so personally - we're telling them that every teeny, tiny comment or action that makes them feel bad about themselves is a physical crime no different than being raped or whopped upside the head with a cinder block. Even in elementary school, we're telling kids to collect personal aggrievements like Pokemon cards, with the ultimate goal of legally weaponizing criticisms against them to silence anybody who dares disagree with their views.

Instead of telling kids to stand up for themselves, we're telling them to mire in their own pity. The whole point of existence, we're telling our gilded youth, is to purposely get people to feel sorry for you instead of making them respect you with your actions. And above all else, we are utterly hell bent on convincing every boy and girl in America that they are NEVER, EVER responsible for their own actions, and no matter how badly they fuck up, they can always find somebody else to blame for their own failures.

We live in a culture were people wear perceived oppression like merit badges, and you're actually SHOCKED when weak-willed, jelly-spined teenagers who never learnt the virtues of self-respect kill themselves just because some person in a paper hat told them they were making the French fries wrong?

In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis warned us of the wrongheadedness of building men "without chests." Well, this lamentable little affair in Missouri shows us the dire consequences of raising an entire generation without testicles; our culture engineered a bunch of impulsive, wishy-washy little pussies deathly allergic to bruised egos, and if this ruling holds water, Uncle Sam's going to make all of us pay ... perhaps with the eradication of Constitutionally protected expression altogether.

Trust me - this isn't even the obscurest batch of bad guys the movie throws at us.

Speaking of things nobody really wants but we're getting anyway, the Caped Crusader returns to our cineplexes yet again in our flick of the week, The Lego Batman Movie. And to be fair, this is prolly the third best Bat-movie ever, after Burton's 1989 flick and The Dark Knight - unless you want to count the FIRST Lego Movie as a Batman film, at which point this 'un would get bumped down to No. 4 in my books. Then again, if we're also including straight-to-video Bat-movies, it prolly slides down another spot to make room for the criminally underappreciated Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero from 1998 - but hey, enough autism for now, 'cause we're about get hammered by an hour and a half of full-force Asperger's in celluloid form. 

In a lot of ways, this is the dream Bat-movie we've always wanted. It totally does away with all of the sad sack pity partying and clumsy sociopolitical allusions and forced romantic subplots and meandering existential soliloquies that dragged down all the other Bat-movies to give us pure, unadulterated, unfettered superhero carnage, complete with Batman laying waste to literally his entire rogues gallery in the movie's first 10 minutes (and yes, that DOES include a split-second cameo appearance by the Mutant Leader from TDKR.) Of course, this being a kid-targeted parody of the Batman mythos, it's all done firmly tongue-in-cheek, with a million billion Airplane and Naked Gun style in-jokes and sight gags stapling the wall-to-wall explosions and citywide kung-fu fights together.

Naturally, the movie hits some snags whenever its story is forced to resemble an actual plot, but thankfully, those unnecessary slivers of character development and exposition are kept to a minimum. Basically, the film revolves around a pastiche of the iconic Bruce Wayne/Batman dichotomy - specifically highlighting his blase egotism and borderline sadistic misanthropy all the other Bat-movies don't have the Bat-balls to acknowledge - as he slowly learns to work with others to defeat the nefarious Joker (whose latest scheme involves traveling to the Phantom Zone to free a whole bunch of inter-D.C. Comics villains to wreak havoc on Gotham City.)

In between the all-out crossover multiverse mayhem, though, we've (begrudgingly) gotta' do a little bit of story building, and it's glaringly apparent the makers of the movie had no idea what the hell to do when shit wasn't exploding left and right. Indeed, when he isn't punching the Riddler and King Tut in the face, the most interesting things the scriptwriters have Batman do is microwave lobster and watch Jerry Maguire on cable TV.

Things pick up a little when Barbara Gordon is brought in as the town's new police chief (right off the bat she voices concerns about "some guy in a Halloween mask beating up poor people" and how, despite the Dark Knight's vigilante efforts, Gotham City still posts the world's highest crime rate) and our protagonist unwittingly adopts an orphan solely for the purpose of using him as a decoy during a home invasion of Superman's place. But once that stuff's out of the way, the film kicks into hyper-drive, with the last 30 minutes of the movie literally abandoning any pretenses of plot for half an hour of non-stop, slam-bang, all-out "Apocalypse Porn" action in plastic block form. We're talking spaceship dog fights with Gremlins taking chomps out of the aircraft, a Godzilla pastiche tag teaming with Sauron from The Lord of the Rings to literally dismantle the whole city and - the clencher - a climactic Gangs of New York-like barnburner between virtually every Batman villain ever created and practically every bad guy who's ever made an appearance in the Warner Bros. film library. Sure, sure, there's not a whole lot of stuff here for you to think about in this one, but come on - you honestly think I'm going to give a "thumbs down" review to a movie that ends with Robin getting into a fist fight with Bruce the Shark from Jaws and Batman dropkicking King Kong so hard, his head literally explodes?

We've got no dead bodies (can Lego people even die, technically?) No breasts (and for God's sake, if you're looking for 'em in a movie like this, you need more help than I can give you.) One skyjacking. One nuclear power plant siege. Multiple automobile demolition derbies. More explosions than dialogue. Multiple frozen Lego. One karate fight set to a heavy metal version of the old Adam West TV show theme. Gratuitous guitar shredding. Gratuitous beat-boxing. Gratuitous "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight." Gratuitous "Man in the Mirror." Gratuitous butler kicking. One cat immolated by a lava flow. "One time bomb activated doomsday earthquake. Kung fu. Over-sized wooden mallet Fu. Shark Repellent Fu. And of course, plenty of self-reflexive, self-deprecating, fourth wall shattering slapstick Fu.

Featuring Will Arnett as the voice of Bruce Wayne and Batman, whose dialogue includes such screenwriting gems as "Batman doesn't do 'ships" and uses the phrase "Iron Man sucks" as his computer password; Zach Galifianakis as the voice of The Joker, who's pretty much canonically in love with Batman in this one and refers to the rest of the Bat-bad guy staples as "human farts;" Michael Cera as the voice of Robin, who at one point asks "what's the vigilante policy on cookies?"; Ralph Fiennes as the voice of trusty butler Alfred (who actually breaks out the old 1960s TV show costume for the movie's grand finale); and Rosario Dawson as the voice of Commissioner Babs Gordon, who strikes a pivotal blow for women's rights when she asks Batman if it's OK to call him "Batboy" if he calls her "Batgirl."

Directed by Chris McKay, who helmed the first (and objectively better Lego Movie) and somehow managed to wedge in both a crypto-homosexual subplot and a "Rick-Rolling" joke in a kids' movie in the year 2017. And if you're wondering just how many people it takes to make a movie so gloriously disjointed? The correct answer is five credited screenwriters.

I give it three stars out of four. It's a considerable step down from the 2014 flick, but it's still WAYYYYY better than that three-hour long turd that was Batman v. Superman. Jimbo says give it a gander, as long as you don't mind dragging your date to a movie that's half and half elementary schoolers and stoned college kids.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Tribute To Ten Magazines That Shaped My Youth

A fond look back at the periodicals of yore that inspired my love of writing and continue to influence me (sometimes subconsciously) to this very day.

By: Jimbo X

Growing up in a single mother family in a single-wide trailer, money was never something we had a lot of in my upbringing. I had to wear shitty shoes and hand-me-down clothing and while all the kids at school got to play with those newfangled Jurassic Park toys, I had to make do with whatever bullshit my mom could afford at the flea market (which almost entirely consisted of old He-Man action figures with various appendages missing.) So yeah, I never really got to do a whole lot of the regular stuff kids in the 1990s got to do, like visit Chuck E. Cheese's or go to Disney World or get a dentist appointment (seriously, I didn't get my first check-up until I was in my fucking early 20s.) 

For me, the written word was both an escape from the pains of an impoverished childhood and an economical way to stay abreast of the modern world. Back then, you could score yourself a 400-page magazine for about $3.99, and that shit would keep you occupied for at least a week. Before long, those monthly dispatches from the publishing world became my raison d'etre, that thing I looked forward to each and every morning. School may suck and we might be eating off-brand pork and beans for dinner again, but holy shit, the new Game Players issue is on sale at K-Mart, and that almost makes up for everything else. 

And because the publications were relatively cheap, I could engorge myself on a whole host of magazines covering all kinds of divergent elements of pop culture and modernity. Really, it was at this point in my life that I realized I enjoyed reading and writing about things more than actually experiencing them, and had it not been for the immense impact of the periodicals listed below, I probably never would've become a writer and gone on to do something stupid with my life, like become an investment banker or somebody who does I.R.S. compliance sheets for low-to-mid-range accounting agencies. More so than any other pop cultural construct, I'd say the monthly and semi-monthly publications listed below did more to frame my writing style - and really, my personality - than anything else in my youth. Wondering where my weltanschauung came from, admirers and haters alike? Ponder no more - for better or worse, the following publications are most responsible for forming me into the individual I am today...

Electronic Gaming Monthly

Well, this one shouldn't be surprising at all, considering my nomme de plume is an homage to the publication's most mysterious staff writer. More than anything, EGM - as well as its short-lived and much, much harder to find spinoff EGM 2 - is what got me into video game culture ... yes, even more than the games themselves, to a certain extent. Looking back on it, the writing does leave a lot to be desired (surely, after skimming a few back issues, I'd say that rival mag GamePlayers had far better content), but the way EGM was presented was just outstanding. Yes, it was a very, very aesthetically-driven magazine, but the way those flashy images, gaudy layouts and idiosyncratically curt columns were welded together just created a total sensory print experience that - to this day - I don't think has ever been rivaled. There wasn't a single element of the magazine that I didn't enjoy, from the reader mail section (who can forget the "Psycho Letter of the Month" feature?) to QMann's stream of consciousness gossip section to the 30 pages dedicated to Japanese-only Super Famicom games that people in the U.S. would never, ever get their hands on to the much imitated but never duplicated "Review Crew," whose infrequently syntactically-correct blurbs extolled the pros and cons of late-ass NES and Game Gear releases with a commixture of already passe Bart Simpson lingo and only barely gussied up marketing speak? I read the mag religiously up until the PS1/N64 era, where I lost interest in video gaming for a couple of years, but I resumed regular EGM consumption in high school (right smackdab in the Dan Hsu PS2/XB/GC era.) Since then, I've spent many a squandered weekend trying to fill the gap, which means I've got a good five years of Sega Saturn, Dreamcast and Game Boy Color coverage to joyously pilfer through when I can't sleep. But still, whenever I think EGM, I think of that wondrous 1991-1995 run through the Genesis and SNES years, and all those fabulous issues dedicated to Mortal Kombat II and Beavis & Butt-Head and Rocko's Modern Life. Shit, even combing through the old advertisements (which always comprised 60 to 70 percent of the bulk product) is an absolute delight, and every bit as enjoyable as the "genuine" editorial content. You university kids today have your online "safe spaces," and I've got my PDF copies of Electronic Gaming Monthly - and I'll gladly take my paper sanctuary of yore over your sanctimonious sociocultural sanctums any damn day of the week.  

The Weekly World News

There was an old Beavis & Butt-Head book in which the main characters said supernatural-tinged sensationalist nonsense like The Weekly World News was pretty much the reason they learned to read. For me, that actually was the catalyst for pursuing literacy. As a four-year-old, I desperately, direly wanted information, but it was a very particular kind of information. Since I wasn't even in kindergarten yet, the only two things that really mattered to me was what was on cable and whether or not monsters were going to get me, and with TV Guide fulfilling my fist hierarchical need, The Weekly World News did its part to complete the dyad of knowledge. All of those black and white newspapers at the cash register at the grocery store with aliens and Bigfoots and ghosts and shit on it certainly piqued my curiosity, so while everyone else was learning to read via Dr. Seuss, I was introduced to literacy via the apoplectic rants of Ed Anger, that one half-kayfabe wrestling article WWN used to publish up until the mid-1990s and, of course, following the saga of Batboy as if it were some kind of radio serial. People tend to forget, WWN actually did contain a pretty good chunk of actual news, mostly concerning particularly scintillating sex scandals and psycho murderers - which, naturally, captivated me even more than the clearly made-up bullshit about the Loch Ness Monster and George H.W. Bush getting a handjob from a Martian. Granted, a lot of the material was probably above my comprehension level - sure, any first grader can grasp the intricacies of Book of Revelation prophesies coming to life and made-up stories about women giving birth to half frog chimeras, but the less fabricated stuff about serial killers and husbands intentionally infecting their wives with AIDS? Yeah, that stuff may not have been designed with the Barney viewership set in mind, but by golly, it gave me a sociocultural leg-up on my grade school competition, for sure - indeed, I'm pretty sure I was the only kid in second grade that not only knew how to spell "lobotomy," but describe to you the most up-to-date technical description of the procedure. It was a mag worth reading up until 9/11, when the editors figured there was too much real-world spooky shit going on and they decided to make it way lighter and fluffier with a bunch of wishy-washy, more P.C.-friendly articles that felt more like PG-rated The Onion pieces than anything actually worth reading. Still, it ain't too hard to find old copies of the paper from its glory days circulating 'round the Internet - definitely check out the stuff from the late '80s and early 90s if you have a keen taste for the good sleaze

Wizard and ToyFare

Like everybody else in the early to mid 1990s, I bought a shit ton of comics because I was under the impression that my stockpile of Sludge and Major Bummer comics would someday be worth $300,000 and I could retire a millionaire before I was 20. The thing is, although I avidly purchased such funny books back in the day, I never really read them - even as a fourth grader, I knew the writing in X-Men and Spawn was subpar stuff, no matter how angular and pointy all the pictures looked. So outside of a couple of old Spider-Man reprints and stuff like Milk & Cheese, my treasure trove of comics mostly collected dust in bins in my closet, appreciating in value at about .0000000001 percent of a penny per year. Since I wanted to keep a close eye on the ebb and flow of the common market value of Young Heroes in Love No. 1, I was an avid reader of Wizard, whose price guide was considered the industrial gospel back in the day. The funny thing is, the price guide - the whole point of the magazine's existence - was probably my least favorite element of the publication. What really drove Wizard was this biting, self-reflexive humor that simultaneously celebrated and skewered nerd culture long before it was call to proclaim your geekdom publicly. Like EGM, the retroactive appeal of the magazine is mostly aesthetic, but it's hard to not reflect on their content-lite regular columns - like the Casting Call feature and a rundown of the ten most "popular" comic characters of the month, complete with a sardonic homage to a shitty forgotten character from yesteryear - and not smile. The articles ran the gamut from glorified P.R. (but you did usually get an exclusive "mini-comic" for free, though) to the fairly inspired (their top ten features were well worth reading) all the way up to legitimately great journalism, such as their piece on the arrest and conviction of indie artist Mike Diana for producing "obscenity" and their retrospective on the impact of Seduction of the Innocent. Oh, and their Halloween and April Fools editions were absolutely required reading, since they usually contained a fair amount of niche-interest snark and/or horror-tinged awesomeness. Wizard had several sister publications, but none were as memorable as their action figure-heavy magazine ToyFare, which in addition to featuring one of the best layouts of any nerd-interest magazine of the era, was also one of the funniest, thanks in no small part to the Mego Action Theater and price guide "one-panel" mini-comics. Shit - I have to find their special all-pro-wrestling-edition issue from circa 1998 now!

Mad and Cracked

It was until recently that I realized just how pronounced an influence the Mad and Cracked runs of the 1990s had on my subconscious. The same way I find myself almost instinctively trudging up the George Carlin/Richard Pryor/Bill Hicks party line when people ask me about abortion, gun control and eating pussy, it has dawned on me that pretty much EVERY opening paragraph I've written from the year 1997 on has been directly tailored around the tried-and-true Mad and Cracked article intro. You've got the table-setting opening sentence, the follow-up sentence that puts a spotlight on the target of satirization and then, you've got the final sentence that jerks open the curtain for your parody. It's such a perfect template, and one I'd advise all aspiring English majors to adapt for their term papers. As far as the content of the magazines, I think that even now these publications don't get the credit they deserve as social criticism. Remember, this shit was before Reddit and Voat and YouTube, so these magazines were pretty much the only media outlet out there specializing in niche interest humor. I thought Cracked did a better job lampooning popular culture while Mad did a better job overall making fun of general U.S. society. But more than that, I think these satirical publications wound up doing  better job encapsulating the 1990s zeitgeist than even the "legitimate" journalistic publications of the era. If you want to see the decade hive mind in action, feel free to comb through any back issue of Entertainment Weekly or Newsweek. You want to experience what it was TRULY like to live - and laugh - through the Clinton era? Hunt you down some old copies of these two mags and get to guffawing in no time

Pro Wrestling Illustrated (and all of the other Bill Apter mags)

What made PWI and its myriad spinoffs like The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling awesome was that they were basically monthly multiverse crossover spectacles. If you read the proprietary WWF or WCW magazines, they all kept it "in-universe," so all they ever did was talk about their own promotions and wrestlers. But PWI, though? They covered ALL of the 'rasslin promotions out there, including those weird beard promotions in Mexico and Japan. PWI introduced me to ECW (mostly, through those super bloody 1-800-Run-4-ECW ads on the back page) and the entire cosmos of puroresu, including such illustrious names as Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaka motherfuckin' Kawada. If you want to see an "event" issue done right, look no further than the annual PWI 500 issue, which was pretty much required reading for any 'rasslin dork worth his weight in Hulk Hogan apparel. Sure, by the time the rankings got into the 200s you had no idea who any of the people they were talking about were and I'm pretty sure they just made up the wrestlers in the 400-500 rankings, but still, you just felt like you had so much industrial knowledge pumped into your noggin just by perusing its thin, black and white pages. Oh, and for all you Johnny-Come-Latelies, yes, the entire PWI publishing armada - to this very day - keeps their writing entirely in kayfabe. You know, not that I trusted their old articles from the 1990s about the N.W.O.'s top secret plans to recruit Bret Hart and Sabu to their ranks, or that one piece purportedly penned by Shawn Michaels about how he would beat The Giant to be 100 percent legitimate journalism to begin with...


I was pretty late hopping aboard the Fango bandwagon (I didn't start reading it religiously until around 1996, a good 10 years' past the publication's heyday in the mid-80s), but there was still plenty of good stuff going on with the magazine in the great post-Scream, pre-Blair Witch boom period. When it comes to kitschy ephemera, this was a veritable treasure trove, from the cover stories about Resident Evil commercials to the full color ads for straight-to-VHS turdfests like Crinoline Head. Of course, you also had regular columns touching upon the "best" in recent horror videos, books and even video games, even though what Fango deemed "horror-worthy" was oftentimes debatable (uh, guys, is the original Grand Theft Auto on the PlayStation really a survival-horror opus?) And the features were usually pretty great, with the writers going into absurd detail about the technicalities of the gore effects in forgotten B-fodder like Aberration, The Ugly and yes, even that all-time celluloid classic, Revenge of Billy the Kid. Even though most of what they were covering was total crap, Fango managed to make that crap sound at least partially appealing; if you want to see journalistic turd polishing par excellence, check out any issue from 1997 or 1998.

Metal Edge

To be fair, I wasn't exactly a regular reader of Metal Edge - pretty much the only time I bought a copy was when they did their semi-regular "Top 100 fill-in-the-blank-specials" - but I knew enough to know they were way better than everything else on the magazine rack trying to cater to the metalhead demographic. Since this was the middle of the 1990s, the magazine was caught in this weird historical epoch in which a lot of bands that had lost a lot of relevancy at the end of the 1980s were still touring and putting out albums, so you'd just be flipping through stories about Anthrax and Slayer and then boom, you'd get hit with a spread about fucking Firehouse, Trixter and White Lion. Granted, it was a rather superficial publication - about half the content was just flashy poster dressings and catalog ads - but it did have some fairly decent material in it from time to time. My favorite? A recurring feature where the magazine dialed up random rock stars and asked them really stupid questions, like what was their favorite thing about Thanksgiving and what was the worst movie they had ever seen. I also recall a pretty entertaining column in which heavy metal staples "reviewed" videos receiving heavy rotation on MTV, but my memory is a bit hazy - it just as well could have been a feature in another heavy metal mag.

Black Belt

If nothing else, Black Belt deserves recognition for getting me into mixed martial arts. Dana White and pals may never admit it, but this kung-fu crazy publication did wonders for the UFC in the early vale tudo days, absolutely pimping the fuck out of their first couple of shows and dedicating huge chunks of their print space to event recaps. Of course, the primary intent of the magazine was to spread all sorts of nonsense about the practical applications of karate and Taekwondo and all those other totally useless disciplines that serve no purpose in legitimate combat, and the rag frequently dipped into "survivalist" fare (I remember one recurring column teaching you how to supposedly survive mass shootings and knife attacks, among other things) and some really, really questionable pieces about the "history" of ninjas and jujitsu. There was also a pretty healthy amount of page space dedicated to fisticuffs-heavy movies, so it had your pop cultural bases covered, too. Throw in the insanely detailed pictorial spreads on how to use nunchucks and a million billion ads promising to reveal you ancient Chinese techniques to get laid and deflect bullets with your pinkie and you have all the makings of one highly memorable - albeit highly suspect - martial arts magazine.

The Ring

I may have owned perhaps just three or four issues throughout the 1990s - and those were because they came on the heels of big fights and I thought they'd be worth major moolah someday - but The Ring nonetheless made a huge impression on me. I wasn't as gung-ho about boxing as a I was the fledgling sport of MMA and the long-established pseudo-sport of pro 'rasslin, but I definitely enjoyed the strangely acerbic tone of the planet's leading pugilism publication. Make no mistakes, The Ring was one cynical ass magazine, which went as far as to openly mock boxers in its pages as overrated and out of shape (keep in mind, this is the same magazine that refused to call Muhammad Ali "Muhammad Ali" until damn near the middle of the 1970s and also invented boxers to give their own championship belt greater cultural resonance.) This had to be the most blatantly confrontational sports periodical of the Clinton decade, and if absolutely nothing else? It showed an entire generation the proper way to write columns like a know-it-all asshole.

The Weekly Reader

And of course, it's impossible to talk about periodical print publications that immensely inspired me without bringing up the one that was state mandated. If you attended elementary school in the years between 1991 and 1997, surely you encountered this flimsy little reading material, which sought to turn really big, overarching sociopolitical issues - like unemployment and the War on Drugs - into semi-digestible, low-syllable count blurbs the Power Rangers set could kinda-sorta' comprehend (with plenty of teacher insight, naturally.) Sure, the content wasn't very good and the writing just barely skimmed the surface of highly controversial and deeply nuanced social issues - plus, the liberal bias was glaringly apparent, even to somebody who slept with Ren and Stimpy plushies - but I nonetheless looked forward to each and every issue. Even way back then, I grasped the real significance of the printed medium - their worth wasn't in being contemporary containers of up-to-date knowledge, but little slivers of history that combined the factual with the user-preferred version of what actually happened. Despite being painfully condensed and non-complex, I could take away some sliver of significance from each issue, even if the only thing that had any relative historical value were the ads (which, really, are just as important in encapsulating the times as the "proper" magazine copy - if not substantially more, in many instances.) Yes, even as a second grader I grasped the impending retro-value of the publication, and while all my classmates just discarded their copies at the end of class, I hoarded every issue given to me from the first grade to fifth grade graduation. I lost my treasure trove years and years ago, and while I can't for the life of me remember one single article from the publication (except for this one they ran that cut off in mid-sentence and a story about bullying that was a hoot to read because it had the word "butt" in it), the import of that cruddy little periodical on my life - and desire to write professionally - lingers on to this day.

So if any of you assholes take offense to anything I write, I say take it up with Scholastic ... after all, they are the ones that - advertently and inadvertently - got me into the publishing biz to begin with.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why Won't Black Women Date White Guys?

I'll give you a hint: it starts with the letter "r" and rhymes with "tay-cism."

By: Jimbo X

For an entire summer, I was madly in lust with Robyn. Yeah, her first name was spelled just like the singer, and thanks to the ravages of time, I totally forgot what her last name was. Harris? Williams? Henderson? Your guess is as good a mine, folks. 

A little background here. I was fresh out of high school and in that weird part of my life where I wasn't totally dead set on going to college quite yet. Needing money but not really looking for a career, I took a job at a local textbook warehouse - where virtually all of the employees were local college kids trying to pick up a little bit of spare change during the summer break. 

Turnover was high. A month in, I was already one of the senior employees due to worker atrophy, so every time a new herd of recruits came in, I was tasked with showing them the ropes. Mostly, this meant teaching them how to look up ISBN numbers on the ancient Tandy computer terminals we had all over the place and the proper way to make "book squares" (the trick? You do five lairs going one way, then another five lairs going the opposite way and you repeat until the damn stack is taller than you are.) 

Robyn was one of my first trainees, and I was smitten by her. She was a couple of years older than me (maybe three or four?) and she had a nice curvy build - about 5'7, 170 pounds, at least half of it ass and titty. She was also kinda-sorta gothy (she always wore this frilly, black cobweb looking blouses like Morticia Addams) and she nailed pretty much all of the semi-skanky quasi-trashy aesthetics I love about a young woman in the 20-to-30 age range: she chain smoked cigarettes, wore an absurd amount of indigo eyeshadow and made sure her lips were constantly coated in a thick, juicy layer of MAC LipGlass (aka, that clear lip balm stuff all the girls used to wear back in the My Chemical Romance era that at least partially resembled a smudge of semen.) Oh, and one more thing: she was black

OK, I guess if we were being sticklers for facts, she was more of a medium brown, but you know what I mean. I had never been with a black girl, and being a male who has lived in the American south his whole life, let me tell you - we desperately, direly want to date black girls. I don't care how gruff or menacing or prejudicial the exterior portrait may be, if a white man has genetic roots in Dixie soil, he's molecularly inclined to want to have sex with African-American women. You get a Grand Cyclops drunk enough, and trust me, it won't be long before he starts blurting out how bad he wants to plow Halle Berry's cotton fields, if you catch my drift. Say what you will about white men in the South being culturally predisposed towards anti-black bigotry, I can attest to this: ain't no real Southern man's dick a racist, at least. 

So, back to Robyn. I'd greet her each morning (usually, she was dual wielding a Marlboro and a Styrofoam cup of coffee) and just listen to her yell at her baby's daddy on her cell phone (the kid was two or three, I think.) The thing that struck me about her voluble calls was the tone of her voice. At times, it almost seemed like she trailed away from her "default black girl voice" and drifted into California mallrat tones. I have no idea, but every time her voice cracked and squeaked and she sounded like a white girl from Stockton named Emily or Hanna (with no second "h," naturally), I would get supremely aroused. As in, "having to mask my boner while clocking in" aroused. And if they whole "seductive white girl with a bompin' black body" thing wasn't enough to get my penis blood a flowing, she also smelled absolutely delicious - this super-intoxicating trifecta of cocoa butter, Afrocentric hair product and grape body spray. I may be able to recall my mother's maiden name, but I assure you I will never forget that wondrous little love potion. 

Of course I flirted with Robyn. Being a 130 pound honky with hair down to his rib cage, however, I assumed I wasn't exactly her type. Still, she'd flirt back a little, sometimes even touching my collarbone and mussing my hair. Which brings me to The Sports Page

What was The Sports Page? It was this crappy little bar kinda' sorta' close to the factory. On Friday's, we'd go there and pop a few brews (strangely enough, they never bothered checking my ID - even though I was just 20 at the time.) Now, not that I need to tell you this or anything, but the crew was a pretty diverse mix. About 45 percent white, 45 percent black and 10 percent whatever the fuck Ronaldo was. Straight down the middle, a 50/50 male-to-female ratio. I had already made out with three fellow employees (all female) and even received a blow job from one of them (once again, I feel the need to address the giver of said blow job was a woman.) And since we were mostly horny college kids that considered whatever happened that summer to be non-canonical, meaningless sexual trysts weren't just accepted, they were pretty much encouraged.

Even David Duke beats off to this. 

So, one afternoon, I convinced Robyn to join me and about seven other workers for a few drinks. I even gave her a ride in my piece of shit Toyota, which by that point, used more oil than actual gasoline. We get there and we shoot the shit - she pairs up with a nice, multicultural throng of the womenfolks and I buddy up with a nice, multicultural throng of the sausaged set. After a while, a somewhat slurred Robyn waltzed up to me and asked if I wanted to dance. This is especially peculiar, considering the fact that not only was no one else dancing, there wasn't even any music playing at the bar (unless you count the dulcimer tones of Michael Wilbon and Tony fuckin' Kornheiser on Pardon the Interruption as something you want to cut a jig to.) I look over at her gal pals, and they are all egging her on. Great, I must be some kind of lost bet or something. Still, that delightful miasma of grape scented sex in her hair goaded me into action, and we awkwardly fumbled around in front of God and everybody. "Give him so booty!" one of the hoochies across the bar yelled, so Robyn hiked her ass up and started gyrating just inches away from my most assuredly Caucasian whangdoodle. Naturally, my instinctual reaction was to pop the biggest boner of my life up to that point, which without question managed to tickle the back of Robyn's gold-glitter speckled jeans. I look up at table of dudes from work, and every last one of them have a look on their face like I just took a shit in their cervezas. I glance at the girls' table and they look even more pissed. I swear, I saw one of them mouth "this is disgusting" before slamming her wadded up napkin on the table. 

Of course, I didn't pay their reactions any attention. After all, I had a girl I had a major crush on literally grinding her buttchecks into my pecker in public, and I ain't ever going to complain about that. She gave me a big hug after the debacle was over and done with and retreated to the gals's section. I ambled on over to the guy's table, my Johnson still rock hard - shit, I was worried I might knock a table over on the trip back. 

Everybody was quiet. I mean deathly quiet. The white guys wouldn't look me in the eye and the black guys looked like they wanted to beat the shit out of me. And Ronaldo - well, I don't know what the fuck he was thinking, but come on, like anybody gave a shit what Ronaldo thought. About five minutes later, Robyn comes up to the table and meekly asks me if I can give her a ride home. I paid the tab and downed one more nacho chip (this time, without the salsa) and courted Robyn back to the terrible Toyota. 

She lived about five minutes away, so it wasn't that long of a commute. In fact, she lived in an apartment complex that abutted the apartment complex of the very girl who went down on me a few weeks earlier, so I was quite familiar with the environs. She thanked me for the ride, but before she unbuckled her seatbelt, she leaned over towards me. 

"You ever been with a black girl before?" she posed. 

The answer, of course, was that I hadn't. But considering I was still kinda' liberal back then, I mulled whether saying that could be construed as racist. So, as would any sort with his salt, I just stammered and said nothing. 

"I just gotta' say, I think you're really cute and sweet," she responded. "And if I was a white girl, I'd totally date you." (Keep this line in the back of your head - it's central to the whole damn premise of the article.) 

I was embarrassed/nervous to high heavens. Do I tell her I think she's cute, too, or that I really, really liked the last Geto Boys album and had seen Shaft's Big Score at least five times? I didn't even notice her lacquering her mouth up with that translucent lip goo. 

"If you want, you can gimme' a guh-night kizz," she said. I had to spell it like that because I honestly had no idea what she was saying at the time. I honestly thought she asked me if I wanted a "gonad kit," which I presumed was a very popular dessert in the regional African-American community. It wasn't until she cupped her hand under my chin and started pulling me towards her puckered maw that I realized what she trying to get at - that's right, robbing me

That was the first - and so far - only time I've ever had a black girl's lips laced over my own. And it was awesome. Her lips were so puffy and succulent that it felt like I was slurping on four sets of smackers instead of just two. I thought it was just about the most amazing thing in the world - that is, until she crammed her tongue down my esophagus. No, I don't mean that as a euphemism for French kissing, I mean her tongue was so big and long that it literally jabbed me in the uvula and I thought I was going to puke down her throat, which conceivably could've been considered a hate crime. Rather, I gutted it out and tried to pretend I was in the throes of passion while she tried to impregnate my mouth, Alien style. After a good 30 second galocher, she wiped the excess spit and lip gel off her face, opened the car door, and with a downright sing-song intonation, lilted "and if you think that felt good, you ought to feel my pussy." She laughed, closed the door, and said see you Monday. I then went home, my tonsils still bruised and swollen from her literal tongue lashing, and proceeded to jerk my monkey thinking about her no less than three times over a four hour timeframe. Hey - I earned this one.

...because, as we all know, telling a black woman what kind of dick she is allowed to have is the exact OPPOSITE of "racism."

So things are all fine and dandy, but on Monday morning, she's nowhere to be seen (even though her car was there.) That was literally the first time she didn't greet me outside smoking, swigging a coffee and trying to get child support payments. We finally rendezvous in aisle 10 (that's where we kept the middle school biology textbooks) and she wouldn't so much as look me in the eye. Yeah, a pretty big turnaround from frantically tongue kissing me the last time we were in each other's company, I'd say. I said hello, and she let out a very passive aggressive "hey" and kept sliding books around like Tetris pieces. About an hour later, another African-American coworker gently-but-not-that-gently bumped up against me and bluntly told me "it's a good idea to stay away from our women." Since he was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers shirt at the time, I initially thought he was talking about Steelers fans, but after catching yet ANOTHER sinister glare from yet another black employee - you know, the kind of look like I just performed half the Johnny Rebel discography in front of a burning cross - it slowly dawned on me what was happening. 

I don't know how much the other people at the warehouse knew, but they knew enough that we both kinda' wanted to make some sweet, sweet caramel in the sack, if you catch my drift. And this being before Obama ended any and all racial divisiveness in our country for good, this whole romantic racial intermingling didn't precisely sit while with my black or white brethren (I still don't know what Ronaldo's opinion was, and quite frankly, I don't give a shit neither.)

Here's the thing. My white coworkers were a bit miffed at me for my amorous interracial interactions, but they never actually said anything about it. They were more passive aggressive - you know, just not saying anything at all to me - while the blacks were very, very vocal about my "infringements." I got a text from Robyn after work, saying she didn't want to talk to me anymore. The reason? All the other African-American warehouse workers were giving her too much shit about booty dancing with a white boy (and had they known about our spit-swapping escapade, they probably would've gone Turner Diaries on our asses.) I didn't even respond, and we never spoke again. And without that surname, I can't even stalk her on Facebook and surreptitiously jack off to her public photos - a real bummer, I know. 

Now, I told you all of that to tell you this. I catch shit from time to time because some people think I'm some kind of alt-right Neo-Nazi racist simply because I write about white supremacist propaganda (primarily, to make fun of it) and have the gall to call #BLM and their ilk out for hypocritical bullshit, like when they demand their universities codify actual racial segregation and they get popped by the po-po for owning honest-to-goodness actual slaves. Well, folks, I can tell you this - I don't think whites are inherently superior to black people. In fact, my poor-ass upbringing actually gives me a closer bond with African-American culture than it does Albinoid American artifacts, and my public admiration of Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington and Diff'rent Strokes more than backs up my argument. Hell, I co-habitated with an African-American in college for two years and have been paid to write articles about real racism in African-American journals (for real, yo.) So if I'm a "racist," I'm that really liberal kind that's totally cool with black-on-white French kissin', A-OK signing a lease agreement with members of the African-American community and proudly supports a team so idiosyncratically black even our punter is a brutha. What I'm trying to get at here is a crass and crude double standard when it comes to white/black relationships in these United States. For all the hubbub we hear about whitey being racist, from my own personal experiences, the honkeys I've hooked up with are supportive of miscegenation, or at the very least, tolerant enough of it that they won't make a big fuss out of it in public. And even if they do hold some prejudice against romance a'la Oreo, a good 99 percent of 'em are too guldarn scared to say anything about it, because they KNOW that would get them branded with the Scarlet "R" and they'd get fired and lose their house and have to live out of an R.V. or something.

The thing the media doesn't have the guts to tell you is that - point blank - black people in the U.S. are generally more prejudiced against white people than the other way around, especially when it comes to interracial intercourse. Sure, you can show me Pew data from four years ago that forgets to tell you upfront they count Asians and Hispanics as "white" to argue to the contrary, but trust me - as a person who lives in a state with the largest number of blacks anywhere in the U.S., I can tell you how it really is. 

Now, are there really prudish old-ass white people out there who consider race-mixing a sin on par with bestiality? Yeah, but their numbers are so infinitesimal as to be irrelevant; besides, those fuckers are either so old or so culturally isolated that their impact on prevailing social norms is about as profound as a butterfly's fart during a Raiders home game.

The frank reality is that there's a lot more stigma in the black community about interracial dating than there is in the white community (although, to be perfectly honest, I think the terms "the [insert absurdly reductionistic group here] community" are non-existent segregatory labels concocted by white and black opportunists alike to promote their own rancorous, ethnocentric agendas.) Every white guy I've ever met - yes, even the yokels I grew up with who said the word "nigger" more than the articles "a," an" and "the" - has at least shown some kind of personal approval of black-on-white dalliances - if not for general society, at least for them and their own dicks. I'd venture to guess that a good 95 percent of white people in America don't give a hoot about race-mixing, and of the five percent that are adamantly opposed, I'm guessing at least half of them still jack off pictures of Gabrielle Union and K.D. Aubert on the downlow. But within the general black community - ESPECIALLY when it comes to black woman/white man lovin' - there's still a considerable amount of discomfort over the matter.

Now that's what I call "tolerance!"

The reports don't lie - for whatever reason, black women (in particular, college-educated ones) are absolutely aghast at the idea of getting their wombs nice and spermed by anyone who ISN'T the same color they are. The idea of shacking up with a white dude - by and large - is seen as some form of race betrayal, with black women into honky dong oft considered the post-Obama equivalent of Uncle Toms (err, Aunt Toms, I guess.)

But don't take my word for it - just listen to what Stanford professor Ralph Richard Banks had to say about the root causes of why college-educated black women are so hesitant to give vanilla a try:
"...there is still enormous social pressure on black women to only marry black men — to 'sustain' the race and build strong black families. And this means marrying black men even if they are less educated or earn less money. In short, no matter the personal cost, black women are encourage to marry 'down' before they marry 'out.'"
Sweet mayonnaise on a whole grain cracker, can you imagine the reaction a white woman would get for saying the exact same thing about black dudes? Old blue eyes would be drug out of her house at midnight by her golden locks and prolly sacrificed in the town square for mass linguistic hate homicide

So loathe to being loved and embraced and taken care of be a white man, scores and scores of black women VOLUNTARILY elect to marry and breed with practically random black men simply for the sake of maintaining "racial pride." That's LITERALLY the exact same supremacist ideology you'd hear over at The Daily Stormer or whatever Paul Kersey's working on nowadays, but for some reason, nobody in the general public ever raises a stink about it. Let's just come on out and say it, folks: black women won't date white men because - deep down - THEY are racist as fuck. They put arbitrarily-designated racial in-group pride over their own physiological, financial and most distressing of all, emotional wants because that herd identity, apparently, means more to them than their own personal happiness. The mass black consciousness they allow to supercede their own desires, dictating not only their wombs, but their very hearts. What kind of individual life can you have when you feel THAT indebted and tethered to in-group conformity at all times? Prolly not a very enjoyable one - indeed, one could almost say that this rigid adherence to ethnic cultural norms represents a kind of ideological neo-slavery. If it's horrid and backwards and destructive when displayed by white identitarians, then why don't we call a ... shovel ... a shovel and label this individual squelching black identitarianism, which is so despotic that it forces people to reject pure love for another human being on account of him needin' way more sunscreen, as the hateful, bigoted ideology it actually is

How weird is it that the P.O.C. at the vanguard of the multicultural movement are also the ones least likely to date outside their own ethnicity and Crayola shade?  Indeed, the white boyfriend taboo alone ought to be enough to get you to see "intersectionality" as the scam and scheme it is. "We celebrate diversity in all its manifestations," the loud and the proud Black African-American Cis-Women of Color (or BAACWOCs, for short) cheerfully clamor, "you know, just as long as it isn't within our reproductive orifices."

On some sleepless nights, when I can hear that morose little pitter patter of raindrops on my windowsill, I think about Robyn and what could have been had the local "black community" not been so damned racist. Who knows? Maybe me and Robyn would've fallen in love and we would've moved in together and decided to get married and have some beautiful toffee-colored children of our own. But no, African-American society thinks that's "culturally unacceptable" because it cheats the black race out of another full-blooded black baby, and their crude ethnocentrist nationalism has to lord over everybody like P.C.-age plantation whip crackers.

How dreadful it must be to be a woman of color in these disunited states, stuck in a racially prejudiced subculture that not only expects BUT demands ethnic supremacism reigns over your every thought and action. Forget about the alleged tyranny of the white patriarchy, the intersectionalist dogma you fearfully force yourself to abide by is doing MUCH more to de-individualize you and goad you into involuntary behavior - indeed, one may even consider such to constitute a form of ideological bondage

And at the end of the day, THAT's why black women, even in our super-duper wonderful multiculturalism uber alles utopia, STILL have an aversion to courting, marrying and reproducing with white males. So hateful the racial nationalism coursing through their veins that they've convinced themselves that simply loving another human being makes somebody a bona fide in-group deserter and a biological Benedict Arnold. So maddened by learned hatred of the white man that they consider merely admiring and appreciating a Caucasoid male to be a cultural perversion - an unthinking, illogical form of prejudice every bit as contemptible as the anti-black hatred spewed by a Klansman or the homophobic spoutings of a Neo-nazi. 

Of course, good luck getting anybody in today's America to say anything about this flagrant Albanophobia running rampant throughout black culture, particularly the domain populated by college-educated women of color.

Hate explains a lot, y'know - and unfortunately, that appears to explain why black women won't even consider giving the time of day to old Paleface.