Monday, February 12, 2007

The Best Comic Book Villain

When I extolled the praises of heroes a while back, I inadvertently neglected the other side of the coin, the yin to heroes' yangs. In my celebration of the heroic (and the wild, and the just plain weird, because Ambush Bug is not necessarily a hero even though, I guess later in his career, he tried.)

I didn't mean to do that, of course, but I was focused on The Best Comic Book Superhero, not on their counterparts, and so I didn't mention anything about villains at all.

Then, the other day, I posted a reprint of The Best Superhero on Editred.Com, where I now have a space, also.

And that reprinted article drew a comment, a comment that made a good point, a point I'd overlooked.

Heroes stand not just for truth, justice, and the American Way (or the way of whatever country you happen to live in or support), but they stand for something else: order.

Not "Order" as in ve must have order. But "order" in the sense that they are the opposite of entropy, the opposite of chaos. (And I'll make a confession here: I know what 'chaos' is and have known for a long time because I used to -- long ago-- play Dungeons & Dragons, and you could make characters be "chaotic" and either "evil" or "good," and I always wondered how "chaotic" could also be good, but I later learned that chaos is the absence of order.)

Now, I've got to add a little joke here: "Chaotic good" would be the very definition of my life since A and B were born. Want to find out the meaning of chaos? Add twin boys to a house of teenagers.

Anyway, I also wondered why you'd bother describing your character's orientation that way because it didn't seem to matter in the game itself. So you Dungeonmasters out there, tell me why I should have cared that my Cavalier, (Duran Greyhawk!) was Chaotic Good or Lawful Good or any of that. And I promise not to snicker too much about you still playing D&D, since, after all, I still own my Ambush Bug comics.

That, my friends, is exactly what it was like!

But, now knowing what chaos is, and why it would be bad, I also know that heroes stand for the opposite of chaos. And I might have come up with that on my own, but I didn't. Instead, I came up with it after reading a new nomination in an entirely new category (this category, for those of you who are not so quick on the uptake. THIS category: Best Comic Book Villain.)

The nomination comes from Jim Dodge Jr., who you can find on Edit Red, too, and who can already boast of having a book published, Skullfarm Raindance, available here. Jim, like all good contrarians, read my entry on superheroes and immediately went to the dark side, nominating a villain and creating this category.

Jim has nominated "Carnage,"

and I know comics have passed me by because I didn't even know who "Carnage" was. So I asked him, and here's what Jim told me:

Carnage is really Cletus Kasady, a serial killer who was inprisoned with Eddie Brock, a/k/a Venom. The symbiote and Eddie had been forcibly separated and Eddie was put in a normal jail. His cellmate, the aforementioned Kasady, was a lunatic of epic proportions. The symbiote came and broke Eddie Brock out by rejoining with him. They left behind an egg-like baby symbiote who joined with Kasady. Cletus's inborn psychosis and the symbiote's hatred of Spiderman give him even more strangth than Venom and powers never before imagined.
Jim can't just tell us who Carnage is, though, he also has to tell us WHY Carnage is the Best Comic Book Villain. And he did, using an economy of words:
Carnage kills randomly and brings a huge piece of chaos to the Marvel Universe. I don't like his killer tendencies so much, just his lack of concern for rules and order.
So it's okay to be friends with Jim, just make sure that you don't put him in charge of organizing the company picnic or anything else requiring rules and order.
And there you have it, the first nomination for The Best Comic Book Villain.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Best Drum Section In A Song

You’re driving along, or jogging, or working out on that thing that swings your feet and arms for you and doesn’t look like working out at all, or you’re me and you’re washing the one hundred million bottles per day that your baby twin boys go through, and you’re listening to music, and on comes a song with a great drumbeat, and whatever you’re doing, you tap out that drumbeat, right?

You tap your hands on the steering wheel. Or you pump your fists, or you take two of those bottles and actually play an infant-bottle-plastic-kitchen-sink version of that drum solo.

You do that because drum solos tear right into your gut. They grab your spine and shake it and make you dance, make you clap your hands, make you move move move.

You know that’s right. It’s the beat that makes most great songs, and what’s the beat? The drums. The most neglected, the least-glected part of the band is the one that really makes the band go. It’s a cliché: it’s got a good beat. We say it all the time.

And if an average drum beat can get you up on the dance floor, a great drum beat, a great drum line, a great drum solo, can make you shake, can make you sweat, can make you—heck, can even make me—groove.

Okay, I got a little carried away. Nothing I do, especially on a dance floor, can be considered to “groove.” But great drums make me feel like I groove, and that’s half the battle.

So I am celebrating the great drum sections, drum lines, solos, call them what you want. (I’m a musician of sorts, but not that kind of musician.)

And in doing so, you have to consider them all, and I have. All the ones I know about anyway, and all the ones that spring to mind as I pondered this article over several days. And you know what? If they didn’t spring to mind when I thought “drums,” then they probably weren’t that great.

I narrowed it, then, down to three. First, there is the classic drum solo from the “Carry That Weight/Golden Slumbers” medley on Abbey Road by The Beatles. This one is great because it has that great middle part where Ringo’s just pounding on the drums, great because Ringo did it and he gets even less credit than most drummers, and great because, well, it’s The Beatles.

Then there’s more modern contender, and the one The Boy would no doubt go for; he’s getting into classic rock, and so he would most likely back this horse: the drums for “Rock & Roll” by Led Zeppelin. Great drummer, who actually got credit for the work he did. Great band. Great song (which, by the way, is about sex, you people who listened to it in that Cadillac commercial and thought yeah, it has been a long time since the rock & roll and bought Caddies. The ‘rock and roll’ is sex.) And the drums capture that, and its a propulsive beat and it really spurs you on; “Rock & Roll” is on my “running” playlist.

But it’s topped. They’re all topped, and by a near-hair-band. They are all topped by the drumming in Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher.”

I don’t know how you can listen to this song and refrain from tapping your feet, your leg, your hands, your head, anything that you can tap, and ultimately begin moving to that beat. Moving somewhere, anywhere, just moving because the beat in “Hot for Teacher” picks you up and carries you on its shoulders.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Best Romantic Song, New Nominee!

A while back-- almost six months ago, actually -- I posted two options and chose between one for The Best Romantic Song.

Then this week I re-posted that to my Gather spot (look for the link off to the side here) and, who knows, maybe love is in the air because it's almost Valentine's Day (and I've already taken care of part of my present for Sweetie because I ordered flowers for her and they'll be delivered, so I just have to come up with a second present now because I'm pretty sure she'll get something great for me and I have to outdo her. For Christmas, I got her a diamond heart necklace with birthstones for each of the kids' birthdays, so for my birthday she got me a Buffalo Bills' watch, a suit, and remote control inflatable sumo wrestlers. Which you don't think are a real thing, but they are!)

Forgive me for getting off the track, but maybe I wasn't. Because while most of you are thinking "How will The Trouble With Roy ever come up with a present that's better, and more romantic than, inflatable sumo wrestlers?" (Hint: more jewelry) there is a small minority of you that's thinking "Sumo wrestlers, no matter how easily controlled, are NOT romantic."

For that group of people, I give you a more traditional romance, as brought to my, and your, attention by Bradley Bodeker. Bradley has lots of good qualities, and I'm sure one of them is an ability to explain how you could be born in Hawaii and live in Minnesota. But he does have the great sense and taste to like classic INXS, something I spent time last week trying to get The Boy to appreciate. (It was lost on him.)

Bradley also likes Van Morrison, and nominates as The Best Romantic Song "Tupelo Honey." In his words:

"Tupelo Honey" is the best love song because it honors his love, I picture him in total thrall of this woman, and putting nothing before her. I think it's the emotion he puts behind the song that gets me. "She's as Tupelo Honey, just like honey, baby, from the bee (she's an angel)."

You can help judge by listening to Van Morrison singing the song live here:

And if you go back to that link at the top you'll find the others.

And, just because after that song, love is truly in the air, here are the remote control sumos: