Celebration of Wickedness Day 2: THE INCREDIBLE HULK #atozchallenge

Back for round 2 in the villains chair we have…wait, is this a typo? Jimmy, are you sure? This says today’s villain is…Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk?

That’s right, true believers, the Hulk is the villain of the day in our continuing Celebration of Wickedness. Yes, I know the Not-So-Jolly Green Giant has his own comic that’s been around since 1962. Yes, I am aware he has 2 major motion pictures in which he is the protagonist. Yes, I know he’s the best part of the upcoming Avengers movie (and, yes, I am planning on attending the midnight showing). Calm down, geek squad, let me explain myself.

The Hulk is the supercharged, atomic era version of the Jekyll and Hyde story, right? His entire mythos centers around Bruce Banner giving in to his baser emotions—anger, terror, grief—and transforming into a hulking behemoth with forearms that would put Popeye to shame and a penchant for raggedy purple pants. Dr. Banner is the mild-mannered atomic physicist; the Hulk is a being of pure emotion and limited intellect. You know the deal, the madder he gets, the stronger he gets. The problem is, there really isn’t a limit and you get stuck in this cycle of destruction. To me, and the United States army, the Hulk is awesome! To Banner, the Hulk is a curse.

And before I go into the philosophy behind my selection of the Hulk as the villain of the day, let’s get a couple things straight: the Hulk is not necessarily the BEST choice of folks to hang out with. For you comic book enthusiasts, it was because of the Hulk’s actions, threat to general society and constant collateral damage that the Illuminati sent his ass clear across the galaxy. And these same “heroes” were vindicated when the Hulk returned with a storyline titled World War Hulk. Even the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno incarnation sent people routinely flying into trashcans, overturned cars and was hell on Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots.

(And with that, I earn my geek cred. HOLLA!)

But what this is really about is the internal struggle between Bruce Banner and his raging alter ego. Banner is the hero here, not the Hulk. And if the good doctor is the hero, the Hulk is the villain. Marvel has done a fantastic job of billing the Hulk as protagonist, as a tortured soul who really just wants to be left alone. That’s fine for general society. But for Banner, the Hulk destroyed his life. It turned him into something to be feared and exiled, chased and hunted, whether in his human form or not. He can’t trust himself, live his life, be who he wants to be. Not anymore. This cat was the pre-eminent nuclear scientist and one act of bravery (in the comic) or hubris (in the television show) turned his life into a freak show. It’s tragic, actually. And while the Bruce Banner/Incredible Hulk dichotomy makes for good entertainment, its theme is the age-old conflict of man vs himself. Yes, I used the word dichotomy; I went to college.

We’ve seen plenty anti-heroes already; that’s not what I’m getting at. Bruce Banner is a regular, ordinary guy, like you or me. He wants what we all want: nice home, good job, good woman/man, to excel in his chosen field. To be a good person. The Hulk destroys that image of Banner just as any other inner demon might. What makes the Hulk so compelling as a villain is, for all his destructiveness, it is as the Hulk that Banner realizes his truest self. It’s a part of him—sometimes for the better, sometimes the worst—and we get to see it play out in the most heroic and catastrophic manner.

And that, my friends, is why the Hulk is today’s villain: because Bruce Banner is his best self when he is his worst self. What did Harvey Dent say in The Dark Knight? “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Tune in next time when we look at Cruella DeVille, hater of dalmatians. Excelsior!

Hoodie Required

My wife asked me why I was so quiet. Why I hadn’t said anything. She was asking me about Trayvon Martin. I hadn’t said a word. Yet.

What is there to say? What could I say that hasn’t already been said? That I’m not surprised? Saddened, but not surprised. That even in 2012 I still have my own moments of second glances and sideways looks, of hastily locked car doors and clutched purses? Should I say that I spend my days terrified of what might become of the other Black male in my house—my 12-year-old son? That I lay awake many a night praying that I can protect him from and prepare him for the world outside my door?

What should I say?

Maybe I should talk about the abject disgust I have that the child on the ground in a puddle of his own blood was treated worse than the man who shot him. That the dead child is treated like a criminal while the assailant sleeps in a warm bed. Should I scream in rage that the word of the shooter was taken over the evidence of a child murdered—in a day and age where there are 3 CSIs, 2 Law & Orders, Crime 360, and the First 48 on TV every week? Perhaps I should drum my chest, pound the table, yell until I’ve lost my voice about the insanity of the crime itself. A gun-wielding Neighborhood Watchman kills a kid over Skittles and Iced Tea?

It could be the sadness, the grief, that has struck me silent. Pain in my chest becomes sobs in my throat as I wade through photos with Am I Next? captions—full of young boys, still innocent, some young enough to hang on their mother’s hip, some unborn. I’ve seen hundreds of images of people of all shapes and sizes and colors and races wearing hoodies with captions that read, “I am Trayvon.” And it makes me sad.

The president said it struck him close to home, that if he had a son, “he would look like Trayvon.” The man who wants to be president, Newt Gringrich, says such remarks are divisive, that all children should be safe. They’re both right in their own way. All children should be safe. They should be, no question. But the truth is Trayvon Martin is simply the latest casualty in a war on Black males that’s been waged since the dawn of this nation. The only thing new here is the name, date and place. We’ve been here before with Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, and Rodney King. Sean Bell. Oscar Grant. Aiyanna Jones. Emmett Till.

Now Trayvon Martin.

I’m sad that it has happened again. That another mother has to bury her child. I’m sad that, for one finite news cycle, America will take a cold, hard look in the mirror—and at her president—and realize how far we have come and how far we still have to go. And I’m sad because I know how this ends…and because I know that it really doesn’t end. Our collective horror and disgust will fuel a palpable rage, a mighty beast hungry for justice. And that beast will rally and march and post and tweet and YouTube and yell and scream for atonement. Justice will be served: revenge will be delivered in the courts or in the streets and the beast will be satiated. And we will move on, move forward in the silent détente that is race relations in America.

There is a price for silence, I guess. For some, “silence means consent.” Keeping quiet means you agree. I don’t. Even if it doesn’t advance the cause, even if my words only add to the outrage, the horror, the disgust, joining my voice to the chorus is still matters. Even if, in a few weeks or months, Trayvon Martin becomes another painful memory, another tragic occurrence, it matters. Our collective outrage can turn an inhumane act into a human experience. It took this quote, made by a pastor during the Holocaust, for me to understand that:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

20 Things You Didn’t Care to Know About Me (But Now You Do)

My LIttle Helper told me that my blog is the best way for you to get to know me as an individual, not just as the incredibly talented, chiseled-chinned author you’ve come to love. So, fine, I will let you in. Settle in, come closer–ooohh not that close, had garlic today, didn’t we? Here goes 20 things you never knew about me:

  1. I hate pandas. With a passion. I think they are worthless animals who cannot figure out how to eat or procreate without human intervention and panda porn. I think the noble panda would be better suited as a bedcover and a nice pair of boots
  2. I hate T-Pain. Really I do. I just wanna kick the shit outta him and autotune his scream. Who the hell rhymes mansion with Wisconsin? Jackass.
  3. I have a secret crush on Julianne Moore. Don’t ask me why—it just works.
  4. I have a public crush on Chante Moore. My wife already knows if Kenny slips, it’s on. I have a bag already packed.
  5. I’d love to listen to a Jehovah’s Witness at a Mormon’s door. That would have to be one of the most scintillating conversations ever.
  6. I think the head-to-neck ratio on Selena Gomez and Julianna Marguiles is horribly out of whack. These women have the biggest heads in Hollywood—I want to send them tiny crutches to give their necks a rest. How has no one ever said anything?
  7. The only reason I watch American Idol is for the sadness and the tears. The dashed hopes bring me joy. I turn it off after that.
  8. I’m addicted to Hoarders and Maury. If they’re on, I cannot look away.
  9. I once won a beauty contest. True story. Got the sash and roses and everything. I was magnificent.
  10. I will not listen to anyone on my ipod/car stereo/Sirius-XM whose name begins with Lil. I’m just too old for that shit.
  11. I narrate my dog’s actions and reactions in a variety of voices. One moment he sounds like Cartman; the next he’s Malcolm X.
  12. I think Jay-Z looks like a Koopa from Super Mario Bros. Every time I see him on TV, I wanna jump on his back and kick him down the street and see 200s in the sky.
  13. I think the characters in my stories haunt me in real life. Seriously. If I don’t write on a regular basis, they take stuff and hide things and kick my dog and knock my son in the head.
  14. I’m almost 40 years old. Farts still make me laugh.
  15. Random question: if you see a porn star in the street, is it okay to say you’re a fan of their work? Is it okay to be a fan of their work?
  16. I’d love to moderate a debate between Kirk Douglas and Dick Clark. I think 50% of it would be me saying “What? Can you repeat that?” Yes, I already know I’m going to Hell for this one.
  17. Ceelo Green is a big-ass midget. I know it; you know it. I wish he’d just come out and say it. I’d still buy his music.
  18. I often turn on (and record) the really messed up medical shows on the Discovery Channels. Stuff like Freaky Eaters, My Strange Addiction, and the 650-LB Woman. Can’t help it. I was genuinely disturbed by Man with Half A Body, especially when he talked about his NATURAL BORN daughter. The question is my head is still How?
  19. I’m really scared of rats, roaches and spiders. And that damn doll from the Amityville Horror. And Teddy Ruxpin.
  20. I don’t trust cats. We usually get along but I don’t think they’re genuine. I’m convinced they’re trying to kill me.

There you have it folks, you’re up close and personal expose. If you’re good boys and girls, who knows, I might break down and tell you my horribly disgusting, but really funny, holiday story about an x-ray, castor oil, and topical Novocain.

The Thing With The Things

I’m getting what I deserve.

Last fall, I wrote a post called Ballstober where I talked about my wife’s love of horror movies and me and The Boy’s attempts to gird our loins and watch them with her. There were a couple things I neglected to mention:

  1. The Honey Badger wants to be like her mother when she grows up
  2. There are some of these movies I actually enjoy

I cut my eye teeth on watching (and coming to adore) movies like Alien. And John Carpenter’s The Thing. The prequel to the 1982 gross-fest came out last October and hit my OnDemand this week. Sounds like double-feature night to me.

The Boy and the Honey Badger have approached their academic responsibilities with all the fervor of Shaq at the free throw line: poorly. What began as a repossession of a tv (yes, they even got a letter), has culminated in the worse punishment you can render a child of the 21st century: confiscation of all things electronic. That’s right. Listen to the radio. Flip the pages in that book. Feel that? It’s called paper. They make it from trees.

So these cats are walking around singing Huey Lewis and the News, trying figure out how to get back to the future. And I feel bad because they’re fiending for electrons. Which brings me to double feature night. “Hey kids, let’s have movie night,” I say. I’m a dummy.

And am now renewing my application for Fisher Price to make a taser.

Two reasons. First, look at the clock. Go ahead, I’ll wait. See, if you’re reading this, it’s a normal I-should-read-a-blog time, right? Maybe you’ve had your coffee. Maybe you’ve even had lunch. For me, it’s four o’clock in the fucking morning and I’ve been kicked out of my bed and banished down the hall because the Honey Badger is scared. Came in my room twice, woke me out of a deep sleep sponsored by my super-sexy CPAP machine, saying she was scared of everything. Who is scared of everything? With the Fisher Price taser, this could have been an easy one: ssskzzapp! Go to bed.

Secondly, with the Fisher Price taser, I could have handled their homework malfunctions early too and avoided all this nonsense in the first place. You forgot to turn it in? Ssskzzapp! Didn’t bring it home? Ssskzzapp! They’d become model students for the low cost of rechargeable batteries. Problem solved.

The moral of my story is if I’d have had a Fisher Price taser, I would be nestled in my bed, my children would be better students, and I would have the immense satisfaction of being able to tag their asses at will without killing them. Life would be better. This is now a quality of life issue. How can they not do it? Maybe we should start a petition. Who’s with me?

DMFRH – What’s That Spell?

CAUTION: This post contains significant amounts of cursing, without those sorry little @$#%! marks to hide what I really want to say. If this is an issue, come back on Friday: I should be in a decidedly better mood. You’ve been warned.

I’m going to add a new award series to my blog: DMFRH. Dis MuthaFucker Right Here.

We all know these people—these jackasses who conspire to make life a bit more difficult just because they fucking can. The ones who don’t actually have shit to say but just speak simply because they know the language. A stupid boss. A simple child. An annoying client. The PTA President. That mean-ass usher in church.

Or this guy:

Anybody can be DMFRH. You have. I certainly have. In most cases, it’s a temporary condition broken by plenty of rest and Advil, a stiff drink or a swift kick in the ass. In others, it’s more permanent. Chris Humphries. Ari Gold. George W. Bush. Permanent asses.

So I know what you’re thinking: Chris, who might you be nominating for your first DMFRH?

Good question.

First, The Boy. This cat has been showing a flagrant disregard for his schoolwork. FLAGRANT. Every day somebody says, “Hey, you got any homework?” Simple question, right? Ought to have a simple answer. This joker says no. Every day. “Nope, no homework.” But he has Xbox time, right? Homeboy is making substantial inroads in Modern Warfare but can’t multiply. Well, school calls us—we gotta have a meeting with all his teachers and the counselor. It’s like an academic intervention. They provide a litany of missing assignments and then a variety of scenarios when DMFRH can’t figure out how to look at the board and figure out what’s going on. We wanna kill him because he’s showing his ass, the school is involved, but the boy resolves to do something different. He says, “I’m gonna go home, skip the snack, open my planner and get to work!” Great! What does DMFRH do? Come home, eats TWICE, shits and goes THE FUCK to sleep. Seriously?

That’s one. I have more.

So you know I decided I wanted to lose a few pounds (approximately 60). To that end, two things showed up at my house: Insanity and P90X. I told you I have this Superman complex, right? I think I can do anything, right? I said to myself “How hard can it be?” I put that damn Insanity disc to do the Fit Test. I almost fainted during the warm up. THE WARM UP! The whole test was 30 minutes—it took me 45 and my body hurt for two days. I did the Fit Test. I finished it. I am not fit.

So then I switched to P90X. Tony Horton: DMFRH is FUCKING NUTS! Oh, it’ll make you fit and strong. No question about it. Provided you survive it. I did something called Plyometrics yesterday. What that means is I tried to kill myself. On purpose. That man said “Wear a heart monitor so you can make sure you’re in the Zone.” The Zone? Goddammit, you’ve had me leaping like a fucking gazelle for the last 40 minutes and DMFRH asked me am I in the Zone? Fuck your Zone, Tony. My heart monitor said STOP.

So the second DMFRH award is split between two public figures: Shaun “HipHopAbs Dancing Ass” T and Tony “Fuck Him” Horton.

Who’s the DMFRH is your life right now? Drop me a comment and I’ll promote the winner next week!

I’m going to take a bath in IcyHot…

Screw It: Do What You Have To Do To Get It Done

I need to lose about 60 pounds. Seriously. I haven’t talked about my personal goals because I didn’t think they had any place in my blog but I guess I can let you in. A little. OK, close enough. And weight loss is such a cliché New Year’s Resolution–I didn’t want to buy into it. But the truth is, I could stand to run around the block. A few times.

I also have this husky, Rocky the WonderDog. Rocky’s 9—that’s damn near 70 years old in human years—so he’s slowing down a bit. He started having these tremors and shakes and we were praying he wasn’t going to just drop dead one day. So we took him to the vet and they scared us to death talking about diabetes and ketoacidosis, Cushing’s disease, muscle atrophy—all this stuff that sounded horrible AND horribly expensive. I’m cursing to myself and looking at my wife and we’re trying to figure out how could we look our kids in the eye if something happened to the dog. So the vet runs some tests, takes some blood, charges us $350 and the prognosis is the dog is just old and bored. So while I’m looking for retirement communities for my active senior, the vet suggests more exercise and new scenery and experiences.

So both me and the dog need to move around a little.

I take it to heart: it’s a brand new year, I gotta lose some pounds, my dog needs to get out more. Great! I get up early, find my cross-trainers, got the Rocky theme cued up my playlist and…where…the hell…are…my…headphones?

Goddammit.

I’m funky about a few things, and most of them have apples on them: iPhone, iPad, my Macbook (don’t judge me: they’re just so pretty!) And one of the things I genuinely hate is when people take my headphones. Namely little people. You know who I’m talking about: the ones who eat for free, hike up my electric bill and balk at chores. Those people. I once heard a mother say about her kids, “I can’t have nothing! If I was eating a shit sandwich, they’d want a bite.” I know how she feels: the honey badger takes what she wants and, in this case she took my headphones. Grrr…

But I can’t stop. I really do need to get out. And now the dog is jumping up and down because he wants the walk and I haven’t been able to give him one since I hurt my ankle. I look down and the only headphones I see are pink. Like hot pink. With Hello Kitty on them.

Seriously?

So I’m out with my new leather jacket, 3 days worth of stubble on my face, walking Rocky the WonderDog, bobbing my head to The Roots—looking HARD—with Hello Kitty on my ears. I felt like a damn fool.

But it didn’t matter.

If the goal is important, how you get there doesn’t matter. Things like pride or fear are the things that hold us back. For writers, it’s that inner censor telling us to make it perfect instead of getting it out of our heads and onto the page. For others, it might be the whispers of doubt, the disapproving look of a spouse, or the sly smirk of a friend. Screw them; do what YOU have to do to get it done. A close friend of mine is a single mother of four AND a teacher AND a student AND she gets up at 4:30am to do the Insanity workout. Because the goal is more important to her than hitting the snooze button. Because she wants to be able to do 100 pushups by March. Because there is someone she wants to be and she’s not there yet. So she does what she has to do to get it done.

The theme for January is Be True To You. That’s really what this resolution-making, goal-setting exercise is about: finding our truest selves. Those things you resolve to do reflect the person you truly want to be. It’s not about doing something; it’s about being someone. Someone willing to do whatever it takes to get where you are trying to go. One facet of the person I want to be is about 60 pounds lighter. And if it means you see me outside with those damn Hello Kitty headphones, so be it. You can laugh. I would. But I’m getting it done, aren’t I?

This one’s for you, Leslie. When I grow up, I wanna be just like you!