The Justice Fellowship of Earth-Plaid

If you follow as many Lego-based social media accounts as I do, you start to see a lot of people going into their minifigure bins and making their own alternate universe versions (AUs, as the kids maybe still say on the inter-ma-nets?) of their favorite characters.  Never one to miss out on a good trend and, of course, having a lot of COVID-19 adjacent free time on my hands, I decided to have a go myself.  Here is the plaidiverse / Earth-Plaid (because my username the social meda these days is usually @plaidbrarian) version of the JLA, the Justice Fellowship.  First, the inevitable group shot:

And now let's meet the team:

Superman (Kent Clarke) - Still uncomfortable with working so publicly, but he knows that he can help, and feels compelled to use his gifts for the good of humanity because it's the right thing to do.  He understands why people are maybe afraid of him, though, and why they wonder just where the line gets drawn for "the good of humanity," because he still wonders, too.

Wonder Woman (Diana Artemis) - First of all, she hates the name Wonder Woman, but has gotten tired of trying to explain that the crest she wears is a representation of the eagle of Zeus and not two W's, so whatever, but she'd really prefer you just call her Diana. Her uniform and her lifestyle are a mix of her traditional Amazon upbringing and DIY punk aesthetic. Settled in Washington DC because she loves the music scene. Drummer in, like, 4 bands. Cuts her hair with a sword.

B.A.T.Man (Ted Kord) - Ted's family's tech company was saved from bankruptcy by and absorbed into WayneTech; Ted turned down a chance to be the new CTO in favor of heading up the R&D lab in Gotham City for CEO Lucius Fox. Some off-book, unauthorized test runs of some potential military projects saw Ted digging the thrills and sense of accomplishment of fighting crime in Gotham, which also brought him the attention and support of both Fox and Wayne-family heir Alfred Pennyworth, who never recovered from his employers' / surrogate family's brutal triple murder.

Robin (Tiffany Fox) - Lucius Fox's daughter, and a tech whiz in her own right.  Earned her way into a job into the WayneTech R&D department on her own merit and not her name (she initially applied under an alias), and figured out Ted's deal and his connection to the Batman (most people don't know the name's an acronym) on, like, day 2.  Prefers a more ground-level approach, and works on her own with increasing frequency.  Has an unofficial sideteam going with some other female adventurers that they jokingly call "the Birds of Prey."

Green Lantern (J'onn J'onzz) - Time-displaced last Martian and Green Lantern of Sector 2184.  Kind of a hard guy for everyone to read still, but opens up a little if you offer him cookies.  Sympathizes with Diana's nomenclature issues because he can't seem to make Earth people understand that he isn't called Green Lantern because he is green, it's just a coincidence!

Flash (Jenni Allen) - 3rd generation super speedster adventurer, going into the family business behind her mom and her abuela.  Newest and youngest member of the Fellowship, everything is still new and very, very cool.  But dude bros of the world beware, she's already heard all your "Heh heh, I know what you should flash" jokes, and making one within her earshot is a great way to get pantsed, picked up, and dropped off in, like, Nepal before you can even put down your PBR.

Wonder Dog (Wonder Dog) - Diana's dog and, in her words, "the only man [she] will ever love."  As much as she hates being called Wonder Woman, she thinks he really is a Wonder Dog and made him the cape because he's a hero, dammit.  And yes, he is an official member of the Justice Fellowship.  Do you want to be the one to tell her otherwise?  His one weakness is tummy scritches.

ReMarked Trail: Dammit, Rusty!

Click to make the strip as large as the void where Rusty's soul used to be.
You work so hard to raise a kid with the right values and still somehow everything manages to go off the (t)rails. I blame the internet.

Anyway, Mark Trail and his misbegotten offspring are the property King Features and the original strip is the work of Ed Dodd, Jack Elrod, and James Allen. This parody is done in loving tribute to their work.

RIP Howard Finkel, the Greatest Ring Announcer of All Time

I was so sad to hear this past Thursday that Howard Finkel had passed away. 

As the WWF / WWE's main ring announcer for so many years, he was one of the definitive voices of my childhood and beyond. The way he'd hit "NEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!" when announcing a title change gave it so much additional importance. 

And it was especially awesome when an Intercontinental Champion was crowned, or as the Fink would say it, INNNNNN-tercontinental Champi-OOONNNNNN!" 

If ever a human being could be said to own a word or two, Fink owned those two. 

RIP Howard Finkel. Let the bell ring 10 times.

ReMarked Trail: A Very Special Episode

Click to make it worldwide pandemic-sized
My plan was to space these out better, but this one is an timely Very Special Episode to read with your family.

All probably inappropriate kidding aside, Mark Trail is the property King Features and is the work of Ed Dodd, Jack Elrod, and James Allen. This parody is done in loving tribute to their work.

Also, wash your damn hands with soap and water, stop hoarding all the toilet paper, and take care of yourselves and others.

ReMarked Trail: Mating Call

Click to bellow out and read this strip at a bigger size.
Hard to argue with the results.

And remember, kids, Mark Trail is the property King Features and is the work of Ed Dodd, Jack Elrod, and James Allen. This silliness is done in loving tribute to their work.

Up Too Late Film Club: Fantabulous By Any Name

I find it odd that there may still be people on the fence about Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, but the comparatively quiet box office numbers seem to bear that out... although it has already made back it's entire budget and is making profits here and abroad, so let's dismiss the idea that it's a flop right out of hand because it is definitely not that.

I saw it a week or so ago and kind of loved it.  Here's what I had to say about it on Letterboxd, which sums up my feelings fairly succinctly and also content is content and re-purposing things like this is working smarter, not harder:

"Terrific cast, great soundtrack, jokes that land, it doesn't overstay its welcome, and there are a lot of attractive people kicking ass creatively. This was a hell of a lot of fun, which is *exactly* what these DCEU movies need more of. And it's not like this steers clear of the all the murky grimdark of the early entries in that shared universe... it barrels headlong into it, in fact. The big difference, though, is that it isn't cynical... there's a surprising amount of heart here, heart that also happens to be delivered with a smirk, a wink, an aluminum baseball bat to the knees, and some very strong characters taking much needed agency.

Also, that is the best looking egg sandwich in cinema history and I want one NOW."

Really, I think my only complaint is that it could have used more of Mary Elizabeth Winstead's awkward-but-still-badass Huntress, who stole every scene she's in.  It's a very different take on the character, but it's terrific.  If the powers that be wanted to give me a whole movie of her trying to sound cool, failing, getting frustrated, and then proceeding to assault bad guys with kicks and crossbow bolts, I'd be down for that.  I mean, I already made a Lego figure for her and everything.

Long story short: Birds of Prey etc. etc. good. Go see.

ReMarked Trail: Truth

Click to make as big as the great outdoors.
People were making erasure poetry with a stack of newspapers for a thing at my library, and I said something about wanting to try it with Mark Trail strips and the next thing I knew I was saving a ton of strips and individual panels to a Drive folder and well here you go.

Obviously, Mark Trail belongs to the fine folks at King Features and is the work of Ed Dodd, Jack Elrod, and James Allen, and all of this remix/erasure silliness is done in loving tribute to their work.

Also, it should be made very clear that if I keep doing these, that bees panel is going to be used and reused well past the point when it's still funny to anyone but me.

Up Too Late Film Club: Whatcha Gonna Do...?!

CW: Hey, this movie is fun and when I was a kid I was a big fan of the star, but given the whole "racist tirade" thing and subsequent non-apologies, I really want to stress that has not been the case for me for quite some time. But still, if you opt to skip this one because you want nothing to do with the guy in any form, that's valid and I totally understand.

Click to let VHS-amania run wild on you, brother!

I'm not going to tell you that No Holds Barred is a good movie. By almost any metric you can name it is, in fact, a bad one.

But it is also an astonishingly watchable one, and it is never boring. For all its flaws, No Holds Barred knows exactly what it is and commits to that, wholeheartedly, unironically, and without a moment's hesitation. In fact, I'd put it up there with Tommy Wiseau's The Room and the infamous Vanilla Ice vehicle Cool as Ice, two other movies that aren't in any danger of being labeled "classics" but are so weirdly of themselves that they go past the other side of bad and come back around to being sort of wonderful. Your brain can't quite make sense or tails of what your eyes and ears are feeding it, and yet you need to keep watching.

No Holds Barred, like those others, creates a world that sort of resembles our own but mostly operates by its own rules and its own physics, and consistently follows them throughout. For a project created by and featuring the then-World Wrestling Federation, we spend 90 minutes inhabiting a place even more surreal than any WWF/E storyline.

Hulk Hogan, arguably the biggest star in pro-wrestling history and long before the sex tapes and racist tirades, plays Rip, who is arguably the biggest star in the WORLD! Having Rip on your TV network makes it the biggest outlet in all of entertainment! He's committed to his charity work, he helps teach kids to wrestle in parks, and he sure does love his manager and his brother, too. Oh, and he's almost superpowerful, too, fighting off hordes of heavies singlehandedly with his fists, a motorcycle, or a diner's case of pies. Also, he has the power to make limo drivers shit their pants more or less on command.




(If you know just one thing about this movie, it's probably this scene.)

What's an evil TV exec who wants Rip, and therefore his star- and moneymaking prowess for his own network, to do? He's the guy sending all these baddies (including the dookie guy) after Rip; whose blank check, "work for me and you can do pretty much anything you want if you come work for me" offer was rejected outright (which, if you know anything about Hogan's real life backstage life in wrestling, is hilarious); and whose attempt at hiring a sexy PR manager to seduce him backfires when she legit falls for him because reasons.

Seriously, do you have to, like kinda-sorta invent the UFC and in the process find a presumably unstoppable monster who loves to hurt people and has no problem with paralyzing a dude and maybe a little light murder?

Oh, wait, that might actually work...

So, yeah. It's all pretty ridiculous, but it steers headlong and at full speed into that ridiculousness, without seat belts or crash helmet. Most movies about pro wrestling present pro wrestling as a 100% legitimate sporting endeavor, but this goes so far above and beyond this conceit that not only is it all supposed to be real, but entire entertainment empires live or die based upon it.

Also, we have a champion and hero who is so important, good, and pure that he can wake the comatose and help them walk again through the sheer power of his love and support. That's a pretty big step beyond "train, say your prayers, eatcher vitamins, brother;" it's wrestler as Christ figure, which is a more cartoonish idea than anything even presented on Hogan's actual cartoon series, a show that once depicted Tito Santana using tacos as fishing bait.

Which goes to show that pretty much everything the Hulkster is involved with is equal parts bananapantsedly crazy and problematic. Guess we always should've known.

The one big win.

The aftermath of my father passing away inevitably involved my mom selling their house and moving into a smaller place of her own.  This process led to the often reluctant clearing out of old items from every nook and cranny in that house (60 years of marriage leads to the accumulation of a lot of stuff), and the eventual discovery of the box of every assignment, story, art project, report card, and school-related everything.  Most of it ended up getting tossed because I'm not that sentimental about school things but my 8th grade science fair medal went on the small keep pile and I'll tell you why. 

My 8th grade science teacher was a jerk, the sort of guy who didn't just yell or discipline his students, but would outright bully them. He hated the project my partner and I made (something about growing plants through hyrdroponics in the absence of usable topsoil) - and not even on the basis of the actual information; mostly just that our stupid posterboard wasn't neat enough or something.  He made us stand there after we finished and proceeded to belittle our us and project in front of the whole class, and then actively encouraged our classmates to make fun of us verbally and in their written comments (one of them literally said nothing other then "Your shirt is dumb and so is your haircut," which the teacher enjoyed).  Finally, he gave us a D.  Science was our last class of the day and we walked home humiliated and feeling about 6 inches tall.

We went into the schoolwide science fair the next night a little discouraged, to say the least.  We stuck it out, though, explained our project to all the students, parents, and judges that walked by... and were completely gobsmacked at the end of the evening when they announced we won 2nd place in the life sciences category (1st place went to a kid who demonstrated the circulatory system using an actual cow's heart... a little gross but, you know, valid decision there, can't fault that).

This was a big win for me.  Not just because we got a medal or anything, but middle school was... a tough time.  Three long, awkward, terrible years, and victories were pretty much non-existent.  Overcoming the mockery of not just students, but a teacher(!), who really should have known and acted better not just on that day but every day, that was huge.  If I was only going to get one moment to shine in that entire period of my life, that was a hell of a moment to have.

The next day, we went into science class, put our shiny new 2nd place medals on that teacher's desk and said "we'd like to renegotiate our grade." 

He looked humbled, to say the least, but still tried to argue that second place merited a B. 

We held out until he relented and gave us an A-, because fuck that guy.