Sunday, October 19, 2008

Long Live Douchebaggery!

A while back I got a bill for my home insurance, which struck me as odd, as I’d thought that my insurance payments were paid via my mortgage’s escrow account.
I meant to call my insurance agent about it, but kept forgetting, and then the payment date kept getting closer, so, figuring that I’d be better safe than sorry, I just paid it, with the intention of calling my agent and finding out what the deal was.
Then the forgetfulness kicked back in.
In any case, yesterday I got a refund check from my insurance company that answered the question (which, in the back of my mind – in the area where things like “Remember to call your insurance agent” end up – is kind of what I figured would happen).
So today I ventured out into the world to deposit the check and to pick up the things I forgot to get when I went shopping yesterday.
So that was exciting.
Well, the money part was, at least.
I believe that the toilets in my house are original to the house, and, as such, are older than I am. As a result, they have a tendency to build up rust and lime scale and they do so rather quickly. Within a couple of days of being cleaned they end up looking rather like I imagine the toilet Jeff Daniels used in that scene in Dumb and Dumber did after he was through with it.
So far I haven’t been able to find any product that’s up to the task of keeping them clean, or that can even get them clean without a lot of scrubbing.
There was this Easy Off Bam stuff that I tried that worked like magic. It got them spotless without any scrubbing, and they tended to stay that way for a long time afterwards. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find the stuff again since I ran out.
Yesterday I tried this powder that’s supposed to foam up all the way to the rim and clean the bowl without scrubbing. It wasn’t anywhere near as foamy as claimed, creating maybe a half inch layer of foam atop the water, and it failed to even clean the areas that it actually did reach.
Yeah, I know; this blog is always a source of so many glamorous subjects and imagery.
Anyway, does anyone out there have any suggestions for toilet bowl cleaners? Bear in mind that the crud spreads like some sort of monstrous alien, managing to somehow creep up out of the bowl and form a beachhead on the rim itself, and it’s tenacious.
Alternatively, does anyone know where I can get the Bam toilet bowl cleaner? I see other Bam products at Target, Wal-Mart, and etc., but not the toilet bowl stuff.
And for the record, none of the in-tank stuff (2000 Flushes, etc.) has made a bit of difference.
Moving on to non-toilet bowl-related topics, I mentioned the other day that I might be doing some entries devoted to the Silver Age insanity of the Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane comics I’ve read in Showcase Presents: Superman Family, and I still intend to do so, but I just started reading Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes, and there are a couple of things in there that I want to mention.
A while back, in discussing my exploding head syndrome, I referred to the first appearance of the Legion, and how they proved to be a bunch of douchebags in their treatment of Superboy.
I’d forgotten that they were even worse in their second appearance, in which, show up in Smallville and start stepping in on Superboy’s territory, foiling crimes and disasters before the Boy of Steel can step in and do his thing, then totally dissing him.
I think my favorite example comes from Saturn Girl, whom Superboy compliments after she stops a criminal from shooting a cop. Superboy says, “Nice going, Saturn Girl!” In response, she says, “Who asked you? Kindly keep your unwanted opinion to yourself!”
When the residents of Smallville start expressing their belief that these new super-teens are preferable to their hometown hero – best expressed by a kid in a sailor suit who sticks his tongue out at Superboy, complete with the whole thumbs in the ears hand gesture, and says, “Ya-ya! You ain’t so hot!” – the young hero turns to his adoptive parents for sympathy, only to have Pa Kent say, “So you’re slipping, eh? That’s no excuse to whine!”
The Douchebags of the Future even turn Superboy’s dog against him.
Eventually, feeling unwanted, Superboy flies off into space, where he finds a herd of super-powered beings flying off towards a distant planet. Exercising his newfound “super-lemming” powers, he follows the crowd and finds himself on a planet-sized Superboy museum honoring his many super-deeds, and promptly finds himself getting locked up in a Kryptonite jail cell by the Legion, who explain that using their “future-scope,” they saw Superboy committing a bunch of super-evil deeds five years in his future, and they set up the whole Smallville snubbing him to lure him to this planet, which had originally been constructed in his honor, but which will now be his prison.
(Note that Saturn Girl used her “super-thought-casting powers” to compel the residents of Smallville – and his dog – to turn against Superboy.)
After having failed to give him the benefit of the doubt in the first place, they decide that now is the time to see if he has an explanation for doing the things that he hasn’t actually done yet. Superboy remains mute on the subject, and his silence is used as evidence of his guilt, and he’s locked away forever.
Sometime later, randomly, because why not, everything on the planet transmutes into some element that’s as harmful to his jailers as Kryptonite is to Superboy, and thus Superboy, who is invulnerable to this new element, is free to leave. However, proving that he really is the hero that the Legion used to believe he was before they watched him commit crimes in his future, Superboy lets out a super-yell (For the record, he yells “Yaah!” instead of “Fuck you, you jizz gobbling Future Douchebags,” which is probably what I would have yelled), the vibrations of which transmute everything back into their original state.
Then Saturn Girl receives a mental broadcast from the President (I believe it would have been Eisenhower at this point) asking her to tell Superboy that he is relieving him of his oath of silence.
It turns out that the Legion’s “future-scope” was broken, and rather than showing future events had shown events from the present, and the seemingly evil deeds Superboy had performed had been done at the President’s request in the interests of national security, and that they weren’t evil at all, everybody apologizes to Superboy, and his former prison is restored to its original purpose.
It’s worth pointing out that this story was written long before a 14 year-old Jim Shooter took over the writing chores for Legion stories, which means this story was actually written by an adult.
I want to take a minute to talk about the “future-scope.” It needs to be pointed out that the Legion is from 1,000 years in the future. The records of Superboy’s exploits five years into his future were “lost in a fire,” so the Legion traveled back in time, “future-scope” in tow, so that they could use the “future-scope” to witness events five years in the future.
Take a second to consider that reasoning. Rather than simply traveling back to the period which had been lost to history and observing the events directly, they travel farther back and use an obviously glitchy bit of technology to then look forward into the future so that they can observe them remotely. And apparently while in the 30th century it’s possible to create a device that can look forward in time, it’s not possible to create one that can look backwards.
So, yeah.
Of course, douchebaggery isn’t the sole purview of the Legion. Another Legion story collected in this volume involves the Future Douchebags traveling back in time to offer Supergirl membership in their group just as they had with her cousin when he was her age.
What is of primary interest to me here is not what happened with that Legion adventure (for the record, she passed their initiation, but in the process was exposed to Red Kryptonite, which temporarily transformed her into an adult, making her ineligible for membership in the teens-only club, even though she was, mentally, still a, yeah), but with Supergirl’s plight in general.
When Krypton exploded, a substantial chunk was thrown into space intact. Located on this chunk was Argo City, home of Zor-El, Superman’s uncle.
The citizens of Argo acted quickly, paving the ground, which had been transformed into Kryptonite, with lead, and sealing the remaining atmosphere in with a dome. However, somewhere along the line meteorites crashed through the dome and the lead-lined streets, slowly bringing about the deaths of the city’s residents. Just as his brother had, Zor-El builds a rocket to send his child – Kara Zor-El – to Earth to ensure her survival.
While on Argo, using super-telescopes, the El family had observed the exploits of their relative on Earth, so Kara’s mother fashioned a feminine version of his costume for Kara to wear, and they shipped her off to safety.
Upon arrival, Kara introduced herself to her cousin, and, being young and eager, and idolizing her heroic relative, she wanted to go out into the world and do good, just like her idol.
Of course, Superman wasn’t having it. Having another Kryptonian on Earth – especially a relative – would cramp his super-style, so he made her promise not to reveal her existence “yet,” so that he could keep her in reserve as a “secret weapon,” should the need arise.
Then he dumped her off in an orphanage.
No kindly Mid-Western adoptive parents for you, Kara!
The worst part of it all was that, with his constant admonitions about not going public until “the time was right,” Superman made his younger cousin incredibly neurotic, as she lived in constant fear that she might somehow screw up and reveal her existence to the world. Seriously, damn near every Silver Age Supergirl story revolved around her obsession with keeping her very existence a secret and not letting down her overbearing, attention whore of a cousin*.
Is it any wonder that she eventually morphed into the current version of Supergirl, a rebellious, anorexic, Emo, secret cutter?
Superdickery is right: Superman is a dick.
Anyway, I guess that’s more than enough Silver Age spelunking, though I should mention that this year marked the 50th anniversary of the Legion’s first appearance, a milestone that DC Comics celebrated by cancelling the Legion’s comic. Long Live the Legion! Or, you know, not.
If I do write up the Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen entries, I’ll try also go the extra foot or so and include some scans.

*Besides being kept hidden in an orphanage, she got stuck with the cheesy secret identity of “Linda Lee,” and her only prospects for romance were a dork named Dick Malverne, some dorky merman named Jerro, and her horse. Eventually things did start to look up for Silver Age Supergirl, though, as she was adopted by a nice family named Danvers, she finally got to reveal her existence to the world, became a successful soap opera actress in her civilian identity, and it turned out that her dad was a little trigger-happy when it came to the whole rocket launch thing, as the residents of Argo City managed to survive somehow. I think they put themselves into the Phantom Zone or something, but my memory is fuzzy and I’m too lazy to verify that. Of course, eventually she ended up getting killed in an effort to – surprise! – save her cousin’s life. Also, she got a really, really shitty movie made about her. So, I guess you could say that it ended up being a wash.


lbugsh2 said...

If all else fails you can get it on the internet.

Merlin T Wizard said...

Hah hah hah! Awesome! Stacy did exactly what I was about to do. She beat me to the punch.