Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wonder Woman: the Movie

Wonder Woman and her Howling Commandos:
Saïd Taghmadui as Sameer, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Eugene Brave Rock as the Chief, and Ewen Bremner as Charlie. (Clay Enos / Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Needless to say, SPOILERS.

It’s about time Wondie got her own movie! Good for her: it broke some gender-related records, and lots and lots of people have said it was the BEST MOVIE EVAH! People stop me all the time to ask or even gush about the movie. Wondie is Queen of the Univerrrrrse! (I prefer to think of her as King of the Univerrrrrse! because of the reasons Patricia C. Wrede laid out so well in Dealing with Dragons: there is a conceptual difference people make between “queen” and “king,” and if you want to include respect, power, competence, etc, into a title, the word is “king.” Thus her book has a female king of dragons.)

DC has a terrible record for its modern movies. The Batman ones I can’t even watch (then again, I’ve never been a Bats fan.) The Superman movies portrayed a character I found hard to identify as Supes. It was all about power and special effects and, well, the need to be selfish. Superman = selfish? No. Not ever. As for BvS… You’re kidding, right? Oh man, I’d bet that in this movie they’d change Hippolyta’s name to “Martha.” Hippomartha = “Martha of the horse.”

The post-2010 WW comics have been, with some delightful exceptions, AWFUL. I cannot recognize Wonder Woman in them. They reek of patriarchal themes, something Wondie should NEVER allow. (It’s fine for other heroines. They operate in a patriarchal society, grew up there, have to smile and bear the worst which brings its own problems and ways of dealing with things, but we’re talking WONDER WOMAN, who arrives with a Different Idea.)

Let me just state right here that I LOVED 85% of this movie! Love, love, love. It was only when they got completely off-course with the Wondie mythos or with feminism, or brought in Undefined Magic, that they lost me. Completely. Needless to say, this review tends to linger on those defects instead of the good points. Sorry about that.

I tried to keep an open mind even as the first reviews were reported to be outstanding. My hopes began to rise but I tamped them down. If I went in neutrally, if the movie were good I’d be on a high for days, maybe years. Fingers crossed, though previews (and that awful BvS) showed Wondie wearing a Xena-esque outfit — no bright colors, no spangles — and wielding a sword and shield, the latter of which seemed to mirror that of Capt. America.

The real Wondie doesn’t use a sword and shield unless she’s in some kind of S&S storyline. Swords are for maiming and killing. Wonder Woman is not about maiming and killing. Hers is a story of nurturing, with fighting kept only for when all other solutions have been exhausted.

Oh well, previews can often be misleading, so I got my popcorn and took my seat. Eventually ten other people filed in. (At least two had brought their cells, which they utilized during the movie. One couple decided that they’d have a loud discussion at several points, which meant that I might have missed some plot explanations. Why don’t people have respect for others? [points at offenders] Ares: kill!)

I had problems with a slice at the beginning and from the climax onward. The climax also brought questions about that beginning, now that we could put things in context. Bear with me because I’ll crawl through all the holes that appeared upon viewing and looking back when that climax hit, before we get to the Good Part.

The Origin Sequence (the hero in the “ordinary world” where the world isn’t all that ordinary) was pretty cool. That little Diana actress did an excellent job, with facial expressions that could portray all kinds of mischief. We’ll be seeing more of her, I’m sure, but just not in WW movies. (Fans will clamor for her to play Hippolyta in Wonder Woman XXII.)

I’d have liked to have seen the “why” of the Amazons more, seen them helping each other instead of having endless war training. I wanted to see that the core of WW was founded on kindness, wisdom, maybe even some cultural growth (yin qualities) through the thousands of years they’ve been there, and not merely martial skills (yang qualities) which are outdated before the second reel begins. We saw that Amazons could outdo men at stereotypical male jobs, but where were the female ones? Why couldn’t they celebrate traditional female roles in society and expound upon them? Why couldn’t we see the Amazons caring for each other, building their community, engaging in the arts, expanding their technology, farming and herding, etc etc? Why didn’t Diana know what holding hands meant?

The goal of women is NOT to become men with boobs. The goal is to find a balance of yin and yang that pleases each individual. The goal is to celebrate each quality.

A quick background shot of Amazons working together to make a beautiful sculpture, perhaps with laser tools (or better), and of flying platforms, people hugging… Even on the practice field, people could have helped others after a violent clash, hugged, held hands… I didn’t notice such, not to serious extent. Did you? Why is the feminine side of women being shoved aside?

Amazons = Diana’s foundation. Let us see what the Amazons are, and we’ll know what Diana is as well. She is their mirror, though she still has a lot to learn.

But it’s a grim world out there, full of wars and war videogames. The only way to get the audience to respect the Amazons seems to be by making them primarily warriors. (What was their true excuse for devoting themselves almost exclusively to island defense for thousands of years?) We did get an extensive Training sequence, which was exciting indeed (unless you realize that people need to learn other things besides war). (I always worried about Harry Potter not taking British history courses or spelling, math, or philosophy.) However. I am no fan of speed ramping during action sequences. In my opinion it becomes more a “Hey! Look what we can do!” (HLWWCD) gimmick akin to lens flares and other substitutes for dangling jingling keys in front of children’s faces to keep them mesmerized. In this movie speed ramping was a constant element as was Shaky Camera (which means I can’t tell what’s going on). Yawn.

During these training sequences we not only had speed ramping, but weird, exaggerated action in which our Amazons didn’t merely do sword play, but leapt to do it, a la Brad Pitt’s once-unique Achilles (swoon) action in Troy. They not only leapt, but twirled and somersaulted before chopping away with their sword or letting off multiple arrows at once. (Why wasn’t there MORE BLOOD?) This after they’ve jumped off towering cliffs, somersaulting the entire time.

Puh-lease. Didn’t early movie rumors say that the movie Amazons would be Kryptonians? This made it seem like someone had held on to that idea.

So that was a bit of a sour note, but what had come before made it worse: the history of the Amazons given to young Diana. It seems that Ares had KILLED OFF ALL THE GODS except Zeus, and that Zeus eventually died from his hands. This was after Zeus created both humans and Amazons.

All hail Zeus.

(Does “all the gods” include just the Olympian Twelve, or every last mystical being in the Greek mythological realm? Are the Titans etc still around? How about Asgardians? The Shinto gods? The gods of Mars? Etc?)

There is NO version of Greek myth I can think of that has Zeus creating mankind. Many people back then, who had no access to libraries or Wiki, thought that humans originated from the earth, just as plants did. Eventually they became so evil that Zeus sent a great flood, from which only Pyrrha and her husband Deucalion were saved. They threw bones over their shoulders, from which grew a new race of men, which then populated the earth.

OR Hesiod’s poetry records that Prometheus sculpted the first man and Athena gave him life. Prometheus and his brother gave man all kinds of gifts (including fire), and Zeus didn’t like that. He didn’t like man in general. So he ordered Hephaestus to make what would be the first woman: Pandora. http://ancient-greece.org/culture/mythology/origins-of-man.html

(Note: in SvB Luthor cites the Prometheus origin with Diana listening in the audience. She doesn’t correct or even raise a dismissive eyebrow.)

When this movie sets up Zeus as not only the creator of mankind and the Amazons, then presents a War in Heaven/Olympus, from which only Zeus and the Bad God (Ares) remain, they are presenting a Christian view of the universe, not a Greek mythology one. Zeus = Yahweh (though he eventually died) and Ares = Satan. That leaves Diana to be…

Pardon me, I just lost my lunch.

Besides, I thought DC set up Superman to be New Jesus back in 1978 with the Chris Reeve Superman movie. I HATED that, you just know it. Superman might, possibly MIGHT be New Moses, but on the whole his dad (not his mom. He might as well not have had a mother) (which is funny, because in this movie as well as the nu52 and on, Diana might as well not have had a mother either) sent him to Earth because, duh, their world was exploding and this way the kid would live. There was no mission for Kal other than survival.

Gah. Writers who try to get all Biblical with their themes. Ugh. Ptui.

Why take the gods away from Wonder Woman? GREEK GODS ARE A HUGE PART OF THE FUN OF THE MYTHOS! Remember “fun”? In the comics we see Diana invoking them: “Great Hera!” “Athena guide my aim!” etc. We did hear that Hestia had created the Magic Lasso (no Gaea or Hephaestus here), but that was a side point.

WONDER WOMAN SHOULD HAVE GODS IN HER STORY.
And by that I DON’T (!!!!!! x infinity) mean that Diana should be a god!!! (x infinity)

I thought Wonder Woman was an all-female thing. One of the basics of her mythos is that she and her people had nothing to do with male anything.

THAT’S THE ENTIRE POINT.

Besides, if Zeus died thousands of years before but had fathered Diana, how was she in her twenties now? She is mentally QUITE young, so don’t tell me she’s thousands of years old, but ageless. Do we yet have an Osiris-kind of dead penis story to incorporate into Diana’s origin?

If the Amazons were immortal and youthful, why did so many have wrinkles? (I am all for using older actresses, but NOT in roles where they are supposed to be eternally youthful! I have the same complaint about Ares later.)

I didn’t understand why the Amazons spoke all languages ever. What was that about? Did I miss something? Why would this… I… What… ??? Uh…

If the sword were fake, why was it on display? How did they know what size to make Diana’s costume/armor? Why didn’t Diana say anything when an Amazon told her she wasn’t an Amazon? If someone is born with the purpose of killing a god, why doesn’t anyone tell her so she’s prepared not only physically but mentally? Why doesn’t Diana need a “training herself” sequence when she discovers her god powers? Oh, that’s right. Instant powers = instant expertise. It’s the stereotypical Millennial Thought Process at work. You don’t have to work to achieve your goals; they are handed to you on a silver platter. (cf: Capt. Kirk of nuStar Trek.)

I ground my teeth and let the first-reel Zeus origin pass. If they left it at this, though the setup made no sense in addition to being blatantly patriarchal, I could stomach it. Maybe.

Good thing that I did, for from that point on, THE MOVIE WAS TERRIFIC!!! (x a large number) Chris Pine drove all thoughts of faux Capt. Kirk (ptui on nuTrek!) from my mind. The script gave him a wide range to act, and he came through with flying colors. Oscar-worthy, even. Gal Gadot received less of a spectrum of emotions to sort through (she’ll have more movies in which to explore them), but the ones she had to work with, she worked fabulously. She does a great “determined” and “confused,” and flexes/poses in a superheroic way very well indeed.

The movie gets SUPER-GIANT BONUS POINTS for the Diana/Steve relationship. Over the decades, I have been driven mad by WW fans who just loooove that Diana set eyes on Steve for the first time and BOOM! that’s why she chose to become Wonder Woman and move to the Outside World. Squee!

Ugh. What a concept, that women are entirely ruled by their emotions. This movie had Diana being curious about Steve as a representative of Man and then as a person. They learn to respect each other, then like each other, then become comrades. And then lovers. But Diana is still Diana and not Steve’s love slave. (And she’d better not have gotten pregnant from that one night!) On the other side of the coin, Steve’s reaction to Diana was everything we could ask from a 21st century man, even though the story was set 100 years earlier. Theresa Jusino over at the Mary Sue gave an extraordinary review of the movie relationship. Bravo!

I didn’t understand how people could just fall asleep on a sailboat (no one steers or watches out in a war venue?) from the shores of Themyscira and then wake up in London. ??? I saw someone theorize that Steve’s plane had ditched in the English Channel, where Themyscira was. That’s a stretch. It needed to be explained. A simple: “We’ve been out here for days. England at last!” would have sufficed.

Ah, but London! I LOVED the costumes! I LOVED the sets! Heart, heart, heart! And Etta!!!! This movie had much too little Etta. Many people have pointed out that almost all her scenes were represented in the trailers. Someone somewhere realized this gem of a part, but no one in the actual movie seemed to. More Etta! More Etta! Shout it with me! Woo woo! And there was a quick mention of women’s suffrage, which I hope the next movie will address.

I loved Diana’s outfit. That hat! That hat!!!

The use of the Lasso was pretty great. I mean, it was never meant to be used as an offensive weapon but rather as a tool, so I winced when she used it to whip people. Darn you, Greg Rucka, for starting that business anyway. But as an effect it was super cool, all glowy and animated. I also liked the way the TV pilot/movie of a few years ago used it. There it had a “snap” sometimes, which added to its ambiance of power.

I had fully expected for WW not to have a sense of humor. You know, feminists don't. :-( But here she was, cracking a smile and even a joke on occasion. Hurray!

Dr. Poison’s facial mask/makeup was chilling. Kudos to the designer who made a very different look from the comics — a far superior one. It left enough of her face there to be startling. I didn’t understand why she didn’t get more airtime than the other villains. She deserved it. Creeeepy!

The “super energy” potion was a solid red herring that tied well into Poison’s MO, especially when the real bad guy turned out to be sweet, doomed Prof. Lupin. Wah! I hated that he had to die. Professor Lupin, your kid turned out just fine! Oh, but now he was Ares, a god who, because he was a god, could do ANYTHING. (Yawn.) (Except be young. Why is that? A makeup change at the Reveal would have solved this.) This is called Undefined Magic, and it is (imho) one of the all-time laziest ways to write. A MAJOR pet peeve of mine. Magic should be defined as any other element in a plot is, so the reader/watcher can “play along,” knowing the rules.

Undefined Magic has no rules. Undefined magic in modern movies means: time to blow the SFX budget! HLWWCD! Dazzle the audience so they don’t have time to think that it all makes no sense! Boo! Or worse: Zzz.

Dr. Strange can pull it off because (1) undefined magic is his ENTIRE thing, and (2) even he has a rule or two, and (3) his movie SFX were unique and uber-cool. Even so, I’ve never been a fan. Undefined magic, you know. And Clea was always such a wimp.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. We had cute little “playing with the concept” Act II sequences in London, and then the “gathering of the allies,” though they looked more like the Howling Commandos. This movie had been set in WWI instead of WWII I thought to minimize resemblances to Captain America. Now here we were with a mix of ethnic types — not terribly stereotyped, thank goodness, but on the brink — with whom to form our little troupe. I was very disappointed that Etta didn’t tag along.

If I weren’t happily engrossed in all the goodness this movie offered, I might be able to parse it more and add a few dozen more pages to this review, but la la la, I was too busy enjoying.

There was that magnificent Trenches Scene that everyone loves and for good reason, as Wondie steps out in her Xena costume for the first time, to inspire others to follow. She was determined in a very yin way but through yang actions, to save the helpless and ignite the courage and ethics of the men around her. This is what Wonder Woman is about! The Empowerer. Yes! HLWWCD, but I could overlook that because of the emotional impact of the situation at hand.

OMG, that blue dress. If they’d just had a half hour of Gal walking around in that dress, I would have been satisfied that my money had been well-spent. It was stunning! Give the designer an Oscar, hands down.

Action sequences, action sequences, falling in love scene, (tastefully) falling into bed scene, action sequences… and that nice bit between Steve and Dr. Poison at the ball, very nuanced. All excellent stuff. Red herring… By this time, it was a little obvious that Prof. Lupin was Ares. Sword utilized and then destroyed. Big reveal:

Diana is a god.

NO!!!! I almost stood up and screamed some four-letter words at the screen.

DIANA IS NOT A GOD!!! That goes against every shred of how her character has been constructed. DIANA DOES NOT HAVE A FATHER!!!

DAMNED PATRIARCHY GOT TO WONDER WOMAN!!!!

No, no, an infinity of times NO!!!!!

I pretty much withdrew into myself at this point. The movie paled despite its attempts to amaze me with SFX. I mean, the movie HAD ME GOING and then they pulled the rug out from under me AND hit me on the head with a heavy skillet. No respect for me as a viewer or fan. No respect for Wonder Woman.

Damned, damned patriarchy.

There was no need for anyone’s brain to function now. Bright effects. Computers doing overtime on SFX. Wham! HLWWCD! Crash! Bzzap! Lightning! Diana has immediate and full use of her deus ex machina powers.

MIGHT = RIGHT

(This is me retching.)

Diana’s lightning is brighter and costs more than Ares’, so he dies. Steve dies (the movie gets some bonus points for this due to Stevie’s putrid history in my eyes, though the movie done him good).

Someone mentioned on teh Webz that the reason Ares was after the Armistice instead of prolonging the war, was because the Armistice was so indecent that it directly led to World War II, which was so much larger than WWI. Okay, I’ll take that even though during the movie I was really wondering about it. A line or two of explanation, please, Mr. Heinberg? While you’re at it, could you please sew up all these plot holes?

So we’re left with Diana staying in Man’s World for 100 years to help make things better. We next see her in the Present Day, where she works in the Louvre in some unnoticed but well-dressed position.

Let me get this straight: a GOD determined to HELP HUMANKIND has been with us in the flesh for ONE HUNDRED YEARS and… nothing has changed? Why can’t infinite god Diana snap her fingers and make things right? She could change the hearts of people. If not (and perhaps this movie suggests that’s the one thing a god cannot do), she can certainly snap her fingers and change everything else.

Why hasn’t she?

Why didn’t she just snap her fingers in BvS and solve everything?

Was DC so scared that a woman might outshine their Big Two, that they completely diminished her impact on the world?

During the course of the ENTIRE movie, no one ever uttered the words “Wonder Woman.” I think this is a part of the disrespect. History seems to have forgotten her or never noticed her to begin with. After all, she's just a woman. Less than that: she is merely a tool of the great Father Zeus. All hail Zeus.

Well. Well. Cut out the origin, give the Amazons more yin qualities so that we can see where Diana gets her heart from and truly salute the female spirit… then completely ignore the climax and all that came after that, and you’ve got a Great Movie.

As it is, I give it an 8.5 out of 10, and that’s being generous because the bad parts were VERY bad, though the good parts were the majority of the movie.


PS: Diana is NOT a god, nor does she have a father. Period.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Brushing up the blog a bit


Used to be, if I finished one painting a year I considered myself quite accomplished indeed. Well, sort of. After a while I tried and tried to do more painting, but it wasn't until I found that I had acquired a corner wall in a local restaurant all to myself -- a place to hang two paintings, no more, no less -- that I got on the ball. Those paintings had to be changed out every two months--at least.

Only a few times have I had to use old paintings to fill my slot. Restaurant walls are difficult to come by; I didn't want to lose mine. The market for such is sharp. I was lucky to find my two nails at the Saratoga Grill. I love them, even though they usually fall out a few times as I'm hanging the new work.

Here's what I just took down today:


"Castle of the Highlands"
36x24" oil over acrylic
stretched canvas, $850
Ardverikie Castle, Scotland
"Red Roof in the Stow"
18x24" oil over acrylic
stretched canvas, $450
Stow-on-the-Wold, England
And here's what I put up in their place:
"Sheep May Safely Graze"
18x24" oil over acrylic
stretched canvas  NFS
about an hour below Edinburgh, Scotland
"Heavenly Fire"
18x24" oil over acrylic
stretched canvas $450
Atlantic Beach, NC


So I've been a bit busy, as these take a full two months of work to produce! But just to make things more difficult on myself (why do I do these things? My guides insist I need to learn to FOCUS), I took a 5-day quick-painting challenge. The goal was to do a 20-minute painting every day for 5 days and make a series. What did I have around the house that a series could be made of? Hmm… And then I took about two hours + working on each painting. I got these done in about two weeksf.
"Wondie's Watching"
10x8" acrylic on Gessobord
$100

"Wise as Athena"
10x8" acrylic on Gessobord
$100

"Three Times the Wonder"
8x10 acrylic on Gessobord
$100

"Sisters"
8x10 acrylic on Gessobord
$100

"The Invisible Visible"
8x10 acrylic on Gessobord
$100

I hope you like them! I hope you want to BUY them! If you do, contact me. If you like them but want something a little more inexpensive, try a print instead. Or a mug. Or even a shower curtain. Fine Art America offers all these. You can find them here.

So now you think I'll run from the computer to paint since I've created such a good habit? Heck, no! I have a book to finish! I'll do a little writing, a little painting… And since it's spring, a little yard work as well. And oh yeah, there's a new Wondie movie out today...


Monday, March 20, 2017

review: Wonder Woman, the True Amazon



Wonder Woman: The True Amazon
by Jill Thompson, writer and artist
Jim Chadwick, editor
2016

So often I hear people say that Wonder Woman has had NO good stories told about her. I want to scream. Then others will list their Top 10 WW Stories, and again I scream, because they're usually quite recent stories, and very often quite awful ones. Yes, Wondie has had TERRIFIC stories... but not enough. Too often the staff given her does not respect her or just doesn't have talent and/or inspiration, and Editorial lets them get away with offering substandard material.

But now we were going to have a WW graphic novel! Oh boy! Graphic novels are for special, quality stories (unless they concern themselves with alternate-world scenarios which there are far too many of. But those happen to characters and groups that have had lots of great stories already told elsewhere).

Jill Thompson would be on Wondie again. This should be good! Judging from the hype and knowing her quirky style, I imagine this will be a fine kids' book. I mean: Jill Thompson! Wondie! Kids don't have access to the kind of comics I was able to revel in when I was young. Why, when I was VERY young, I had Kanigher/Andru & Esposito's Wonder Family tales to amaze me. They were PERFECT for kids of that era. This book is rated 12+, which is older than what I'd supposed. Well, let's dig into it and see.
Diana grows up. See? Kid-friendly stuff!
The first page is a lovely watercolor of Paradise Island. Then we’re introduced to the Amazons, who are five times stronger than men and brave in battle. We get a quick origin: 

The land of the Amazons is called “Amazonium.” (No, that's not treated as a metal here.) The king of Mycenae claims that Amazon queen Hippolyta has tried to steal his daughter away from him. Therefore, he sends Herakles to conquer the Amazons and take her Golden Girdle so the daughter will see the error of her ways. (In the actual myths, daughter Admeta demanded the Girdle for her own, so Daddy sent Herk to get it for her. Why change the myth?)

Herk declares war on the Amazons and we see lots of slaughter. Not kid-friendly! Well, the action and narrative were rather vague, so maybe it was okay. I was struck by the way Thompson had Hippolyta step back from her DUTY to face Herakles in combat and let some redshirt do it instead. This is not how things were done back then. Kings and generals fought each other in person; only the infirm and cowardly did not.

As more armies joined Herk, the losing Amazons sued for peace. Instead, Herakles chained the queen. Zeus watched and lusted over her, deciding to disguise himself as one of Herk’s men and go to her (how kid-friendly!), but Hera overheard and sent a ship for the Amazons to escape to, away from both her husband and Herk. A confusing scene involving a VERY large, distracting helmet shows us the queen slipping out of Herk’s grasp while he’s able to saw her girdle off her with a knife. (But not skewer her while doing so. ???)

Then we come to some pages about life in Themyscira, where the Amazons busy themselves with peace and the arts. But Hippy wants one thing more: a child. Every evening she sculpts a baby in the sands of the island and sings a love song to it. We see her song spreading across the ocean and up to the heavens, to Olympus itself. Everyone is charmed by it.

And I thought okay, forget all the violence and this is shaping up to be a very nice kid’s book. Lovely, magical stuff!

The gods are so moved by the song they weep, and their tears endow the sculpture with life. Diana is born! The nation celebrates and “they poured all of their energy into granting her every desire.”

This is Silver Platter Diana*, one that automatically got her powers without working for them. (FYI: I'm a firm believer in Amazon Training.) She is spoiled “and no one ever told her ‘no.’” Diana grows up a conceited bully. Her nation just smiles at her and makes things worse. She blames others for her misdeeds.

Oh no! This is an Alternate Universe Diana after all! Somebody kill me now.

When she hears of mysterious, evil creatures on the island, the now-grown Diana sets off to conquer them — and gain the treasures they guard. Her feats are celebrated except by Alethea, who tends the queen’s horses. She gives Diana the cold shoulder. Diana tries to bribe her, but Alethea says, “My friendship cannot be bought…. I am loved by a person’s honest actions and how they treat those around them.”


Vow to be Worthy #1
So Diana sets off to prove she does that more than anyone else. Then, when it comes time for an annual festival to commemorate the nation’s warrior past, Diana enters to win “for the champion is the best of all Amazons and must embody all of the qualities that Alethea admires!” (Though the championship seems to be a reward for physical prowess and not that plus good character.)

Interestingly enough, there are several others who are in Diana’s range of power and abilities, and she’s not sure of being the winner. During a chariot race she panics, decides to distract her competitors’ horses, and uses a magic horn to release the horrific creatures she’d once imprisoned. Though Diana crosses the finish line first, the creatures kill horses and severely injure Amazons. As the battle rages, the others try to protect themselves, and one, to protect Diana. That Amazon is ravaged by a monster and dies, while the rest of the monsters escape to all corners.
Alethea, acting honorably and bravely.

The story goes into detail about the terrifying injuries many Amazons suffered, and how horses had to be euthanized. Great kiddie material there. And of course the dead Amazon is Alethea.

Note how the language is definitely kiddie-level. Too bad the story and art are not.
The queen arrives to ask what has caused this horror, and all fingers point at Diana. The queen realizes that spoiling Diana has led her to this. “There must be an atonement.” (Of course the queen doesn't call punishment on herself or the other Amazons for having raised a kid this way.)

Diana makes a private vow: “Never will I rest until I have undone the wrongs I have committed… I dedicate my eternal life to serving others and using my gifts for altruism and not gain.” Yeah, like she paid attention to her first vow. And "altruism" is likely outside the vocabulary of a 12-year-old.
Vow to be Worthy #2
The next day, as the other Amazons yell at the queen to kill Diana, torture her, whatever, others ask what would Diana’s death serve? The queen calls Diana and garbs her in an outfit much like a regular WW outfit (and mimicking what Alethea had worn in the contest), with few exceptions. “This enchanted crown that you so coveted shall be upon your brow like a crown of thorns…” Why mention a Christian motif here?
Posing for the Action Figure in an outfit that declares her to be a pariah.

The the queen banishes her until she has paid for her treachery. We see her getting in a rowboat and eventually finding land.


So let me get this straight: Bad, bad Diana makes a vow that she’ll be such a good person that Alethea will like her. Then she goes crazy and deliberately unleashes a horror upon her sisters so she can win a contest. Then Diana makes a vow what she’ll be such a good person that dead Alethea will like her. Then she goes into the Outer World… End book.

Okay, the final panel says: "...And even now she wanders the world, defending the weak, righting wrongs and fighting evil. But those are stories for another day."

NO!!! Those are stories for a graphic novel! Stories set in the mainstream DC universe, showing us what a GREAT CHARACTER Wonder Woman is!!!! Not some story telling us that she's a sleaze.

Do we have ANY clue that this Diana will actually heed her vow? We’ve seen that vows don’t mean much to Diana. Why should we believe one small narrative panel? Why didn't we get PROOF that Diana had abided by -- or failed -- her vow? The plot completely lacks an ending.

This book is entitled Wonder Woman: The True Amazon. Yet it doesn't tell a story about anyone like that. If writers don’t want to write about Wonder Woman, why can’t they come up with original characters to write about instead of soiling established heroes? Especially ones who need all the positive, quality, respectful stories they can get?

By artistic and writing style, this would seem to be a book for kids — very likely kids wanting to know more about Wonder Woman. But this is not Wonder Woman. And the violence depicted is not kiddie material.

Part of the back material (there are a lot of “the making of this book” kind of pages) is “designing the Wonder Woman statue.” Perhaps this is the end-all: to give an excuse for yet another variant WW statue. (Yawn.)

Such a disappointment. Imagine if the book had been a charming children’s story about Diana growing up. Imagine if it had been aimed at middle schoolers, grade schoolers, high schoolers, or adults. (Choose one group and remember not to talk down to kids.)

It is a mystery to me why DC would not take the chance at a graphic novel to say: Look here! Here's the character you know! Here's a great, heroic story about her! If you're new to Wonder Woman, we'll show you why you should not only be interested in her, but excited with her legend. This story is true to her mythos, reiterates what the general public knows about her, and shows that she's still a vibrant concept in the 21st Century. Plus, did we say? -- it's a great story!

----
*Post-Crisis Diana was also (so unfortunately) Silver Platter Diana, as have been the majority if not all of the versions since. The early Silver Age WW was also technically Silver Platter (we saw the gods blessing her at birth, though that, like WW's "beautiful as Aphrodite, etc." intro lines, could be written off as hyped-up language written by a poet who didn't mind being smitten by jealous gods), though she often referred to (and sometimes we saw) constant physical Amazon Training. Even Wolfman's original screwed-up origin of Donna Troy mentioned the importance of Amazon Training. Being a mere female, WW often had to be shown as having not had to WORK, much less WORK HARD to be who and where she was. [Insert "loser" buzzer sound here.]

Superman didn't have to do a thing for his powers except sunbathe now and then. Batman? Had to WORK and train to keep his skills sharp. Which character is more popular, hm?

Monday, March 13, 2017

The next wave of medicine


I hate driving at night. You can't get me to go out on Saturday night, the night drunk drivers so love. But I attended an event for the Rhine Research Center last night, a Saturday. Usually they meet at the Whatshisface Theater, but this time they met at Dook's Episcopal Center. Funding problems? Well, this was their spring fundraising event. They're trying for $10,000. About 100 people attended.

For the first hour, we honored Dr. John Palmer, who's been editor of The Journal of Parapsychology for some 25 years or so. He received the J.B. and Louisa [pronounced with a long "i"] Rhine Distinguished Service Award.


Dr. John Palmer

Dr. Palmer was called the "rock star" of parapsychology. If papers came in to the journal whose methodology wasn't up to his standard of snuff, he sent them back for more work. The Rhines's daughter, Sally Feather*, talked fondly about him for a while, and others came up to do the same, such as Joe McMoneagle, the astounding remote viewer (and out of body traveler, though the two may be the same thing; studies are ongoing about that) who worked (works?) for the government in their now-somewhat-declassified "Stargate" section. (This was well before any Stargate sf stuff.) McMoneagle told us "the best science in the world is being done in the paranormal." It has to be exacting. It has to be replicable. It has to be SCIENCE.

The Rhine Center must have been a crazy place back in the 50s and 60s. People talked of the wild weekly parties they had. (Barbara Ensrud, the head of the Board of the Directors, mused afterward: "We need to have more parties.") There was one fellow who, every time he saw Dr. Palmer, tackled him (accompanied by others) and placed his hand on his forehead, bellowing (and here the guy telling the story also bellowed) "IN THE NAME OF JAY-ZUS! HEAL!" No matter how quietly Dr. Palmer snuck in, the guy would tackle him.

Funny stuff, congratulations, and best of luck and health to Dr. Palmer on his retirement! But that's not what we're here for in this column.


Like I said:
The Next Wave of Medicine

Guest speaker for the night was Dr. William (Bill) Bengston. I've raved elsewhere about his first book, The Energy Cure. Last night he told us that he didn't come up with that title; his publishers did. He insisted that energy has nothing to do with psychic healing, at least the kind he's investigating. However, "The Energy Cure" sells books, so that was that.

He first got into psychic healing when he was 22 and a psychic healed his back. He studied with the man for years, eventually becoming an expert in it himself, but was troubled because he didn't know how he was accomplishing whatever it was he was accomplishing.

In the meantime he'd been studying to be and eventually becoming a professor in sociology. For the past 30 years he has also been conducting rigorously scientific tests of "psychic healing." These tests can easily be -- and have been -- replicated around the world, over and over.




Last night he said that he'd gotten to the point where, if a test had been done 300 times with the same results, he didn't see a reason to do it the 301st time. He says it's time to put the studies into practical use.

What has been done mostly in the experiments, or at least that I've heard about, is injecting mice with breast cancer cells, far above the amount that are usually done in tests. The control mice live for about 20-some days. The others that are worked on... Well, they develop tumors. The tumors get ulcerated. Then the tumor implodes, completely disappearing. The mice are cancer-free.

The mice are injected with more cancer cells. They don't develop cancer. Blood from these mice is injected into infected mice. Their cancer disappears and, again, they never develop cancer again. They are IMMUNE.

This all comes from holding the mice cages. The infected mice gather around the holder's left hand. Once they've (the researchers guess) received the dose they need, they exit the mob. When all have received the dose, or when they're all healed, they ignore the hand. (Children will also do this, wandering away when they've had enough.)

In addition to mice, people have been included as being the healees.

Sessions have been done in shielding steel vaults with all kinds of electronic detecting devices inside. No energies have been detected. (The Rhine, which is conducting independent tests with the method, says they've detected "biophotons," but will test further.)

And get this: a person can "charge" some materials, like cotton and water. Those materials can be sent to a sick person and heal them. You can take the cotton material, cut it in half, give it to Person A with condition X, then cut the remaining material in half again and give it to Person B with condition Y, and Person C with Condition Z... and they will all be cured. The same energy can cure different conditions.

The talk last night said they were concentrating on various cancers and Alzheimer's, which get excellent results. Dr. Bengston showed us slides of how they check down to the gene to see what exactly is being affected.

The method is non-linear. This means it goes up and down. You can show a lot of healing one day, and after the next healing things seem to go backward, and then the next one heals things completely. Dr. Bengston is eager to begin experiments to see if one can heal illness retroactively. !

But wait! You don't need blood or cotton or water to heal. Inside those steel containers they made sound recordings during a healing session, which consisted pretty much of breathing or silence, I would suppose (maybe some innocuous chatting, because the technique requires one to NOT think about healing while doing it). When played to psychic sensitives, the sensitive could tell when the healing was taking place, as if a nova hard just gone off.

And other subjects were healed just by listening to the tape.


Is there an app for that?


It'll be coming up, if some tests coming through in the next few weeks hold with the theory. For 99 cents you'll be able to listen to your iPad and be healed.

Bengston said the scientific community and public attitudes are changing toward all areas of parapsychology. Younger people don't want to know about proof. They want to know what you can do with it. When Bengston speaks to doctors at universities, he finds that the smaller lecture rooms he usually is booked in have three times the amount of people trying to hear him than can be accommodated. Instead, video has to be set up so everyone can be seated in other rooms to listen. Before he leaves, he often gets invitations to set up experiments at that university, which is why he currently has studies going in ten or so universities around the US.

Again, energy healing has nothing to do with energy, he thinks. It's more a condition of CONSCIOUSNESS, which many believe to be the next HUGE thing in science. He talks of resonant bonding between healer and healee, as well as how placebos work, which seems to be part of this "meaning field" that psychic healing sets up. It is selected by consciousness. "Life responds when it has a need."

The energy in this method is radiated from the left hand. People who use this method for a while, though right-handed from birth, find that they've become left-handed. How cool is that?

And Dr. Bengston  says that he tries to choose non-believers or sorta agnostics to healing as the people who do the method. Believers don't do so well with it, which left me wondering how people who do this often and see positive results, don't qualify as "believers." Hm.

Dr. Bengston told us that because people who try healing with the intent of doing healing often get bad results, if we got sick, perhaps the last person we wanted to see was a medical doctor. (He's a really funny guy! Had us in stitches.) At this point, someone in the audience offered a well-known anecdote: When Israeli doctors went on strike, the nation's mortality rate decreased for the duration.

Anyway, a fascinating, fascinating talk with lots of slides showing test results (but not excruciating test results, as this was a talk for the Rhine supporters and not the medical establishment). The FDA will not be able to control a 99-cent app that does not promise healing but rather says, "try it and maybe it will work for you." Look for this VERY soon, and look for the studies to expand to illnesses besides cancer and Alzheimer's.

The Rhine has many studies in this area slated for 2017-2018. I want to join one of their healing groups, which is trained in (but not by) Dr. Bengston's methods (look up those here). But the Rhine is always struggling for funds. This spring they're offering a raffle with all kinds of keen prizes. The top prize is a trip to Tuscany, Italy. There are also trips to West Palm Beach, psychic readings, and Journal subscriptions, which I already get because I'm a member, darn.

Again, that website for the raffle is https://go.rallyup.com/rhine-1. Support the Rhine!
----


*I looked up J.B. on Wiki to try to discover Sally's last name, and instead found this line: "Rhine's results have never been duplicated by the scientific community." Which of course is pure, 100% hooey. All the major divisions of parapsychology have been quite scientifically proven and successfully retested around the world, many for some 100 years now. Wiki does NOT like the Rhine or anything to do with parapsychology. They post lots of disinformation ("alternative facts") about it.