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July 2001

Elektra — Assassin, Advertising Whore

Just in case you thought the comic book industry was a hotbed of feminism, think again. sure, it hets a lotof lip service, what with all those strong women flying around, kicking ass, and taking names, but every so often you see something to remind you that women in comics are often more appreciated for their tights and superhuman proportions than their abilities to stand up for themselves. Case in point, this little announcement, this little news item from the Comics Continuum, about Elektra, usually portrayed as one of comicdom's fiercer, tougher, more self-reliant women:

MARVEL MAKEs ELEKTRA A MODEL

Marvel Comics continues to aggressively promote its Elektra character, announcing a deal with Karin Models on Thursday.

Karin Models is an international modeling agency, representing such clients as Rebecca Romijn-stamos and Estella Warren and current Yves saint Laurent girl Liliana Dominguez.

Karin will develop a portfolio for the character that will include drawings from her comic books as well as tailor-made images for advertisers created by Marvel's artists. Just as it would for any other model in its roster, Karin will then pitch Elektra to a wide variety of the world's top companies including clothing, makeup, and jewelry.

"We are going to treat Elektra just like we treat any other top model at Karin," said scott Lipps President, Karin Models. "she's beautiful, sexy and approachable. Quite simply, she is the Ultimate model. The only difference we foresee in representing a comic book character is that she won't be able to go on casting calls."

Marvel vice-president, licensing, Ellen Sevin said, "Elektra is every man's fantasy and women aspire to look like her. Karin was extremely excited to bring her into its fold and we cannot imagine any fashion company having a better representative than her to show off their products. There is no doubt that she will be a survivor in the cut-throat fashion business — especially given her lethal martial arts training."

Lucky for them, a comic book character won't actually be able to eviscerate her agent for suggesting she lose a little weight before she takes a break from her assassin work to peddle lipstick and panties.

Gay Bar Syndrome

The amazing thing about gay bars, at least for me, is that I somehow feel self-conscious and invisible all at the same time. A brilliant combo, which does nothing but encourage my tendency to fidget (and I’m not much of a drinker, so the caffeine and sugar in the endless 3-dollar Cokes don't help much, either) and get distracted easily. What's worse is that I lose any skill I have to make idle or funny conversation, even with people I already know, let alone with anyone new. Sure, a lifetime of supressing wallflower tendencies has given me some ability to conduct myself with some composure, but basically I still fold under the pressure to be casual about hanging out in a bar. I should probably just get drunk once and for all. (that’s another bit of trivia for you: I’ve never gotten drunk, because I never really liked anything that would get me there.) Of course, I’m totally jaded about being around flogging demos or public sex or tranny whores or anything like that, it's just the social graces of being a barfly that escape me.

Insane in the Membrane

My mind is an odd place these days, at least it feels that way. A lot has changed in the last few months — things within me, things around me — and I have this sense that I haven't quite made sense of everything, and that more is likely to change before I do make sense of any of it.

Certainly some circumstances have changed for me, and I’ve adjusted my habits accordingly. I’ve settled into a full-time job again, which has imposed some order and structure on one part of my life, at least (more insurance, less scrambling to pay bills on time, more alarm clock, less late-night glamour). I have a roommate again, which has altered what I do with my down-time at home (less moping, more TV, less online time, more reading and talking, less masturbating, more eating sensibly). And, well, other stuff.

And then there are ways that I’m changing, too, or at least trying. My mind has been racing more with ideas for all these personal projects an creative endeavors: I have all this energy and motivation, but it's hard to sort all the brainstorming into any idea of how to get going. My self-confidence in my looks and my overall appeal has improved, but I haven't managed to get over being shy about myself anyway. I’ve been more interested in dating than just screwing, but I feel like I’ve suddenly lost all the right social skills to make any headway. I’ve been feeling more lonely, but more stubborn than ever about taking whoever comes my way just to fill the void. I’m trying to to pay more attention to the people I care about the most, but I still seem to be running all over, finding time to see friends instead of making it.

It seems as if a lot of the little cues I always used to put things in order have changed, or are changing, and I’m starting from scratch. Things all seem new — sometimes that’s refreshing, sometimes it's disorienting. And sometimes I feel like I'll never really manage to change or fix anything, despite a renewed vigor to do so.

Anyway you look at it, things are up in the air. What will become of Sparky? I guess we'll all just keep waiting for the season premiere while the writers continue to scramble and figure it out.

Victor von Brown

OK, check out this unbelievable detail from Top Ten by Alan Moore and Gene Ha. Please tell me you can appreciate how subtle and brilliant this image is:

Pincushion

I’m really squeamish about needles, and all the blood I’ve been giving the last few months has only made things worse, rather than more tolerable through repitition. I guess part of the problem is that every time I give blood for a test now, it's a mortifying reminder of what's going on with me. I’m giving a few ounces of blood every couple of months to see whether or not the virus in me is still being suppressed.

So I worry about my health a little more when I go to the lab, and I also feel self-conscious about the scrutiny of the women at the lab. I know they have to be cautious with everyone, but I can't deny that I’m part of the reason they have to be.

Today, I went to give some blood for my HIV genotyping test, and the woman taking the samples was new at the job, or at least so nervous or unskilled it seemed that way. she had trouble finding a vein, and spent a little too much time trying to intercept it without withdrawing the needle. It hurt like hell, and left my arm sore for the rest of the afternoon. That just made me more anxious, and I was feeling a little woozy again, except this time it was from nerves instead of hunger, like last time.

July Test Results

Got my latest test results back on Friday, which were a little discouraging, but not altogether alarming:

date

viral load

CD4 (T-cell) Count

CD4 %

3/09/2001

282,000 p/ml

235 p/ml

16%

3/23/2001

246,000 p/ml

425 p/ml

16%

5/14/2001

660 p/ml

533 p/ml

21%

7/5/2001

1,429 p/ml

456 p/ml

???

So there's a little jump in the viral load, and a little drop in the T cells. I’ve been extremely good about my medication (I’ve only missed one dose in the last three months, which is perfectly safe), so the trusty Dr. Dillon thinks this is nothing more than a little bump on the road to the desired goal, a non-detectable viral load and a normal T-cell count. still, I’m going to take a quantitative assay test for 1st-generation HIV-1 RNA — the clinical way of saying a test to see if the HIV strain I’m carrying is beginning to mutate and develop resistance to my current drug regimen. It's not likely, but we'd likely to know at the start of the process, when there's more time to make adjustments.

Considering how well I’ve been feeling, physically and mentally, having a doctor's visit like this last one was a bit jarring. It was a reminder that despite a return to day-to-day normality, I still have a chronic illness that has to be watched carefully. The idea that I might be developing a drug rsistance after such an early success is troubling, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed for the time being.

And one of these days I'll find the energy and the presence of mind to write about the loneliness, the big side effect of all this that I’ve been grappling with the last few months. sure I feel great physically, but I certainl haven't resolved how to handle the dating/sex/disclosure issue, so I keep putting it off and waiting to be forced into dealing with it. You know, waiting for the right Prince Charming to wander by. shyeah, right.

Hunting Mutie Scum

The sentinelsOK, so the X-Men have this recurring menace to fight called the sentinels, right? And the sentinels are supposed to be these badass giant robots programmed to hunt down mutants and capture or destroy them. sure, that sounds great, but the simple fact of the matter is that the sentinels have never looked all that tough. In fact, they've always looked silly. They look like nothing more than over-sized old-skool generic super-villains in bad helmets and big shoes. For decades we've been asked to just trust that they're as scary as we're told they are.

Thankfully, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely have taken over the reins for the time being, and are delivering a totally chilling update of the sentinels that finally seem as deadly and efficient as they were always meant to be. Instead of being these lumbering anthropomorphic hulks, the new sentinels are these highly specialized Battlebots made out of available spare parts, looking more like insects and sea creatures and stuff. They look like robots, you know? Highly specialized, adapted to various functions, not wasting mass or materials on the trappings of a humanoid form. Totally creepy. In a nice touch, the new, lean, and mean sentinels keep using spare parts from old sentinels, like those goofy helmets, and working them into their unorthodox forms. If you ask me, it's a lot creepier to see a killer robot with a half-dozen pincer arms and a video camera for a face, rather than some 60s-throwback shiny purple mannequin.

It's this kind of radical rethinking of comic-book mainstays that I really like. More than just a flashy update, this approach looks at the basic idea of something that’s been around for a while — in this case, constantly evolving killer robots — and questions how that idea is more likely to manifest itself. so not only does it strike a more realistic note (by itself an irrelevent achievement in the world of superhero comics), but it has a more profound emotional impact because it abandons a hackneyed tradition (giant mannequins) and draws on some more primally menacing associations (faceless creatures, technology run amok). When the sentinels still bore some resemblance to people, fighting them always seemed to be just another brawl. With these newer forms, calling to mind images of industrial accidents and alien autopsies, they finally become these unnatural killing machines that won't stop until their last moving part is prevented from completing its function.

NYC Glamour HQ

The past few days have been a mad rush of activity, a whirlwind of glamour more suited to an episode of Sex and the City. You can read the cross-referenced accounts of Ralph, Charlie, or Chad for some of the details. Their accounts, however, don't include my Indian feast with Paul and company; a pub crawl with Charlie and Jeff; and an event of almost comically hip proportions — Los Amigos Invisibles, the Nortec Collective, Simon, John, Josh, Andy, Tom, Aba, Michy, Yael, Gina Gershon, Moby, and thousands of other improbably sexy hipsters at P.S. 1. Rather than bore you much longer, just look at a few pictures instead of reading a few thousand words about the madness:

Those of you who are really sharp or really in the know might be thinking that I seem to be in better spirits over all these days. You'd be right. Whether or not I have good reasons, I can only mope for so long before I get annoyed with myself. so lately I’ve been sailing wih an even keel again.

Sparky's Typesetting School, Part 3

After looking through parts one and two of Sparky's Typesetting school, Cynthia reminded me that I forgot to talk about the ellipsis (you know, the dot-dot-dot thing).

Just a little gripe, why is it that my editors don't freakin' know how to properly space ellipses? They insist that the ellipsis should have a full space in between each period, when I learned it to be the same space as an em-dash, or option-semicolon when you are in quark. Who is right here???

When it comes to ellipses ("ellipses" is the plural of "ellipsis"), I say full spaces are definitely wrong. Besides, if you use regular word spaces, the ellipsis can break in the middle, which is bad. No spaces would make it too squooshed, and the single ellipsis character lurking in every computer font (often abused by surrounding it with full-sized word spaces) is the same way. Ideally, you should use a thin space, which is one fifth of an em space. Having the whole unit take up an em space sounds like a good rule of thumb, though. (An em space, as you might guess, is the same width as an em dash; i.e., equal to the point size of the current font.)

In Quark I find the best thing to do is set an ellipsis with regular word spaces on the outside, non-breaking word spaces (command-space) between the periods, and then reduce the tracking on all of them until the space seems just right — not too tight, not too loose. Again, it's that whole idea of having just enough room to say, "This is just a pause, goddamnit, but I haven't finished what I was saying yet."

By the way, an em space is usually the ideal amount of space for a paragraph indent. Just enough of a visual break to let your eye know a new paragraph is starting, not so much that it breaks up the vertical rhythm of the text too much.

Lord, I’m a nerd.

Warming Up for Summer

My official recommendation for the weekend is to get your ass over to P.S. 1 this saturday afternoon for the kickoff to their 2001 summer Warm Up series. Those funk-loving Venezuelan cuties Los Amigos Invisibles are gonna be playing, and there's always a bevy of good DJs and cute arty types. In case you miss this week, there'll also be some prime booty-shaking opportunities that saturday after when Basement Jaxx and the Viva Brazil Dancers do their bit at Central Park summerstage. For all my griping about the heat and the humidity, I admit in my better moments that NY-Fuckin'-C can be a great place to spend the summer.

As Featured in the New York Times

Photo by Rebecca Cooney for New York TodayGo and see what the Rumpus Room actually looks like in this article, which containa lots of cool pics of the pad, as well as the most unflattering picture of me ever seen by human eyes. It's a very complimentery article, but I winced a little while reading it to see how even the simplest remarks can be misinterpreted by someone who doesn't already know you, and who has to summarize you. Am I a vicitim of media manipultion? Or just a Virgo control freak who likes things just so?

You can see what a museum of various, uncurated pop junk the Rumpus Room really is. There aren't any carefully cultivated collections of anything, but there are lots and lots of cool things lying around. If nothing else, a close look at the photos reveals just how many treasures there are to be found in thrift stores and sidewalk junk piles. After all, I don't own a stick of new furniture, only thrift scores and trash relics abandoned by assorted friends and strangers. Behold the scavenger!

As Featured in the New York Times

Photo by Rebecca Cooney for New York TodayA little bit of spotlight is shining into my basement this morning, thanks to this article about my pad on nytoday.com, an offshoot of the New York Times site.

The article itself is a bit weird: It's loaded with little embellishments and things that miss the point, but I can see how someone who didn't know me well could come to those conclusions. For instance, I don't actively collect action figures, but I never throw anything away so I’ve found myself owning a bunch after years of getting a kick out of them. (By the way, I only have a couple dozen, not a couple hundred.) And I’m not all that zealous about home improvement, either. I painted my bathroom after two years of procrastinating about the day-long project. It also makes me seem really, really gay, but I guess I am. Whatever. It's a nice, flattering article, even though it features a disturbingly unflattering picture of me in the photo slideshow.

So check it out and see how splashy life a shoe-string budget can really be.

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