I'll come up with something in a minute.

The Recreation of Manhood

I got to thinking about macho bullshit today, and an idea about it struck me. We’ve been slowly watching the death of the traditional male for about 100 years now, but macho bullshit still remains. If anything, we have an increase in what I’m going to call MBS, because I intend to write it many times and I don’t want to write the whole phrase over and again until the end of the world.

What I’ve been seeing, and I think we really started seeing it in the 80s, is Hyper-MBS. There used to be 2 groups, quiche eating wimps and MBS-muscle men. The wimps were small, vegetarian, and possibly gay. The MBS guys on the other hand were built to an extreme unobtainable without steroids, probably ate trees, and were probably gay. Gay came up as a pejorative quite often in those days either because it was the worst thing they could think of to be or the other side knew that the previous side thought it was the worst thing to be. Many gay jokes have the air of “And I’m only saying that because it was bother him about them, but that doesn’t make it okay. I think after this, we shall dispense with the pejorative. I simply wanted to acknowledge its existence.

Here is the thing though, 150 years ago, or there abouts, men had all the responsibilities. They earned the money, paid the bills, set the rules, made sure everyone abided by the rules, provided discipline and served as the head of the house. Along with those responsibilities, went certain privileges. We know the privileges, we don’t need to go into that right now. I’m not even saying that those men were cruel, or ill tempered, I’m merely pointing out that they were responsible for everyone in their family. They were the one who had to provide, to take care, to make sure things worked. He couldn’t show much emotion because everyone depended on him. If he was seen to be worried about something, then it must have been really serious. Atticus Finch may well be the perfect shape for a father in some ways.

About 100 years ago, some women started to assert themselves. They spoke of privileges, but what they really wanted was responsibilities. They wanted the responsibility of deciding political matters for example. You can look at this as the right to vote, or you can look at it as trying to be responsible for the shaping of local and federal matters. As some of them now earned money, some of them took more responsibility for the running of the household. They began to balance checkbooks, and serve on local councils and make decisions. You can call this taking privilege, but a lot of stress comes with those responsibilities and I call them as they are.

When this started, some men simply saw it as the woman offering to share the load. Many a man in the past leaned on his wife, asked for her help and sought her advice. Now it was just being done more widely. Slowly, by degrees, the social order changed. Soon men were being told that not only were they going to be forced to give up those responsibilities, but they would also be loosing the privileges they once afforded.

This is where MBS really got started. It was a response to being told to give everything up. MBS men decided they not only wouldn’t give up their masculinity, they would become hyper masculine for fear anyone thought they might succumb even one inch. As a result, these men became walking parodies of manhood, until they couldn’t even see a reasonable idea with a telescope. But really, they were just tired of being told to give things up without ever seeming to get anything in return.

I think this is where the rage comes from, when someone wants to have a discussion about sexism on the internet. Men have been asked to give up so much, that any talk now has the instant feeling of “Oh what am I supposed to loose this time? When will it EVER be enough?” Consider for a moment, many of these young men live in a world that tells them they can’t have a private Men’s Only club, but women can have gyms where men are not allowed in any way. There are train cars where men are barred, but if men try to have anything of their own, some female makes it her mission in life to insert herself into their tree house. Not, I will admit, without reason do these things exist. However, you men today are born into a world where the are given less than any time before, are allowed no exclusive spaces while everyone else has some, and are constantly being harangued about how much privilege they possess, when to them it looks like the privileges are being enjoyed by everyone but them. For a 15 year old, who doesn’t understand how the word works, being misogynistic can feel like the only recourse they have.

And it shouldn’t be that way.

We’ve taken a great deal away from men through the last century of feminism, but we’ve given very little to them. The idea of a man crying at a movie is still cause for humor. A man wearing clothes for style rather than ruggedness or comfort makes many question his sexuality. Any sense of feminizing is seen as a wholly wrong thing, by both men and even more importantly, women. Women say they want a sensitive man, but several will go for the square jawed gorilla 6 times out of 10. A man that doesn’t work on his abs is lazy, a man that reads poetry is suspect, a man that says he wants to know what a woman wants is subject to anger and mockery for not already knowing.

What we need, is to give something to these young men. We can’t give them the old world, that’s never going to happen. What we can do though, is turn down the hyper MBS that’s turning them into something wholly repugnant. I personally find the statements young men make about women, any women, repellent. That’s not manhood to me, that’s the screeching of scared little boys. When it comes from little boys who are in their late 60s, we have done something wrong as a society. We need to offer them some idea of manhood, and I think we can offer it though simply loosening the reigns a little.

Hear me, hear me…

In many ways, men were never really told they can let go of all those responsibilities. We’ve never been told its okay to cry our eyes out at a sad movie, or to wear what we feel like wearing when we feel like wearing it. We’ve failed to give a reasoned and responsible role model for these guys to follow, partly because our fathers didn’t have one and their fathers didn’t seem to have much of one. We started going down a strange and unknown path about 100 years ago, and we’ve never really been able to find our way. We need to make it okay to admit we’re lost. We need to say it’s okay to ask for directions. We need to show particularly our young men, its okay to make a fresh start.

In some ways, we need to let go of our old responsibilities, and in some ways we need to gain new ones. Mostly, this MBS hasn’t gone away because we’ve never really offered a viable option to that MBS. We need to make it okay to abandon that, and gain a new place. Be responsible for your own self, and be a little more responsible for those other men around you. Explain that no Real Man would in fact ever say “Bitch, go make me a sammich.” because a Real Man is confident enough not to need to say anything so childish. Syd pointed out a while ago that it’s kind of ironic that the things that make people say they’re taking you Man Card away is usually when someone has done something that makes them a Real Man in the first place. BTW, a Real Man, doesn’t need a man card.

We’re going to have to do something, this situation ain’t going away by wishing.

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July 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Three – Part Three

Twins in Death

A Tale of The Weirdo

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Chapter Three: The End of Captain Scourge

 

 

 

April 5th, 2002

3:21 p.m.

 

            There is something that flies through the air when a storm is coming. It’s more than the scent, more than the warm winds that begin to whip around, more than the clouds. It’s not something that the human mind is meant to describe, and it would require a long talk about astrophysics and inverse reality to even get started, which is why people generally don’t. The point is that something is in the air when a storm is coming, and at the moment it was wearing a gray trench coat and fedora.

 

            You could say that he was flying on the arms of the wind or that angels were holding him up. It wouldn’t be absurd to suggest that he had been taught by Peter Pan to think of happy thoughts in order to fly, because this was true. The eternal boy had taught him how to use a happy thought to break the bonds of gravity. The Weirdo had discovered over the years that any strong emotion could make a person fly though, and he was sailing on the wings of pure righteous indignation.

 

            He had stopped himself from killing Captain Scourge, and this was the thanks he got? Rage, anger and insult drove him on, for his little meeting with the lightning-throwing villain. It was really a bad time for Captain Scourge to come back. The Weirdo was on an emotional roller coaster and couldn’t get off, and didn’t know if he wanted to. It would be fair to say that what happened in the next few minuets were not The Weirdo’s responsibility really, that he was temporarily insane. It didn’t matter that he would have acted the same way, more or less, if he had been perfectly calm. Right now he could legally be considered temporarily mad.

 

            When he landed he saw that Jack and Tommy were sitting in the car, holding themselves. They had each been given a nasty shock and while it didn’t kill them they wished it had. Being electrocuted tightens up the muscles in the body, one can loose control of their body for a moment and things go wrong. It’s a terrible feeling to have and it lingers in the muscles long after the fact.

 

            There were ambulances, police cars, and army vehicles. Many of the vehicles were on fire while others simply smoked. There were dead bodies, covered with coats, lying in a long line on the street. The Weirdo looked at the bodies and remembered the day a few years ago, on the day when New York fell down.

           

            Max was reloading the clips for his guns, determined to kill the good Captain since his men had smashed his face with the butt of a gun. He was pissed off and one eye was half closed from the swelling and the other had completely closed. His chest hurt from where a thin plate of titanium had stopped a bullet from entering his body a year ago. He pushed the last bullet into the clip and slammed it into the Beretta, and then the other in the Glock. He pulled back on the slider to prime a round in the chamber and the gun was pulled out of his hand. He tried to look up but one eye was swelled shut and the other wasn’t doing very well.

 

            “Stay here.” The voice could have made fog appear as easily as if the owner of it had been munching on dry ice. It did not issue a command just a solid fact. Max would stay there. “I will take care of this.”

 

 

April 5th, 2002

3:23 p.m.

 

            The Weirdo drew the Thompson sub machine gun out from under his coat, which had the effect of making Captain Scourge wonder how he kept a machine gun with a large drum magazine under his coat. The Weirdo threw back both doors and walked in, like a tiger walks into any place a tiger cares to enter.

 

One of Captain scourge’s men raised a weapon with the intent to shoot. The Weirdo must have moved quickly, but it was as if he were walking through some sort of John Woo slow motion effect. He seemed to be raising the gun slowly and with a glorious fluid motion, but he moved faster than the other man. The gun came up, held by The Weirdo’s right hand, like the weapon on a professional. The Weirdo squeezed the trigger and a bust of automatic fire split the air. Three forty-five slugs struck the man in the chest and face, and sent him to the ground dead. The Weirdo then lowered the weapon, holding it in just his right hand, as if he trusted it implicitly to do its job.

 

            The Weirdo approached, still holding the gun in his right hand, as if he were a knight of old and just carelessly holding a sword, surrounded by men with swords. He moved as if people would have to approach to do him harm and there would be plenty of time for him to raise his defenses.

 

            “Captain Scourge.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “The Weirdo.” Captain Scourge said.

           

            There was a moment there, after they had confirmed that they knew each other’s names, that they stood watching each other. One could almost hear the wind whipping outside, whistling through the trees. They could actually hear the bits of metal attached to a flag make its odd tolling sound as it whacked against the flag pole, and if one listened they might hear the whip snap the flag made. The wind wasn’t really blowing hard enough to whistle through the trees yet, but if this had been a simple novel, instead of a true and accurate account, you would have been able to hear it.

 

            He looked at Captain Scourge, his left hand raising and his index finger pointing. He wasn’t raging, but he was angry. He looked like his entire body was coiled like a viper. His arm pulled back and he pointed again.

 

            “I showed you a great deal of consideration.” The Weirdo said. “I did not kill you when last we met.”

 

            Another of Captain Scourge’s men tried to get a shot off on The Weirdo and was rewarded like the other one was with a face full of lead. He then, with great precision and care, gunned down the other three men that had rushed into the bank with Captain Scourge. He shot the one with the detonator first, so that he would not blow the bloody doors off the vault.

 

            He then tossed the empty machine gun to the ground, where it clattered like a sub machine gun that’s used all its bullets. Nothing sounds quite like that so any metaphor one might try to make would be futile. This is the main problem with metaphors. They often don’t really do the required trick any better than the straight forward version. One could just as well say it clattered to the ground and leave it at that. However if we did just leave it like that, would the point get across the same? It’s an interesting question and one worth a lot of research. Of course the more literary of you might just ask is such a question strictly necessary, when of course it is. If we don’t get these sorts of questions worked out now, you’ll be left wondering forever.

 

            “Your friends were here.” Captain Scourge said.

 

            “Yes I know.” The Weirdo confirmed, talking the sort of way that a tiger might while yawning.

 

            “You shot Mike, and he had the detonator switch.”

 

            “Yes I did.” The Weirdo said, his voice languid and calm. “And I’m sure he had.”

 

            “But I could just zap the explosives and blow this whole place up.”

 

            “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.” The Weirdo said in a passable Michael Cane impression, but he said it far too calmly. “Besides you don’t have a Mini anywhere.”

 

            “What?”

 

            “It’s from the Italian Job.” He saw the look of total cluelessness on the young man’s face and lost patience.  “Oh forget it.”

 

            The Weirdo leapt through the air and was blasted by Captain Scourge’s lightning. The electricity jumping from the fingers and landing like stabbing fingers of energy on his chest. The problem here was that The Weirdo was now so epically annoyed that he totally failed to notice the electrify as it struck him. Captain Scourge however did not fail to notice the fist that struck him. Nor did he fail to notice the other fist when it also struck him.

 

            “I could have killed you before.” The Weirdo shouted as he smashed Captain Scourge’s head into the ground. The electromagnetic shield helped cushion the blow, but it still hurt.

 

            The two of them parted and Captain Scourge flew into the air, his cape billowing around him. He looked a little worried because this was not going like the plan said. The plan hadn’t exactly worked out the way he’d hoped. He was going to have try desperation, or something along those lines. It wasn’t easy when you played by ear.

 

            “You can’t kill me! I am Captain Scourge.” Captain Scourge said.

 

            He extended his hand to blast the explosives, sparks dancing around his fingertips.  The Weirdo’s hand went into his coat, but his hand didn’t go towards his chest like he usually did if he were drawing a pistol. When drawing a pistol he gave the impression that the gun was in a shoulder holster, even thought there was no gun or holster a moment ago. This time his hand went to his hip, as if he were Arthur drawing Excalibur from its sheath.  When it came up it was holding the black gun, which demanded attention. Everything suddenly stopped when the black gun came into view, with The Weirdo holding it in both hands as if he expected one hell of a kick.

 

            The black gun had a way of freezing a room like that though. It looked much like a colt 3.57 python, or rather what a 3.57 python wanted to be when it grew up. It was not painted or treated to be black, but was made of some black metal with ebony scales on the handle. The thing seemed to radiate some dark light of its own, or perhaps it sucked light away from the world. Things seemed to grow pale when he drew it out, as if the world were greatly made up of illusions but this gun was one of the heavy realities, an undeniable truth that made everything else look pale by comparison.

 

            The Weirdo thumbed back the hammer and looked at Captain Scourge.

 

            “Don’t fuck with me electric boy.” The Weirdo said.

 

            Captain Scourge raised his hand and The Weirdo fired.

 

            The gun seemed to take a while to fire. The hammer snapped down and time stopped, the gun sucked the universe in around it as it got ready to fire, and when it did it snapped the universe back out again and left everything with a wobbly feeling. It was like the gun had taken stock of all possibilities and discarded the ones it didn’t like, as if it had decided through quantum mechanics to observe the universe one way and was going to force it on everyone else. The truth was more complex, but much simpler and easier to deal with. I’m not going to describe that part because I’m not here to discuss hyper-ballistics with you.

 

            The gun fired its bullet and caused reality to be what the bullet wanted. The gun fired a single bullet that was made of pyrite. All the bullets this gun fired were jewels, it was just part of the gun’s weirdness. The pyrite bullet went right through Captain Scourge’s shield and tore his chest open, exploding part of his back.

 

            The young Captain Scourge fell to the ground, not merely dead but destroyed. In a word, ended. There was no romance or wonder to his fall, it was merely pathetic. The Weirdo slid the gun back under his coat in an attempt to try and limit the time anyone could spend looking at the weapon, in fear people might want to take it from him. He wasn’t entirely sure he trusted himself with it, so he wasn’t going to trust anyone else.

 

            He looked at the destroyed Captain Scourge, kicked him gently to make sure he was gone. He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, letting the tension roll out of him, shaking off the feeling of Death’s hand on his heart. His shoulders shook slightly as he exhaled but that’s life sometimes, a shudder now and then is uncontrollable.

 

            There would be questions, there are always questions, but he wouldn’t answer them. He didn’t want to, and he didn’t have to, so to hell with them. Let them ask questions, he would wave them all away and not say a thing. Who knew where Captain Scourge came from and who cared? He certainly didn’t, he was going home.

 

© 2012 Autumn Knight Productions

 

July 12, 2012 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

From the trip (a)

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At the wedding

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Twins in Death: Chapter Three – Part Two

Twins in Death

A Tale of The Weirdo

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Chapter Three: The End of Captain Scourge

 

 

 

March 30th, 2002

1:15 pm.

 

            The Weirdo had switched on the news and had briefly watched a story about a hijacked bank, about how the forces inside were demanding many things. Jack, Tommy and Max had tried to go talk sense, but had been beaten rather senseless. He looked at the police who were trying to keep people away, and the people who didn’t keep away, and what happened to them. Super heroes were being slung aside one by one even Omega had been given a serious enough jolt to make him disengage.

 

            Of course knowing that Captain Scourge probably severally weakened Omega might be useful for people studying Omega’s death, which this story isn’t really concerned with. The jolt Omega received did change something in Omega though, as many have noticed it seemed like his powers from the Omega Crystals were interrupted. Most don’t connect the fight with Scourge to his considerable weakness, but we thought it was worth mentioning.

 

            The Weirdo watched Omega flying away from the cameras and turned the television back off, his interest in such things gone. He just couldn’t care about that any more, he had his own problems. There was so much pain in the world, so many people in peril. He couldn’t be expected to save everyone, could he? He got up and then sat back down again, too tired to walk to the bed. He fell asleep in the chair, and snored quietly in the empty room.

 

            The hallway wasn’t empty though, The Gray Man could stand and watch the sleeping figure of The Weirdo from the upstairs hallway. He looked down at the sleeping figure of The Weirdo and felt oddly angry. He wanted to go slap The Weirdo, to tell him to stop acting selfish and get back to work. He didn’t think he could do it though. He didn’t have the strength to tell The Weirdo anything now. Besides, The Weirdo wouldn’t listen to anyone right now.

 

            He then reconsidered that thought, as there was one person who he might listen to. There was just one person in the grand multiverse that he could listen to. There was one hope that might just get him off his ass and into action. It would be a cheap trick, but The Gray Man figured that those were all he had left. After all this time, one had to use whatever tricks they had.

 

 

April 5th, 2002

3:09 p.m.

 

            The Weirdo was sitting in a chair at the kitchen table, his legs tight up against his chest, and he was rocking. It was a gentle back and forth rocking motion that was distracting if not relieving. He wanted to release everything. He wanted to explode, to shout, to scream, to roar, and to cry. Oh, to cry.

 

            He hadn’t cried though, not one single tear. He wanted to, but he couldn’t force whatever it was that made you cry to happen. He couldn’t make it happen, no matter how badly he wanted to release his emotions they simply piled one atop another. The bottleneck was building just behind his eyes, making a sharp stabbing pain just behind his retinas. He felt he would burst, but he didn’t. He couldn’t break down, even though he wanted to. He simply sat and rocked back and forth slowly like a stunned child, wanting to scream, wanting to cry, wanting it all to end.

 

            He looked at the pistol on the table. He was unsure how it had gotten there, but there it was. He picked it up and looked at the gun, and put it to his head. He pressed the barrel against his forehead, just to get the feel of it, and then set the pistol down again. He would save that option  if he needed it, he didn’t expect to need it. It was important to remember it existed though.

 

            There was a tiny knock at the door that stopped his rocking and got him up. He walked towards the front door, expecting to see Tommy, Max or Jack, telling him to stop all this nonsense and get to work. He personally thought that this was just what he needed, but he was unsure whether he would listen. He would at least give them time to explain their message. He owed them that much.

 

            There was no one he could see through the door’s window. He opened it and saw a small child, about five years old. She had deep chestnut colored hair and blue eyes like the sea. She wore a green dress and had ribbons in her hair of the same deep forest color. She looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. Her tiny apple checks and button nose were red from crying; as if she had done all the crying he had been unable to do. As if their souls had some how been intertwined and he had somehow forced all the crying to her.

 

            “Hello.” The Weirdo said. “How did you get here?”

 

            “Please.” The tiny voice said.

 

            “Yes?”

 

            “Mister Weirdo?” She said, tears streaming suddenly again. The tears cracked her tiny voice. “You’ve got to save my mommy.”

 

            “What?”  He asked.

 

            “The bad men have my mommy.” She looked like she was about to collapse into a pile of tears. “Save her Mister Weirdo, please?”

 

            “That’s not what I do anymore.”  He said, wanting to turn away, but something was freezing him to the spot, making him watch, Grandma made him watch.

 

            “Nobody else can do it.”  She said, more tears rolling down the reddened cheeks.

 

            “I’ve got to be just a normal guy now.” He said, the words ashen in his mouth.

 

            How had he come to make a statement like that? How could someone like him ever grasp something like that? How could he, who called himself The Weirdo, ever even try to concede to that? He was too smart to be the sort of stupid person who was called normal, too daring, and too alive. Even if he felt dead inside, that excluded him from the half-life that the normal people lived. He suddenly felt deeply ashamed for not going immediately.

 

            “Sweetie, there are lots of people who…”

 

             But that wasn’t true, was it? There was really only one person who could do it, wasn’t there? If he didn’t decide to do it, would others even try? Wouldn’t people just cock it up like they always did? People often say someone should do something, but no one wants to be the one who steps forward.

 

            “Please, Mister Weirdo, save my mommy.” Her voice was choking with emotion.  “Heroes are supposed to save mommies and daddies and help people who can’t help themselves.”

 

            And that was it wasn’t it? Sometimes you might think you can walk away from what you are, but being a hero is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. You can’t just stop being gay or black, these are things a person is. A person couldn’t stop themselves from being a drunk, or from being a hero. You might stop drinking, or fighting evil or even marry a person of the opposite sex, but you’d always be what you were. The gods made some men to love other men, made some to eliminate all the whiskey in the world by drinking it, and some to fight evil. You’d always come back to that.

 

            That’s what he was; he was a hero, not a normal person, not another one of the guys. He was the sort of person who could never be that lost to thoughtlessness. He was a hero, and that had certain responsibilities to it. It was part of the great power quotient.

           

            He looked at the tears glistening down the child’s face. Shame suddenly was upon him in an amount he’d never believed could exist. There wasn’t enough room in the cosmos for the deep unbridgeable shame he know felt. His eyes suddenly couldn’t land on the child, but rather they spiraled anywhere but to her.

 

            Something cracked on the surface of The Weirdo’s heart. Then the crack went deeper and it found something soft in the hard crust. He wanted to slam the door on the child’s face, but he couldn’t. The shame, that universe filling shame wouldn’t let him. There was no door to slam, just this deep shame that filled everything. Every molecule in all of space had been suddenly replaced with some sort of atomic particle of shame. There was no way to escape it without some great explosion. He heard Grandma’s voice again, telling him that it would be wrong to let what happened to him happen to her.

 

            Then, an explosion of the sort that gave birth to everything happened. The shame was blown away, and now something he could grip and control was replacing the old world. He suddenly felt anger, anger on the child’s part. It was anger on the part of the people whose families were being torn apart and anger at those that would hurt a little girl’s feelings. He knew the anger wasn’t for him, but that didn’t matter right now.

 

            Anger of any kind he labeled as good. It was something he could hold onto, something he could anchor himself with. Anger, that was something he knew how to deal with, it was depression he had a problem with. He didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a turning point. He looked down at the rolling tears and pulled out a white handkerchief. His hands didn’t shake at all. In fact he had become so calm you might have thought him dead. He wiped away her tears and smiled. Anyone who had seen a person under complete and total control of their emotions would have noticed the look on his face, he was trying so hard not to let her know how angry he was that he severely overcompensating.

 

            “Okay kiddo.”  His gentle voice was calm, and he smiled at her.  “Let’s go save your mother.”

 

            He stood up and looked out into the woods beyond and wondered how the hell this kid had gotten here. He looked down and found she was gone, just completely vanished. Well, no matter, he’d go save the day anyway wouldn’t he? He looked down and again and noticed a small green piece of ribbon. He picked it up and placed it in his pocket. Oh yes, he was going to save this girl’s mother, save the day. He was going to save mommies and daddies and people who couldn’t save themselves.

 

            After all, that’s what heroes do.

 

 

© 2012 Autumn Knight Productions

 

July 9, 2012 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Hallway

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