My Only Friend, The End : Josh Simmons’ “Birth Of The Bat”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Every ending, they tell me, is a beginning — so what to make of Josh Simmons’ “Bootleg Batman” trilogy, where every issue interconnects thematically, but each also represents a discrete “stand-alone” ending in its own right? Or, at the very least, a speculative or potential ending?

I ask this not only because Simmons’ latest (and, for the record, greatest), Birth Of The Bat, has recently been released by The Mansion Press, but because I subsequently read it in tandem (it’s tempting to say “in order,” but that doesn’t really apply) with 2007’s Mark Of The Bat (which first introduces the idea of Batman maliciously “branding” criminals, a vaguely-sanitized approximation of which made its way into Zack Snyder’s Batman V. Superman : Dawn Of Justice) and 2017’s Twilight Of The Bat (a post-apocalyptic Batman/Joker fable done in collaboration with cartoonist Patrick Keck, the premise of which was lifted nearly…

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Game Review: How it was then and how it is now (2021, Pseudavid)

How it was then and how it is now is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

In this Twine game, you are attempting to navigate a maze with your ex, Clara.  You and Clara still have complicated feelings for each other and as much of the game is spent remembering the past as it is navigating the maze.  The maze is made up of unusual geometric shapes that you have to identify.  You are usually given three options to choose from.  Often the correct answer is deliberately not among the options.  Eventually, you find yourself in situations where you have to pick three numbers but it does not seem to make much difference which numbers your pick.  Is the narrator’s mind deteriorating, is a geometric apocalypse coming, or is it something else?  I played the game and I don’t know.

Twine is a good format for surreal games and they don’t get more surreal than How it was then and how it is now.  In short, it’s not a game for everyone but it is also obviously not meant for everyone.  For the matter, it’s also not really a game as much as its a short story with occasional choices.  (It literally is Interactive Fiction.)  Don’t worry about solving the maze because that will only frustrate you.  Instead, just click on an answer and see where the story is heading.

Play How it was then and how it is now.

Film Review: Georgetown (dir by Christoph Waltz)

Georgetown is one of those films that’s been around for a while.

The movie, which is the directorial debut of Christoph Waltz. was originally filmed in 2017.  It made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019, where it received respectful reviews.  It played in at least some parts of Europe in 2020.  But it didn’t get a limited theatrical release in America until May of 2021 and it was released on VOD just a few days later.  Some of the delays in the film’s release were undoubtedly due to the uncertainty bred by the COVID lockdowns.  And some of it was probably due to no one being sure how to market a true crime film about murder amongst the rich and powerful of Washington D.C.  As such, Georgetown didn’t really get much attention when it was released.  That’s a shame, because it’s actually a pretty good movie, a clever mix of social satire and legal drama.

Christoph Waltz not only directs but also stars as Ulrich Mott.  Mott is a somewhat ludicrous figure.  His past is shadowy.  He claims to have served as a member of the French Foreign Legion, though his breaks down in tears after a snarky State Department official points out that none of Mott’s medals appear to be genuine.  Mott claims to have a lot of powerful and influential acquaintances, even though many of them only know him because he aggressively approached them at a party and forced them to take one of his business cards.  He occasionally wears a eye patch, even though he doesn’t need it.  After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Mott announces that he has been named a brigadier general in the Iraqi army and he claims to be a lobbyist for the new government.  Mott is also the head of a consulting firm called the Eminent Persons Group, which is later described as just being a Ponzi scheme for the rich and powerful.

It’s easy to make fun of Ulrich Mott but, throughout the film, we watch as he arranges dinners with men like future Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard.  He meets with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.  He mentions the he knows George Soros.  Mott is well-known among America’s elite, if not exactly respected.  This is almost entirely due to his marriage to the much older Elsa Breht (Vanessa Redgrave), a journalist who is, at one point, described as being “the queen of Georgetown society.”

When the 91 year-old Elsa is discovered dead at the foot of her staircase, the police originally think that she may have just suffered from an accidental fall.  Mott, however, declares that it’s obvious that Elsa was murdered by his enemies and that he will dedicate the rest of his life to tracking them down and getting justice.  Meanwhile, Elsa’s daughter (played by Annette Bening) is convinced that Mott murdered her mother.  The police agree and Ulrich Mott is soon on trial.  Mott’s main concern is that he be allowed to wear his red beret in the courtroom.  After all, it’s apart of his uniform as a brigadier general in the Iraqi army.

Flashing back and forth from the past to the present, Georgetown is primarily a character study of a man who has little talent and not much of a conscience but who does have a lot of ambition and a lot of charm.  Mott works his way up into the upper channels of D.C. society through a combination of flattery and compulsive lying and Waltz gives such a charismatic performance in the lead role that you believe every minute of it.  He’s appealingly vulnerable when he approaches the first clients for what will become the Eminent Persons Group and it’s hard not to sympathize with him when he breaks down in tears after being exposed, for the first time, as a fraud.  However, as the film progresses, we’re left to wonder if the vulnerability and tears were genuine or if they were just another part of Ulrich Mott’s performance.  Mott is both diabolically arrogant and almost compulsively self-destructive and Waltz does a great job of portraying those two seemingly conflicting sides of his personality.  He’s well-matched by Vanessa Redgrave, who makes Elsa’s love for Mott feel real and credible.  Watching the film, one can understand why Elsa initially believed in Mott and also why she stayed with him even as she discovered that he was never quite who he claimed to be,

Georgetown is nicely done portrait of duplicity and murder among America’s elite.  It’s both sharply satiric and, in its way, rather heart-breaking.  It definitely deserves more attention that it originally received.

Music Video of the Day: Roll With The Changes by REO Speedwagon (1980, directed by ????)

On August 1st, 1981, MTV premiered. Over the course of 24 hours, 116 unique music videos were played on MTV.  Yes, there was a time when the M actually did stand for music.

The 104 video to air on MTV was the video for Turning Japanese by the Vapors.  That song and the Russell Mulcahy-directed video, neither one of which most bands would be able to get away with today, was followed by the video for Roll With The Changes by REO Speedwagon.  This simple performance clip was the 105th video to air on MTV.


The First Videos Shown on MTV:

  1. Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles
  2. You Better Run by Pat Benatar
  3. She Won’t Dance With Me by Rod Stewart
  4. You Better You Bet By The Who
  5. Little Suzi’s On The Up by PH.D
  6. We Don’t Talk Anymore by Cliff Richard
  7. Brass in Pocket by Pretenders
  8. Time Heals by Todd Rundgren
  9. Take It On The Run by REO Speedwagon
  10. Rockin’ in Paradise by Styx
  11. When Things Go Wrong by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters
  12. History Never Repeats by Split Enz
  13. Hold On Loosely by .38 Special
  14. Just Between You And Me by April Wine
  15. Sailing by Rod Stewart
  16. Iron Maiden by Iron Maiden
  17. Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon
  18. Better Than Blue by Michael Johnson
  19. Message of Love by The Pretenders
  20. Mr. Briefcase by Lee Ritenour
  21. Double Life by The Cars
  22. In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins
  23. Looking for Clues by Robert Palmer
  24. Too Late by Shoes
  25. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  26. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy by Rod Stewart
  27. Surface Tension by Rupert Hine
  28. One Step Ahead by Split Enz
  29. Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
  30. I’m Gonna Follow You by Pat Benatar
  31. Savannah Nights by Tom Johnston
  32. Lucille by Rockestra
  33. The Best of Times by Styx
  34. Vengeance by Carly Simon
  35. Wrathchild by Iron Maiden
  36. I Wanna Be a Lifeguard by Blotto
  37. Passion by Rod Stewart
  38. Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello
  39. Don’t Let Me Go by REO Speedwagon
  40. Remote Control and Illegal by The Silencers
  41. Angel of the Morning by Juice Newton
  42. Little Sister by Rockpile with Robert Plant
  43. Hold On To The Night by Bootcamp
  44. Dreamin’ by Cliff Richard
  45. Is It You? by Lee Ritenour 
  46. Tusk by Fleetwood Mac
  47. He Can’t Love You by Michael Stanley Band
  48. Tough Guys by REO Speedwagon
  49. Rapture by Blondie
  50. Don’t Let Go The Coat by The Who
  51. Ain’t Love A Bitch by Rod Stewart
  52. Talk of the Town by The Pretenders
  53. Can’t Happen Here by Rainbow
  54. Thank You For Being A Friend by Andrew Gold
  55. Bring It All Home by Gerry Rafferty
  56. Sign of the Gypsy Queen by April Wine
  57. The Man With The Child In His Eyes by Kate Bush
  58. All Night Long by Raindow
  59. Boys Keep Swinging by David Bowie
  60. Rat Race by The Specials
  61. Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
  62. Victim by Bootcamp
  63. Tonight’s the Night (Gonna be Alright) by Rod Stewart
  64. Cruel to be Kind by Nick Lowe
  65. A Little In Love by Cliff Richard
  66. Wild-Eyed Southern Boys by 38 Special
  67. Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
  68. Celebrate The Bullet by The Selecter
  69. More Than I Can Say by Leo Sayer
  70. A Message To You, Rudy by The Specials
  71. Heart of Glass by Blondie
  72. Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight by Rod Stewart
  73. Kid by The Pretenders
  74. Come What May by Lani Hall & Herb Alpert
  75. I Got You by Split Enz
  76. Sister Disco by The Who
  77. Fashion by David Bowie
  78. Love Stinks by J. Geils Band
  79. Johnny and Mary by Robert Palmer
  80. Tomorrow by Shoes
  81. Prime Time by The Tubes
  82. Cruel You by Shoes
  83. Calling All Girls by Hilly Michaels
  84. I Was Only Joking by Rod Stewart
  85. Let’s Go by The Cars
  86. Do You Remember Rock’N’Roll Radio by The Ramones
  87. Ridin’ The Storm Out by REO Speedwagon
  88. You’re In My Heart by Rod Stewart
  89. So Long by Fischer Z
  90. I Don’t Want To Know by Robin Lane and the Chartbusters
  91. Go Back Home Again by Andrew Gold
  92. Time For Me To Fly by REO Speedwagon
  93. Rough Boys by Pete Townshend
  94. Dangrous Type by The Cars
  95. Turn It On Again by Genesis
  96. We’re So Close by Carly Simon
  97. Kid Blue by Louise Goffin
  98. Vienna by Ultravox
  99. (What’s Son Funny Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding by Elvis Costello
  100. I Won’t Let You Down by Ph.D
  101. Holiday by Nazareth
  102. In My Arms Again by Shoes
  103. Passing Strangers by Ultravox
  104. Turning Japanese by The Vapors