All of a sudden all the girls seem have started wearing purple this Autumn, I´m thinking. Three years ago, it was May ´06 and I was at the mall having lunch with some friends from the office and there was this drop-dead gorgeous girl with her mother or something like that, and she had a periwinkle-blue sweater and when I came home that evening I sat down and actually wrote about that girl with the periwinkle-blue sweater even though I never got to talk to her, to know her name, or to see her again.

Maybe it´s just that I´m a little frustrated when it comes to girls right now, that I´m choosing the collective against the individual, not really being able to make a writer´s muse out a random shopping mall encounter this time around—or maybe it´s just that Autumn has indeed tilted to the lower-end of the spectrum this year, and that in order for things to work I should get my heart beating to shorter wavelengths.


Bizarre Love Triangle, ´09

She slips the jacket of my suit over her bare shoulders and the three-pronged arched necklace dangling from her collarbone twinkles under the soft lighting within the ballroom. The sweet smell of her perfume will linger on the jacket´s fabric as I wake up alone on a Sunday morning at my place, but content and fulfilled anyhow.
She smiles at me so gently and her upper lip curls up a tad at its midsection, forming a light cleft not unlike that of a cat´s, which trace is further made stronger by her slanting amber eyes and the almost feline way her wavy blonde hair cascades over her black dress and my own navy blue jacket, cut short and in layers.

She tells me of this new boyfriend of hers, also blond of course and about 5´10” tall or something (I´m 5´7” by the way— for your information). And he´s French, to boot, naturally lives in Paris and works for Air France, that´s why it´s so easy for him to dish her out air tickets to Canada or wherever every now and then.
I start thinking of it´s probably the first time I´ve ever thanked an ocean for existing but the very notion of the Atlantic spreading out eastwards between myself and my now-imaginary Calvin Klein underwear modeling-nemesis soothes me into the rest of the wedding reception. I smile back at her, ask if she´s any warmer.
A little, she says, then thanks me in a whisper as we find the way to out table.

I´m calculating, for the rest of the evening past the dinner and once all the non-octogenarian guests of the wedding have all swarmed to the dance floor, including ourselves, how long I actually have to make my move before the night is through.
I think of my globe-trotting rival, his being French and this wonderful, dream-come-true girl at my side hailing from Chile—and of their chance meeting down here under Brazilian skies—and this funny little analogy runs through the back of my head: Angels and demons clashing upon Earth, raining fire and brimstone over Man, who can do nothing and is inevitably caught sandwiched between some eternal manicheist ballet. But then the deejay shifts both the tempo and decade of his songs: Abba melts into New Order and nears the inevitable end of the 20th century with some crap in Spanish: Another decade and all the chariots will inevitably turn back into pumpkins.

I´m thinking of the Devil, yet again though, and something about time being too short and the Devil sending in his beast with wrath and stuff, and I almost mention her that, actually thinking for a moment I´m so cool because I´m really getting it from the Bible, from the goddamn Book of Revelations, but upon second thought I´m just probably recalling some song by Iron Maiden or whatnot. Then I make a mental note so as to go easy on the rock stations from now on, and fish my endless pool of lowbrow junk pop culture for a better analogy for the unfairness of the situation:

“So hey about this whole Air France thing,” I ask her as we leave the dancefloor for the bar and yet another round of sake with strawberries, “You ever seen that movie Aliens versus Predator with like, the two races of monster in it doing their battle on Earth? It´s god-awful but makes a guy wonder, I´ll give you that, for instance...”


Miracle Monday 2009

Today is the third Monday of May: In the Superman , it means it´s Miracle Monday, a day celebrating the victory of Superman over supreme, absolute evil twenty-one years ago.

Miracle Monday is a lost treasure to comicdom, a pocket book released by Warner Brothers in the wake of the Superman II movie back in ´81. It was the second of two books written by the leading Superman comic writer of the day, Elliot “S!” Maggin, and unless if you were lucky enough to be there, you just missed it by a landslide.
Today? Today Miracle Monday is one of those items an aficionado might go after on eBay late at night and dish out maybe 15 Dollars on it plus shipping? Hardly anything else, really.
And sadly.

The book, oddly enough very well-placed within comics continuity and therefore valid for the chronicles´ canon, tells the story of this girl who comes from the future to study the origin of her time period´s greatest holiday, then proverbially lost to the mists of time, just as Lex Luthor plans his most recent prison break.

At the same time, though, the Devil himself, yep, the one with the horns and hooves and the pitchfork-thing, in Hell, etc, sets his sight on Superman and plans on humiliating and crushing all he stands for once and for all.

All plots come together in a 1981 Metropolis, as the Man of Tomorrow is put to his greatest test ever—and this, mind you, is a Superman who had just reached maturity, peaked in all terms of character development you might be thinking of:
There he was, maybe ten years out of the (editor) Mort Weisinger years and all his multi-colored Kryptonites and Super-Monkeys, and well into the (later editor) Julius Schwartz´s days, with Clark Kent being a TV anchor, Superman´s romance with Lois Lane finally starting to blossom into something quite more physical—and guys like Steve Lombard and Morgan Edge were co-stars all the way for the mild-mannered Clark Kent´s time onscreen.
So this is Superman at his adulthood as a fictional character, there five, maybe six years before the John Byrne re-boot, with all the weight of the 20th century finally starting to burden down on his back.

Reading Maggin´s novel, you can almost see the wrinkles around Clark´s eyes in the back of your head: That´s a book your mind´s eye will have penciled by Curt Swan and inked by Murphy Anderson (or would that be Bob Oksner?) for you, and that´s quite a spectacle.

Sure, superhero-fights-the-devil stories are a dime a dozen: From the 1940s pre-Marvel Comics Hurricane strips to earlier this very year´s Batman: RIP by Grant Morrison—But Superman shinning at his very prime, just an inch from starting to slip downhill? Fighting the ultimate Evil in a battle he cannot even hope to win?
Like, “Superman meets the Exorcist”? Miracle Monday is that good!

So here´s a day for celebrating: Miracle Monday has been lost to the mists of time not only in the girl from the future´s timeline but in ours as well: Sure, you could dish out the 15 bucks on eBay but you´re very likely not going to: I mean, it was a movie-related gimmicky book after all wasn´t it? There´s even a Christopher Reeve on the cover, even though it has nothing to do with the movie.

There are always well-natured souls to put the whole book online for free, though:

That´s where I read it the first time around a few years back; it made me fall in love with the story so much, I ended up dishing out 15 bucks for the real thing online a few weeks ago: it was just as good as the first time around.

And the way Superman beats the Devil in the end...?
Batman, for all his carefully-laden traps and schemes and preparations, ended up brining down the Evil One with one black-gloved punch through the windshield of a helicopter in ´09.
But Superman there back in ´81...?

What chance does the personification of ultimate evil actually have against the entire 20th century embodied in that perfect someone of a kid´s fantasy´s wildest dreams come true?

It´s fun to watch, though. Or to read.

Happy Miracle Monday!


Stop me if you´ve heard this one before...

“We need to talk to you now,” says this usually mild-mannered fellow at this Vendor who handles facilities administration for the company. It´s not the almost visible italics in his voice that give off his need for my immediate attention, but the two security guards in dark suits by his side. “Come with us.”

So I cross the large hall, passing the aisles with the cubicles with due escort until we get to this small, ill-lit (don´t ask) room that the security people keep their suits and fill out reports about god knows what, and probably browse for p*rn and stuff too.
They close the door behind me and I get the distinct feeling they are just about to kick the living crap out of myself.

“You´re the guy who handles that business c*ntinuity thing, right?,” asks the facilities administrator.
“It´s more of a part-time thing, see,” I smile. “Like, it´s all a bunch of spreadsheets and stuff. But how can I help you guys?”
“Building administration just called,” he tells me with a wavering voice. “Seems they just got this call from someone claiming that there´s a b*mb in this building.”
“You gotta be kidding, right?” I ask. He says no, it´s for real.

Then we get to repeat that last exchange about four times over until I´m actually convinced it´s no prank and we´re dealing with an actual b*mb threat situation.

I rest my hands on my waist, bow my head down and take a deep breath as I realize I´m the first person in the company to be actually informed of this—and that whatever happens next is a direct consequence of this very instant: Okay, first things first, I tell myself in the back of my head. Keep your cool and think things through.

Right off the bat, then, all the usual questions: Has the Police been called in yet? What did they say? How many people know of this? Are there talks of evacuation? And so on, and so forth. Gather information, stick to the basics.

Then I leave the room, call in by boss—who´s also, and very conveniently, the escalation point for all emergency situations like this. Getting him up to speed takes a little less time, since I did my homework and asked all the right questions.

Once we escalate the issue, though, we´ve just arrived halfway through this meeting between the site Director and the visiting CEO of this huge commercial prospect of ours from the US.
It´s then & there that I´m thrown what´s possibly the biggest curve ball I´ve ever been given in my life: “Whatever happens next, whatever you guys do,” he tells us, “Buy me at least twenty more minutes so I´m finished with this guy.”

I look at my boss, mister numero dos, and he looks at me, mister number four hundred and twenty-three, I guess, or thereabouts, both of us trying just to figure out what the hell to do next.
Then we remember that the clock is ticking in more ways than one, probably, and that we still got lots of ground to cover.

The main difference between being 19 and 29 years old is, I guess, being confident enough that once some idiotic situation crashes in your party like that— say, a b*mb threat at work—you understand the whole mechanics of what´s really required of you.

Kids panic, that´s a given.
Kids panic mostly because they´ll get into their own heads and try as hard as they can to remember everything they´ve crammed up so far about how the best way to deal with the office being threatened with a b*mb and stuff, and coming up with nothing either specific or doable—panic´s the only way out.

Adults, on the other hand—and you have no idea how much I´ve been enjoying this whole “adult” thing lately—Adults will automatically trust their experience to provide them with all the adequate course of action they need. And that´s exactly where all the books and movies and flunking College classes then having bad breakups with girls and stuff come into play.
We are, after all, the sum of all our experiences.

The rest of it, for the sake of a shorter post on a Sunday night, is best covered itemized:

>> We don´t spread the word so as not to panic people: Only about five or six persons in the company get to be aware of what´s going on.

>> We go over our contract SLAs with the Client, to be sure of the financial consequences of evacuating (Okay, I know that people come first, but let´s get a little practical too, right).

>> Building administration has touched base with the larger companies in the building and everyone decided it´s safer to wait for the Police before ordering an all-out evacuation.

>> We touch base with this other department from out Company, based on the fifth floor and to whom we have so little direct contact with, and it seems they also agree with the idea of not evacuating, of not doing anything drastic until the proper Authorities say-so.

>> Paranoia sinks in and of the few people involved, one or two start recalling “suspicious” events from earlier in the day, maybe that was when the b*mb was planted, that kind of crap.

>> The Police come in, eventually, and even though I never get to see them, they allegedly even brought in one of those b*mb-sniffing dogs.

>> Building administration confirms to the Police they´ve already swept all common areas of the building and came out empty-handed. Each Company in the building, including us, confirms the same thing for our respective interiors.

>> The Police dismisses the whole thing as a crank call and says no evacuation is needed, nor is another investigation of the premises. Then they leave.

By then we´re all breathing a lot lighter, it´s maybe an hour later into the gameplay, and not only we´ve given the Director his twenty minutes, but we´ve also managed to keep the crisis and bay with no harm to our people and our operations.


It got a little worse.

That´s when we get the word that our cousins on the fifth floor (remember them?) have just jumped the gun and made the call as to actually order their own evacuation. Swear to god: About a hundred people droning down the stairways, every one of them talking about the building being threatened by a b*mb, and stuff—and that was like, ten minutes after the Police´d cleared the stuation!

Once we get to their offices they´ve all vacated the place and even the Directors to whom we´d talked previously and agreed upon the no-evac option seem to have disappeared the planet. Not answering their mobiles, either.

We get close to freaking out, then: How long until the word spreads out to our two floors and all hell breaks loose?

We do damage-control then, and we dot it fairly quick: we split our team between the third and fourth floor, each one braced by a Director, and we call in each Manager and Team Leader on site: Explain the whole situation to them and tell them to relay the full story to their respective teams—fifteen minutes later, tops, work´s still going on as in a regular day, except people are making jokes about how they almost got to leave earlier on a Friday over a crank call...

My boss looks at me and all things considered, despite our overeager cousins above, things could have gone a lot worse. We laugh but then before we´re able to go for a cup of coffee, I tell him only half-seriously how much I pity the guy who gets to notify Corporate Security at the US.
He says nothing for about half a minute, then looks at me and says, “You know, that´s a great point.” Then points me to the phone.


H.P. Lovecraft: Babe magnet?!

So. Three days into reading from H.P. Lovecraft´s at long last-- which translates into three days carrying that book around the bus, the mall, the office, and so on.

Oddly enough, three days into being stopped out cold by cute girls asking me, "May I see that book?" or "What are you reading?"-- at the bus, at the office, at the goddamn mall for chrissakes!

I´ve been pulling exactly the same routine now for years: From Jack Kerouac to Charles Dickens, from Kurt Vonnegut to Phillip Roth, and onwards, and I´d never been stopped at the mall by a total stranger. Kind of cute, too.

Do bear my being entirely blown away here please: If it´d happened with a Dave Eggers book, cool, makes lots of sense: Eggers has got that coffee house-flirting vibe going after all. Michael Chabon? Well, Chabon´s got it too I guess, paved the way for Eggers in that sense, and that was even before the Pulitzer. Even Gaiman, right? Neil Gaiman, in these weird, surprisingly wondrous post-Sandman years of his.
I guess I could pull off flirting with a Neil Gaiman novel after all, with a little ease and some luck to boot.

But really? Lovecraft? H. P. Lovecraft, with all his adjectives, and the haunted house-slash-tentacled beast thing going? Nineteen-twenties Lovecraft? Weird Tales-published Lovecraft?!

I´m sorry. Makes no sense to me.
I mean-- don´t get me wrong-- I´m three days into being absolutely in love with his work as well: I mean, Rats in the Wall? The Shunned House? Man, that´s so cool-- But to go from my newly-found love for pulpy-horror genre fiction to girls actually stopping me by at the mall to ask about it? Thrice over?!

I dunno: Is that what they mean by the "call" of Cthulhu?!
Jeez... where was Lovecraft when I was 16?!


Walpurgisnacht ´09

________ once asked what I meant and at first I thought she was dodging the issue because she knew that it would, ultimately, boil down to why wouldn´t she go to bed with me. What I´ve since learned, standing here in the future through an X-ray hindsight able to pierce the strongest candyglaze is irrelevant now: Yeah well, maybe we did not go to bed, in the end, because I really wanted it less than I thought I did. But a future proves itself irrelevant every time it gets tangled up in digressions.
________´s reply, at the end of the day, metaphorically speaking since we were ones of the late-night variety back in that year, year and a half following the end of High School, was that it sure beat the hell out of staying home alone watching TV. “Also,” she´d added maybe a half minute afterwards, “If you don´t get to know people, how do you ever expect to know who´s the right one for you?”.

Distance, as in time as opposed to actual, factual space, has proven me ________ to be the queen of coming-of-age aphorisms: Her wisdom has since become my astrolabe, and the way she wore her hair still gives me this tiny little secret half-smile when watching a Rita Hayworth movie on late-night TV reruns.

But I´m not thinking of Rita Hayworth right now and I´m not thinking of ________ either, not really. I´m thinking of Superman, and how Superman handles rejection.

Now mind you, this is the guy with serious Oedipian issue borne out of, from an infant´s perspective, being abandoned by her mother, who chose to stay & perish with her husband instead of jumping ship (jumping planet?) with him, little baby Kal-El.
So how did Superbaby handled his first rejection? He sublimed from the Freudian to the Jungian and found himself a schizoid spanning the opposite ends of the archetype spectrum draped against both sides of the newspaper headlines—and Lois? Ah Lois, Lois.

Ah those fictional characters and their Lois Lanes-es, Iris West-es, Linda Park-es, Silver St. Cloud-es. Ah ________ knowing from the get-go the real-world alternative to that and the promiscuity that inevitably ensued, and the inexcusable need for address books and the urge for hitting nightclubs all by yourself any given Saturday evening when TV got any more boring than usual.

I have this recurring private joke all my own when it comes to finding that one true person: I´d ask about her birthday and she´d would reply, “April, 30th”.
I have this recurring private joke all my own with a punchline that´s got my meeting a girl who was born on Walpurgis night—which on itself is a whole other recurring joke to myself. Bottom line is, there´s a world where Clark Kent met Lois Lane on his first day at the office, then later on as if finding your own true love weren´t enough, he travelled back in time to Krypton before Krypton ended up as Kryptonite rain on Earth, and met poor, doomed Lyla Lerrol, and this world maybe is not our own.

But maybe it is.

Do you remember this one time we went out for a burger and a Coke, I think it was the first time we´d ever gone out together, like a date but before even kissing and stuff—I don´t recall why, not anymore, but I sort of told you Talullah, the name, just like that, right off the bat and what did you do? Jesus Christ, you sang me the lyrics to the Bugsy Malone song in a mock-Jodie Foster way that just killed me and almost made me choke on my onion rings and tex-mex.

The April, 30th joke came much later than that, many years later in fact, and was only in thinking of it that I actually remembered dreamed-up, picture-perfect ways of meeting your own comicbook-ey right person, regardless how rare, gets some much cooler once real.

On the night of April, 30th, the legend goes, all that ectoplasmic crap from a bad Discovery Channel haunted house mockumentary comes to Earth: Like ghosts and demons and witches, and well, we´ve seen Chernobog on Walt Disney´s Fantasia and we´ve read Goethe´s Faust—there it is, Walpurgis Night—also allegedly the last night on which Odin the allfather hung from a gallows-tree in his pursuit for power and knowledge.

It is Odin´s spirit then, that I´m addressing this Walpurgis Night just like playwright Edward Albee did in the climax to Who´s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (and the fact I don´t actually need Wikipedia for this passage is living proof that once in a blue moon, I can get cool and slick and trendy in a brainy kind-of way), and sort of letting it all out.

I was down with the flu last Thursday, maybe with a fever, maybe not. Fact is, I went to bed and I had this really crazy dream: I was at this classroom which was an amalgam of all the classrooms I´ve ever been in, and there were lots of people coming in and out, people I´ve taken classes with, been enrolled with, etc—girls, boys, children, adults—and it was all so very funny because I quickly sided with the worst of them (comic books notwithstanding, I´ve always been much more a back-of-the-class bully than the wimpy opposite).
So there I was in my oneiric classroom tagging along the bullies and making fun of everybody, laughing my ass off, and during all the time I just couldn´t take my eyes off the door: At each new-old face that popped in my heart skipped a beat and I squinted my eyes just a little tighter—But you, you, to my eternal exasperation, never really came in.

I´ve since gotten over ________ and I´ve since gotten over you and I´ve since gotten over this number of girls that, in hindsight, is a little mind-boggling considering I´m the guy who takes girls out to dinner, to this cozy little restaurant that only gay people go to, and there´s this white, opaque glass plate over a little pool of water as a decoration, like an abstract statue dividing environments, the tables from the bar, and the first thing I tell those girls I´m out with is, Hey there´s the Fortress of Solitude—and I get to take about half of them to bed afterwards.

Yet regardless of whom I´ve gotten over, sometimes they (you, plural?) all feel like demons trapped inside a mountain, waiting for the right day, for the right night or time when the membrane separating their netherworld from the real-world gets thin enough—then it´s like this big acne on the face of the earth with Chernobog riding high atop a hell of broken hearts, then the pressure builds and scars just burst.