Spark mad ism.

Racism in the comics industry? I’m out to attack it like a rabid pit bull. Homophobia in comics? I’ve got a rake and some piping hot coals at the ready. Religious persecution in comics? I’ve got my Docs laced up to stamp it out. Sexism in comics? There’s sexism in comics?

I can identify sexism in comics about as well as a man with cataracts can identify a needle in a haystack. Yes, it’s easy for me to locate it when I come across something that is blatantly unfair or offensive to women, but I am often blind to subtle forms of sexism. How can I easily spot other forms of subtle bigotry and yet be so blind to sexist incidents in comics? I just don’t see it. And that’s where the problem lies. As my fellow fans protest what they see as offensive images, I’m often left scratching my head. However, I’m more than willing to give my fellow fans the benefit of the doubt. And so I carefully pour over images and reread stories, searching desperately to find what they find. And yet I come up empty. I can’t help but feel frustrated.

BatgirlBatgirl. Others have looked at this image and equated it with sexism. All I see are terrible proportions. After all, it’s rather ridiculous to draw a girl who is supposed to be a slim and silent weapon with bulbous breasts, beefy arms and a clunky utility belt. The character appears to be much too bulky for the type of slim, athletic build she is supposed to have. Still, unlike many others, I don’t have any other problems with this image. How often have we seen a male hero beaten and bloodied only to rise again ready to fight? It’s a common image in comics. It shows a character’s tenacity. Why is the outcome so different when the character depicted is female? Is there something I’ve overlooked? Many have also taken offense to Batgirl’s costume, which leaves me a bit bewildered. I find a female character that is actually covered in cloth from head to toe to be a refreshing change. And in a life or death battle with Shiva, tattered clothing is to be expected. Still, Batgirl is no Caitlin Fairchild.

I do have my own complaints though. The fact that the character is illiterate makes no sense to me. Who wants a fighter that cannot accurately process information? And to have a character that is slowly learning to become a hero and a well-adjusted human being suddenly jump on the villain bandwagon is confusing as well. And yet my concerns are very minor ones. Could it be that I am so pleased to have a character that is a member of a racial minority that I am blind to the blatant sexism before me? Why am I not seeing what so many others are?

Storm. Some have stated that the removal of Storm from the X-Books and the addition of the character to Black Panther are sexist tactics on the part of Marvel and writer Reginald Hudlin. I have to admit that I don’t understand how one could come to that conclusion. After all, many male characters have received the same treatment. Popular characters are often added to the supporting cast of a book featuring a character that is not as popular in an attempt to bolster sales and recognition. And I do not see how the removal of Storm from the pages of X-Men has diminished the character. Storm seems to be as popular as ever and the character is still actively pursing Xavier’s dream of improving human-mutant relations. As for Storm conceding to Panther in regards to political affairs…shouldn’t she? After all, he is the ruler of the nation. She is merely his spouse and advisor. And should a major event regarding mutant activism arise, I’m sure the roles would be reversed. Panther would remain in the background. Of course, we would still see the event from his point of view because he is the star of the book.

Perhaps that is what has others up in arms? That Storm is no longer part of an ensemble cast in the X-Books but is a supporting character in Black Panther? But should that matter when the character is still prominently featured in a number of high-profile Marvel comics? How could readers cry sexism when the character has been given more of a spotlight than ever before?

Is there something that other fans are seeing that I cannot? I have to admit that American comic book fans have morphed into a gigantic singular image of the boy who cried wolf to me. For years I have witnessed large groups of fans rake every black writer who has appeared on the scene over the coals, accusing each and every one of them of a wide variety of -isms and inferior craftsmanship. So when fans began to express their concerns about Hudlin in regards to Storm, I quickly dismissed them. After all, similar words were used to discredit McDuffie and Priest, who are now almost uniformly praised by fans. Why should I believe their first impressions of Hudlin to be free from the tinge of racism? Why should things be any different now?

Though could it be that years of enduring racism from fans in the comic industry have made me incapable of objectively critiquing black writers? Or is the boy simply crying wolf when there are none present once more? Could the answer lie somewhere in between?

Selective sight. So, why do I not feel the need to “rally to the cause” where sexism in comics is concerned? Why do I not put in a tenth of the effort into battling sexism in the comics industry as I do into battling bigotry against ethnic, racial, sexual, and religious minorities? After all, I am a woman. Why don’t I care as much? Perhaps it is because my race once prevented me from having to endure the same problems that women who do not share my racial background have battled. And because I did not have to endure those problems, it became hard for me to see why they were problems.

And so I laughed hysterically when female comic fans complained about artists continually depicting heroines in a sexual manner. Oh no! Men are drawing women as sexy! It was hard to take seriously because I never had to endure it. After all, the heroines being hailed as sex objects didn’t share any of my features. And after years of various forms of media telling me my skin, hair, and eyes made me undesirable, I certainly didn’t have much sympathy for those who complained about artists continually drawing heroines who shared their features as sexually alluring objects. If anything, they needed to simmer down and be thankful someone found their features desirable. They were lucky to even have characters who shared their features as heroines to begin with! I sure as hell didn’t.

Of course, my views changed as the characters changed. And I began to get more than a little uncomfortable with female characters battling in strips of cloth and high heels when the women stuffed into those outfits shared my hairstyle and skin color. Suddenly, it wasn’t as funny anymore. But I chalked it up to being a minor problem. There were much bigger fish to fry. And fewer people willing to fry them.

Though my views have changed, that clearly doesn’t mean my vision is now 20/20. I’m like a person who has sat in the shade for hours and finally decided to flip a light switch. I can recognize the basic shapes, but I’m still a bit fuzzy when it comes to all the details and nuances. But hey, at least I’m not sitting in the dark anymore. Or even worse, sitting in a brightly lit room with my hands tightly cupped over my eyes.



Where do we go from here?

Last post on the subject for a while, I promise. However, I just thought of something. Mangaka weren’t aware of how much these racist images were hurting people because no one let them know. If you care, and if you want to see a change, contact your publishers. Blog. Discuss. Speak up. Ask questions. Some of you have started doing exactly that—and now they do know. And all we can do is wait and see what they do with that information. However, ignorance can no longer be an excuse.



On second thought…

Today I received an e-mail from a reader about my blog post on Eyeshield 21. I appreciate the fact that he sent the e-mail because it really made me think about the right an artist should have to creative freedom. I’m not going to post his private comments to me, but I will post a portion of my response.

Intent to harm. Do I think the artist of Eyeshield 21 maliciously intended to reinforce negative stereotypes about black people and attempt to cause them harm? I don’t believe that is the case. However, does it matter what the intentions of the artist are if the results are the same? Even if I don’t intend to step on an individual’s foot, the pain that I might cause that person by accidentally stepping on him is still very real. Though the artist may not have intended to offend, the image still hurt me just as much as the old hateful propaganda against black people the art work was derived from.

African operations. If Viz plans to sell manga containing racist depictions of black people to black people, then I hope they will at least be honest with consumers so that individuals can make educated decisions about the books they purchase. No one wants to plunk down their hard-earned money for a book only to discover images that depict them as beasts and clowns beneath the cover. Perhaps a solution would be to place warnings on the back covers of certain books explaining to consumers that derogatory images of black people are included within the manga. Then people who aren’t disturbed by racist images of black people can continue to enjoy the work in its original unedited format and those who would be upset by it don’t have to suffer the pain of seeing it. I think this is a good solution since censorship or forcing an artist to edit his work doesn’t sit well with me the more I contemplate it.



Sambo, I am?

Since my post addressed to mangaka has been linked to, I thought I’d go into a bit more depth so I don’t come across as an irrational ranting entity! The racist image that I included in my original post? I plucked that image from volume seven of the manga Eyeshield 21. Eyeshield 21 is published in English for English-speaking countries by VIZ Media. The image I posted is from the English language version of the manga that is easily obtainable here in the United States. Volume seven of the series had a publishing date of April 4, 2006.

How many people were aware that this book contained a racist image that is humiliating to black people and still allowed this book to arrive upon American shores unedited? How many people saw that image, shrugged their shoulders, and thought that the feelings of black people were not worth the time and effort it would take to edit or remove the panel? How many people thought that the offensive image wasn’t worth calling attention to because they have bitterly accepted the idea that the Japanese have embraced racist images that are humiliating to black people and will never relinquish their desire for blackface and depictions of Sambo?

I have to admit that I was one of those people. After all, this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve come across racist images in manga. I simply shrugged my shoulders and believed that there was nothing I could do. If Japanese people wanted to embrace hateful images of black people then I had no right to stop them. What right do I have to direct the flow of another person’s culture? And how could I be upset when they had no idea of the history and hate behind those images? I wasn’t even angered by it. I was simply disappointed.

But now I’m angry, because the hate is now being shipped back to my shores to be immersed in my culture after black Americans have spent hundreds of years trying to shake it like a bad virus. And here it is again in a mutated form being packaged to our children so the world can tell them once again how ugly and insignificant it thinks they are.

“John Easum has been appointed President/Gérant of VME and will oversee all of VIZ Media’s European, Middle Eastern and African operations from Paris.”

This is where it gets frightening. African operations. Does VIZ actually have plans to sell books containing these images in African countries? I can understand them not taking African Americans into account when we only make up 12 percent of the American population, but do they really plan to distribute books containing these images to an entire continent filled with black people?

I know I come across as so very irate in this post, but I’m honestly just frustrated and lost. Where do I turn? Many of my peers have happily turned to manga after being upset by what they’ve endured from companies focused on superheroes. But all I see is are two very unappealing options. Sexist images or racist ones.



Market watch.

After starting and stopping at least a dozen times, I finally settled down and read Mask Market in one sitting. And I have to say that I was disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed in Vachss, because he is a phenomenal writer, but I was unhappy with the actions of the characters in the book. I know that readers certainly do not deserve a happy ending. Art imitates life and life is not happy or neat or fair. Still, that fact doesn’t keep me from wanting the bad guys punished and the good guys rewarded. That’s just the way I am. And in Mask Market, that didn’t happen.

I know that if these characters existed in the real world, none of them would be “good” people. Hardly any of the characters in the Burke series are citizens. They are all criminals in one way or another. However, some of them adhere to a strict code of honor. They have a family that they care and provide for. They only hurt those that would hurt others. And with the exception of dipping into their wallets when needed, citizens are left alone. And because I admire those traits, I consider the characters that have them good. And the characters that don’t? Horrific.

So, I was upset when Beryl Preston was rewarded with freedom and an exorbitant amount of cash at the end of the novel. Preston was a character with no redeeming traits. She had no honor. She had no compassion. And she preyed upon both criminals and citizens alike. She was a sociopath. I hated her.

If Vachss bet that Preston’s history of abuse would soften the reader’s attitude toward her, then it was a gamble he should not have taken. I have never accepted a history of abuse as an excuse to abuse others. And the fact that Burke seemed to accept it by granting Preston safety at the end of the novel—to quite possibly repeat the sins of the monster claiming to be her mother—left a bitter taste in my mouth. Burke was played. He let guilt guide him. And Burke should be much wiser than that.



Dear Mangaka,

Eyeshield 21If you actually expect people who are not white or Asian to purchase your books, this needs to stop. Now. Seriously, the fact that I even need to type this is mind-boggling.

I’d rather be invisible than be depicted in this way. Go back to ignoring us.



Dark eyes.

Boy, I sure hope Crying Freeman improves, because when the only Black female character with a major role (or any role) in a manga series spends her first appearance being brutally raped and left naked in a filthy sewer to eat rats so she doesn’t starve to death, it kind of makes me want to kick everybody gushing about how manga is this fabulous new frontier for women right in the butt.

I suggest you all write thank you letters to Gail Simone and Lea Hernandez, because they have saved a great many of you from being kicked in the butt today. Also, how sad is it that this was the only inoffensive black female character with a major role in a manga series that I could find? A couple of years ago, this wouldn’t have been an issue, but there are a lot of American creators and companies involved with manga now who are trying to sell books to American audiences. You people can really do better. Unless you plan on committing the sins of the superhero all over again in a new genre. And I have some nice platforms in my closet ready to go to work if you do.



Swag, the sequel.

It’s time to talk about comics again, folks.

I picked up the rest of Palmiotti and Linsner’s Claws series featuring Wolverine and the Black Cat. Love it. Love it. Words cannot describe how much I love it. I love it so much that I went out and bought it since Marvel doesn’t send the office review copies of its books. Linsner is a fabulous artist who totally brings a sexy playfulness to every page he draws and Palmiotti does a wonderful job of mixing action and humor. And hopefully, I did not butcher the spelling of either man’s name in this paragraph, because I am entirely too lazy to go and look either one up.

Also wonderful is Marguerite Abouet’s and Clement Oubrerie’s Aya from Drawn & Quarterly. Aya tells the story of a teenage girl and her two friends as they attempt to assert their independence and enjoy life in the working class neighborhood of Yopougon in 1978. I adore this book because it shows a side of Africa that Americans are rarely—no, make that never—allowed to see. Romantic, prosperous, humorous, light-hearted, hopeful, idealistic. How often do we get to see an African protagonist or community with those qualities? Hell, how often do we get to see an African protagonist or community at all?

It also reminds me just how universal these coming-of-age stories and young romantic tales are. I was pleased to see how Aya’s childhood and family life seemed to closely mirror my own. However, I was clearly born to a different culture and generation than the lead character.

Though Aya would feel at right at home on a bookshelf next to independent graphic novels such as Love & Rockets, it should also feel right at home on a shelf next to several manga titles geared towards young girls as well. However, the pessimist in me believes this book will never be placed there. Why? Because while young Americans have no problem accepting books containing a liberal dose of mainstream American and Japanese culture and images, what is black and what is African is still held up as an unwanted other in those circles. It is an ugly truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. So while the tales are so very similar, brown skin seems to make them all too different in the eyes of readers.

Though maybe, just maybe, the comics community will prove me wrong this time. And I will be all too pleased to be as wrong as can be.



A marvelous idea.

Normally I don’t post comments I’ve posted on other sites in my journal, but I’m going to make an exception with this post because I find the topic quite interesting.

The topic? The mixed media crossover between CBS’s Guiding Light and Marvel Comics. On the November 1 episode of the daytime soap opera Guiding Light, actress Beth Ehlers plays Harley Davidson Cooper, a woman who is given special powers due to a freak accident. Cooper is a major character in the Guiding Light cast. Marvel has produced an eight-page story featuring Marvel characters and Guiding Light characters to celebrate the event, and the story will appear in the issues of several Marvel comics.

Soap operas have had wacky stories like this before. Many soap operas are known for having “fantasy moments” where they stick their characters in a completely different setting with new stories. They’ve had characters travel back in time to the Old West and visit futuristic underground cities. This is the first time I’ve heard of a superhero story though.

I think it’s a great way to reach a new audience. Unfortunately, companies need to have something to sell to that audience once they have their attention or else it’s pretty much a waste of time. What does Marvel have right now to offer the stay-at-home mother who wants to forget about the pile of laundry and her screaming kid, or the homesick college student who wants something comforting and familiar, or the tired working woman who wants to zone out with a romantic fantasy before the night shift starts? How about the female viewer who wants a damn good romantic story and a heroine to root for? Marvel has some amazing books, but for the most part, those amazing books feature power fantasies for men and boys. And the books that don’t are for a much younger audience than the one watching soap operas. Does Marvel even have a romance comic geared towards grown women? Why not? What about an action comic that stars a woman and features a heavy dose of romance? If I worked at Marvel, I would have had something lined up to sell to these women. Maybe a Dakota North series or something with Friday Foster. Hell, even Daughters of the Dragon or She-Hulk could have been slightly retooled to fit.

But something tells me the women who watch soap operas will be reading manga romances and books like 12 Reasons Why I Love Her long before women interested in soaps will ever really be courted by Marvel and DC (not counting CMX/Vertigo/Milestone). Manga and independent comic companies already have the daughters and little sisters hooked, and they don’t have to change their product all that much to snag the mothers and older sisters too. Nor do they even have to change the place where they’ve set up shop. After all, women are in the manga/graphic novel section all the time. Someone has to go in and drag those kids and teens out of Borders.

Still, I think it was a good idea that will get the women watching soaps to think about superheroes. And once they do a little research, they’ll see that Marvel has some fabulous superhero books that are geared towards their husbands, boyfriends, younger siblings, and kids. And while they’re buying comics for all those other people, maybe they’ll drift a step or two over and buy some indie and manga books for themselves.

Also, many of the old cast members from B- and C-level nerdbait shows like Mutant X often go on to star as heartthrobs in soaps. Those actors can be wonderful marketing tools if used correctly. Someone should look into that.



Girlie girls and wicked women.

Okay, I went to a “Girls’ Night Out” event hosted by Shecky’s last night.

It was horrible.

I don’t know why I continue to go to these “ladies’ events” when they almost always suck. Perhaps I don’t enjoy them because I’m not a “lady.” I’d say about 40 percent of the shopping booths there were devoted to jewelry (which I hardly every wear) and a good 50 percent of the booths contained overpriced clothes and handbags that I could get for a fraction of the price at any New Jersey mall.

Official tangent: People may make fun of New Jersey, but our malls kick the butts of the malls in every other state. I know you jerks are going to Jersey to shop, because I keep seeing cars with NY and PA plates hogging up all the damn parking spaces. Stop making fun of Jersey or deal with buying overpriced items in your own state.

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled post.

Anyway, another chunk of the booths was dedicated to selling “women’s interest” books. Apparently, the following topics fascinate your average woman:

  • How to get a man.
  • How to get over a man.
  • How to get over on a man.

Booo! That is absurd! Here’s my lists of interests:

  • Electronic gadgets.
  • Home improvement.
  • Dance music.
  • Graphic novels.
  • Science fiction.
  • Lotions and shampoos that smell like food.
  • Cute doggies.

I am not concerned with how to get a man or keep a man. Either he wants me or he doesn’t. I am also not concerned with how to get over on a man because that’s just cruel. And honestly? None of the women I know are interested in those topics either. It’s not as if I belong to a clique of fabulously enlightened chicks. We’re all just average women you encounter everyday. I guess I’m just annoyed that these events cater to such a narrow selection of women. And it’s a selection of women that I (and most other women) have very little in common with. Most women are interested in purchasing more than just clothes, accessories, and books about relationships with men.

Anyway, nothing is all bad. There were some cool things about the event. One, they actually included a graphic novel in the goodie bag! Yes, it was a title geared towards young girls, but I’m still thrilled that comics are now considered something that women are interested in. Two, I had Rice Krispie treats dipped in the most fabulous vanilla glaze ever! They were from Dip, a fondue restaurant in NYC. Plus, there were a couple of nice self-help books there that amazingly had nothing to do with men.

Finally, NJ Transit had massive train delays and it took me forever to get home.



The goods.

I’ve spent way too much time being grumpy and complaining about things that are wrong with the world. Tonight is all about the good stuff.

The Wire: When I say this is the best show on television, I mean it. And it isn’t because the show has had its fair share of eye candy throughout its run either. This is a program with an amazingly talented cast. It is a program that tells a fascinating and complex story over the course of each season, and manages to shed some light on the many intersections of race, class, politics, and crime while doing so. This is not your run of the mill cop show, folks.

The Venture Bros.: The show’s creators could have easily rested on their laurels and been pleased with the fact that they had created a hilariously entertaining cartoon filled to the brim with sarcastic wisecracks and bizarre plots. But they had to take it an additional step further and load it with some of the most amusing and bemusing pop culture references and tributes ever seen. Love it.

Four Four: I deleted all of my gossip blog links around the time that Shameless Media Whore #325 took Minority Photo Op #5786, and felt much better because of it. But I continue to read Four Four. Though, honestly, Rich Juzwiak’s blog is a hell of a lot more than a mere gossip site. The man tears into pop culture like a rabid dog into raw meat. He’s smart, funny, and he’s a hell of a music critic too. So there.

“Devotion” by Ten City: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is the best song in the universe. I am convinced that Byron Stingily’s voice on this track is a gift directly from God to me. We’re talking a religious experience here, people. The song is that good. I think I love it so much because it reminds me of the days when dance music still had a heart and soul. Every time I listen I get butterflies. Each and every time.

Snickers: The ultimate junk food. I had one yesterday and I swear my mouth had an orgasm. Whoever invented this candy bar was brilliant. Brilliant! It is every possible guilty edible pleasure all rolled into one. The sweet and creamy taste of warm chocolate! The intense pleasure of biting down on crunchy, salted peanuts! Feeling the weight of thick caramel pooling in the center of your tongue! Oh, so good!

Adam Warren: Some swoon over the words of Warren Ellis. Some get giddy over the faintest line drawn by Jim Lee. For me, Adam Warren is my last bastion of fangirliness. I simply adore every iota of this man’s work. Every piece the man produces is like a postcard from the future. And the future is fun, fast, and overloaded with information.

Go. Visit. Enjoy.



Body to body.

Something that has begun to trouble me where comics are concerned is the fact that more and more artists are using porn stars and fashion models as a reference when drawing superheroines. Stop doing this. Please. I’m begging you.

Fashion models and porn stars may have bodies that are sexually attractive to men, but they do not have bodies that exhibit exceptional power and strength. And if you are going to have a career that involves beating up criminals and chasing after miscreants, strength is something you need. To depict male heroes as powerful champions and depict female heroes as erotic objects who pose in uncomfortable positions that elicit a sexual response from men is unbelievably insulting and misleading. And it exposes artists who use porn stars and fashion models as a reference for the lazy bastards that they are. They don’t care about getting it right. They care about getting off.

What’s so sad is that if these artists were willing to do just five minutes of research, they’d find a whole slew of photos of women who are both strong and sexually attractive. Just go to Google Image Search and type in fitness competitor. Or pick up an issue or two of Oxygen magazine.

It’s that simple, people.



Hair therapy.

I have three major pet peeves when it comes to art in comics. Here they are in order of importance:

  • Women drawn like preteen-boys with breast implants.
  • Asian people that are drawn with European features.
  • Black women with ridiculous hairstyles.

Today we are going to talk about number three. Billy Tucci?

Misty Knight

What the hell is this? Seriously. I require you to explain this to me. You are a good artist. If you weren’t a good artist, I would let you slide on this. But since you are a good artist, I’m gonna have to bring it to you. This? Unacceptable. You couldn’t spend three dollars on a black hair care magazine? I would have sent you one for free, man. That is how much Misty’s new hairstyle pains me. The woman looks like she has a hat on. I’ll be the first one to admit that black women have a ridiculous variety of hairstyles and hair textures. However, the majority of us usually don’t like to wear all of them on our heads at once. Kinky or straight. Pick a texture and go with it. Because I am so kind, I have provided you with some examples of good hairstyles. Make way for the awesome.

See? It’s all love, man. It’s all love.

Coming soon: Monica Rambeau. Walking Hair Atrocity.



Swag.

Y’know what? When I say I’m going to read a certain book, that pretty much means that I am not going to read it. Didn’t I say a while back that I was going to dive right into Mask Market? Well, that dive lasted about three pages. Instead I found myself knee-deep in Two Trains Running, which I swore I’d never read, and polished off Food and Loathing, which touched me so deeply that I was walking around in a fog for days. Plus, Food and Loathing has the best line I’ve ever read in a book. Ever. Here’s an excerpt:

I want to kill Anna’s mother. I want to rip every pink thing from this shit-box of a doughnut shop and smear it with chocolate custard. I want to scream in her tight little face: You know I want another doughnut, you fucking bitch.

Awesome.

It’s a heartbreaking look at one woman’s struggles with body image and depression with the perfect touch of humor that makes it a delight to read. It’s amazing.

I actually went and bought comics yesterday. Frivolous, I know. These are the last ones, I swear. It’s graphic novels from now on. But since I already bought them, let’s talk about them.

Joe Linsner’s art in Claws is so…very…sexy. But here’s why he’s better than all of those cheeseball artists who love sticking two bowling balls on every female character and calling it a day:

One, he devotes just as much attention to making the male protagonist sexy too. Two, he understands that the human body is sexy as is. There’s no distortion in his art at all. Women have hips and waists that have normal attainable ratios. Breasts are affected by gravity. Legs are of a normal length and width. His women look like women—not preteen boys with breast implants. Not Barbie dolls. Just gorgeous women who spend a great deal of time in the gym.

And I love it.

Spider-Man and Black Cat

Anyone who tells me that that image is not one of the cutest things ever is lying. You are a liar. And his faces are so expressive too!

I’m slipping into fangirl mode. I’ll stop now.

Finally, I picked up the rest of Marvel’s Daughters of the Dragon series. Fun stuff.



Swag.

Let us talk about my awesome new acquisitions. First up, I got a pair of sexy sensible shoes. Do you know how hard it is to find sensible shoes that are sexy? Damn hard. I am so in love with these shoes that it should be a crime. They were on sale too. Forty-four bucks. Normally, there’s no way in hell that I would pay that much for shoes since I always wait until Macy’s has its 65 percent-off sale and then I load up. But I needed shoes. All I have are sneakers and boots. Sneakers aren’t sexy and boots aren’t comfortable.

Next up? I got a pair of headphones to replace the broken ones on my MP3 player. What’s with all the white appliances and electronics nowadays? Nothing I have matches because I never buy anything at once. I have a white computer and monitor and a black keyboard and speakers. It looks completely ridiculous. It bothers me since I am almost mental about things matching.

The third acquisition? Blade Runner on DVD. Yes! It’s the director’s cut though. I’m not happy about that. I heard that version is more violent than the original. I’m pretty much a gigantic baby when it comes to on-screen violence—except when it happens in a cartoon. For some reason I can gleefully watch some of the most brutal cartoons ever made and not be troubled in the least.

Last but not least? Mask Market. Whoooo! Andrew Vachss is cooler than Batman, people. Y’all just don’t know! I’m totally ripping through that book tomorrow.

I am still refusing to buy new clothes until I lose weight. I will wear the same damn outfit every day for the next year if I have to. I mean it!