Black Vatican #4

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Dead Flynn Day #1

Flynn's Comments:
It seems that every once in a while, regardless of effort, comics just don't get finished. So following the tradition of those before us, we offer you the first Dead Flynn Day (DFD). It's not a finished comic, but it comes with snappy comments and behind the scenes extras... ohh, you like that...

When I was first starting my education as an artist, in a brash and youthful manner, I decided that I would never apologize for my art. Luckily this wasn't really that much of a vow. As a graphic designer it's never really your art. It's commissioned, guided, and proofed by the client. So no matter how messed up something is, it's never really your fault. As long as you have signed proofs, that is.

Then I met a man with a vision.. of sorts. And I tried my hand at illustration.

Together we developed characters, concept art, and terrifying story ideas - ideas that made us feel guilty just for thinking them, let alone sharing. Today's DFD was originally a mock concept art of the pope jokingly developed in our first day of brain storming. It was never meant for consumption by the masses. Although it did, in a round about way, serve as inspiration for our first attempt at crude visual humor.

Unfortunately at the moment we lack the visual ambrosia that other comics offer on occasions such as this. So I give you this piece of Black Vatican memorabilia. And I am sorry.

HSBP's Comments:
I am transfixed by a horror that even Lovecraftian adjectives fail to apprehend, and yet I cannot look away. Even as the cursor points to the rescue of the back arrow and my finger hovers over the mouse button, I am unable to click. The shock, the disgust, the... ACCURACY of it... is stomach-churning. Gods forgive us.

I think it's the garters that get me.

Black Vatican #3

Flynn's comments:
We put this together rather quickly in response to Jack Thompson's recent legal action, in which he accuses Take Two (and a list of other people: Kotaku, Joystiq, GameSpot, IGN, Penny Arcade (PA), EGM, Game Informer, Spong, and Game Politics) of violating RICO laws. Among other things, Jack claims they are propagating a massive conspiracy to deprive him of his civil rights. If I'm not mistaken, the medical term for this is Paranoid Schizophrenia.

If you are wondering who Jack is, you need only Google his name. The resulting flood of hits will show his involvement in the area's of media violence, anti-gay litigation, racist speech, sexist behavior, and my personal favorite - his suing Penny Arcade for donating to a Children's Hospital - should provide enough basis for even the most understanding vatican parishioners to curse his name.

The good folks over at Penny Arcade had a word or two on this as well.

The Reverend's comments:
If you don't know who Fred Phelps is, feel free to Google his name also. You'll immediately see a similarity between the asshattery of Reverend Phelps and Mr. Thompson. It is our hope that this little comic will help the two of them see that they are cut from the same cloth. Perhaps they can meet and become friends - maybe even create a little 12 step program for themselves and other homophobic media addicts...

Well, duh...

I usually try to avoid posting all the little quiz thingies that come my way. Quizzilla is to data collection what MySpace is to social networking... and as many of you know, I am convinced that MySpace is the ass-to-mouth of the internet.

On the other hand, we have already sunk to the level of jokes about hentai and my jiggling fat, so I figure I can relax my standards a bit. This quiz was sent to me by one of the cyberfaithful (Mischief) and the result was too good to pass up...

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

Black Vatican #2

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Wisdom, Black Vatican Style

(Thanks to all who contributed!)

Love thy neighbor as thyself, but choose your neighborhood.

Welcome thy neighbor into thy fallout shelter. He'll come in handy when you run out of food.

Never look a homeless man in the mouth.

Do unto others before they do unto you.

When in doubt, use the smell test.

One good turn gets all the covers.

Trust in Allah, but hire more airport screeners.

Anything truly worth doing, is worth doing for money.

You can jump off that bridge when you come to it.

Honesty is the best policy, where there's money in it.

If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving isn’t for you.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It rocks absolutely, too.

He who hesitates is lost... or possibly stapled to the floor.

Measure twice, cut once... because multiple circumcisions are really painful.

The best things in life are free - and you get what you pay for.

You can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think.

That which doesn’t kill me, better be able to run pretty damn fast.

Ladies, looking for a good man is like looking for a needle in a gay stack.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me.

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until next Thursday.

The bigger they are, the harder, faster, and more often they will hit you.

We must believe in luck. How else can we explain the successes of those we don't like?

Be cautious in showing your true self to others.. at least until after the plastic surgery.

There's more ways to skin a cat than stickin' its head in a bootjack and pulling on its tail.

In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king... and the one-eyed man with the high heels and the feather boa is queen.

And always remember, it's better to be quotable than to be honest.

Bong Hits 4 Jesus in Court

In 2002, Joseph Fredericks hoisted the banner shown above across the street from his high school in Juneau, Alaska. He was suspended from school, a decision which he and his father appealed to the school district and eventually in court. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Frederick, and ruled that the school was guilty of violating his First Amendment right of free speech.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court hears a petition to reconsider the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case. Representing the Juneau school district is Kenneth Starr, famous for his investigation of Whitewater and Monica's stained dress. Oddly enough, Frederick has received support from both liberal and conservative groups... even Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (the uber right wing group that is most famous for fighting for the rights of schools to display nativity scenes) supports Frederick's free speech rights.

Frederick claims that his message was neither drug-related, nor religious. It was instead intended to be humorous, and it was erected on private property, not on school grounds. Starr plans to argue that the activity going on at the time - an Olympic Torch parade - was effectively a school field trip, thus giving the school the right to suppress speech that expressed a pro-drug position in an academic setting.

Feel free to comment - your First Amendment rights are safe in the Flock (unless you've already been excommunicated - you apostates know who you are...).

Linus Hears Benny K

A chat with Benny K is rarely dull. Always filled with odd images, and a love of life that does my whithered and blackened heart good. Here's an example - after sending me the link featured below, we had the following chat:

Reverend Linus: It's brilliant - thanks!!
Benny K: No worries. Thought you might like it.
Reverend Linus: You thought rightly!
Benny K: Excellent. I wonder what it would be like to think leftly. Might be a great way to meet girls...

The link in question pointed to some truly unusual music. I rarely post about music... my tastes tend toward punk, glam, and goth so I have little motivation to share that with the blogisphere - I get enough ridicule already, thank you very much. In this case, however, I simply have to applaud the creative spark that brought this masterwork of folk-fusion to fruition. Turn up your speakers, and see what Seuss hath wrought...

Dylan Hears a Who

His versions of "Green Eggs and Ham" and "Oh the Thinks You Can Think" are my favorites...

Punctuational Proposal Revisited

Back in April of '06, I blogged on the idea that we needed a sarcasm mark to supplement our current set of punctuation marks. As I mentioned then, this was something that I had discussed with my friends some years earlier, particularly one of my buddies who was going to school in the UK. Since then, the sarcasm mark has become the subject of a Wikipedia article, and that brief post was cited as a reference for the article.

I was alerted to this by a new comment on the old post (I found it while checking traffic numbers to see how the new web comic was doing...). The commenter, unfortunately anonymous, pointed out that I was being credited as the 'inventer' of the idea of using the percent symbol as the sarcasm mark. He claimed that he and his friends came up with the same idea earlier (in 2003).

In the interest of keeping the record straight, and %because I would hate to besmirch the sterling record of accuracy for which Wikipedia is so famous%, I have to admit that I'm not sure exactly when we started using the sarcasm mark, but I believe it was before I returned to college in 2001. I have sent off messages to my buddies to see if by some miracle, they might have saved the messages from those days (remember, this was pre-Gmail, so the storing of every single message is unlikely). Hopefully, we can reconstruct a timeline for the creation of this punctuational convention, and credit the correct inventer(s). To be honest, I think it was my idea, but I want to confirm that with the folks who were there - it could have been the brainchild of someone else, and I just ran with it... More on this in the future.

Black Vatican #1

Click to enlarge.
Seriously, enlarge it. Flynn worked his stylus to the bone on this, and he wants you to see it all...

Pon and Zi

Thanks to Squee Piddly, I have new cartoon heroes. Go and see all of their adventures, as well as other art by Jeff Thomas.

Cyber Dye

I know it's a ways off yet, but it never hurts to be prepared. Before ruining a perfectly good boiled egg, you can practice with this, um... Easter Egg Decorating Thingy.

(I seem to have a knack for finding the worst music on the 'net...)

Critically Caucasian

We are so white as to actually be dangerous to ourselves...

Alter Boi: I am moving to Scotland and becoming a sheep herder.
HSBP: All right... any reason?
Alter Boi: I have always liked the sheep people. They are good people. And they need someone to look after them.
HSBP: Why Scottland? There are sheep here. Why you gotta' hate on your sheep homiez?
Alter Boi: 'Cuz the sheep homiez here are gangsta 'n shit. The sheep in Scottland are much more in-tune and mellow.
HSBP: That's just another plot from the Man, trying to keep a woolly brother down, girl.

Alter Boi: Nah, man that's just static in the air about that kinda shit. It's all conspiracy pyscho babble, yo.
HSBP: If you ain't down with the sheep homiez, then you ain't down, wigga.
Alter Boi: Foo' I don't be hatin' on the sheep homiez, yo, I ain't sayin' I'm not down but damn, they all strung out on street corners 'n shit, snatch purses and holdin' people at knife point just to get some alfalfa, yo. That shit ain’t right.
HSBP: But we gots to help our woolly brothers to help theyselves, G.
Alter Boi: I suppose so Homez, but I'm not down with hand outs… I'm all about the hand ups. We should start a reach-out program for the ewe's out on the corners, that's where the real problems are. Especially in this state, I mean when the motto is "Wyoming: Where men are men, and sheep are scared." It just ain't right, we gotta put a stop to this.
HSBP: Word, dawg.
Alter Boi: Word.

Saint Edmund Prep

Ok, so the music is awful, but I thought this video did a good job of showing the speed and intensity of handball. It also features several fit young men without shirts... which appeals to a certain portion of my readership.

If you're near the Black Vatican and would like to try handball, just let me know. We play after work almost every weekday, and we totally have hot guys with no shirts playing with us ALL THE TIME...

Call for Suggestions

Your Sable Primate is working on a new poem, based on aphorisms.

aph·o·rism [af-uh-riz-uhm]
a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, such as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).

Naturally, I intend to corrupt them to suit the nefarious ends of the Black Vatican, and to make them "slamworthy." Here's the kind of thing I'm looking for: "One good turn deserve another." Properly twisted, this comes out as, "One good turn gets all the covers." Another example: "There, but for the grace of God, go I" becomes, "There, but for the gods of grace, go I." You get the idea...

Please submit any clever sayings like the above, or feel free to submit any of the old classics that you'd like to see twisted. All who submit suggestions will receive a minor beatification and have their pinky toe bone placed in a gilded reliquary after death (or before - your choice).

Post-Birthday Wrap-Up

"What's so damned troublesome about not having died?"
-Admiral Leonard McCoy

Over the last decade, I have really tried to rehabilitate my attitude about my birthday. About 8 years ago, the women I was seeing at the time were planning a gathering for my birthday, and I was grousing incessantly about it.

"What is the big fucking deal? It's just another day - another day closer to the grave! I don't need to be reminded that I'm aging; my fucking joints do that every morning when I get out of bed! I certainly don't need to feed my friends punch and pie to celebrate my sagging body and thinning hair. What, are we children? Do we really need to put on those silly fucking hats and sing that wretched song every year? Couldn't I just downgrade? Maybe celebrate only the decades? Just one big party on my 40th would be fine by me, and fucking cheaper, too!"

I went on in this vein for the better part of a Saturday afternoon. They both tried to be patient with me, but as many of you know, I can really drive a point into the ground. One of them finally snapped and jumped me.

"Contrary to popular belief, your birthday is NOT about you!" She screamed this at me in the car as we were driving back from shopping for party supplies. "It's about the people who love you. The least you could do is quit being a whiny little bitch long enough for them to celebrate it!"

This was particularly shocking coming from her, as she was a very nurturing and motherly personality - she was the Wendy to our pack of Lost Boys, and she rarely ever raised her voice. She was also a tiny, elfin creature, standing all of 5 feet tall and weighing about 90 pounds soaking wet, so I imagine it was pretty comical to see me sulking in the driver's seat as she berated me.

I wish I could say I turned over a new leaf that day, but in truth it took several more years for me to stop being a complete jackass about my birthday. I am still somewhat growly about it, but now I do appreciate that it's not solely about me.

I had wanted to do something more party-like, but once the month of March began to fill up with reports and deadlines as well as Rachel's wedding, I became completely at peace with letting my date of birth pass quietly. I got some very well-considered gifts, and had a nice dinner at Ruby Slippers with a small group of friends. My family is late with cards and gifts as usual, but I imagine Mom's card will contain money, so I'm ok with it being late...

In fact, I'm ok with it all. All of it - including my joints aching and my hair thinning and the old jokes from friends and coworkers, and the fattening food, and the mushy cards and the sappy song and the reminder of my inevitable death - all of it is fine by me this year.

Except the hats - those still suck.

Sunday (Slam) Sermon

I came in 2nd in the poetry slam last night, due in part to the poem below. The prize money ($75) almost exactly covers my recent sushi bill. Coincidence? I think not...

Each day
every 24 hour cycle
each complete rotation of this little blue-green rock
roughly 155,000 people die.
That's a little less than 6500 every hour
and about 108 per minute.
Now, I'm not going to say that this poem is going to kill 324 people,
but statiscally speaking, that's how it looks.
But you good people, you needn't worry
because you are not among that 324
it's not your time-
wait your fucking turn.
Because those 324 have waited their turn
Some of those 324 are grandmothers
who are pretty sure they know where they are going,
and some are infants,
who don't even know where they are,
but they have all stood in line
and reached that precipice-
and then they fall in
or they were pushed
or, worse yet, they jump.

Some people are certain
that if you are standing in the right line
the other side is the greatest amusement park ride ever
you hand your ticket to St. Peter
and then over the edge and straight down,
pull up doing 7 Gs
then up over the top, weightless
into a triple corkscrew
and it's cool, 'cuz you don't lose your lunch...
But if you are standing in the wrong line
it's just straight down-
for eternity.

Personally, I plan to stay in line for as long as possible-
hell, I'm letting people cut in front of me!
But I don't think it really matters what line you're in.
If you're in the line for heaven, or the one for hell
or the one that lights incense and meditates
or the one that pours milk on Ganesh
or the one with the special underwear-
even if you think you get to stand in line over and over-
what matters is what you do while you're waiting.
Did you make use of the time, or were you just waiting for the ride to start?
Were you one of those fuckers who pushed people?
Or were you a coward who jumped?

And if you are one of those who believes
that rules are rules
that a single try is enough
that you only get to stand in line once,
just let me leave you with this old saying,
this classic aphorism;
"If at first you don't succeed,
skydiving isn't for you."

Go in Peace.

It's just one Saturday...

So I was checking the blog of the FBotA* this morning, and as is often the case, her never-ending quest for "Which Vampire is Your Ideal Lover?" quizzes and bisexual amputee MILF pr0n** has turned up something interesting.

Global Shutdown Day looks like an interesting experiment. Turning off your computer for 24 hours, especially on a Saturday, shouldn't be too hard, but like all days of abstinence its purpose is really to focus our attention. It's a good concept, but I think they are marketing it wrongly. They should piggy-back on some other well known days of abstinence like the Great American Smokeout and the Great American Meatout. They could call it The Great Global Pr0nout.

During the Pr0nout, there are many other things you could do with your computer.***

* "Fluffy Bunny of the Apocalypse" It's pronounced "ef-boat-ah."
** Yes, it actually exists. No, I don't know why.
*** Laptop curling is the new sport of kings.

Cookie or Shock

Sometimes life gives you a cookie. Sometimes life gives you an electric shock. (Look, it's a variation on the old "carrot and stick" trope - just go with it.) Usually these little alternations come at random intervals, surprising us, pleasantly or not, with a syncopated rhythm. It's rare that life settles into a stately 4/4 time signature, predictably laying down a marching cadence of pain and pleasure, but it can happen.

Monday, I was interviewed for an editorial internship with a scholarly journal on campus. This is a job for a serious grammar nazi - precise, persnickety, literary nit-picking for profit. I felt the interview went well, and the faculty members who recommended me for it spoke in glowing terms of my obsessiveness where language is concerned. It's odd to meet people who applaud your anal-retentiveness, and yet there was a panel of them, verbally patting me on the back for it. (Cookie)

The following day, I heard a very credible rumor that I was "wait listed" by the MFA Creative Writing program. "Wait listed" is a polite way of saying "if the people we actually want in the program catch diphtheria and die, we'll take you." Suddenly, the next two years became free. (Shock)

Yesterday, my second diploma - the one for my BA in English - arrived at my office, hand-delivered by one of the employees of the Registrar's office. I was filling out my monthly time card at the time, so I set that aside to check it out. My name and major were spelled correctly (Cookie) - not always a sure thing here at UW; ask the "Women?s Studies" majors of a few years back - so I put it back into its rigid envelope, and went back to accounting for my time. It was then that I realized that after four and a half years in Laramie and two BAs, I am making just slightly less than I was making in 2000, driving a forklift for WalMart. (Shock)

While walking across campus today, I was approached by a stranger who wanted to know if I was coming to the slam, and if I was going to read her favorite poem. (Cookie) That I am recognized on campus is understandable (with the kilt, and the "all black, all the time" clothing format I have going on) but she has a favorite amongst my poems? It really hit me oddly. I don't even have a favorite amongst my poems...

So now that the pattern is set, I am waiting on the next shock. Perhaps this is the bridge of the song; neither verse nor chorus, but a related theme that leads to a key change. Perhaps this is the beginning of another movement, or perhaps I have pushed this music metaphor too far... but the point is, I can hear this chord coming to resolution. The end of something is near, and the beginning of something else is just ahead in the next measure.