Strange Lands

I neglected to mention in my last post that Seattle ‘Super Hero’ Phoenix Jones, had at the time of posting, been arrested for allegedly spraying a person or persons with pepper spray. Well, you (and the citizens of Seattle) will be relieved to know that no-one has pressed charges and that Phoenix has now been released on his own recognizance. He and his Super Hero League sidekicks are back on the streets once more doing what they do best – wearing funny costumes.1

Phoenix told KOMO News:

There’s been a lot of confusion about people thinking I’m delusional or I’m crazy or that I don’t understand what I’m doing… Everyone’s doing it – they just don’t know. If you walk from your car to a show and back to your car, that’s being on patrol. The only difference is, when I see crime, I call 911 first, wait, and when it gets dangerous I step in. And I feel like every citizen could do that.

So, to sum it up, he’s just doing what anyone would do. Only (completely undelusionally) he’s doing it in a funny costume. Because that’s the undelusional American Way.

Of course, now he’s got bigger fish to fry…

Be afraid, Seattle Super Heroes. Be VERY afraid.

  1. Mind you, Phoenix Jones’ costume is nowhere near as formidable as his hair. The judge required that Phoenix remove his mask when in court, which he did. Later in the same spirit he also removed it for reporters. Crikey. Personally, I think he’d be much more impressive if he went on his patrols au naturale. []

One of the fundamental foundations of American society is the indelible belief that anyone, no matter how humble their beginnings, nor how lowly their status, can achieve their personal vision of greatness, whatever that may be. A boy with an interest in flight can become an astronaut; a little girl from the Bronx can become a planetary scientist; a black kid from Hawaii can even become President.

But what all American kids really want to do when they grow up, is to be a superhero. Well, why not, eh? Let me introduce you to someone who has made that childhood dream a reality – Phoenix Jones:

Yes, this man, whose identity is a complete mystery1 is a real person who patrols the streets of Seattle in a funny costume protecting law abiding citizens from Evil through the use of his mysterious super powers. Well, OK, if you include under the umbrella of ‘super’ powers the ability to use pepper spray and the dialling aptitude for calling 911. And if your definition of Evil is something like two coked-up hysterically screaming women and their shiftless intellectually-challenged boyfriends.

See Phoenix Jones bringing his awesome justice to bear in this clip, where he is accompanied by his trusty lieutenant, Ghost.2 Sure, he spends most of his time running away, but it’s the thought that counts, right? And the costume.

Apparently, Seattle has a veritable Justice League of these dudes. There’s Phoenix and Ghost as we’ve seen, and the atramentous Pitch Black, the sapphire-bewigged Blue Sparrow, The Red Dragon, The White Baron and the Yellow Custard. Well, actually, I made that last one up, but it’s an obvious omission from the League, and at least he could run away with integrity.

The Real Life Super Hero movement to which all these defenders-of-the-common-good (DON’T call them vigilantes!) belong is supposedly about these people helping out the weak and the vulnerable in the night-time streets of Seattle.3 Even though I only heard about this weird story yesterday, there’s been a shitload of press coverage of Phoenix Jones and his cohorts. Something that doesn’t seem to occur to a single news reporter (or anyone else), though, is the very first thing that entered my mind: if you have an elite clique of superheroes shouldn’t you by absolute necessity have an elite clique of super villains? How can Seattle possibly aspire to be a real-life Gotham City with only drunken hookers and mentally challenged jocks for bad guys?

It seems to me like there’s an opening here, Faithful Acowlytes, and I hereby announce the formation of the Seattle Super Villains League. And the League needs YOUR help. That’s right Cowmrades, it’s a Cow Competition. It is your task to create a Seattle Super Villain – I want a name and appropriate super powers, and a description of his/her costume (extra points for artwork). Let’s give Phoenix Jones some real opposition! The funniest, cleverest, wittiest, meanest member of the SSVL wins an awesome something from the Tetherd Cow Shoppe.

Together everybody: MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

ADDENDUM: My friend Tone recommends James Gunn’s Super, the trailer of which I present below for your enjoyment:

  1. It’s not really, but people, for chrissakes – EVERYONE knows that a super hero’s real identity is secret! That’s Comicbook Tropes 101. []
  2. From the clip it’s a bit hard to tell what Ghost’s super powers are but they appear to be the ability to get in the way and the ability to stand near Phoenix looking confused. []
  3. In the daytime, the weak and the vulnerable are on their own. C’mon – no-one‘s gonna go out in those costumes in broad daylight… []

The Sony Pictures studios where I’m working in Los Angeles was once upon a time owned by MGM. It’s nice to know that, if you know where to look, remnants of the Golden Era of movie making can still be found.

The area where I’m staying in Los Angeles has a large Orthodox Jewish population. I’m quite fond of experiencing diversity in my surroundings but I have to say that I find being among strong religious communities rather off-putting. It emphasises for me the way that religion is a kind of mass delusion that encourages people to do very silly things.

For example: the Talmud states that, as a devout Jew you should ‘Cover your head in order that the fear of heaven may be upon you’ and Jewish men are strongly recommended not to walk more than four cubits with their head uncovered. To this end, I see many local men in this neighbourhood wearing the small skull cap called a kippah (or yarmulke) as they go about their business.

Yesterday while I was in the supermarket, I noticed a guy wearing a kippah which must have been pretty much the most minimal thing you could put on your head and get away with calling a ‘head covering’. It was not much more than the size of a Ritz cracker, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that he bent down to take something off a lower shelf, I doubt I would have seen it at all.

The problem I have with this kind of thing is the way that humans have decided to interpret an edict from the Holy Scripture to suit their own, human, purposes. Followers of many religions propose that something is The Word of God and then seem comfortable with adding as many human caveats and qualifications as they see fit. They act like disobedient children, who, when asked to do something they don’t like, interpret it to suit their own agendas. Where is there any kind of rigor in this way of thinking? It is yet another example of the countless double-standards that riddle religious doctrine.1

I’m betting that the original intention of the Talmud was that you should wear a proper head covering like a hat or a scarf.2 It’s obviously a pain in the ass to wear a hat all the time, so someone, somewhere got the idea that they could interpret the ruling a little more loosely, and a generous head covering became a cap, and a cap became the kippah we usually see today. The ridiculous little cheese cracker that I saw yesterday seems to me to be the most grudging acceptance of religious commitment. It prompted me to wonder why, instead of wearing the daft thing at all, the guy didn’t just go bare-headed and pretend that the supermarket was less than four cubits from his house. As far as I can see, it’s exactly the same kind of logic.

  1. Not that I’m advocating fundamentalism, you understand, but at least the logic of it is coherent. []
  2. Which, even in itself, is a berserk religious instruction that makes little rational sense. []

In a Tetherd Cow Ahead exclusive, we present for your scrutiny a shot of a SECOND mysterious missile launch over California in the space of a few days! This CowCam™ shot was captured just this morning and we present it to you here for the very first time! Yes folks, mysterious missile launches are all the rage in the US at the moment after this report on CBS News on Tuesday showed a ‘phantom’ missile being launched off the coast near LA:

Magnificent images were captured by the KCBS news helicopter in L.A. around sunset Monday evening. The location of the missile was about 35 miles out to sea, west of L.A. and north of Catalina Island.

Of course, not one of the hundreds of commercial news channels that uncritically ran the story managed to mention that the moving footage1 shows it to be the slowest ‘missile’ in the known universe – if it was launched 35 miles off the coast that is, and is climbing skywards. Of course, there is the possibility that the ‘climbing plume’ was just an optical illusion and the missile was actually really high up in the atmosphere, at about, oh, 30,000 feet or so, and travelling along the path that a commercial jet might have used… oh, wait…


[I suppose it could be a Reticulan plot to ennhilate us…]

UPDATE: There is a totally brilliant deconstruction of the incident here. If you’re in any doubt after this, there might be a job in the US military for you.

  1. They mostly ran still images cherry picked for the most ‘missile-looking’ frames. []

Halloween is one of my favourite festivals as you all know. It is the time of the year when we celebrate the dark and drear, when our imaginations wander to the chilly side of existence and we contemplate those things that cannot come out to play in the light of day.

So it is deeply disturbing to me, to see the Halloween tradition becoming cuter and cuter as the years go by. Cute pumpkins, cheery ghosts, jolly vampires, happy Frankenstein’s monsters… what the hell is with all that? Halloween is supposed to SCARE you, people. It’s not about CUTE. If you want cute you can get it any time of the year. In fact, all you wimps who want a Festival of Cute, why don’t you go make one. Put it in February, as far away from Halloween as possible. Then you can all go and revel in your Anne Geddes photographs and Hello Kitty pinkitude together and leave the rest of us to enjoy a decent scare-fest.

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