Posts Tagged ‘babylon 5’


Confessions of a Fake Nerd

December 19, 2012

Hello.  My Name is Chris.  I am a Fake Nerd.

Confessions of a Fake Nerd

For the benefit of newcomers, at some point over the summer, some squeaky wheel in comics started picking on fangirls cosplaying at conventions, saying they didn’t know enough about the fandom, the medium, the characters they dressed up as… or something like that.  They were “fake nerds.”  (I think there was also something about seducing virgins with their above-average but not exceptional tits, but to be honest, I haven’t bothered to delve into this whole thing.)

Point is, I believed myself to be a real nerd for quite some time because puberty came and went and I still liked comic books.  Also Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, because duh, I am alive on the planet, but also Babylon 5 which I thought was far enough out of the mainstream to count.  It’s true I still can’t spell Joe Straczynski without running to Internet Movie Database–but I do know that the J in J. Michael Straczynski stands for Joe, and I know that because that’s we called him on GEnie.  Let me say that again.  That’s what we called him on GEnie, the pre-world wide web online service run by General Electric and the reason B5 was located at Grid Epsilon 470/18/22 because that’s where the science fiction roundtable was located.  And I don’t know that from Wikipedia; I know that because I was a lurker on that forum—which had the ugliest goddamn text interface you ever saw, but none of us cared because even if graphics were an option, you wouldn’t want them on a 300 baud modem!

Again, point is, I honestly thought I was a real nerd.  I mean Cat-Tales alone:  60+ stories, over a million words, written over more than 10 years.  That’s like Russian novel territory for page length and a chunk of a writer’s time… about Batman.  That’s without getting into the Wayne Family History I came up with, the virtual Gotham and cgi avatars used to make video—not even for Cat-Tales per se, but for our little Dark Knight Rises ARG-viral-celebration-thingy at the Gotham After Dark collection of websites.

I was even going to make up the Twelve Steps for Fake Nerd Girls.

  1. We admit we don’t know who invented Harley Quinn, or if we kinda think it might have been Paul Dini, we don’t think that knowledge enhances cosplay.
  2. Came to believe our right to express ourselves was just as valid as anyone else’s and carelessly did so without regard to the trauma it might inflict on virgin fanboys in the vicinity.
  3. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our personal appearance and vowed only to dress in costumes we have the figure for.
  4. Made a decision to confine our future expressions of enjoyment to those approved of by the franchise owners and corresponding to the personal taste and aesthetic of their paid employees.

And that’s when I realized I am an incredibly FAKE NERD!

Because it occurs to me that one mark of the real nerd is not caring what anybody thinks, and we’ve all been talking about this crap way too much if we honestly don’t give a damn.

Consider: Catwoman.  As far as I’m concerned – Purple.  High heels. 38DD.  If you have a problem with that, I. Don’t. Care.  If I had a problem with your having a problem, I would not be doing it right.

Finding it necessary to “So there” what some guy wrote on his Facebook wall, whether he has professional credentials or not, is frankly a little fake-nerdish, isn’t it?   I mean, I went to see one of the original posts that started one of these brushfires and it had all of 48 views.  Not even 48 likes or comments.  Facebook had shown it to 48 people, who may or may not have read it.  So 48 max, including me and the outraged blogger who linked it.  I went back the next day and it was up to a whopping 60.   Was this old crank mouthing off to a couple dozen of his old crank friends really worth getting worked up over?

I mean, I had fun that day, but that’s the communal nature of a fandom.  We can find ways to do that, find ways to have fun together, without validating some emo-troll-malcontent’s blatant cry for attention.  When a child throws a tantrum in a supermarket, you ignore it.  When somebody who clearly has issues that are completely unrelated to you tries to use you as a punching bag to vent his or her frustration, you don’t want to be rewarding that behavior by responding to it.  Only reality TV rewards bad behavior with screen time, and those who get their ideas of how to behave from that model need to be shown that that’s not how it works in the real world, or even – if we can get our collective act together – on the internet.

That’s it.  That’s all I’ve got.  I’m Chris Dee, and I am a fake nerd no more.


And so it begins… After Coffee

February 27, 2012

The Gotham Rogues Chapter 5: And So It Begins

It’s a tricky business being the one-woman marketing department for an operation like Cat-Tales.  See, I had a plan.  Come backstage with me for a minute, pay  no attention to the madman spattering paint over there on the Occupy Gotham set.  It means nothing.

Okay, so, it’s a new chapter day, and I had a plan.  There’s the link to the chapter on the main Cat-Tales site and on the mobile-friendly mirror, that’s two links for me to be a-posting.  There’s the Cat-Tales Facebook Page and then there’s my personal profile, and I think it’s tedious and annoying to be posting the same things in both places within seconds of each other.  So what I like to do is give a little teaser on my profile while the CT page gets the links, then I go on and send out the newsletter, post on the forum, etc. etc. and finally go back to Facebook and share the link on the profile.

I had my teaser all picked out, or at least narrowed down.  The title of the chapter is: And So It Begins, a reference, of course, to this moment


Nothing says the long built up war is finally upon us like those 4 little words: And So It Begins

I didn’t expect to actually find it on YouTube, but it’s there, along with this rather haunting piece of music with the same title:

No doubt the same allusion.  It’s the phrase of choice to indicate a war against the rising darkness.  Joe Straczynski did the same on Babylon 5.

So anyway, I teased the new chapter day and shared the link, got on with my day, uploaded the new chapters, went about sharing that link on Facebook, Twitter, sent newsletter, posted in forum and… uh, oops… turns out I didn’t share the video on my profile after all.

Have I ever mentioned what a total mess I am before coffee?  I was logged in to post on the Cat-Tales PAGE when I shared the video, so it went up there along with the chapter links.  That’s perfectly obvious now, but before Gevalia’s caffeine lube has worked its magic on my brain, you should have seen me trying to figure out why the damn thing I KNEW I had posted was. not. there.

Moral: don’t try to facebook before coffee.  Just, don’t.

Oh, yeah, the new chapter, right.  Cat-Tales #65:  The Gotham Rogues, Chapter 5: And So It Begins on the Cat-Tales website and mobile-friendly


Batman and Catwoman and All Things Gotham

October 28, 2011

Listen to
internet radio with Allaine on Blog Talk Radio

Blogtalking about Batman, Catwoman and all things Gotham (What else is new?)

October 28, 2011

I had such a blast last night appearing as a guest on Blogtalk Radio and talking about all things Catwoman: Purple Catwoman, Reboot Catwoman, Catwoman and Batman, all the actresses who’ve played Catwoman in the movies… well you get the idea. Seriously though, we talked about other stuff. Harley, Ivy, Joker… Meow
Cat-Tales Author Chris Dee on The Dark Knight Rises Catwoman, the DC Comics Reboot, purple Catwoman costumes, and all things Batman
You can download the podcast here.


A Look Back: The Year Everything Changed

April 19, 2011

Last year when I rolled out the ebook compilation of Book 3, I mentioned that one of my favorite TV shows was Joe Straczynski’s Babylon 5. Each season, there was a different opening. My favorite of those was Season 4 which began “It was the year of fire… the year of destruction… the year we took back what was ours” and built step by step to “It was the year everything changed.”

I never consciously shaped the Cat-Tales arcs to create such a year of change. I took the opportunities that came my way. It was time to establish Catwoman’s true origin story, it was time for CT and JLAin’t to do a crossover and for me to collaborate with MyklarCure on a tale that was neither his nor mine, but truly ours. It was time to look through Alfred’s eyes and have a tale told completely from his POV, and a DC encyclopedia leaking the word of Stephanie Brown’s death gave me the perfect opportunity to give that tale dimension and gravitas. Identity Crisis came along. What else can be said? It was an episode of such power, the counterpoint Identity Element simply had to be written. It was only after the fact, arranging the individual tales into that compilation and ending as usual on a Hell Month, I realized I had “The year everything changed.”

For the Look Back to 2005, I wanted to share ceremony in which Ra’s al Ghul dips himself in the Lazarus Pit (and his hysterical attack of the munchies afterwards as he analyzes the Gotham dispatches with hysterical results). I would have liked to share several moments from Deja Vu All Over Again – Eddie’s pivotal scene in Chapter 1 coming on the day Frank Gorshin died, Selina’s pangs at Dior trying on Red Goddess #4, Talia stumbling upon Catman after his disastrous Batman impersonation. There were more great moments, but sadly, none were in the running. The only possible Look Back was to the tale that was not only the most challenging and gratifying that I’d written, but the one that brought me such a wonderful new wave of readers.

Cat-Tales: Identity Element by Chris Dee Sue Dibney's Funeral from Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer

Gothamites are a provincial lot. To the rest of the world, Elongated Man going public about his identity in the mid-80s was a huge event. So was Ray “The Atom” Palmer’s divorce from Jean Loring almost a decade later. It was the former story that produced the phrase “media feeding frenzy” and the latter which accomplished the then-impossible feat: ousting Monica Lewinsky from the cover of People Magazine for three weeks running.

But in Gotham, those were the silly escapades people in other cities got worked up about. No colorful cape, no Superman or Wonder Woman or Flash, could ever rank in importance with a denizen of Gotham City, and no exploit of the Justice League, no matter how cosmic in scale, would ever be as interesting as the happenings between the Hudson and Gotham rivers, between Wayne Plaza and the 10th Street Bridge.

When Sue Dibny was murdered, it was news, of course: The wife of Ralph Dibny, Elongated Man, murdered in her home. It was treated in the Gotham press like any other sensational murder involving a famous person with no ties to Gotham: It was a headline. The funeral, peppered with mourners in masks, capes, and spandex, produced an extraordinary photo above the fold. Diana, Princess of Themyscira, gave the eulogy—and the 42nd Street Borders pulled her book REFLECTIONS from “Last Year’s Releases” next to the discount bin and put her back in the display window for a week. Those were the only visible effects of Sue Dibny’s death as far as the public Gotham was concerned.

In more private corners of the city, it was different. There were stirrings, quiet ones. Nothing that could foreshadow the potent and terrible repercussions this one event would bring…

Criminals ducked in and out of the Iceberg Lounge. It was Hell Month and nobody wanted to risk being seen, most years they would have left town altogether by now. But everyone was anxious to hear the speculation: Batman was insane in January, every January, it was like he went on some kind of jihad against all crime and all criminals. Would this make it worse—or might it make it better? The wife of a long-standing member of the Justice League was dead: on the one hand, Bats might go straight over the edge and decide to wipe all criminals off the face of the earth. On the other hand, he might be so busy with this one case that he wouldn’t have time to put half the rogues gallery in traction. More than a third of them might reach February 1st without a leg cast, more than two-thirds without a neck brace…

At the Gordon-Grayson home, there was a different undercurrent, just as tense with uncertainty… Dick had gone to Bludhaven for Hell Month, not because he was avoiding Bruce, simply because Batman’s tempers always drove more criminals across the river at this time of year. Bludhaven is where he was needed right now—the fact that it got him away from Bruce was a bonus. Or it would have been except that with Barbara left behind in Gotham, Dick’s situation hadn’t really improved. Every outbreak of the Hell Month Psychobat on the OraCom led to a sequel when Barbara called Dick in ‘Haven to say goodnight… It was January, Dick knew that. It had been like this since he was twelve. They would all get through it. But then Sue Dibny was killed, and Dick really didn’t know what to do. A death in the hero community—in the “family” of the hero community—in Hell Month—and so soon after Stephanie. Bludhaven still needed him, but Dick couldn’t help wondering if maybe Bruce needed him more…

In Wayne Manor, Bruce had “gone to Maui” as soon as the news broke about the Dibny murder. Batman had completed the initial survey of the crime scene before Ralph Dibny had even signed the paperwork at the funeral home. While Ralph was selecting his wife’s coffin, Bruce was organizing dozens of small glassine bags filled with carpet fibers, hair, ash, clumps of dust, lint and crumbs harvested from the murder scene. While Ralph selected the flowers to lay atop the coffin, Bruce was printing out a floorplan of the Dibnys’ living room.

Ralph decided against the white lilies the sympathetic funeral director had suggested. He went with red roses, because there was a red rose on the lid of that first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates he gave Sue, the one in which she kept her mementos… Bruce marked up the floorplan to indicate the location where each specimen and fingerprint was taken.

Ralph tried to remember the name of Sue’s high school for the obituary notice… Bruce used mobile phase chromatography to isolate trace vapors captured from the crime scene.

At first, Selina kept her distance, sensing that he needed space both physically and emotionally. She ventured into the cave only when CNN began covering the arrivals at the funeral. She found him in the cave, of course, but dressed casually, not in costume except for the gloves, and standing before a long worktable dense with neatly ordered clusters of forensic evidence.

The large main viewscreen that dominated the cave flickered with the same image displayed on the smaller monitor at workstation 1: the left half of the screen cycled through slides from an electron microscope, the right from an infrared spectrometer. A transparent grid was superimposed over these, and it sputtered wildly with a blur of digits and moving crosshairs as the Batcomputer executed incomprehensible analyses.

Selina stood quietly for a moment, waiting for Bruce to acknowledge her arrival. He went on preparing a slide for the microscope. When he set down the tweezers and still didn’t speak, she did.

“It’s on the news,” she said softly. “The arrivals at the funeral. It sounds like they’ll at least have some privacy inside the cathedral, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. You know what the press is like. Look, know you don’t want to watch this, but I did think—”

Bruce wordlessly moved to the workstation, punched a few buttons, and the CNN coverage appeared in a small window on the main viewscreen still dominated by the refractive indices and birefringence values of Sue Dibny’s turtleneck.

“I’ll check the video later,” Bruce growled, “to make sure the fools who went in costume didn’t expose anything in front of the cameras.”

“Well they couldn’t very well go in their secret identities,” Selina pointed out. “No matter how careful they were, somebody could notice—”

“Anything,” Bruce cut her off. “In costume or not, somebody can always pick out something from a photograph. I know all the reasons not to go in costume, Selina, and all the reasons not to go out of costume. And that’s why I’m here right now and not there. That’s the one advantage to being the cold-hearted bastard of the League, nobody expects me to do the touchy-feely stuff. I paid my respects to Ralph privately. The rest of them can assume I couldn’t be bothered.”

It was Hell Month. He said things like that in Hell Month that he wouldn’t at other times. Selina knew that, but she made few concessions to it. It seemed like all the others did: Dick, Alfred, Barbara, and Tim, even the Justice League—even the rogues—everybody changed when he got like this. Selina made a conscious effort to be different—she was the one person who would not bend to him and his Hell Month demons. She didn’t have a perfect record, but whenever she thought to, she made an effort to treat him exactly as she always did. And if he was going to spout gibberish like that, there was really only one way to respond:

“Pfffffffft. Bruce, I’m sorry, but with all due respect to Hell Month, Pfffffffft! We both know you’ve got a bigger heart than any of them. If they actually do not know that just because you grunt and scowl, then they are quite simply too stupid to live.”

“Doesn’t it bother you to say something like at the very moment four of them are carrying Sue’s coffin into the cathedral?” Bruce asked in Batman’s deadliest gravel.

“Not as much as it bothers me to hear you say you’re the cold-hearted bastard and they’ll assume you don’t care at the very moment you’re watching that funeral out of the corner of your eye while you pretend to fight with me.”

Bruce stared for a split second, grunted, and then turned to face the screen. He touched a button on the console and the image expanded to the full width of the viewscreen. They watched for a few moments.

“Did you know them well?” Selina asked quietly.

“Not really. Ralph fancied himself a detective; he likes to think he’s emulated my techniques. But we’ve never worked together much. He’s a showboater, that’s why he went public. He likes the attention. Eel is the better operative all around: longer stretching, stronger… unattached.”

“I’ve never heard you take something like that into consideration,” Selina noted, a strange intensity creeping into her voice.

Bruce turned away from the screen and looked at her in silence for a moment.

“When have we ever talked about this at all? Single is better. A crimefighter with a wife and family…”

“Is less expendable?”

“Of course not. It’s just that, strategically speaking—look at Clark. His love for Lois is a greater vulnerability than Kryptonite.”

“But he’s your first pick to partner with, Bruce. Always. So much for that theory, huh? In the whole League who are you tighter with or work with more, hm?”

“Yes,” Bruce admitted. “I work more with Superman—because of the man, not a flaw in the strategic principle. I trust him. I trust his judgment and his ethics and his decency. That outweighs any sweeping general guidelines about the qualities that make a good partner.”

“And the fact that he can benchpress a planet doesn’t hurt either,” Selina remarked dryly.

Bruce grunted. Superpowers were a double-edged sword. Useful in a fight, but a terrible weapon sitting right in the heart of your operation that could always be turned against you… They could be turned, or they could simply turn. The old proverb was passed on generation after generation for a reason: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. What kind of fool would a man be to work with those demigods day after day, year after year, and not consider the ramifications of that one fundamental truth:

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Superpowers corrupt… superbly.

Bruce only grunted. He didn’t want to get into this. It was unusual for Selina to take an interest in the League or his work with them.

Of course, it was an unusual day. He turned back to the viewscreen and watched the rest of the funeral coverage in silence.

At the Iceberg Lounge, Hugo Strange retreated to a corner booth, muttering how the others had got it all wrong. No one knew Batman like he knew Batman. Debating whether the Bat would devote himself only to this one case or wreak his usual Hell Month vengeance on Gotham. The fools! He would do both, of course. He would clone himself so he could do both.

The only real question was if the clone would take the same Hell Month next year or if the clone-Bat’s Hell Month would manifest in July…

After the unexpectedly discomfiting interruption of the funeral, Bruce returned his full attention to the investigation.

He had long ago disciplined his mind to block echoes like that—however grisly the discovery of a body, however poignant the interview with a grieving family member, he would set it aside and focus on the work.

Funerals were… unavoidable… every murder was a death, every murder meant a coffin. It was unavoidable. The world didn’t care if it was January, his personal Hell Month, and that it took much less than the sight of a coffin or a few bars of Mozart’s Requiem to throw his mind back to that other funeral.

He had to concentrate. Sue deserved that much and so did Ralph. He returned his attention to the fingerprints…

It was very different from Stephanie’s memorial, of course. Stephanie’s was private. Because her identity as Spoiler wasn’t known, the heroes were able to come together in privacy and dignity to mourn their loss… honor her contribution… support Tim. None of that was possible here because Dibny was such a fool. It might be brutal to think that of a man who’d just lost his wife, but Bruce didn’t mind being brutal, especially during Hell Month. It was foolish, letting his name and face be known, putting those he loved in peril. For what—for the attention—because some hack at the Gotham Post made up some lies about her. It was so dangerous—she could make all the rules she wanted, they all knew, all his enemies knew whether they’d say so in front of her or not, that something existed between Batman and Catwoman. Getting to her was a way to get to him. Hurting her was a way to…

Hell Month. It was just Hell Month.

Of course it was Hell Month when Ra’s took her—when Ra’s al Ghul took her from him as a way to—he was afraid she was dead that whole flight to Mongolia. Ra’s took Selina as a way to get to him and they were just dating. Now they were living together. It wasn’t just a bottle of shampoo in his shower anymore, she slept every night with her head on his chest—she picked out the sheets they lay in.

Bruce wondered suddenly if he had paid for those sheets or if she had. His mind flashed on the penthouse, the fop act, trying to bait Poison Ivy… “Tim was under age, so he imposed on one of the other groomsmen to buy the liquor. They went a little overboard. Always happens the first time I give someone my credit card.” …Reminding Poison Ivy that she had a rich man in her snare (or so she thought) was one thing. Selina was a very different proposition. She might playfully sneak his wallet to pay for lunch at d’Annunzio’s when he and Clark had to leave on an emergency, but apart from that shopping spree to Paris, she had never to his knowledge spent his money. Now that the manor was really her home… his house was her home… and she was starting to buy little things for it… Bruce felt himself burning with curiosity to know if she charged those sheets to him or paid for them herself. He could access the credit card statements easily at the computer and—

And a wave of nausea rose as he looked to the workstation, thinking only of Selina and those stupid sheets, and saw spatter-analyses of the scorch marks surrounding Sue Dibny’s head flashing on the viewscreen.

Weak. He was so weak. He had to stay focused. Sue Dibny was dead. Ralph was in agony because his wife was dead. He had to stay focused. This was bigger than Hell Month and who paid for a pair of goddamn bedsheets.

Except the bedsheets were blue, a deep rich royal blue, because Selina bought them and Selina knew he liked the color. And he wanted to know if she charged them to his account because he wanted to know if she would spend his money as if she were…

The mental image of that coffin returned.

…his wife.

My first Hell Month with Bruce, I didn’t even know what was happening.
The second, he sent me shopping in Paris.
This year, this one was new, he asked me to come down to the cave. He asked me to help with a case. We’d worked together before, of course, but we’d always backed into it somehow. It had never started like this:

Alfred came up to my suite. He’d brought me tea earlier—there is simply no way to stop Alfred from bringing tea, particularly in times of crisis—and I assumed he was just back to collect the empty cup. But he said Bruce had rung on the intercom and wanted to see me in the cave.

I raised an eyebrow, because that had a certain ring of “Here, Fido. C’mere, boy” which cats simply do not do. But I went anyway. Hell Month, I guess. Or maybe I just felt, what with the funeral and all… anyway, I went down to the cave. He was in costume this time, except for the mask.

“Little early to be suited up, isn’t it?” I remarked.

“I’m going to patrol early tonight, just in case they’re emboldened after the coverage of the funeral.”

“Hey, no need to make excuses to me,” I told him, “I like you like that.”

“I know.”

When he didn’t say anything more, I reminded him “You summoned me—like a spaniel.”

“I asked you to come down. I need you on this, the Dibny case.”

“Meow,” I answered. Because there are one or two highly special circumstances when it is permissible to take a cat’s cooperation for granted, and this was one, and I was pleased that he knew that.

“This is the security system made available to the family and friends of Justice Leaguers who request it.”

“Different from our system here,” I noted.

“Very. You’ll find all the same modifications I made to the Phoenix on the ground floor, and the bodyheat detectors are similar to our alpha perimeter defenses on the grounds. That’s where the similarities end.”

“Because you don’t want any family and friend of the League who request it to have the blueprints to get into your bedroom.”

“This has Thanagarian, Martian, Apokolitian and Kryptonian technology as well, and—”

“Hey, I’m not complaining. It’s also my bedroom and I don’t want any of those over-sugared virtue-jockeys having the key either.”

“Selina, this system is unlike anything you’ve seen before.”

It sounded like fun, running barefoot through the Justice League’s idea of ultimate security.

“Somebody beat it,” he growled—it was a Batman growl, but a particularly menacing one. “Figure out how.”

Read the complete tale now on theCat-Tales website or mobile-friendly

Chris Dee

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