A Review of the 1 x 23.6 Inch Gloss Black Anegre and Maple Chess Board (RCBC100) REGENCY CHESS (CANADA)

The Spanish made 1 x 23.6 Inch Gloss Black Anegre and Maple Chess Board (RCBC100)

The Spanish made 1 x 23.6 Inch Gloss Black Anegre and Maple Chess Board (RCBC100)

I haven’t seen too many reviews online referencing Regency Chess Canada so I thought I’d take the opportunity to do so here. Being Canadian, it was nice to see that luxury chess sets and boards could be purchased from within our national borders.

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous ordering from Regency as their service is for the mostpart unheralded. Their UK mother company has an impressive 4.5 star rating from trustpilot.uk  boasting well over 700 reviews but would their Canadian branch earn that kind of lofty status? I am very happy to announce that at least where I am concerned it certainly did.

I ordered the Spanish made 1 x 23.6 Inch Gloss Black Anegre and Maple Chess Board (RCBC100) last Sunday evening (February 1, 2015) and the board arrived just about 1pm Friday, February 6, 2015. Regency Chess Canada is based in Toronto, Ontario and I live on Vancouver Island so a 5 day delivery schedule was more than satisfactory.

The company did not appear to offer postal tracking other than a notice informing that the package had shipped. I always like to take advantage of postal tracking where available and this is my one and only quibble with Regency Chess Canada.

The chess board arrived packaged exceptionally well with plenty of bubble wrap inside 2 boxes! I was very happy with the care provided the chess board and this fact certainly reflected well on Regency Chess Canada.

Handled With Care

Handled With Care

Lots of Bubble Wrap

Lots of Bubble Wrap

The board is absolutely stunning and shows off my ebony &  boxwood Staunton chessmen to effect. It’s hard to do the board justice with regards to the camera belonging to my cellphone but it is without question the personification of what you might call chess eye-candy.

I had some concerns with regards to the high-gloss finish. I mean, sure it looked great on Regency’s website but would the gloss act as an unwanted distraction? Again, I am very happy to answer in the negative. The gloss finish represents a beautiful fusion of eye-catching design and fundamental playability. My back-up board, a matte finish roll-up green and white squared board can stay safely tucked away.

I married the board to a chess set featuring a 4″ King with a 1 3/4″ base. The board is well suited to the set in my opinion. It is hard to do the actual scale of this board justice. It is BIG!

THE BOTTOM LINE 

  • Cost: $275.00 Cdn., before taxes; $310.75 Cdn., total
  • No hidden costs
  • Fast efficient delivery
  • Paypal supported
  • Excellent packaging
  • Excellent quality
  • I would not hesitate to order from Regency Chess Canada again

Product Specifications:

  • Board Dimensions : 23-5/8 x 23-5/8 x 3/8 inches (60cm x 60cm x 1cm)
  • Square Size : 2-3/8 inches (6cm)
  • Item Weight : 8.8 lbs (4.0kg)
  • Materials Used: Stained Anegre, Maple

Regency’s Canadian Website: http://www.regencychess.ca/

* Note: the chess set featured in this review is from a competing company

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A Review of Jaques of London 4″ Reintroduction Chess Set in Mahogany Box

Jaques of London's eponymous Stamp of Approval

Jaques of London’s eponymous Stamp of Approval

I’ve been playing chess since I was 8 years old — a lifetime ago. I have played tournament chess and I am a paid subscriber to chess.com where I continue to play chess daily. Over the years, like so many players I have dreamt of owning an heirloom chess set. I finally obtained one in the form of the Jaques of London 4″ Reintroduction Chess Set in Mahogany Box. Here’s a link to the set as it appears on the Official Jaques of London website:

http://www.jaqueslondon.co.uk/reintroduction-chess-set.html

THE ORDERING PROCESS

I must confess this set was not my first choice. In fact, it was the Jaques of London: Simpsons in the Strand 3.5″ set that I had initially intended to purchase. I had gone some ways in the ordering process before being informed that the Simpsons (a set limited to 500 copies) was no longer available.

I was disappointed in the set’s non-availability but I adjusted quickly and decided on the slightly larger (and more expensive) 4″ Reintroduction set. I had the extremely good fortune of communicating with Jaques of London sales representative, Tracy Bateson. This woman is everything a sales representative should be; attentive, knowledgable, courteous, understanding, and proactive. Upon alerting me to the unavailability of the Simpson’s  set I was offered a choice of 3 other Jaques sets at the same price point or the option of a complete and full refund.

I instead opted for the 4″ Reintroduction set. Ms. Bateson, true-to-form, informed me that there would be no charge afforded the two extra queens I had desired when ordering the Simpsons  3.5″ set and had also requested for the 4″ set.  I should note that the extra queens retail at a not insignificant  £ 49.99 each (before taxes). The savings, needless to say, were much appreciated.

I should note that as a Canadian customer, I was unable to take advantage of Jaques’ automated online e-commerce store. Jaques has a USA branch but they also are not set-up electronically to serve Canadian customers. I suspect the same holds true for Australian and New Zealand based consumers as well.

Despite the 8 hr difference between my home on British Columbia’s west coast and Kent in south-east England, I was able to interact and exchange phone calls and emails with Ms. Bateson in timely and efficient fashion.

The set was delivered by UPS and Jaques of London provided full delivery tracking. Therefore, I was glued to UPS’ website like a 1960s era kid to Saturday morning cartoons. Delivery was quick and problem free. I made initial contact with Tracy by email on January 21st and my set arrived on February 2. However, the actual delivery schedule of the 4″ set from date of payment received to my front door delivery was an impressive 7 days!

Of course, living in Canada and suffering a free-falling dollar as we currently are, the added costs of Canadian duties and taxes apart from the approx. £40.00  plus shipping costs included at Jaques end amounted to $199.31 which I paid to the UPS driver upon receipt of the set.

The set came extremely well packaged and I am confident no damage occurred in the actual shipping process. Bubble wrap, packing paper and 5 boxes! were afforded this set’s protection. I was suitably  impressed.

Packaged with Care

Packaged with Care

MY ONLY ISSUE

My one and only issue with this entire process focuses on the issue of quality control. In my opinion, Jaques of London is the gold standard when it comes to chess sets. The company has a storied past quite literally being synonymous with the game of chess itself; Insomuch as Jaques of London had, in the words of Wikipedia:

“…exclusive manufacturing rights for a chess set designed by Nathaniel Cook in 1849 and named the Staunton chess set after Howard Staunton. This set later became the official international standard.”

Jaques were also commissioned with producing the set used by Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship. Dubbed the “Match of the Century” it is unlikely that the sheer social and cultural impact of the match and the universal  coverage the contest generated should ever be repeated.

So with all this behind it I was still disappointed to discover that 2 of my chess pieces fell far short of “Jaques of London” standards of excellence . One of the black pawns had suffered a broken collar (despite 5 boxes of packaging!)  I could understand a piece potentially suffering damage in a voyage travelling half-way across the globe. However, the damage was clearly done prior to shipping as the shredded remnants of what had been packing paper bore no evidence of any ebony shards. A white bishop also arrived in less than pristine condition bearing a couple of nicks near the piece’s base and suffering a rather too liberal application of lacquer.

I hasten to add that following a quick email to Jaques of London and once more connecting with Ms. Bateson I was immediately assuaged with news that 2 black pawns and 2 white bishops (free of charge sans shipping) would be dispatched post-haste to replace the 2 pieces that had arrived in less than satisfactory condition.

A broken pawn and a wounded bishop

A broken pawn and a wounded bishop

A CHESS SET TO BE PROUD OF

Jaques of London 4″ Reintroduction set not only serves as an impressive display item but is beyond doubt a set to be played. The pieces both black & white chessmen have the knights and rooks stamped with a kingside crown. The knights are richly detailed and true to the original Staunton design. I could not be happier.

It's in the Details!

It’s in the Details!

The 4″ Reintroduction set also features my preferred Staunton bishop with a narrow gap in the mitre and a full button on top. I am not a fan of the gaping mitre but such may be to your own liking. The bishops accompanying this set represent aesthetic perfection.

A narrow mitre and full button punctuating the top

A narrow mitre and full button punctuating the top

 

 

 

THE DETAILS

The 4″ Reintroduction set features the following:

  • Reissue of the original Jaques Staunton early 1890s design
  • Limited Edition (500)
  • Signed certificate authenticity
  • Gloss finished Mahogany box
  • Woods: Ebony (NOT ebonized) and Boxwood
  • White King’s base stamped “Jaques London”
  • B&W Rooks and Knights stamped with kingside crown
  • 4″ King with 1 3/4″ base
  • Heavily weighted (presumably triple weighted)
  • NO Extra Queens
  • Board NOT included
  • Retails for £ 999.00 before taxes (does not include shipping)

IN SUMMARY

Historic! English! Quality! Satisfaction guaranteed! But this is not a budget set. It really is heirloom quality with all the trimmings. A set to proud of, displayed, played with, and handed down the generations. Personally, it represents a prized possession and the cumulation of a lifelong love affair with the game of chess.

Jaques of London 4" 1890s Reintroduction Set with mahogany box

Jaques of London 4″ 1890s Reintroduction Set with mahogany box

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Forget about “Thor a Woman?!” The Focus should really be on UNWORTHY THOR!

 

The Unworthy Thor

Above: Our First look at the newest incarnation of “The Mighty Thor” Art by Esad Ribic

Fans of Marvel’s “Thor” (and perhaps even the casual observer) may have been apprised of the changes coming to one of marvel’s most iconic heroes. The comic book fandom element of the internet has been all a buzz over the changes foist upon Asgard’s favorite son by writer, Jason Aaron. The shocker headline that seems to be the rallying point is “Thor is Now a Woman” (with or without the added emphasis of WTF!?!).

However, I think the real story here is “Unworthy Thor”. The character has a long and sadly convoluted history but such is the way of comic book fiction. For the morbidly curious check out Marvel Wiki’s entry on Thor:  

http://marvel.wikia.com/Thor_(Thor_Odinson)

At any rate, The simple fact is, Thor has done “something”… been made aware of something that has compromised his integrity or whatever, resulting in his inability to lift enchanted Mjolnir (his trademark hammer). Not only that but somehow his mantle of Thor: The God of Thunder has passed to another… an as yet unidentified woman. By virtue of her ability to wield mighty Mjolnir (or “MewMew” as Kat Dennings’ character refers to it in the movie adaptations 🙂 )  she becomes the de facto Norse God of Thunder.

Now, one would think that as a male to female, post-operative transsexual I’d be all agog over this ersatz change of sex for Thor. But in reality, I’m like “meh”. There’s no story here. The smart money is on “Unworthy Thor” going through a multitude of trials and tribulations before once again proving himself worthy of wielding majestic Mjolnir.

Mighty Mjolnir  

  For the record, there are many strong, interesting, and popular female characters of long standing in the Marvel Universe: Sharon Carter, Susan Richards, Electra, Rogue, Jean Gray, She Hulk, Sif, and so on. So, a female Thor is nothing new. Even Thor’s half-brother, Loki, and the sentient metal monster, Ultron have taken on female forms at various times with no lasting effects one way or the other.

Honestly, the whole thing’s a bit gimmicky and pandering to perceived modern sensibilities… but this is nothing new in comic book fiction either. Besides, they’re getting lots of press coverage and the minders of the Marvel mint must be happy with that. Heck! I was even motivated to blog about it 🙂 

However, what fate awaits our familiar hero? 

For me, this is the real story and has renewed my interest in the character. Even a cursory look at Esad Ribic’s depiction of  “Unworthy Thor” shows a decidedly “bad-ass” character. Okay, his pants look like they were borrowed from Jethro of “The Beverly Hillbillies” fame but that nasty looking axe and that metallic left arm are intriguing.

For what it’s worth, the axe is Dwarven hewn just as Mjolnir was. It’s not a lightweight weapon and is capable of piecing Celestial armor. It even has a nifty Nordic name: Jarnbjorn, so that’s pretty good, right?

The left arm comes courtesy of the Destroyer … a near unstoppable soulless— albeit mystically forged, entity created by All Father, Odin, himself (The big metal guy that appeared in the 1st Thor movie).  Apparently Thor dismantles the thing (not easy to do by a long shot)  and incorporates part of it into his new look.

“Unworthy Thor’s” redefined status poses a number of interesting questions…

Will the new Thor possess a leaner-meaner attitude?  

How powerful is he compared to his hammer wielding persona?

Will his female counterpart prove stronger?

Will the Hulk prove once and for-all that without Mjolnir, Thor’s a light-weight hero?

Personally, I’d like to see him become more of an embittered anti-hero for awhile. I sure hope they don’t weaken him too much. I’d still like to see him more than hold his own against some of Marvel’s biggest heavy-weights. I mean let’s be honest; doesn’t every Thor fan like to see Thor mop the floor with his competition?  

The newly feminized Thor and her beloved predecessor will début in the appropriately renumbered Thor #1 coming this October. And because, some of you just have to see Thor as a woman… below are the first two images of her released by Marvel.

thorwoman

Nuff Said 😉

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Captain America #107 A Look Back at a Silver Age Favourite

Captain America # 107

Captain America #107 is undoubtedly a high-water mark both for Captain America as a title and for Marvel comics as a brand. Published in the year 1968,  issue 107 is a fast paced psychological thriller focusing on Cap’s guilt over the death of his young side-kick, Bucky Barnes.  Nothing world shaking here; no earth devouring menace on the order of Galactus or universe threatening crisis courtesy of the Beyonder or Thanos; rather the book centers on Steve Rogers’ struggle to cope with a rapidly changing world and the challenge of finding his place in it, all whilst wrestling with demons of his personal past.

Stan Lee’s gift for generating  catchy titles is showcased here with the memorable “If The Past Be Not Dead” whilst Jack Kirby’s unsurpassed pencils drive home the point courtesy of a splash page depicting Cap flying into action against a backdrop of helmeted shadowy figures and a suitably nightmarish gaping mouthed Adolph Hitler.

Captain America is a man of supreme integrity possessing a will to fight on against impossible odds; itself a trait that personifies the American spirit. To understand Captain America is to see him as the living embodiment of the United States of America. Yet co-existing with this living symbol of American power is the man Steve Rogers, and Rogers is a deeply troubled individual.

Lee’s dialogue and Kirby’s pencils unite to illustrate a tortured man under relentless pressure.

cap107-2-3

Lee employs a clever, albeit deceptively simple writing device to emphasize the intense psychological pressure assaulting his protagonist, that of repetition. On page 2  we note the words “again! again! again!” and on the following page Bucky’s ringing accusation of “Why? Why? Why?”. The “why” is of course “Why did you let me die?” Why didn’t you save  me?”

Cap’s main antagonist in this tale is Dr. Faustus. No, not the Dr. Faustus of Marlowe’s famous play. However, Lee may have used the name to illustrate the common element of deception and trickery that appears thematically in both works. Certainly, deception is at the root of Faustus’ attack on Steve Rogers.

Somehow the use of hallucinogenics got past the censors at the Comics Code Authority. Perhaps it’s because Steve consumes them unwittingly?  At any rate, the drugs leave Steve susceptible to Faustus’ manipulations and a series of encounters arranged by the nasty doctor are strung together to undermine our hero’s confidence, to make him question his very sanity.

Again, Lee uses repetition to up the intensity level and the blurring of past and present is again perfectly illustrated by Jack Kirby as seen in the panel below:

The Nazi’s are in fact actors/henchmen hired by Faustus to facilitate Cap’s decent into madness—to utterly break him, psychologically. But as is often the case with fictional villains, Faustus overplays his cards and unbeknownst to Faustus (or the reader at this point) Cap has the prescription he’s been taking sent to S.H.I.E.L.D for analysis.

Steve then sets Faustus up for his comeuppance courtesy of some play-acting of his own. It’s a good thing he did too because, Faustus had slipped Cap an aging pill to break him in body as well as mind. Just when it looks like Cap is down and out he rallies like the super soldier he is and puts the hurt to Faustus’ hired goons.

Lee and Kirby save the best for last and I’ll let the closing panels speak for themselves:

Cap107-20

Cap’s revitalization and return to form following a book length adventure where he increasingly doubts his abilities and is at his most vulnerable is welcomed to say the least. Cap’s flying fist sans sound effect graphic is completely satisfying— a one punch knock-out blow redressing the psychological pounding Cap took throughout this tale. The sight of an unconscious Faustus and the haunting ethereal visage of Bucky over a weary Captain America is visual poetry and a suitable ending to this well crafted tale.

Anyone wishing to understand the character of Captain America is encouraged to obtain a copy of this issue. I think it rates as one of Marvel’s finest and is certainly amongst the very best that I ever read.

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Passing 101 or The Emperor’s New Clothes (REVISITED)

A 2014 update of an article I wrote for a now-defunct forum in 2008

How many of you can recall Hans Christian Anderson’s fable about the Emperor duped by his own vanity parading about naked amongst his subjects?

Emporer

The reason I mention this famous tale is that it frequently comes to mind when  encountering neophyte transitioning Male to Females (MtF’s).

The danger for the transitioning individual who fails to realistically evaluate her  ability to “pass” is two-fold. One: Much like that Emperor of old, she will likely  end up an object of ridicule. Two:  When the reality of her situation finally hits,  she can find herself emotionally devastated, spiralling into a severe bout of  depression.

While I am not advocating a “don’t transition if you can’t pass” policy of  transgender expression; I think it important to balance internal perceptions with  external realities for the reasons stated above.

Moreover, I think it incumbent upon the transitioner to maximize the success of her transition socially in order to legitimize transgender expression in the midst of a misinformed/dis-informed public.  Too often, I see outraged MtF’s criticizing society’s institutions for failing to acknowledge their inherent female status while the former still possess significant male physical attributes.

Although, we can all agree that society should offer no refuge for bigotry and ignorance; Neither should we expect a largely uninformed/dis-informed society to embrace such profound changes in its transgendered populace. I think it only fair and reasonable that we provide society the opportunity to come to terms with the intricacies involved in the process of transition.

God forbid that we should appear as modern examples of the naked Emperor along the lines of Little Britain’s Emily Howard (”Britain’s worst transvestite”) and Florence (the one with the moustache). The two of whom zealously hold fast to the standard “We’re Lay-dees” despite all appearances to the contrary.

The disconnect between internal perception and external reality is at once both obvious and painful as Miss Emily and faithful sidekick mince about England, failing repeatedly to convince a sceptical public that they are indeed, female. Sadly, these two “characters” represent a greater reality than many MtF transsexuals are willing to admit.

Simply put, “Methinks the lay-dees doth protest too much!”

Methinks the lay-dees doth protest too much!

Florence and Emily of “Little Britain”

Update:

Much of this touches upon the problematic gender binary strongly opposed by many if not most within the trans community. I have written elsewhere regarding the gender binary—

https://chrysalid58.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/bye-bye-gender-binary/

At any rate the issue is far from resolved. Recently, CNN commentator, Piers Morgan and transgender personality, Janet Mock ran afoul of one another due to the issue of self-identification vs. societal identification of gender. The trans community does not hold a monopoly on the notion of gender identity. It is common to all of us; and yes, even piers Morgan had to at some point resolve that question for himself.

Here you can see the decidedly awkward confrontation following the initial interview:

Basically, it all comes down to Piers working within a traditional binary of male and female and Janet arguing/defending/forwarding a notion of gender that is self-defined— genitalia notwithstanding. Personally, I felt the issue was far too nuanced for mainstream consumption. At the risk of advancing yet another metaphor we in the trans community too often expect the general public to join the fragmented gender arena with the precision of  a finishing carpenter when they are by in-large capable only of bringing the crudest of framing instruments to the discussion.

As an addendum to the topic of passing — Janet Mock advances the elevated idea that she is not trying to “pass” as anything. Rather, she is simply realizing the truth of “being”— in her case as a female. The disconnect occurs because the wider culture does not always add legitimacy to the individual’s perception of self. It can work fairly smoothly for someone like Janet Mock who presents within accepted societal perceptions of femininity. However, simply walking about and living life as a “laydeee” may run a little less smoothly for the Emily Howards of this world.

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Supergirl 101: A Primer On DC Comics’ Oft Overlooked Heroine

Various incarnations of Supergirl from 1959 to the present

Various incarnations of Supergirl from 1959 to the near-present 1. Supergirl 1950s- early 60s. 2. Supergirl late 1960s and early 70s. 3. Supergirl mid-late 1970s. 4. Supergirl early 2000s. 5. Supergirl animated version from the 1990s. 6. Power Girl an alternate universe version of Supergirl and 7. Supergirl as she appeared in the 1980s.

Given that comic books and their various multi-media spinoffs— cartoons, movies, graphic novels, etc… have traditionally been seen as the near exclusive purview of adolescent and preadolescent males, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Superman’s cousin, Supergirl, is almost unknown to most females in today’s culture. So, being a longtime fan of the character I thought I’d attempt to spotlight her and encourage my female friends to look into Supergirl in hopes of generating a few more fans for her.

ORIGINS

Supergirl debuted in issue #252 (May 1959) as Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, from the planet Krypton, and more specifically from the doomed city of Argo. The city miraculously survived the immediate destruction of Krypton by being blown intact out into space. The city had a protective dome that ultimately failed to withstand a meteor shower composed of kryptonite. However, just as Kal-El’s (Superman’s)  father had saved his infant son from destruction by launching him earthward in a rocket so also was teen-aged Kara able to avoid death.

Supergirl's first appearance in Action Comics issue #252 May, 1959

Supergirl’s first appearance in Action Comics issue #252 May, 1959

Initially, Supergirl was cringe-worthy as an independent hero. In fact, she was decidedly submissive to the will of her older yet paradoxically younger cousin, Superman (a manifestation of “Relativity” within the space-time continuum as she was a teen back on Krypton while Superman was an infant). Supergirl’s early adventures represent little more than an interesting reminder of how women and specifically girls, were viewed by society at the time.

From Action Comics #258

Superman created a secret identity for Supergirl similar to the one he possessed as mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent. Kara’s secret identity was that of an orphaned girl named Linda Lee. Her early adventures witnessed the introduction of her pet cat, “Streaky” and later, the rather interesting, “Super Horse”. Romance, pets, independence, and alienation were common themes in Supergirl comics during the first few decades of her existence.

An homage to "romance comics" from Supergirl issue #3 Vol. 1 February 1973

An homage to “romance comics” from Supergirl issue #3 Vol. 1 February 1973

Supergirl’s initial run at DC (Detective Comics)  reached an end albeit on a high note in “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. The brain trust at DC decided after years of various Kryptonian survivors Superman, Supergirl, Kandor (the bottled city) etc… it was time to simplify things and reduce Krypton’s survivors down to one–Superman. So in 1985, a 12-part series was released to facilitate the simplification of all things DC culminating in the death of Kara Zor-El in issue #7.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 October 1973. The death of Supergirl

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 October 1985. The death of Supergirl

Following Kara’s death various other characters took on the identity of Supergirl but for old-timers like myself, Kara remains the one true incarnation of Supergirl. Fortunately, others have felt as I do in that regard and Kara Zor-El as Supergirl was reintroduced to DC continuity in 2004 by the talented team of Jeph Loeb (writer) and the late Michael Turner (artist).

REBIRTH

Superman-Batman witnessed a new millennial take on the classic “World’s Finest” team up of DC’s two most iconic characters. In issues numbers 8 through 13 Supergirl was re-introduced with basically the same origins story as she had in 1957. However, gone was the submissive “good-girl” we knew from 1957 and in her place stood a passionate, strong-willed, stubborn, and assertive personality embodied in the form of a scantily clad sex-bomb as only Michael Turner could envisage. While I am not a fan of seeing Kara overly sexualized— I definitely liked the take on her re-defined personality.

Supergirl's re-birth in issue #8 of Superman-Batman 2004

Supergirl’s re-birth in issue #8 of Superman-Batman 2004

Since then, Kara as Supergirl has appeared in a number of series bearing her eponymous title. Thankfully, the overt sexualization has been toned down since 2004 as well. Sales for Supergirl have been respectable for the month of April, 2013 she ranked 72nd out of 300 titles that include both Marvel and DC releases. Significantly, she even out sold some of the secondary X-Men and Batman titles.

See: http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/25659.html

The Loeb-Turner new origins story is a favorite of mine and I highly recommend it as first-rate story telling. You can purchase volumes 8-13  of Superman-Batman in a DC collections edition:

http://www.amazon.com/Superman-Batman-Vol-2-Supergirl/dp/1401202500

Recently, I purchased a copy of the Blu-ray animated adaptation of “Superman Unbound”. Much like Superman-Batman Apocalypse (Blu-ray version of the Loeb-Turner Supergirl story arc) which also relegated Supergirl to near invisible status in its marketing, this release also features Supergirl in an important albeit unheralded co-starring role. As Scott Mendelson noted in an excellent article he provided for Forbes online:

The other one was a Wonder Woman film, which is the best of the bunch and yet its “disappointing” sales figures caused the cancellation of any future female-centric DVD movies, to the point where the 2010 Supergirl feature was titled Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and barely mentioned Supergirl in the marketing.  If you happen to be a fan of the DC universe, you can probably see the problem that I’m getting at.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2013/05/06/reviewessay-superman-unbound-and-the-future-of-the-dc-animated-universe/

I think Supergirl when handled properly can be a valuable and empowering symbol for females just as Superman can be for males. She is not simply a female version of Superman as some of her critics have claimed. Kara has her own personality and her own demons to face–unique to herself. DC’s animation marketing arm may shy away from mentioning her directly or showcasing female superheroes at all but I argue that’s all the more reason for girls and women to claim these characters as their own. Just as Gloria Steinem did years ago in claiming Wonder Woman as a feminist icon; so much so that Wonder Woman graced the very first cover of Ms. Magazine back in 1972; so also, I urge other females to embrace Supergirl. Women are still under-represented in the comic book industry. It would be wonderful to see more creative and inventive women enter that field.

Below: An interesting promotional piece for Supergirl’s return in Superman-Batman Apocalypse

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Transgendered Athletes: The Fallon Fox Controversy

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

This is one of those “ugh” posts where as a transgendered writer I find myself reluctantly siding (at least in part) with critics of a transgendered “sister”. The short and quick of it is Fallon Fox (love her name) has exploded onto the Mixed Martial Arts scene with two crushing victories over other women; one last year, in May and the other just a few weeks ago, March 02, 2013. Her latest victim was dispatched in short order, just 39 seconds into Round 1 with a powerful knee to the head. Mixed Martial Arts is for me a bit of a guilty pleasure. However, my interest is pretty much limited to the Women’s game and I happily count myself amongst the amazing Ronda Rousey’s legions of fans. But, I digress.

The criticisms laid to Ms. Fox’s account center on her status as a post-operative male-to-female transsexual. Critics (and there are many) state that as a transsexual woman she possesses innate physiological advantages over her opponents. Larger lungs, the ability to accrue greater musculature, and a heavier, denser skeletal frame are seen as providing her with an unfair competitive edge.

Although, Fallon states that medical science supports her legitimate claim to participation. I think that to some extent the jury is still out on that question. I have argued elsewhere on this blog that our status as male and female needs to be evaluated based on social criteria. In other words, if we as individuals, dress, present, and behave in a manner consistent with societal norms and expectations of a given sex then our respective governing authorities need to recognize that orientation and legally identify us as such.

However, in the world of sport where steroid use has been universally condemned–Lance Armstrong immediately comes to mind— then some scrutiny of transgendered athletes is fair. The basic question of whether Fallon Fox and other transgendered athletes have an inherent advantage should be examined.

I’m prepared to fall on my own sword in regards to this issue. As I have stated numerous times. I am female but I have a male past and because I transitioned later in life I have certain male features and undoubtedly some hard-wiring that is specifically male oriented. Would I eliminate these aspects of myself if I could? The answer is Yes, unreservedly so. However, the fact remains that physiologically I have certain male attributes that my cis-gendered sisters do not. I believe Fallon does as well.

While I am aware that the Olympic governing body has granted transsexuals the right to compete under the banner of their chosen sex. I believe that participation in any given competitive context needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This is simply common sense.

In the meantime, I urge for kindness and compassion from society at large— to dehumanize us is a disservice to our basic humanity. We are not “its”. Also the word “tranny” is not a good word for us. It is dehumanizing and almost always pejorative. Nor, is Fallon Fox a man; neither should she be viewed as one. She has availed herself of everything medical science currently offers to bring her physiology within female parameters (albeit, within a MMA context). Some of the anti-transgendered rhetoric thrown against her is appalling and should not be tolerated let alone condoned by anyone.

I wish her every success as an athlete but more importantly as a woman. This does not mean I endorse her competing against cis-gendered women. However, neither should she be forced to fight males either. Perhaps a bout against ostracized steroid abuser Christiane “Cyborg” Santos would be an equitable compromise?

At any rate, below are a few YouTube links featuring Fallon Fox in her own words and some of the harsher more prejudicial rants against her.

And a great sports website dedicated to the LGBT community with an article responding to another negative rant towards Fallon Fox.

http://www.outsports.com/2013/3/24/4141668/fallon-fox-john-fain-peggy-morgan-mma-transgender

Fallon Fox is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FallonFoxofficial

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