February 14, 2015

Keeping It Basic on Valentines

At the agency's headquarters, Steve Rogers had an office. He rarely used it, preferring to be in the field constantly. It was late in the agency's building, Steve sat at his desk in his office with most of the usual stacks of files moved to another location in the room. His latest attention was to a old ratty book that looked like it had yellowed pages. He flipped through it carefully, but then set it down away from the center of the desk. He then pulled to the center a ream of scrap paper, a small bottle of Elmer's glue and a jar of glitter. He sat there at the desk and again pondered on what kind of direction he was going to take.
"Com'mon, Steve," he mumbled to himself. "You've punched out Hitler over 50 times, but somehow you've got to know how to make this simple little thing look great. Is this befitting a princess?"
At that moment, Diana had just arrived outside his wide open door. "Hey, Steve, I have the latest briefings to go over." She was still in her civilian office suit, but several the buttons on her white blouse had been undone. She had a stack of manilla file folders and a clipboard in her arms, but precariously hiding a second alternative motive.  Steve looked over in her oncoming direction wanted to panic. Was the surprise ruined? Steve couldn't let her see the special art project he was working on before it was finished. He quickly swooped up his art supplies and tossed them into any random desk drawer. But in his hustle to hide the contents, the glitter's lid wasn't fastened tightly and spilled. He tried to pose nonchalantly and prop his head up by his fist.
Diana always had a standing welcome when it came to Steve's office, so she let herself in through the doorway without bothering to knock. The click clack rhythm sound of her heels on the signaled her tip-toeing into the room. Steve watched her slow deliberate march forward toward his desk. Her shoulders dipped and her hips swayed back and forth. He tried not to make eye contact with his gaze. However, with each stepping movement, Steve could get a peek of Diana's cleavage. When she arrived, she flopped the stack of files and clipboard in her arm and revealed her true surprise intentions.
"It must be casual weekend at HQ." Steve looked up at her. "Who are those for?"
With a big smile on her face, Diana placed a bottle of Napa Valley's finest red wine and two long stem wine glasses. "I thought you might be thirsty," Diana looked down. "but is something on your mind? You always stand up when I enter the room."
"Oh, I'm very sorry, I guess I have been preoccupied tonight." Steve let a grimace curl his mouth and stood up from his chair anyway.
"Do you have a corkscrew?"
Steve quickly scanned his previously bare desk. But he also searched for evidence to his heart design. "Um, I don't think so, I don't keep something like that in my desk. I don't drink in my office - pointless to me when I can't get drunk." Steve needed a way to dismiss her self-invitation with his mind on finishing the paper heart.
"In that case," Diana reaches out for a pencil cup and finds a sharp letter opener and violently plunges it into the cork stopper. "I'll take care of it myself." With a strong heave, she pulls out the letter opener with the cork and holds it out like a lolly on a stick.
Steve's face went from a coy ambivalence to downright impressive. "You really don't know your own strength."
"Or, I just have some gifts left over from the gods." Diana asserted. She placed the bottle of wine back on his desk with the label out towards him to read. She then turned behind her to fetch a folding chair for herself and planted it right beside Steve's office desk.
"An '84," Steve picked up the bottle and poured some into the wine glasses. "I heard it was a good year."
Steve watched as Diana measured the wine equally in each glass. Steve eyes finally made contact with hers as he followed Diana picking up the glass closest to her up to her lips. Before taking that sip, she checks for Steve's cooperation, smiled, then signaled with her eyes directing him to his long stemmed goblet.
"So what are we drinking to?"
"You don't have a calendar in this room? Did you lose track of what day it is?"
"No, I know what day it is, I'm just too busy with work to plan for days." Steve looked away from Diana to out his office window. The February snow continued to lightly fall gathering to pile up along the outer windowsill.
"You're a hard man, Steve."
"I'm a busy man." Steve picked up his drink from the lip of the glass between his fingers. He turned it up to his mouth.
"You have to smell it first," Diana insisted. "You don't know anything about wine."
"The last time I even dared sip it, I was in an encampment over in France. Another soldier from the 107th had pocketed a bottle from an abandoned winery. When he took it out we all sipped from our canteens or G.I. tins. We didn't stop to appreciate it, just glad that we had a few minutes of not getting our heads shot off." Steve's nostalgia was taking a somber tone. He could feel Diana's lighthearted visit turn to another therapy session. His eyes glazed over as his war-torn visualization alienated him from Diana. A few minutes go in silence before he hears Diana's voice sharply cut through the PTSD.
"Well, you're not in France now, you're here with me." Diana pointed with her index finger on the desk. She tapped with her nail. "Look, I'll show you." Steve watched her bring the long stem glass up to her nose and breath in the aroma. Once her eyes close, her face commits to blissful changes. Steve watches voyeuristic as she indulges herself in the pleasurable aroma of the wine. He can't really tell what she is thinking about but when she opens her eyes again, she is smiling wide again. Steve watched her enjoy her moment of satisfaction. Was it the lights in the room or was Diana again working her mojo on him? Steve witnessed her big grin gleaming like the her costume's golden tiara. He could feel his guard sliding away. For her sake, Steve tried again, to learn properly and picked up his glass.
"Here's a tip for you," Diana broke in. "Not by the top, but by the stem," She held out her own wine glass demonstrating it to Steve. "If you hold it here then your hands aren't warming the wine. It could stay chilled longer."
Steve tried it on his own. The sophistication really wasn't his normal style, but as long as it kept her pleased, he played along with it. It had a real fruity taste on his pallet. He let the wine slowly swish on his tongue to savor it. That was the only genuine pleasure that he received from alcohol. His metabolism didn't allow him to get drunk no matter the quantity.
"So, what are you doing here tonight?" they both asked each other in unison. Steve smiled and nodded.
"You first."
"I'm monitoring the shipping routes from Madripoor to Latveria. Assessing the intelligence reports,.. you know.. the usual."
Diana paused after his answer. "I just saw the light on." She followed that up with yet another gleaming smile. The expression changed quickly as her hands reached down to her feet yanking her black quarter inch heels off. She then dangled them by the tips of her fingers on her left and and flopped them together like a rattle.
"How much of those intelligence reports requires art supplies?"
Steve's coy demeanor turned to internal panic. Was she spying outside his door long enough to see his special surprise project? "Oh, that.. um.. well..," Steve stammered as he tried to come up with a dodge to the question. In the field, Steve Rogers was in command of many including himself. He is fast thinking battle strategist, the way he could perfectly bank and boomerang his shield was no help to escaping Diana's relentless inquisition. He could feel the grip of Diana's compelling presence and personality. She teased him more with a clear view of her open blouse by leaning in closer towards him. Was she even aware of her tousled exhibition, Steve wondered?
He tried never to lie to her. He couldn't. Stalling is he best he could do to duck the questions he couldn't answer. "No, I'm serious, I really was looking at intelligence reports.... it's just that.."
"..that's wasn't all you were doing." Diana finished his sentence. "Unless this place turns into a gentleman's club when we're not around, the glitter on your cheek is real suspicious."
Steve's face became flush with red as the same wine shade. He finally noticed the spilled glitter on his desktop and rapidly searched for more obvious locations.
"You've got that stuff all over your right cheek."
Steve playfully swats away her hand that she sopped up by her tongue. He recoiled away from her as she reached out with a hand to wipe it off. The further he pulled back, the further she reached out to touch him. "What are you? My mother now?"
Diana succeeds in wiping his face from the crumbly silver pieces. She caressed his face in such a gentle way that the touch on his face felt like a tranquilizing gesture. Steve recalled and compared it to the precipitous kiss that Diana gave him at Christmas time. That holiday kiss was forced on him unexpectedly, but connecting to her in the moment now had him turning like clay in her hands.
There was no other way around the truth. Where was his usually trusty shield to block the truth seeking missiles fired in his direction? This meant that Steve had to give in easier than he wanted. His covert holiday project wasn't at all finished and he'd rather get back to completing it. If he stalled her longer into boredom, she might have left him alone, but there would have been stern consequences.
He chose to slide the top drawer of his desk out and reveal some of the truth. It had to be set out delicately if she was to be brought in to his private feelings.
"That looks like it's been through a war." Diana's eyes got a little wider to Steve as the surprise had been rushed to waste on her persistent interrogation.
"Yes. Actually, It's been through two wars," corrected Steve. It was a grey bound book with yellowed pages. It was held together by a rubber band. He placed it on top of the desk.
"I remember you mentioning this a while ago. Is this actually it? You're drawing pad?"
"Yea, I sent it back home before the war ended and I wasn't going to have any more time to myself. It wasn't until just recently that someone from the Maritime museum gave it back. It's been in storage for over 70 years." He watched her reaction feeling at his most vulnerable with her in a long time.
"May I hold it?"
Pausing to search for some final assurance, Steve chose to carry through with his intentions. He placed it in Diana's hands as she asked respectfully reaching out to touch the missing piece of history. Steve got some satisfaction as he lived through Diana's discovery like it was a secret diary. The delicate pages were a trove of doodles and notes. A history book of the man she knew as Steve Rogers and as the masked avenger Captain America in a past life. What must she have been thinking while browsing through some pages, Steve pondered. Maybe even before he would get too deep in the war memories, Steve re-directed the conversation back to his favor.
"Actually, I was working on something more simple than that." Steve brought out to reveal his other project along with the ream of colored paper, scissors, a black sharpie, and some lace streamer. He didn't quite get it finished, but since he was interrupted, maybe he could make one with her. Or at the very least tell him if she appreciates it and should continue.
"Oh, that looks like a Valentine heart."  "Did you do that, Steve?"
"Well, I was working on it.... After the intelligence report."
"Who was that going to be for?"
Steve turned over the construction paper that started to be cut out along one side. The scraps of lace and paper fell to the desk and revealed a unique stenciled wording. THE PRINCESS, it read while some of the letters had already been filled in with the black sharpie. "I don't know if you would like it. Or maybe you'd expect more from me. I wasn't sure."
This was the critical moment that had to pay off. He read her gentle face moving around for any clue to her initial impressions. It wasn't an expensive jewelry or empty calorie treat, but it was giving her something more valuable than all the riches in the known world. It was the simple beauty in the value of simplistic gestures like a homemade Valentines Day card.  He was giving a part of himself to her. From this moment on, he trusted her a little more with his own feelings and there was no going back.
"It's incomplete! Here, Let me see an.. mind if I join you?" Steve got the sketch pad back from Diana's grasp while reaching for the red paper heart. "I've always wanted to do one of these."
Steve smiled at his relief that Diana wasn't resistant to the Valentines intentions. "When I was at the children's hospital, I met a few little girls who knew how to do this. They had good teachers to work with there." she confessed to him. "I'm so touched by this that I don't know what else to say."
He felt as if he were following through with more charm for her. They both smiled at each other. Steve told her about the way he agonized over how much work he wanted to make it right just for her. They worked together through the night over more of the wine that Diana brought to the office and finished up the heart shaped gesture on red construction paper.

Valentines Day 2015


February 8, 2015

Character Study: The Ultimate Evil - Nationalist Socialist Workers Party

The one inescapable analysis to the origins of Captain America and Wonder Woman is that they were both created at the same time for war propaganda. For every great good shining through in every righteous hero and heroine, there must also be the contrast of the worst evil humanity has ever witnessed. The Nationalist Socialist Workers Party, aka Nazis, earned their repudiation because of their extreme prejudice, as well as global domination.
Today, Nazis are chronicled on the history channel and portrayed as the ultimate villains in fiction films and literature. But as time changed and society still needed heroes, Captain America and Wonder Woman adapted to fight evil in all it's forms. Here, I'd like to take a look at what they were fighting before the concept of super-villains became the norm.
Captain America as seen on the cover of his own book is punching Adolf Hitler the leader of the Nazi regime. But I think it stood for more than just that. It was a high concept of literal symbolism. Since the everyday American citizen on the home front couldn't fight directly, it was up to the comic creators to come up with a cathartic way to live through Captain Americas heroism. American propaganda was turning to hope to keep the war going, even going on to push for more war bond purchasing.

In an odd twist on the story, Steve Rogers is actually the truest personification of what the Nazi's were trying to achieve. He is a blond- haired blue-eyed, physical human perfection. Despite Steve Rogers actually becoming what Hitler wanted in his Aryan master race, idealistically, they could not be further apart. The Nazis dominated every thought of every citizen of Germany and took steps to remove the German's personal liberty and free speech is only admissible under government approval (which means it's only good things about the government.) Captain America on the other hand strives to become the sentinel of liberty. He saw what bullies can do with power and intimidation. He stood up for those being oppressed by big government.

With Wonder Woman getting more and more deeply into exploring a Greek myths, it would be easy to forget that the first fights that Wonder Woman had was with joining her compatriots to vanquishing the Nazi threat. To her, they were what was stopping the harmonious existence between man's world and her utopian paradise. The Nazi's were devoid of any love for humanity in any other forms but their own. They were cruel to the environment and in their wake of war, they destroyed buildings, holy icons, as well as people who didn't fit their perfect mold. Wonder Woman saw what good can arise from the ashes of man and (depending on which origin story you follow) sacrificed her heritage to join with the outside man's world.
To Wonder Woman's female warrior Amazons, the Nazis were a juggernaut that threatened the eventual downfall of their utopia. They were the legion of boogeymen at the gates. They threatened the balance of peace. They also took misogyny to the extremes. Nazis had a place in their world order for women - and it wasn't going to involve the inferior sex.
Together, Captain America and Wonder Woman stood side-by-side to defeat the one true evil in the world - but once the war had subsided and the Nazis surrendered, did that mean they were vanquished forever? Or would there always exist in this world to rise again standing against the faces of personal liberty and true freedom?

February 4, 2015

Promotional Poster Art


Stretch it Out, Work it Out!

Once Diana was a full time part of the Agency, she immediately wanted to assert her own identity towards the base of operations and how things were run. War was a man's pursuit, and especially like many things in man's world, it needed more of a true woman's gentle touch. Of course, on her island home, she had the area of combat, but there was also a bathing pool and open air lounges. When she was given the orientation, Diana noticed that even in the spare time the agents would continue sparring each other or work out in a very heavy and violent matter. Lifting weights, pounding on heavy bags, treadmills (even cosmic ones). She found her way through the locker room facility and entered the auxiliary studio built jointly on the base's campus grounds.

Diana built the studio based on what she was acclimated to on the island. The walls were a crimson red, with a sandy brown Berber carpet. For decorations, there were pairs of evenly placed faux marble columns along the walls sides. Potted ferns in gold urns were on top of the stone pillars. On the north end of the studio was an electronic waterfall that trickled down the flow of water along the mossy stone pyramid. In the right hand corner was a small stereo system wireless connected to speakers in the back of the room.

Diana was dressed and ready for a soothing workout and required her focus upon a peaceful mind. She had tried something like this on the Island where she was born, but the longer she was away from her homeland the more she searched for a balance. While she was in "man's world" she began to adapt to her environment, but that meant also witnessing the terrible parts to humanity and the weaknesses of others. Since she was elected as a symbol, a representative of her native Themyscira, she was expected to be on guard constantly. The people she protected and loved soon forgot that she was only a human being too. Diana, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, had struggled with the burden of how many teammates, super friends, and fellow Agents demanded her vigilance. Her time alone was getting far shorter, but much more valuable to her.

On the island, she practiced a meditative positioning with movements that channeled the flow of nature. While she was on the island, she felt free to proceed in the nude. Diana felt the breeze flow across her tender skin and cooled her down. This was one of the main reasons why men were forbidden to see the Themysciran Paradise island. It was a home to be free and one with nature. In man's world she conditioned herself to stay more modest. Even in front of the women in the Agency's locker room facility, Diana often felt stared at and judged, not for her secure body image, but for the insecurity and judgment of her fellow female teammates. She was blessed with perfection in body shape and muscle tone. Others have to perpetually work at physical fitness, Diana's body is natural.

She dressed appropriately this day and awaited Steve Rogers arrival and was dressed in a navy blue yoga pants and a bright red seamless sports bra. It fit her snug on top as she prepared herself by sliding her palms down against her chest with her palms and followed them down to her abdominal muscles. She felt the ridges of each bump. She then stretched further along her waist and thighs until she reached the floor with her fingertips.

Taking herself to the middle of the room where her mat was positioned, she focused her mind to even the deepest detail as to the harmonious feng-shui location of her yoga mat. She stood there, in her bare feet, like a stiff soldier in formation line. Shoulders back, chest out, legs stiffened, arms by her sides. She started by her breathing rhythm then closed her eyes. The darkness enclosed her vision while her surrounding consciousness faded from her. She felt the distant warmth of her home island and allowed her subconscious to make her travel back to where she felt at home.  In her mind's eye, she saw the Acropolis-styled buildings, the open air houses, and imagined the landing strip where her invisible jet was docked.

Diana continued to imagine the sunny coastal beaches of the island. She could almost feel the sand in between her toes while she also remembered the smell the salty Mediterranean sea air in her nostrils. She gave herself over to her basic desires and visualized more of what she remembered the island to have. Through her imagination, she gazed at the juxtaposed shoreline with the rocky black stone hillsides, the white sand, the blue waters, the lush green tree and vegetation, she saw someone walking towards her position. Startling was her reaction as the closer the person in her imagination got, the features revealed that the identity was of a man.

He was an Adonis of a male specimen. His bare chest directed toward the precision of broad shoulders and ripping biceps. He had a flapping mane of blond hair and sharp angled jawline. As the yet-unidentified man in her daydream continued forward towards Diana, the details of his short pants were also divided by two stiles of red and white stripes on the right leg and a blue canvased leg with a pure white star.

Long ago, Amazons told each other of the rules that no man was to ever walk on the island unchaperoned. While Diana's entranced state enthralled her, she checked around in the dream state for her other sister Amazons. It would mean an instant death order for the mystery man approaching her. It was the colors of his that gave his identity away. It was Steve Rogers. In the waking world, she had already identified him in numerous categories as her fellow Agent, teammate, confidant, fellow war vet. It was the one passionate overwhelming feeling of connection to him with reverence and identification. She had struggled in the same ways he had. They were both products of a bygone era and burdened to carry the memories of history as old souls.

She allowed herself to fall gently to her knees. Diana tried to fight against her feminine carnal desires and concentrated on her slow moving martial arts movements. She blocked his masculine visage in favor for the open skyline and crystal clear waters of the Sea. But as the memory of the hot sun triggered a raise in her body temperature, she tried to convince the reactionary warmth was her mental focus. Mind over matter. It wasn't the arousing gaze of Steve Rogers, but the room must not be properly ventilated. Diana bowed her torso and propped herself up with her arms in an all-fours position. She kept her eyes closed and focused on the imaginary sun in her mind. The longer she imagined the suns rays, the warmth rushed over her while her soft flesh rushed additional blood to all her extremities and aroused her tiny follicles.

But in her meditative trance, she allowed the focal point of the sun to dim and rise a new super-imposed image come to the foreground. It was a man's smiling face. As the disembodied face came into focus, it was once again Steve Rogers with a gentlemanly grin. "Hello, Di," Steve's visage spoke. Again, Diana Prince, became flustered and frustrated at the inability of keeping only the serenity of her self-imposed alienation. No mater the images, the subconscious mind would always lead back to thoughts of Steve.

Diana Prince again changed her position slowly to raise her hind up in the air and stiffen her legs straight to a more triangular pose - the downward dog as it is named. She then opted again to imagine the island shoreline holding the pose. She concentrated on the glassy ripples of water in the sea. She imagined perfectly how the crash of the gentle waves rose and fell. She looked into the crystalline waters and expected a raven haired female to look back at her. But again, she didn't know how the images changed in her mind. There to greet her was another image of Steve Rogers, but this time in full Captain America gear. Anything she tried, her thoughts were of adoring him.

She tried one more time to earn just a little peace of mind of a non-invaded mental clarity. Diana changed her position once more to that of the Cobra. Her hips and legs laid flat on the yoga mat while her arms pushed her arcing torso skyward back towards her heels. Her muscles strained as she purposefully cramped herself to the limits of flexibility. The wearing pain in her back and arms were a welcomed feeling to snap her out of the taunting images. While she held it there, her ears rang with a familiar voice interrupting her meditative concentration. "Hey, Diana," the voice said.

"I hope I didn't disturb your workout," the familiar voice again snapped her attention. Diana opened her eyes and immediately saw Steve Rogers. Only she had come face to face with his thighs and groin area. Blinking rapidly, she then brought herself mentally to the present time and location. Where Steve Rogers had been haunting her daydreams and stealing her focus, he had arrived in kind to appear ready for their workout training together.

Steve Rogers squatted down to address Diana's line of sight to his smiling face. His light blue eyes and charming smile was in a roundabout way a pleasant wake-up call to the muddled mental acuity that Diana just had.