Jewish World Review August 17, 2004 / 30 Menachem-Av, 5764

David Grimes

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Flaming Gaseous Man, away! | Those of you who have seen the latest "Spider-Man" movie probably emerged from the theater with one thought uppermost in your mind, namely: How is it not a crime to charge $12 for popcorn and a Coke?

Actually, I was referring to the other thought that was uppermost in your mind, namely: I'd like to be a superhero too, but how do I go about it?

Well, luckily for you I've given this matter a lot of thought, mainly during those periods when I should have been doing something more useful, like working.

I've come to the conclusion that the first thing you need to become a successful superhero is a cool name. Many cool names have already been taken, such as Ant Man, Leech, Living Tribunal and Napoleon Bonafrog. (OK, that last one might only seem cool if you're 8 years old, but this column is nothing if not inclusive.) But that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of cool superhero names still out there waiting to be dreamed up.

For example, let's say you want to be (Something) Man. (I'd advise against actually calling yourself Something Man as it implies a certain tentativeness and fear of commitment that would certainly be exploited by such evil super-villains as Cesspool and Widget.)

You could be Armadillo Man, if you wished, though I'm not sure that rooting out insects with your snout qualifies as a superpower.

Mega Man is good, as long as you're able to deal with the inevitable jokes about your weight problem.

Flaming Gaseous Man is one of my personal favorites, for reasons that are too indelicate to get into here. I imagine Flaming Gaseous Man getting his superpower, as it were, by polishing off a hearty meal of bratwursts, boiled peanuts and beer. In other words, Flaming Gaseous Man does some of his best work in ballparks, which is why most stadiums are open-air.

Once you have established your superhero's name, you will have to come up with the source of his power. Extreme doses of radioactivity are a popular source of superhero power, which is odd since you would think all of these superheroes would have names like Leukemia Man or Carcinoma Man, but they don't.

Falling into a vat of toxic waste is another good source of superhero power, again for reasons that aren't altogether clear. I'm guessing Three-Eyed Man With A Foot Growing Out Of His Head just doesn't lend itself to a Saturday-morning cartoon show.

Some superheroes (and many super-villains) obtain their powers from mysterious, other-worldly places with names like The Negative Zone. (Contrary to what you may have heard, the Negative Zone and the Accursed Liberal Media are not one and the same thing. The only superpower that the Accursed Liberal Media possess is the ability to pad expense reports in their sleep.)

So there you have it. I have given you all the tools you need to transform yourself into the next great superhero.

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Personally, I am going for Aging Bespectacled Flaming Gaseous Man, who gets his powers through short bouts of typing followed by long naps. He can't root out bugs with his snout like Armadillo Man, but, if atmospheric conditions are correct, he can asphyxiate them.

Which is not exactly the same as being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but, hey, you've got to go with what you've got.

Coming soon to a theater near you.

And don't forget to bring lots of money, because the snack prices are hideous.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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