FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND – MISOGYNY

no girls allowed 1What’s crackin everybody! It’s your favorite villain-loving, miscreant-embracing host getting the party started this Friday night with a SAT vocabulary word. Party over here, whut whut!

Now misogyny is a downer word replete with a downer definition: the hatred or dislike of women or girls. I’m not talking about the kindergartner “I don’t yike guls so I hitted her” approach. I’m thinking something a bit more pervasive and more institutional…and wholly unintentional. I know you’re like “Damn, Chris. It’s Friday, I love girls, and you are really fucking up my vibe.” I get it. Let me put it in comic book terms.

A couple of years ago, DC Comics and Warner Bros put out an absolutely horrible superhero flick called Green Lantern. This was at the height of the superhero craze: Heath Ledger had earned a posthumous Oscar for playing the Joker in the Dark Knight, Robert Downey Jr. had been Iron Man twice, and Marvel was one year away from pulling together the Avengers into the 3rd highest grossing film of all time. You might remember Green Lantern (if you saw it, I ‘m sorry—the support group meets on Wednesdays at the Y): it had Ryan Reynolds as Ryan Reynolds in a snug CGI suit, a villain with the largest head on film (and it pulsated), Dora-level special effects, and it made about $14 at the box office. It was a shit movie and this is from somebody who likes shit movies.

But this isn’t about Green Lantern. This is about the trailer for the Green Lantern.

I took the Honey Badger to see one of the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies—whichever one had fucking Alvin doing the Castaway on a deserted island after falling off a cruise ship. As an aside, talking chipmunks or not, once they were off the ship, fuck the damn rodents and their high ass voices—I would have taken the money and run. Anyway, as we’re waiting for the movie the start, we get to see this wonderful trailer:

The trailer was better than the movie. Trust me. But as we watch the trailer and I start to get hopeful about Green Lantern (I kinda like the character but don’t tell nobody), the Honey Badger says, loud as day, “How come it can’t ever be a girl that saves the world?”

And some of the women in the theater clapped.

But I didn’t have an answer for that. I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t know what to tell her. I watch movies with her and I see her fall in love with Bella Swan—a girl stuck in a horribly abusive and controlling relationship, who refuses to act EVER, and simply lets everything happen around her. I see Katniss Everdeen start a revolution but be mired in a love triangle. SHE STARTED A REVOLUTION!! Fuck Peta! She’s changing the world. (BTW I haven’t read the books—maybe there’s more, I don’t know). I see Hermione play second fiddle to Harry’s Jesus Christ and Ron’s redheaded idiocy when she is CLEARLY the smartest, most prepared player in the game. How the fuck did Ron survive those 7 years at Hogwarts and how the hell did his broke ass pull Hermione Granger?

And, as much as I love her, I see Scarlett Johannson get played to the curb in 2 different movies. If there was a pretty perfect portrayal of a female superhero in the movies, it’s Johannson’s Black Widow. This woman infiltrated Stark Enterprises and got Tony Stark back to work, she hacked Ivan Danko’s Russian computer system and rebooted Don Cheadle’s suit AFTER beating the cowboy shit outta like 6 dudes. She took a backhand from the Hulk—THE HULK who fought Thor, a demigod—then got up and socked the shit out of Hawkeye before she dove into battle with 2 guns and a taser. There were no romantic entanglements, she was nonplussed about all these people with their amazing powers, and held her own in the Battle of New York. Oh yeah, and she outsmarted Loki (the God of Mischief) and shut his shit down.

But she isn’t considered an Avenger. They only count Cap, Iron Man, the Hulk and Thor as Avengers. She doesn’t get equal billing. She’s a token. Marvel actually removed the other female founding member of the team because…well, I actually don’t have an answer for that.

And that’s bullshit. And my daughter knows it.

A couple weeks ago, I made Canada my Friday Night Fiend. You might remember that one. A friend of mine, my villainous partner in crime, writer ED Martin, added a comment about how independent women should be my next villain. She has a point. What are TV and film studios so afraid of? The portrayals of women in cinema have a massive impact on who our daughters and sisters and nieces decide to be. Who they believe they can be. How do I convince my daughter to be less Bella and more Hermione when she’s ridiculed for her intellect and eschewed for her preparation? How do I encourage her to start revolutions like Katniss and be independent like Natasha Romanov when the world is more concerned with her love life than her capabilities? When she’ll never get the credit she deserves?

I’m gonna end this little diatribe with the most important female superheroine who, for the dumbest of reasons, cannot get ANY cinematic love: Wonder Woman. It is an absolute travesty that, in 2013, after Hillary Clinton garnered 16 million votes and led the most viable campaign for a female president in history, Wonder Woman cannot find a place on film. Or TV. Or her own cartoon. Do you know why? She’s “tricky.” That is the actual reason.

“We have to get her right, we have to. She is such an icon for both genders and all ages and for people who love the original TV show and people who read the comics now. I think one of the biggest challenges at the company is getting that right on any size screen. The reasons why are probably pretty subjective: She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes. There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium? What you do in TV has to be different than what you do in features. She has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.”

Tricky. Tough. Hard. So fuck it, right? By the way, it was the female president of DC Comics who gave us that quote.

I’ve paid for shitty Superman, Batman, Green Lantern (well, I didn’t pay for that piece of shit), X-Men, Star Wars, and Spiderman movies. Jackass is a SERIES. You saw Bill and Ted just like me. And Gremlins 2. And any of the Child’s Play movies. Jason Vorhees has like 57 shit movies. My point is someone is greenlighting these bullshit movies and you cannot say a guy who stalks you in your dreams or a retarded kid who lives at the bottom of the lake and cannot die or a group of idiots who film themselves hurting themselves makes more sense than Wonder Woman.

So there you have it: Friday Night Misogyny courtesy of superhero movies. I’m gonna leave you with this tweet about Marvel’s response to DC’s “Wonder Woman is tricky” comment. I thought it was just funny:

brett white Marvel:DC See ya Tuesday!

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WhatchootalkinboutTuesday?

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s the first installment of WhatchootalkingboutTuesday! Look I have an intro:

Come on, have a seat over here (do I sound like Chris Hansen?) Let me tell you a little about my life. I work at home. I have a routine. It keeps me sane.

Everyday, the Damn Dog (which is her official blog name) wakes me up an hour before my alarm to tell me she has to go pee and really wants to rip limbs off my bushes to bring them in the house to chew on. As I fall back asleep on the couch, I check emails on my phone, make sure I don’t have any early meetings, snore for about 40 minutes, then get up, curse at the dog (and her fucking mess), give her food and make coffee. For about 2-3 hours, I have exquisite silence: the dog goes back to sleep, the wife does her Disney stuff upstairs, I power through stuff with the Day Job Dragon and the world spins in harmony.

But for the past 72 days, my delightful mornings have been interrupted by little people’s loud ass iPhone rings and alerts, shoes and dirty cereal bowls and candy wrappers strewn about, a litany of somebody else’s kids eating my goddamn Swiss Cake Rolls, and my fucking creamer coming up empty when I make my coffee—for the last 72 days school has been out. My damn kids have been home.

It’s been a nightmare.

But tomorrow, tomorrow, that bullshit ends tomorrow! Why? Because it’s DMFGBTS—Deez Muthafuckas Go Back To School! Can you tell I’m happy? Dude, I am ecstatic. Actually, this is me right now:

I’ve been in my house doing the Dougie for the last 3 days.

I gotta admit though, I’m only so optimistic this year. If you’ve read my little blog, you know The Boy has an adversarial relationship with his academics. In fact, HE is the reason there is DMFRH at all. All summer, he’s been talking about turning over a new leaf and taking his studies much more seriously. Apparently, that’s tomorrow’s shit. Today, he had a 4 hour orientation to high school. High School. The precursor to adulthood. It ain’t no surprise–we’ve been talking about it for the last 70-some days: “Dude, you gotta be up and ready for your orientation at 8.” Come 7am, was the cat up? No? How about 7:15? Nah. 7:30? That’s better–once his mama kicked in the door like she got a warrant and a flak jacket.  “Why didn’t you set an alarm?” His response: “You didn’t tell me to.” For real? Like for real for real? How are you late on your first day?

But it all hasn’t been shits and giggle the last few days. I’ve already told you that I have a Superman complex and, while I like to believe I’m invulnerable, I can actually get hurt. And this week, the Boy got me. He cut me deep.

Like mothers and daughters, sons and fathers go through a tête-à-tête of sorts—in Discovery Channel fashion, the young lion tries to assert his dominance on the older alpha lion (are there alpha lions?) and routinely gets smacked down. This is our relationship these days. I know he will challenge. He knows he will lose. It works. For the most part. But on a routine mission to Disneyland (yes, again, but this time without me), the Boy had some commentary about me. He called me a “replacement” for his real father. A replacement. I was feeling some kind of way about it too. I actually got my feelings hurt.

I’d love to know what you think on this (and whether my response was justified) and, in order to do that I have to bring up another point. You may not know this but I have another blog, Falling From Grace, where I discuss my novels, their themes and other weighty topics. In my post there Sunday, I brought up this little tidbit in light of some grander themes in my Heaven Falls novels—mainly forgiveness. You know what that means, right? Crossover!

What you think matters to me, so follow the link, take a look around and gimme your thoughts! Feel free – hint hint – to also check out the Heaven Falls Facebook page and drop me a note!

Last week, I dropped a lovely Breaking Bad/VMA YouTube mix. I hope it cracked you up as much as it did me. And, as I was finishing up my new-and-improved Khan post, I stumbled across this lovely vid of Kirk watching Miley. This shit was funny!

We’re back on Friday with ZOD!

HERO HIGHLIGHT: JUSTICE LEAGUE

justiceleagueI’ve been putting off this Justice League post because I don’t know jack shit about DC comic book characters. I know Superman and Batman, of course, but you start talking about Wonder Woman (she got a nice outfit and a rope, right?) or Aquaman (again, SeaWorld trainer in an orange shirt), or Flash (umm, he’s fast?), or Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds or the black dude?) or the Martian Manhunter (who?)—yeah, I’m kinda lost.

Let me tell you how much I love you. You deserve better than some half-hearted the-Justice-League-is-not-the Avengers post. So what do I do? Watch a full season (plus a couple episodes) of the Justice League (thank you Netflix!). I read the Kingdom Come graphic novel. Turned on 3 different Justice League animated movies. I even broke down and watched the Green Lantern movie – twice.  That’s commitment.

And it paid off.

I’m not a DC aficionado admittedly. But I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for why Marvel has superheroes and DC has icons. Icons. You get that? Icons. An object of uncritical devotion. That’s the difference between the two families of heroes and it doesn’t make one better than the other. Marvel’s claim to fame is that it takes ordinary people, people you and I can relate to, and turns them into something special—like a teenage outcast who suddenly finds incredible power or a simple scientist who learns to express unfathomable rage or the puny kid from Brooklyn who gains the power to be the super soldier America needs. But the DC model isn’t about taking ordinary people and making them extraordinary. DC shows us extraordinary people ordinary people can aspire to.

Now I know there’s like 147 members of the Justice League but to steal a line from the Avengers, let’s do a headcount here:

  • Superman – There is NOTHING in the Marvel universe that compares to Superman. Nothing. Fanboys will talk to you about Thor and the damn hammer but it’s more than strength and flight. It’s character. It’s the basic essence of who that character is and what he compels the rest of us to be. Superman is a benevolent god, a Christ figure in tights and a cape urging us to be our best. He is an example for us, something for us to strive toward. Something for us to emulate. Now I like Thor. I thought he earned MVP of the Avengers. But no one ran around their backyard with a cape thinking they were Thor. All of us thought we had an S on our chest.
  • Batman – Now I’ve said before that Batsy ain’t right. He has some psycho-emotional problems. Seriously, somebody needs to put my man in a straightjacket and take away the batarangs. But Batman is the pinnacle of the human condition. He takes two very basic, very intrinsic human concepts—revenge and justice—and hones them into weapons. Uses them to create a persona that is more than human. Think about it—this is the only normal human being in the Justice League, a group with Superman and Green Lantern, and he is a contributing member. The closest thing Marvel has to Batman is Captain American—their moral center is stronger than their physical capabilities.
  • Green Lantern – Now I like the Green Lantern: interstellar space cop, ring with powers that are limited by your imagination and your will, cool mask. Shitty movie aside, the Green Lantern is pretty awesome, right? But look at him: his power is limited only by his willingness to do the right thing. To be the right person. What is interesting about the Green Lantern is it’s not about the guy; it’s about the role. The job. There are thousands of Lanterns, all of them chosen for their will and willingness to do what is right. That is a universal concept.
  • Wonder Woman – If anybody needed their own movie, it’s this chick. Wonder Woman is the penultimate female hero. Holding her own in the Justice League, strong enough to stand toe to toe with Superman, sexy enough to walk through any city with a golden rope and a bustier. This is the embodiment of female empowerment. She is the anti-Disney princess: she doesn’t wear a fancy dress, isn’t trying to catch a man (she doesn’t even like men), and is waaaaaaayyyyy more Brave than Merida. Diana is a goddess.  She has no counterpart.
  • Flash – Easily my favorite character in the Justice League cartoon. And that’s kind of a surprise since I always thought his power was kind of lame—yeah, you’re fast, I get it. Seemed like a one-trick pony. But my man is FUNNY. I guess I like him for the same reasons I like Spiderman: the Flash has a quip for everything, thinks on his feet, trying to get at the ladies (constantly) but is a hero through and through. Where Flash and Spidey differ is in power: Peter Parker has a limited ability to affect change (though he still is my favorite superhero), the Flash can change time, run through dimensions, alter reality. I don’t know—I just dig him.
  • Martian Manhunter – To be fair, this is where DC lost me. I get that the core components of the Justice League really do spell out something interstellar but for real? The last Martian? And all those convenient powers: he can become intangible and has super strength and can fly and has telepathy and can change shape but his weakness is fire? Booo. I’d go at him with a sparkler and slap the shit out of the Martian Manhunter.
  • Aquaman – Sure, I’ve clowned Aquaman. We’ve ALL clowned Aquaman. The most useless Superfriend. The one Justice Leaguer who can’t do anything if it’s on land. Yeah, that dude. Now, in the stuff I read/watched, Aquaman was recast into a hardened ruler of an undersea nation (that mysteriously needs domes full of air to survive UNDERWATER but whatever). I know I called him an orange-shirted SeaWorld trainer—then I saw him cut off his own hand to save his son. On a kid’s cartoon. Well alright. Now, Marvel does have a character just like this—his name is Namor the Sub-Mariner. And he is an ass. At least Aquaman is a better name.

All in all, the Justice League is a collection gods in the midst of people. Where Marvel characters generally look at individuals blessed and burdened with power and their challenge to retain their humanity in the face of these capabilities, DC characters are gods among men and women. Their challenge is really about constantly and consistently rising to the call such power requires. They’re not looking to maintain their humanity; they’re looking to earn humanity’s respect.

My Top Ten Heroes #OBSummer #Books

So the next magnificent miscreant in our repertoire is…wait, what? Heroes? Did I read that right? My Top Ten Heroes? Yes, friends and foes, after all this time pouring over the dastardly deeds of about 50 of my favorite baddies, it’s time to give a brief – and I mean BRIEF – introduction to my all-time favorite do-gooders.

But you know I’m not doing that nonsense here, right? Oh no! As part of the Orangeberry Summer Splash, the good folks over at WeFancyBooks are hosting my first ever Top Ten Heroes list. Swing by and pay them a visit!

Festival of Fiendishness Day 6: DOOMSDAY

You probably think I’m a Superman fan, doncha? This is the third Superman villain I’ve looked at; must mean I have some affinity for the Man of Steel, huh? Not necessarily. I mean I don’t have anything against the Bulletproof Boy Scout—he just makes me feel bad. All strong and flying and looking good in that blue suit with that one perfect curl. The guy has no imperfections, right? Somebody has to bring him down to size, right?

Well, that somebody is today’s villain, Doomsday.

In the mid-90s some ballsy comic book writer from my home state of Minnesota came up with the idea that Superman needed to be knocked down a peg. That he needed to be taught a lesson in humility and vulnerability. And mortality. Supe needed to die. And the man to do it was a lil guy named Doomsday. Well, a big guy. With a really bad case of eczema.

Honestly, the whole idea is really screwed up. Seriously. And I like villains. Check this out: the being called Doomsday is a project—a weapon—created by a Kryptonian scientist some 250,000 years before Krypton exploded. This scientist, a dude named Bertron, was trying to create a perfect organism (like the aliens in Alien) so he took a baby, like a regular baby, and dropped him into Krypton’s prehistoric environment. Imagine taking a baby and just dropping it into the Jurassic era. It’s fucked up, right? That’s what this guy did. And, surprise, surprise, the baby becomes a Beggin Strip for whatever dinosaur is lumbering by. This is just the beginning. Bertron scoops up the remains of the baby, clones it and makes it stronger. Now, when the baby comes back, its immune to the thing that killed it. For the next 250,000 years, this little baby was repeatedly killed by a variety of means, coming back stronger and impervious to the thing that killed it.

Did you catch that? Doomsday has died thousands of times, only to be reborn. Stronger.

You can imagine he’s not a happy soul, right?

Doomsday learns how to adapt on his own, kills Bertron, escapes on a ship and kills the whole crew. He goes from planet to planet, wrecking shop, tearing up whatever he can. If he gets beat, no biggie, right? Comes back, $6 Million Dollar Man-style, better, stronger, faster, and beats the living daylights outta whatever took him. He goes to one planet, kills everyone, and the leaders transform themselves into a Voltron-style energy weapon that kills Doomsday. But they don’t trust it so they bind up his body, drop him in a metal tomb, and bury him in stone.

This MF gets out. And makes it to Earth.

How raw is Doomsday? On Earth, he beats the shit out of the entire Justice League (AKA low-budget Avengers. What can I say? I’m a Marvel guy…) and does it WITH ONE HAND TIED BEHIND HIS BACK! Literally. Well, Superman can’t have some no-name dude with crusty skin whopping on his people so he swoops in to help.

This does not end well. Superman is trying to save Metropolis. Doomsday is trying to kill everything that breathes and has a particular disdain for the Man of Steel. These cats literally beat one another to death. In front of the whole world.

Doomsday killed Superman.

I could go on. I could talk about the fact that after killing Superman, Doomsday was strapped to an asteroid and flung deep into space and he woke up anyway! Drifting through space, giggling about the whole thing. I could talk about how Doomsday came back, repeatedly, after being stranded at the End of Time (literally) or being blasted until only his bones remained. Doomsday is raw, unmitigated destruction for the sake of destruction. He’s an incredible villain because everything he does is because he can. And no one can stop him.

But that’s not what makes him awesome. Doomsday is awesome because he gave us this:

Celebration of Wickedness Day 30B: GENERAL ZOD

I already told you that I’m no fan of DC Comics (they have continuity issues I cannot wrap my head around) and everybody is named Something-Man, This-Power-Girl. There’s even a Something-Lad—Lad? Seriously? In 2012? Can’t do it. But that’s beside the point. I am a fan of General Zod as portrayed in the magnificent Superman II by Terence MF Stamp.

No matter how you slice it, Zod’s been pissed for a while: whether you go with the comic version of him leading Krypton’s military and committing atrocities; or him having issues with how the Council did Non…and then committing atrocities; or Smallville’s genetically engineered, then sent back in time nonsensical portrayal—it all ends with Zod doing foul stuff on Krypton, getting imprisoned in the Phantom Zone (which is like the cornfield for you Twilight Zone aficionados—ha! I got to use the word aficionado), escaping the Phantom Zone, making his way to Earth where he gets Superman’s powers with none of the truth, justice and American Way jazz. And then he wrecks shop.

Now, I already told you, I’m looking at the Zod who screamed at Marlon Brando, “You will bow down before me! Both you, and one day, your heirs!” and then made good on it. I’m talking about the Zod who came to Earth and walked on water in front of Buford T. Justice (“Did that son’bitch just give me an order?”) I’m talking about the Zod who got on the news and called Superman out and then proceeded to whoop his ass through downtown Metropolis—which looks an awful lot like Gotham City. And New York. That Zod. He was an awesome Zod.

Here’s why he’s impressive: Zod is the most horrid version of Superman we can consider. He was even too bad for Lex Luthor—and Lex wants to kill Superman. He’s a direct affront to everything that makes us love Superman: Zod has all the powers with none of the humanity. See, that’s what Zod is really about: taking away that thing that makes Kal-El into Clark Kent, into one of us. Because beneath the cape, behind the S, is an individual who was orphaned, different and alone. Alone. There’s nothing else like Superman, not on Earth. Not in the universe. His planet is gone. His people are gone. He clings to the closest thing he can: us. And then only vestige of who he might be, what he could be, is a bulletproof megalomaniac clad in deep V’s and puffy sleeves. It’s only a matter of time before people—human beings—put two and two together and turn on Superman.

Zod isn’t about power (but he uses his so effectively); he’s about alienation. He’s about attacking the core of the Man of Steel. Think about it. He brings out the worst in Superman. Zod makes the world think Superman has abandoned them (when he was just getting some nookie); he beats the living shit outta Superman with powers humans worship him for having; there are instances in the comics where Superman has killed Zod (and the movie implies it). Zod takes this superhero and shows him a horrible mirror—turns a savior into a killer at worst, an apathetic god at best. Anything but human. Anything but one of us. When the dust settles, Superman is still different and alone. And now we all know it.

And one more thing, Zod had this amazing line: “Why do you say these things to me, when you know I will kill you for it?” That’s always been my favorite.

That’s it for the Celebration, at least for this volume. Its been a blast, ladies and gents, Sith and Jedi, wizards and muggles.

Catch ya later!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 15: LEX LUTHOR

It’s Lex, baby! That’s right, our sample of sinister savagery is Superman’s nemesis premier, the chrome dome himself.

Now, I’m admittedly not a DC comics fan; I’ve read two Superman comics in my lifetime—the one where they changed Supes’ costume and the one where Doomsday beat the bulletproof shit outta Superman. I don’t know Lex from the pages of comics: I know him from the Christopher Reeve masterpieces, the sub-standard Superman Returns, and all 687 episodes of Smallville (I cannot be only one who thought it took forever for Superman to learn HOW TO FREAKING FLY!).

Most of us have seen the 1978 Richard Donner pic with Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando and if you haven’t, stop, go out and watch it. Come back when you’re better prepared for class. And while you’re at it, watch Superman II—it was just cool. In that movie, we are introduced to a villain who wants to start an earthquake to make the entire western seaboard of the United States fall into the ocean just so he can make money on a brand new coastline. And he launches a domestic nuclear attack to give Superman something to do while his other plan is in motion.

Impressive, right? But wait, there’s more.

There are 2 human beings who know about Superman’s “aversion” to kryptonite. Both of them know who Superman is. Both of them are billionaires. One of them is Superman’s friend. The other one wants to kill him. In the movies, Lex discovers what kryptonite does, obtains it, then gives Superman a pendant made of it and tries to drown him. But that’s not all: he finds the Fortress of Solitude, turns it on, uses its information against Superman and makes Superman destroy his own home. We’ve even seen Lex shank Supe and stomp him like they were on D-block. And Superman is BULLETPROOF.

Here’s what it comes down to: Lex has balls.

That’s what makes him such a fantastic villain. Lex Luthor has balls. I know it sounds crass but think about it. Push aside his routine disdain for all manners of law enforcement. Ignore his idle willingness to sacrifice billions of human lives to achieve his aims. Brush away the fact that he teamed up with General Zod to take over the world. Consider this: Lex Luthor fought a god. On purpose. And figured out how to beat him.

When we think of heroes and villains, especially the super-powered variety, we often imagine a match in power and capability. Batman and the Joker, Spiderman and the Green Goblin, Harry Potter and Voldemort. Usually two sides of the same coin. But think about Superman. He can fly, shoot lasers out his eyes, live in space, lift full continents with his bare hands, turn the world backwards—you’d have a better chance listing the things he can’t do, right? But Lex is just a dude. A regular guy. Flesh and blood and addicted to gravity. And yet he is still willing, wholeheartedly, to tumble with the Man of Steel. And sometimes gains the upper hand. Who does that? A man with balls.

And that is why Lex Luthor deserves entry into the pantheon of great villains.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, we get the only Star Trek villain I know: KHAN! KHANNN! KHANNN!!! (that’s my version of the echo from Star Trek II)