January Rambling: sweatshops, Steve Bissette and singing

Some yahoo wrote The Rare Case Against Creator-Owned Comics, citing the Steve Bissette article as “proof” of his premise.


Vernon Supreme for President. Just one of about four dozen candidates on the New Hampshire ballot.

From here: “When Steve Jobs died…, deification from the media and inconsolable consumers made gripes about Apple’s use of sweatshops seem like the cynical mumblings of contrarians. The problem is that there’s plenty of documentation and reporting that supports the criticism.” See also this: “Mike Daisey was a self-described ‘worshipper in the cult of Mac.’ Then he saw some photos from a new iPhone, taken by workers at the factory where it was made. Mike wondered: Who makes all my crap? He traveled to China to find out.”

Rich Kids For Romney.

A Gentle Question for the Christian Right.

Nobody has the right to take another life; Roger Ebert on the death penalty.

Elizabeth Warren: ‘It Gets Better’

Gabrielle Giffords resigns from the US House of Representatives, a year after being shot in the head, so she can more fully recover. The video is very nice, but there are always trolls – check them out at the YouTube site at your own risk – who show what schmucks some people can be.

My buddy Steve Bissette noted the unfortunate circumstances involving the non-publication of 1963, a project that involved, among others, Steve and Alan Moore. Then, some yahoo wrote The Rare Case Against Creator-Owned Comics, citing the Bissette article as “proof” of his premise. Steve responded to “this oddly-headlined post at Newsarama, which”, Steve hastened to add, “somewhat distorts the context of my own end-of-2011 Myrant post.”

Aggressively inarticulate.

The late Etta James covers Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Welcome To The Jungle. Here’s her Roll with me Henry a/k/a The Wallflower.
From the Wikipedia: “[Musician Johnny] Otis took the group under his wing, helping them sign to Modern Records and changing their name from the Creolettes to the Peaches and gave the singer her stage name reversing Jamesetta [Hawkins] into Etta James. James recorded the version…in 1954, and the song was released in early 1955 as ‘Dance with Me, Henry’…changed to avoid censorship due to the subtle title. In February of that year, the song reached number one on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Tracks chart.” Yes, her At Last was played at Carol’s and my wedding reception, too. And coincidentally, Johnny Otis died that same week as Etta. Here’s his Willie and the Hand Jive.

A nice story about the late Dick Tufeld, who voiced the robot on Lost in Space, among MANY other gigs.

Ten Bits of Advice Writers Should Stop Giving Aspiring Writers.

The Year in Kickstarter.

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy hit back at Fox News during a UK press conference following the London Premiere of their new film. Fox News had publicly criticized the film for supposedly pushing a ‘dangerous liberal agenda’ at kids.

Three musical pieces, including those 5 people on one guitar I saw more than a few times across the interwebs.

Art Spiegelman exhibition in Angouleme, France.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910).

Ellen and Sofia.

Sammy Davis performing If I Were A Rich Man, with Mark Evanier citing the source, and making an interesting point about its appropriateness.

Pie on the brain.

Mozart is 256.

This guy travels the world and everywhere he goes, he shoots a second or two of video of himself. Then he goes home and puts it together.

Pacman, the Musical.

Cookie Monster as Tom Waits. Or vice versa.

Sorry, San Francisco football fans, but the 49ers Aren’t Going to the Super Bowl. So, go New York Giants, even if they play in New Jersey.


Post SOPA/PIPA, KeepThe Web#OPEN; Oppose ACTA

The GOP Debates debate

Slavery By Another Name: Doug Blackmon, Bill Kennedy and Me

Chainsaw Comics Presents: Fear


Roger Green Trim and Construction – Local Business · Charlotte, North Carolina

Dr Roger Green DDS – General Dentistry Sun City West, AZ

11629 West Roger Green Road, Campbellsburg IN 47108

Hembeck is 59

At least I usually get to see Fred twice a year at the comic book show in Albany.

It’s interesting to me that, in the past year, the one guy who most influenced me in blogging, comic book artist/scribe Fred Hembeck, has seemingly left the blogosphere. He hasn’t posted a thing since April 10, 2011. He started FredSez on January 1, 2003, and for several years wrote almost every day, an inspirational pace. But the output slackened in the last couple of years before he stopped altogether. Hasn’t used his Twitter account very much anymore.

Seems that his chosen medium is now Facebook, which is fine. He has over 5000 “friends” there. In fact, it’s a better way to contact him than by e-mail, in my experience.

For me, though, I know I’ll never go back and peruse anyone’s Facebook or Twitter posts like I read Fred’s blog for the pieces he wrote during the nearly two years before I discovered his blog.

At least I usually get to see Fred twice a year at the comic book show in Albany, although he didn’t make it last October because of a freak snowstorm south of Albany, where Fred lives.

But Fred DID make it into other blogs, a couple of times as a topic in Jim Shooter’s blog, here and here, plus in the comments here. His artwork was also highlighted by Mike Sterling.

In any case, happy birthday, Fred, old friend. You’re more elderly than I am for five weeks and TWO days this year, because of leap year. Let me know how it is just shy of 60.

C is for Collective Nouns

Recycle Congress in 2012.

From JEOPARDY! episode which aired on 11/11/11.

A large group of families that are related, it’s from the Gaelic for “family”. Answer below.

Here’s something someone e-mailed me, with some modifications, about collective nouns:

We are all familiar with a

Herd of cows (also the term, not necessarily exclusively, for antelope, boar, buffalo, chamois, chinchillas, deer, donkeys, elephants, elk, giraffes, gnus, goats, hippopotami, horses, kangaroos, llamas, moose, oxen, pigs, seals, walruses, whales, wolves, yaks, and zebras)

a Flock of chickens, (also camels, sheep, and various birds – including seagulls?)

a School of fish (also porpoises and whales)

and a Gaggle of geese.

However, perhaps less widely known are:

a Pride of lions,

a Murder of crows (as well as their cousins the rooks and ravens),

an Exaltation of doves.
And, presumably, because they look so wise:

a Parliament of owls.

Now consider a group of Baboons.
They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive, and least intelligent of all primates.
And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons?

Believe it or not …a Congress!


Go green. Recycle Congress in 2012.

(Does this suggest that places with parliaments are smarter, more civilized – or if you prefer, civilised?)

The JEOPARDY! question: What is clan?

ABC Wednesday, Round 10.

Oscar Picks, First Pass

Christopher Plummer, who is an old guy pivotal to the movie, as opposed to Von Sydow, who is an old guy, who has less dialogue than Jean Dujardin

I tend to think of movie years from Academy Awards night to Academy Awards night, not so much because I’m an Oscars fan – though I am – but because some of the movies that get nominated don’t even make it to small markets such as Albany, NY until January or even February. Yeah, I know the Oscar nominations were very conservative this year, for the most part.

*means I have actually seen it

Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
The Help
War Horse
The Tree of Life

Saw 6 out of 9, so far, 3 in the last couple weeks. War Horse is still playing, so maybe I’ll still see it. I’d love to watch Moneyball, which is available on DVD.
WILL WIN: The Artist, which I liked. It’s a film about film. I mean, so is Hugo, but not as directly.
WANT TO WIN: Midnight in Paris, or The Descendants
PLEASE! NOT: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Best Actor
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

WANT TO WIN: George Clooney. Used to be that when an actor had a good year, a couple of strong performances, that’d help him. I heard good things about Ides of March.
WILL WIN: Clooney or Jean Dujardin; can’t decide yet.
DON’T KNOW: the movie A Better Life, or its star

Best Actress

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

WANT TO WIN: Meryl Streep, who’s been nominated about 117 times, but has won only twice and not since the early 1980s
WILL WIN: I keep predicting Streep, so why stop now? Naturally, then, it’ll be Davis.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
*Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

WANT TO WIN, WILL WIN: Christopher Plummer, who is an old guy pivotal to his movie, as opposed to Von Sydow, who is an old guy, who has less dialogue than Jean Dujardin

Best Supporting Actress

Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

WANT TO WIN: actually any of the ones I’ve seen for different reasons. McCarthy because comedy is undervalued.
WILL WIN: Spencer.

Best Director
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

WILL WIN: Hazanavicius

Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
JC Chandor, Margin Call
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
*Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids

WANT TO WIN, WILL WIN: Woody Allen. The screenplay categories have traditionally consolation prizes, and I think, since Woody’s not going to get film or director, this is where he’ll get some love.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Moneyball
Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughn, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

WANT TO WIN, WILL WIN: Payne, et al, who will lose out on picture and director, but likewise takes this prize.

What Oscar-nominated movies did you see this year, and what are YOUR picks?

MOVIE REVIEW: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

“Much of what is irritating, precious and tiresome about the movie recedes and drops away, while all the movie’s virtues, which are considerable, rise to consciousness. There are good things here – just be prepared to blast for them.”

While my wife was at a Tupperware party last weekend, I walked to the Madison Theatre in Albany to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. While ostensibly starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, the real lead is young Thomas Horn, as a quirky nine-year-old who starts a quixotic quest all over “New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.”

I was a couple of minutes late, and the film (actually the previews) didn’t actually begin until the moment I walked into the room. Eventually, three others also saw that show.

The good news is that the flashback relationship between the boy and his father is compelling. The bad news is that the quest is too damn long and detailed. The story requires the boy, largely in monologue, to go from place to place, initially on foot. When he gets an unlikely assistant in his grandmother’s renter, it’s not much help, since the old man is unable to speak. The boy had been tested for Asperger’s syndrome, “but the results were inconclusive.” This is not to say that the actor was lacking, only that the story was.

During the trek, one of the people in the theatre started texting. While I found this incredibly rude, I could almost understand it. I swear the movie, which runs 2:09, could have trimmed 12 minutes of the search with little lost. Yet, in the end, there was a compelling and moving payoff. I just wish the movie had gotten to it sooner.

After I visualized this piece, I read Mick LaSalle’s review, and I realized that he said better than I the virtues and especially the flaws of the movie. “Slog” is a good term. Yet, as he notes, “much of what is irritating, precious and tiresome about the movie recedes and drops away, while all the movie’s virtues, which are considerable, rise to consciousness. There are good things here – just be prepared to blast for them.”

This was nominated for Best Picture this week? Really?

Incidentally, Entertainment Weekly has made note of some vague similarities between this film and Hugo – a young man loses his father, and tries to find a key/lock to solve the mystery of the father’s.
Thomas Horn was a Kids week winner on the game show JEOPARDY!, which aired 8 July 2010.

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