August Rambling: Deep dark secrets

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website.

WD40
The Hook-Up Culture Is Getting 20-Somethings Nowhere. On the other hand, Casual Love.

How we get through life every day.

Nixon’s still the one. And What We Lost 40 Years Ago When Nixon Resigned. See Harry Shearer recreate Richard Nixon as he preps and delivers his resignation speech. Plus George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.

New Zealand’s non-partisan Get Out the Vote campaign. I don’t see such things often in the US. Sure, there’s get our SUPPORTERS to vote, but that’s a different animal.

Deep Dark Fears is “a series of comics exploring those intimate, personal fears that mostly stem from your imagination getting darkly carried away.” Read more about it.

Rod Serling’s closing remarks from The Obsolete Man episode of The Twilight Zone. “It remains profoundly prescient and relevant.”

All these in a 48-hour period: How games’ lazy storytelling uses rape and violence against women as wallpaper and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has come forward with several stories of being called “chubby,” “fat,” and “porky” by her male colleagues in Congress and Fark prohibits misogyny in new addition to moderator guidelines and Snappy response to sexist harasser in the tech field.

Modern Office with Christina Hendricks.

FLOWCHART: Should You Catcall Her?

Guns and The Rule of Intended Consequences.

What our nightly views might look like if planets, instead of our moon, orbited Earth.

Cartoon: Pinocchio, Inc.

Remember when I wrote about flooding in Albany this month? Dan explains the systemic reason WHY it happened.

Arthur makes the case against “the case against time zones.” I’m not feeling the abolition of time zones either, at this point.

Nōtan: Dark and Light principles of Design.

The jungle gym as math tool.

The disaster drafts for professional sports.

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It.

One of my favorite movie quotes, maybe because it’s so meta: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” (Grand Canyon, 1991)

Seriously, Rebecca Jade, the first niece, is in about four different groups, in a variety of genres. Here’s The Soultones cover band – Promo video. Plus a link to her latest release, Galaxy, with Jaz Williams.

Tosy’s U2, ranked 40-31 and 30-21.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, 2004.

August 22, 1969: The Beatles’ Final Photo Shoot

Coverville 1043: The Elvis Costello Cover Story III, in honor of him turning 60.

4 chairs, 4 women; 4 women, no chairs.

12 billion light-years from the edge. A funny bit!

Don Pardo, R.I.P..

Lauren Bacall: always the life of the party. And cinema icon of Hollywood’s golden age, 1924-2014. A Dustbury recollection.

More Robin Williams: on ‘cowardice’ and compassion. Also, a Dan Meth drawing and Aladdin’s Broadway cast gave a him beautiful tribute. Plus, a meeting of Yarmy’s Army and Ulysses.

Jaquandor remembers little Quinn. Damn middle recording made me cry.

The Wellington Hotel Annex in Albany, N.Y. was… murdered in plain sight in front of hundreds of onlookers. “If I were a building, this is how I’d like to go.” Here’s another view.

SamuraiFrog’s Muppet jamboree: C is for Clodhoppers and D Is for Delbert (who evolved) and E is for Eric the Parrot and F is for a Fraggle and G Is for the Gogolala Jubilee Jugband.

New SCRABBLE words. Word Up has identified some of the new three-letter words.

I SO don’t care: one space or two after the period. Here’s a third choice.

The ultimate word on that “digital natives” crap.

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?

Freedom from fear.

Ever wondered what those books behind the glass doors of the cupboard might be thinking or feeling?

The New Yorker thinks Yankovic is weirdly popular.

Here’s a nice Billy Joel story.

Pop songs as sonnets.

House of Clerks, a parody of House of Cards.

Saturday Night Live Political Secrets Revealed.

This Sergio Aragonés masterpiece is included as a fold-out poster within Inside Mad. His priceless gift to all Mad fans shows over six decades of Mad contributors and ephemera within a mish-mash of Mad office walls. The only thing missing in this beautiful mess is a key. Doug Gilford will be attempting to label everything you see with brief (pop-up) descriptions and links to pertinent pages…

Hello Kitty is not a cat. You may have known that; somehow, I missed it.

You May Have Something Extremely Valuable Hiding In Your Change.

Improved names for everyday things

GOOGLE ALERTS (me)

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website. J. Eric Smith, who used to be a TU blogger, responds at length.

SamuraiFrog responds to my response to 16 Habits of Sensitive People. Also, per moi, he does his #1 songs on his birthday: 1987-1996 and 1997-2006, and 2007-2013. I’ll go back to this myself, eventually.

Dustbury on the theme song to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which a passage in Schutte’s Mass resembles more than slightly. He discovers a Singapore McDonalds product.

Jaquandor answers my questions about vices such as swearing and politics/American exceptionalism.

He also writes of buckets and the dumping of the water therein, which Gordon thinks hurts nonprofits. Snopes, BTW, debunks the claim that 73 percent of donations to the ALS Association fund executive salaries and overhead.

Do you know that ABC Wednesday meme I mention with a great amount of regularity? I think this recent introduction I wrote explains it fairly well.

Boycotting the cafeteria

boycottSometimes, I just get annoyed.

I’ve mentioned the cafeteria in our building. It got taken over by this new company that was nickel-and-diming everything. A cup of ice was ten cents without a drink, but then they charged a dime even when people bought a drink. The prices went up, generally as well.

But there was a woman who worked behind the register who got fired that really set me off. Her name was Shirley. She’d worked in the organization for about ten years. She was let go because she was so highly paid; after a decade, she was making a whopping $12/hour. She knew all the customers by name, something no one else did.

So I stopped going to the cafeteria. I buy food from home or buy a Subway sub on the way to work for lunch. It’s been a couple of months now.

A real boycott, I suppose, one would announce and galvanize the folks. I do know several others who have avoided the place, but I have no idea whether it is making any difference to the bottom line. But it feels like the right thing.

Burger King to Buy Tim Hortons for $11.4 Billion. And I boycott BK because they’re playing that corporate inversion game.

I’m forever getting Facebook notices to boycott Rush Limbaugh’s sponsors or asked to sign some petition because of something the windbag says, most recently about Robin Williams and the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

I’ve discovered there are some people who are such clowns that I no longer pay attention to what they say, and wonder why anyone cares anymore. Rush is background noise. Nothing he says matters to me, he convinces no one of his point of view who wasn’t already convinced. He’s just not worth my minimal effort.
***
Speaking of Change.org petitions, Please Invite the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars to the White House.

The Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars were a Little League team comprised of African American youth from Charleston, South Carolina. The team was denied the opportunity to participate in the 1955 Little League World Series (LLWS) due to a collective boycott of South Carolina’s 61 white leagues. Little League Baseball, to its credit, refused the state’s request to host a segregated tournament but also barred the Cannon Street team from competing in the LLWS due to an existing rule prohibiting teams from advancing via forfeit…

Rather than succumb to bitterness, these fourteen boys have grown into strong, loving, and upstanding citizens. Their lives are a testament to the character and courage learned through playing America’s pastime.

So rectifying a previous boycott seems to be a fair outcome.

Movie Review: Boyhood

In creating the movie Boyhood, writer/director Linklater somehow transforms the viewer into his or her own passages of time.

boyhood.ellarmasterSteven Rea, the Philadelphia Inquirer film critic wrote of the film Boyhood, “Is it dumb to say, ‘Wow?'” I don’t care. Wow.” I’ll buy that.

From IMDB: “Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha…” This project was somehow completed, more or less, secretly.

So it is a visionary CONCEPT of a movie, a brilliant stunt, filming a few days every year for a dozen years, in the life of a boy and his family. So many things could have gone wrong.

Over more than a decade, an actor could have died or decided not to continue to participate. Linklater had gotten Hawke to agree to direct the rest of the film if HE died. On the Daily Show, Linklater told Jon Stewart that he agreed to allow his daughter to costar because he figured he’d always know where she was.

But what’s amazing is how well it works as a narrative, even though it often tends to note the day-to-day experiences of growing up. There are no on-screen titles or chapter breaks signifying “next year,” but are woven together like a quilt with slightly different colored material, a function of film editor Sandra Adair; give her the Oscar now.

Olivia, the Mom, holds the family intact, in spite of choices that don’t always work out. The sibling rivalry, particularly in the early years, was credible. The Dad, who’s not living with the family, is trying to find ways to be there for his kids, the way non-custodial parents often do, to the irritation of the primary caregiver. Both child actors went through that awkward-looking stage, as adolescents do.

One of my favorite scenes involves Mason Sr. and Mason Jr. in a vehicle, discussing the disposition of the father’s previous car. Totally different perceptions of a conversation that took place seven years earlier, and totally believable.

In creating this movie, writer/director Linklater somehow transforms the viewer into his or her own passages of time. I think that when the specifics of a narrative resonates, it becomes universal. As people come and out of the core family’s lives, you wonder what happened to them, as we do in real life. You CARE about these people.

The only thing I can even remotely compare this to is the amazing Seven-Up series that records seven-year-olds, then catches up with them every seven years. But that is currently eight non-fiction films.

A great soundtrack also helps this film along. Oh, another piece of dialogue I especially loved involved the father giving the son a mixed two-disc CD.

Eh, just go see it, like The Wife and I did at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany last week. Visit the loo first, because it’s 165 minutes long. Rated R, mostly for language and alcohol/drug use, I’d be inclined to let the Daughter see it in a couple of years.

The return of Smilin’ Ed Smiley

FantaCon 2015 will be held on Saturday August 29 and Sunday August 30, 2015 at the spectacular Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, NY.

smilined
Those of you who frequented FantaCo in in the late 1970s and early 1980s will remember Smilin’ Ed. The rat was initially designed as the logo for the comic book store/convention/mail-order house based in Albany, NY. Eventually, there were four comic book issues, plus a story in the X-Men Chronicles. Well, there’s going to be a collection of these, plus items published in The Comics Buyers Guide, the weekly Metroland, and unpublished material.

You can expect narrative pieces, by Raoul’s sister Maria, FantaCo owner/publisher Tom Skulan, and me. Or so goes the plan; this will be a Kickstarter thing. Look for details at SmilinEd.com soon.

I had this whole narrative about the origin of the Smilin’ Ed name in mind for this post, which marks the 36th anniversary of the incorporation of FantaCo, but the piece wouldn’t write itself, so I let it go.
***
And FantaCon fans should get ready, get set, MARK YOUR CALENDARS!!

FantaCon 2015 will be held on Saturday, August 29 and Sunday, August 30, 2015, at the spectacular Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, NY. This is the billion-dollar facility where FantaCon was born 35 years ago.

Check for information on this Facebook page.
***
Finally, FantaCo’s birth coincidentally coincides with the birthday of the late, great Jack Kirby, who co-created (some would say created) the early Marvel Comics characters such as the Fantastic Four, the original X-Men, and most of the individual Avengers. If you don’t know his significance in current American popular culture – those Marvel characters didn’t design themselves – check here.

I’ve not seen any of the Marvel movies, from The Avengers forward, and this article about Kirby and Marvel explains why.

Art by Raoul Vezina. Smilin’ Ed created by Raoul Vezina and Tom Skulan
Smilin’ Ed™ is a Trademark of and Copyright © 2014 Maria Vezina and Tom Skulan. All rights reserved.

White people need to talk about white privilege

Black people talking about systemic injustice towards them is far stronger when yoked with white voices joining in.

America.doing1)AAI’ve studiously avoided writing about the shooting death in Ferguson, MO of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and apparently unarmed, by a white policeman, mostly out of a desire not just to repeat, or refute, what others have said. What’s indisputable, however, is that Americans are divided racially on the shooting.

Some (seriously) blame President Obama because he hasn’t brought that “post-racial” country they were expecting, which they believe he promised. In fact, almost every time he’s attempted to talk about racial issues, it has not gone well with a good chunk of the American public.

So I don’t want to discuss the particulars of Brown’s shooting (six times, including twice to the head), because this merely instigates the scapegoating phenomenon; Michael Brown was not the perfect victim, so we’ll attack Michael Brown, or Trayvon Martin, or whatever dead black kid is currently in the news. (Want to find an innocent, dead, black kid? See, e.g., John Crawford III, who on August 5, 2014, “was gunned down in an Ohio Walmart after customers saw him walking around with a ‘weapon’, which turned out to be an air rifle he picked up in the store.”)

I might want to mention the way police procedures have changed in the past couple of decades. For instance: New Report Exposes Growing Militarization of American Policing; also, 4 Reasons the Police Are Suddenly Terrifying and Rise of the Warrior Cop Plus It’s Perfectly Legal To Film The Cops. As usual, John Oliver has a solution to the problem.

And even white kids can get killed by cops in America: 20 Year Old Executed by Police, Allegedly for Wearing Headphones, Unable to Hear Orders. Whereas Iceland grieved after the police killed a man for the first time in its history last year.

What finally crystallized things for me was a comment a friend of mine made recently. She has three friends, all white women, married to men of color. They are finding themselves in that position of having to participate in “having the talk” with their mixed-raced children. And they are, to a woman, feeling ill-equipped to discuss it, because the narrative is not based on their own experience.

Listen to How Do You Have ‘The Talk’ with Your Black Child If You’re not Black Yourself? It’s about seven and a half minutes long.

To the broader issue, read Different Rules Apply and I Finally “Get” White Privilege and I’m Sorry. Because sometimes it takes a white dude to talk about racism. Or a white woman to do so.

Assuming, of course, they can. The Atlantic suggests that self-segregation – white people mostly talking to white people – makes it so hard for them to understand Ferguson and other issues on the racial divide.

Still, black people talking about systemic injustice towards them is far stronger when yoked with white voices joining in. It has always been thus, at least in America. Just, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, men supporting women’s equality, and straight people promoting gay rights frankly provide the sense that it’s not just “their” issue”, “their” problem”, it’s OURS.