Tuesday, April 27, 2010

7 Years Ago, Yesterday

Kathy & I got married.

It looked a lot like this picture, in that Kathy looked fabulous, and I was walking on air. 

She still does, and I still am.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ruling the Roost

Want to know what that medical procedure will cost you in chickens? Here's a site that lays out the deets of Sue Lowden's healthcare plan.

Annual checkup: 24 chickens.
Appendectomy: 1019 chickens.
Hip replacement: 6549 chickens.

Egg on her face? Priceless.


Kevin Comes to Riverdale

So, Archie comics are introducing a gay character to Riverdale -- a welcome addition, and one reflective of the world kids are growing up in, as the hang-ups of previous generations get cast aside. From all indications, there's no drama that the new kid (Kevin) is gay -- he just is. So Bravo, Archie. Between this, the very fun Jughead #200, and what's probably my favorite Archie cover ever, you're having a hell of a year.

Naturally, though, the usual suspects bitch and moan about how they don't want their Archie comics "sexualized" -- which is a riot, because a) Kevin's dates won't go any farther than shakes at the Chok'lit Shoppe, same as Archie's/Betty's/Ronnie's, and b) if dating = sex, Archie is the gettin'-it-on-est guy in America. (But it doesn't. These are innocent, fun comics about teens, for preteens. Despite this.)

Here's the way these conversations go: after the announcement is made, some people praise the move, then some other folks complain/say they're dropping the books/etc., and eventually say that this is because the Bible tells them to think this way. Then other people call them on that, saying they're intolerant, or bigots, or whatever. And then someone says this -- "Seems like the angriest, and most hateful comments always seem to come from the ‘tolerant’ crowd.” Someone says this pretty much whenever they're called on their bigotry. What bigots want the most is for people to be tolerant of them.

But the conversation at the Beat yielded this comment from Jason A. Quest -- the most succinct and eloquent rebuttal to this false equivalence I've ever read. Take it away, Jason:

That’s because we aren’t tolerant of just anything. We’re tolerant of things that aren’t really that big a deal. People who try to poison children with the idea that it’s evil to be in love with someone… that’s a big deal. And yeah: I hate it when you do that.
Amen, Jason. There are some things that are intolerable.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

For Your Listening Pleasure

"Midnight in Moscow," as performed by The Ventures.

Total dixieland... and then, suddenly, that haunting surf guitar. Mind? Blown.


Bully for Us?

Now, from the number of his clips I've linked to on this blog (more a couple years ago than lately; if I'm going to watch a news/commentary show these days, it's usually Maddow), it's pretty clear that I agree with Kieth Olbermann about a lot of things. The directions that he and I would prefer the country to go in are, by and large, the same place.

And yet, watch this video, that I found at The Daily Intel, from the other day's Morning Joe (also an MSNBC program).After some conversation about Rahm Emanuel, a guest asks the hosts who the liberal Rush Limbaugh would be. And suddenly, the hilariously awkward tiptoeing begins.

Suddenly, it's that shot from The Hurt Locker where the defusion expert discovers he's surrounded by live explosives. Except Joe and the crew want to do nothing but run, far and fast.

As the Intel's Chris Rovzar says, "Sorry, but that is not the behavior of people who are not terrified of pissing off Keith Olbermann."


Spy and Go Seek

Was watching Hopscotch yesterday, via the Netflix streaming video on the Wii. It’s an old Walter Matthau movie (well, I guess there aren’t any new ones), where he plays a CIA field agent whose new boss (Ned Beatty) demotes him to a desk job, so he goes AWOL through Europe instead, writing his memoirs, chapter by chapter, and sending them out to intelligence agencies around the world. Not so much to spill state secrets; more to tweak Ned Beatty’s nose.

It’s more of a comedy than a spy thriller, and even a mild comedy at that. (Extra-mild, in fact, since it seems Netflix is streaming an edited-for-television version, where Ned Beatty is forever frustrated from exclaiming, "Son of a bitch!") It goes for smiles more than laughs (though there’s a moment with a photo of Ned Beatty that gave me a good chuckle), but Matthau has a sort of rumpled charm that makes him really enjoyable to be around, as he stays far enough ahead of his ex-colleagues that he has to resort to dropping obvious clues just to give them a fighting chance. The whole thing’s sort of like Burn Notice without a body count.

Also: Sam Watterson plays Matthau’s young protégé. You don’t see that anymore.

One bit of trivia, which I haven’t seen mentioned online, even though Roger Ebert specifically notes this scene in his review. At one point, Matthau hires a charter plane to take him to an island. After they land, the pretty charter pilot, played by Lucy Saroyan, says to him “You remind me of my father,” to which Matthau retorts, “That’s always been my problem.” In once sense, it’s a cute nod to the fact that Matthau married Saroyan’s mother after she divorced from writer William Saroyan. Also, though? Just the slightest bit creepy.

Incidentally, this was Saroyan’s last movie, despite how familiar she looked to me during her scene. (She also had a small part in The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, so it’s not like I’ve never seen her before.) She passed away a few years ago, but Wikipedia says there was a gallery show of her paintings earlier this year.

There’s nothing quite like watching an old movie, saying, “Hey, who’s that?” and following the winding paths of IMDB, is there?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

She's Not Kidding

Last week, I posted about Republican Sue Lowden, the candidate who's running for Harry Reid's seat in the U.S. Senate. She'd mentioned that it could be possible to barter for healthcare. In my original post, I put an asterix next to her name, and intended to indicate that a subsequent statement seemed to imply that she's meant "bargaining," not "bartering." Somehow -- I think because when I went back to reread her statement, I discovered that it didn't explicitly disavow the bartering idea -- I never got around to writing that caveat. Bad blogger, me.

But it's just as well. Because bartering is exactly what Lowden meant.

"Bring a chicken to the doctor."

That's her plan. That's her fucking plan. "Bring a chicken to the doctor," and hope they'll treat you.

What, exactly, would a chicken cover? How many chickens would I need for knee surgery? Should I keep oxen in my yard, just in case? How many houses do I have to paint before I can get an MRI?

Look, the good old days of country doctors who treated people, in exchange for whatever they could pay, however they could pay it, is inspirational. Atticus Finch did some of his lawyering the same way. But it's case-by-case charity, not a plan for coverage. It's not a sound basis for a healthcare system. Chickens are cheap, and medical treatment is expensive. Most poor people don't have chickens, and most doctors don't want them.  It's just mind-numbingly stupid. We have money for a reason. We have insurance for a reason.

Attention, GOP. Your healthcare plan sucks. I mean, just between us chickens.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Crisis of Infinite Fabric!

Okay, I don't watch America's Got Fashion, or whatever it's called, but I have to admit that every time I see Tim Gunn on a talk show, I'm extremely entertained. Which makes this video (which I saw via Comics Alliance) one of the most awesome things in the history of awesome. Ladies and gents: Timm Gunn, critiquing superhero costumes.And the two words that amp the awesomeness even more? "Part One."


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hey Blockhead!

Yeah, this is my third video in a row. I saw this last week, but never had a spare moment to share it with you until now. It's Patrick Jean's new short film, Pixels. Enjoy.


Monday, April 12, 2010

This Really Ties the VHS Collection Together

I saw this on Val's site, and just thought it was just too good (and thorough) -- and had so much pride of craftsmanship -- not to share. It's a *little* NSFW, but considerably less that you might expect from a trailer for a porno. Not just any porno...  the Big Lebowski porn parody. No nudity here -- just dirty stuff.

Me, I'm curious how they'll handle the scene where Walter explains what happens when you find a stranger in the alps.


GOP Abandons the Dollar

This just in -- Republicans no longer have faith in the U.S. Dollar, and are suggesting that, when we can't pay cash for our medical expenses, that we barter with the doctor. Here's Nevada senate candidate Sue Lowden*, this past Tuesday.

"I think that bartering is really good. Those doctors who you pay cash, you can barter, and that would get prices down in a hurry. And I would say go out, go ahead out and pay cash for whatever your medical needs are, and go ahead and barter with your doctor."

"Bartering is really good." Not haggling, not bargaining -- bartering. As in, "I can only afford $100 for those blood tests, so how about I mow your lawn all summer to make up the difference? Or would you like some old comic books?" As in, "you're money's no good here -- we only take livestock."

This lack of faith in our currency is really disheartening. I wonder what could get them to respect the dollar again...? Maybe they're holding out until we put Jefferson Davis's face on it.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How's It Hangin', Marvel?

Got a strange promotional item with my comics today (Flash Secret Files, Jonah Hex, and Jughead, in case you're wondering, which you're likely not). It's a Marvel heroes door-hanger, like those "Do Not Disturb" signs for hotel room doors.

So this is what it looks like when you want to say: Do Not Disturb. Avengers Meeting in Progress.

In other news: If the Quinjet's a rockin', don't come a-knockin'.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Peep Show

Here it is: The Washington Post's annual Peeps diorama contest.

Happy Easter!


Saturday, April 03, 2010

The White Ribbon, plus a digression

Just got back from a screening of The White Ribbon, a film by Michael Haneke about a small village in Germany in the early 1910s. Strange, malicious events are happening in the town -- a horse trips on some invisible wire strung across a road, injuring its rider; a barn burns down; a child is tortured -- and no one knows who's doing these things, or why. The events of the movie seem like they're part of a whodunnit, but there's something else going on. Haneke exploits our natural curiosity about who would do such things, and instead seems to be saying that anyone might have. Some blame is laid at the feet of the town's children, but which ones? Could it be all of them?

It's a truly unnerving movie, and pretty much the antithesis of a crowd-pleaser.

I'm especially glad I got to see it projected in a theater; a local live theater, the Forum, is screening movies on certain weekends. A couple weeks ago, Kathy and I saw Crazy Heart there. We missed An Education, but were able to catch Coco Before Chanel a couple of months ago. I'm thrilled that they're doing this. For the past few years, I've seen most of the art-house type movies I've been interested in on DVD, where years ago I'd drive into Philly every other week to see something interesting. (In New York, I tend to take the opportunity to see something old at the film Forum rather than something new and unknown.)

Anyway, there are a few things I really appreciate about the Forum's film series. First, not all the movies they show are the exact ones I'd want to watch. Selecting every movie myself, in the Netflix queue, limits my capacity to be surprised by something, and to see movies outside of my usual genres. I was interested in Coco Before Chanel, but it never would have made its way to the top of the Netflix queue.

Second, it's destination viewing. The movies run for a weekend, and might be held over for a second. So there's really no putting off seeing the movie for a more convenient time, which then slips by. I might miss Shutter Island, because I figure it'll be around next week. But if I wanted to see The White Ribbon, I had to go tonight.

Third, it's a local theater, and I like putting my money back into my town.

And fourth, like I said: I used to go see movies like this all the time. And while I like a well-made big-budget movie as much as the next guy, independent and foreign films are usually so much more challenging. And I do like a challenge.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Particle Fiction

A few days ago, my online pal David Wynne debuted his new comic, Particle Fiction, online. Well. it's available both online and as a printed comic -- and if you decide you'd like a copy (or one of his other books) and order before April 4th, he'll throw in a free sketch. Which is a damn good deal, because his art is terrific.

But regardless, this is a cool done-in-one story, with a beginning, middle and an end, and you can download it as a pdf or read it online in your browser.

So go! Enjoy!

(And next week, Ami will have a podcast interview with him!)

In Dreams I Walk (and Fly and Sail and Ride) With You

Crazy, crazy dreams last night. Probably (no, definitely) had too many cinnamon crack balls before bed.

First up, I’m in a plane with pals Andy & Jeff. We’re the only passengers on the small airplane, and for some reason we learn that the pilot’s evil. (I don’t think he’s a terrorist in the sense we have in this century; he’s more like a Bond villain henchman.) So, we make our way to the front of the plane (it’s not a commercial flight, there’s no door between the cabin and the cockpit) and we fight the guy, throwing him out of the plane and into the ocean. Not that we know how to fly it. And not that there will soon be much of a plane to fly, given that our scuffle (with guns and knives and a decisive thunk with a fire extinguisher) has somehow damaged the structural integrity of the plane, and the cabin and wings are peeling apart as it drops out of the sky.

We land in the water, and somehow we’re able to keep the plane afloat and moving, even as the water continues to damage what is now the boat. And then we take the boat into New York Harbor, and up into the streets of the city, as we’re somehow able to balance the thing on its two landing wheels. We drive through the city, and photographers are taking all sorts of pictures of us, because of our amazing emergency landing/sea voyage/driving a boatplane, but also because I have lost my pants.

Yep, it’s a dream, all right.

Then another dream. I’m looking for Jeff, planning to have dinner with him. (I am again in pants, by the way.) Then, just as I see him in some distant food court, he calls me on my cell phone and tells me my cover has been compromised. So I go wandering through a deserted college campus with a box of lo mein. The only other person I could see was a security guard walking her rounds.

And then I meet an old friend—actually a giant of a guy I just met in the last six months or so, but here he is an old, old friend—and we continue walking down the melancholy streets. Then, a sweet girl I knew back in college joins us. And the three of us start talking a little about the times we had together, all of us a little sadly. And then the fourth member of our quartet shows up, a girl I went on a date with some thirteen years ago, but here she is another old friend. And I know that she is dead, and has been dead for a long time. And that is why we four friends no longer hang out together.

But we have that night, walking through empty streets and parking lots. One of us, the giant, spots a cardboard box full of clothes outside of a boutique, and pulls out a tattered sweater so big that all four of us could fit into it at once. This is our next Halloween costume, he says—a four-headed axe murderer. And we talk about it and negotiate who gets to put their arms through the arm-holes, and how we’ll all be able to drink what we want at the party, with only two arms for four heads. We resolve to practice.

And then, on a little hill between parking lots, the dead girl, Lora, sings a song. I can’t do justice to it here. It’s a light, flighty song about the insistence of existence.

It begins “Shining like an arrow in your bow,” and ends “You might think I wasn’t, but I was.” And when her song ends, it becomes clear that the four of us never hung out together, were never a group of friends. Our memories are constructed. All of it is false, from top to bottom. Even Lora is alive somewhere, and not dead and returned for this night.

Except her song is true: We might think she wasn’t, but she was. Somewhere, these four people, who do not know each other here, were connected. But even in that place, they could not hold together any longer.

This wasn’t the sort of dream I usually have, where I wake up, laugh it off, and move on with my day. I woke thinking that history was fluid, and that I could be in many places at once: Here in the life I know, and another place, and others beyond that. I felt like universes had revealed themselves to me in a dead girl’s song.