Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Girls in Comic Books (pt 2)

I avoided superhero books like the plague in the first part, but now I'd like to bring up a couple.

First up would be Oracle from Birds of Prey. She once was Batgirl, but was paralyzed by a gunshot from the Joker. Leaving aside the obvious silliness of someone staying paralyzed in a universe where people can fly, the whole idea of Oracle is just neat. She's not some crippled girl, she's a strong active woman who happens to have her hand on the pulse of every superhero activity in the world. As Oracle, she was even a member of the Justice League. In Birds of Prey, she sends agents to hotspots to fix problems before they become too massive. She's efficient, intelligent, and the fact that she happens to be stuck in a wheelchair is secondary to the strength of the character.

Next up would be Aunt May. Not any old version, no, I'm thinking of the Aunt May from the current run on Amazing Spider-Man. The one who somehow manages to deal with the child she raised being the costumed vigilante she hates. She's a fiesty one, as is made clear in the latest issue (just see her actions while waiting in line behind a foul-mouthed jerk). She's the kind of person you wish everyone had in their lives, a strong anchor to keep you steady through all of life's misfortunes.

No, I'm not much into Manga, but I read a little. One book I got addicted to the wrong way 'round was Cardcaptor Sakura, and it is Sakura herself that gets the next entry on this list. Sakura's family is a mystery in so many ways... she knows nothing about her father's family. Her mother is dead. A magical power is released by Sakura accidently, and she has to pick up after herself. This is a great romance comic, a great magical fantasy comic, and a fun trip through a very different culture. Sakura herself is kind and open-minded. She's a teenage girl, but she isn't on a popularity power-trip. I would love to see Sakura, Akiko, Chance, Amelia, and Amy together at the mall. They'd be unstoppable.

For my next favorite fictional females, I'd have to talk about Age of Bronze by the amazing Eric Shanower. The thing I love about this book is that he draws such beautiful people. They aren't dolls or models or strangely distorted things, they are people. And the women in Shanower's book are the best. The history of the Trojan war seems to be so much about women. Helen running away with Paris, Agamemnon trying to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia. They may not be ones I'd be comfortable hanging out with, but they are well worth reading about.

Continuing in the vein of folks I wouldn't really want to hang out with, but love to read, would be Deena Pilgrim from Powers. A tough, no-nonsense cop who's in way over her head but keeps up anyway. Foul-mouthed and angry, she's the right person to handle the giant Christian Walker. Petite and powerful, Deena proves that big things do come in small packages... even confronting a being with the power of a god in her last (as of this writing) appearance in the book.

I'll finish up this eternal post with a couple of characters who might be just a passing fad. Cinnamon and Mace from Cinnamon: El Ciclo are two women dealing with horrible things in their pasts, but trying to make the world a better place in their own way. I'm betting neither one would give a person like me the time of day, they live in a different world, but they are fascinating people anyway. They aren't playing the game set up for them by the rest of the world, they are making their own way. And that makes me admire them both, despite what they are.

And so that's it. All I can think of today. Who'd I miss?
Girls in Comic Books

The Friends of Lulu is an organization committed to promoting and encouraging female readership and participation in the comic book industry. And, let me tell you, girls have been around in comic books for a long time. While Elayne and I are both active in getting more women to read/write/draw/enjoy comic books, that's not what this blog entry is about. No, this is quite literally about girls in comic books. Particularly, my favorite fictional female friends.

Now, I could go on for months and months about all the various female characters I like, but I've decided to limit myself quite a bit. I'm going to try to stick with characters who are currently appearing in books, or whose appearances are readily available. And I'm going to go "token" on the superhero books, although there are plenty of characters I like in them. I'm enough of a superhero fangirl that I could too easily go overboard into boring super minutia. So, here are some of my favorite fictional female friends, and why I like them.

First off I have to mention Akiko. She's the star of Akiko on the Planet Smoo by Mark Crilley, and the self-titled Akiko comic book (as well as a series of children's books now out). She's just a normal girl, caught up in cosmic events in a universe that is a little more fun than our own. The appealing aspect of Akiko is that she has plenty of common sense, and yet is willing to suspend her disbelief long enough to have a rip-roaring adventure. She's steadfast, intelligent, and yet she's still just a normal girl. Her adventures range from strange quests on other planets to more quiet moments with friends.

Along the same lines we have Amelia from Amelia Rules. Amelia's universe is ours, just as hard to live in, just as painful. Amelia's adventures tend to happen from normal events created by her not-so-normal friends, and other normal events created by the silly adults in her life. She's also got a solid dose of practicality to help her along, and a sense of fun. For all that, she's as vulnerable to the next shock as anyone, and that is where the power in her stories comes from.

Amy of Eddybrook Farm is a wee bit different than our first two. She lives on a farm, for one. And her mother is a barbarian clockmaker. Because of that, Amy is unbounded, and that's the title of the comic starring her: Amy Unbounded. She isn't simply the product of her home nation, Goredd. Her father's rebellion against conventions combined with her mother's very different background and upbringing allow her to be open-minded and free in a society with rather strict medieval expectations. Her imagination and joy with life make her a fun fictional friend to hang out with.

Moving on to a steampunk world of mad scientists and constant danger, we have Agatha Clay. An innocent nobody, without the skills to make it in a world where being a mechanic is necessary to improve your life, Agatha is caught up in an unexpected adventure guided by the incessant humming in her mind. That's because she's not really a nobody, she's a Girl Genius, and her natural talents are much more powerful than anyone suspects. Agatha makes the list because once she hits her stride, she takes over. She's her own person, despite the way everyone around her would like to use her.

I'm going to say right now that, despite what it looks like, every comic book female doesn't have a name that starts with the letter "A".

My next favorite fictional female friend would be Chance Falconer from the comic book Leave It To Chance. Chance is heir to a mighty legacy, and she really wants to pursue that legacy. Her father, however, has different plans. Having already lost his wife, he can't bear to let his daughter put herself in danger. But Chance is intelligent, and daring, and attracts trouble. There's just too much of the Falconer clan in her for her to be anything than what she is. And that's why it's a joy to read about her.

On a completely different note is Ms. Kyle from PS238. Her strength doesn't come from being the superheroine "Micro-Might", it comes from the fact that she's an experienced school teacher. Yeah, her classes aren't made up of normal students anymore, but she didn't think her powers would be much use to her so she went ahead and became a school-teacher before she became a hero. And that's how she defines herself. She's remarkably sensible, and looks like a real person instead of a toy doll. I love the way she interacts with the kids in PS238, and would love to read a lot more about her.

Ok, there are a few more I'd like to comment on, but I'm tired of writing and you are no doubt tired of reading my lightweight commentary. So I'll post the rest later. In the meantime, do you have any favorite fictional female friends, and not just from comics, you'd like to mention? There's a nice comments feature for you to use if you can think of any.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Random Thoughts

From an article at Slashdot comes news of a Thai minister who got stuck in his car, a car that just incidentally uses a Windows-based computer system.

If burglers break into your home, and you are an 80-year old woman, what should you do? Well, if you are Jean Freke, you wrestle with one of them, then grab a ceremonial sword and scare them off. Via Daily Snopes.

Doc Shazam tells us about a patient suffering from aortic disection. My only problem with Doc Shazam's blog is that she often forgets to tell us how her patients are doing once the crisis has passed.

Via Boing Boing, you can now turn that stupid singing fish into a stupid talking fish that says whatever you program it to say. You can even use it to represent somebody at the other end of a teleconference line. It makes me think of something out of Harry Potter: Daddy's going to be late coming home from work, so the fish on the wall says, "Hey honey, I'm going to be late!" *shudder*

In Sequence reviews the DC Elseworlds comic book Superman: Red Son, but includes a few wise words about nostalgia for the Cold War in there. Take a look.

Frank Carrera attends WizardWorld Texas 2003, and it sounds every bit as chaotic as most of my convention experiences are. He's also posted the sketches he got, so check them out, too.

Over on my blog today I'm posting my big fat overview of the monthly comic book catalog from Diamond Distributors: "Things in Previews That Look Interesting But I Can't Afford To Get (with a list of things I am getting just for contrast)". I'll also be posting my Saturday Night Sketch sometime later in the day. Yes, it'll be a sketch of Aquaman.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Hello Everybody

Laura Gjovaag, here. Aka Tegan. Aka "that really scary Aquaman fan". While Elayne is off in Ohio having fun, I get the task of entertaining her daily blog audience. Like myself, Elayne has a goal of at least one blog entry per day for her blog. I'll be posting at least once tomorrow and Sunday, and I'll probably leave you with some final thoughts on Monday. For this first post, I thought I might introduce myself, so you know where I'm coming from.

I was born and raised in the Seattle area, and I have lived here all my life. I'm a happily married comic book nerd with a job in retail and a school-teacher husband. My current goal in life is to save up enough pennies to replace my aging computer with a laptop. I'm not lucky enough to be owned by a cat.

I think that about covers it. Hope you don't mind my intrusion into this blog...
Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

As this may be my last entry before leaving for Mid-Ohio Con, I thought I'd go out in style, as it were, by first "showing off" my Thanksgiving plate from yesterday:

Pictured, clockwise from upper left: Turkey, combo mix of squash and mashed potato (looked like squash, tasted like potato), chestnut puree, candied yam, the green stuff is brussel sprouts, the dark stuff is whole cranberry sauce, and finally the stuffing. Not pictured: gravy, dessert (pumpkin pie and homemade cinnamon apples) and drinks (apple cider for me, egg nog for Robin). For the record, I ate maybe a third of what you see on this plate, but I look forward to the leftovers upon my return.

Speaking of which, kitties say "see ya later":

I leave Pen-Elayne on the Web in the more-than-capable hands of Laura Gjovaag. If I come across online access in Columbus, I may blog a bit from there; if not, I'll be back Monday afternoon. Take it away, Laura!

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Face to Face

Breaking News: Apparently Bush has made a secret visit to the troops in Baghdad for Thanksgiving. I wonder how managed and "exclusion zone"d that's gonna be...
A Shadow Moves Upon the Land

"It behooves me, upon this historic occasion..." sorry, hard not to slip into that W.C. Fields voice today; in fact, revisiting the Firesign Theatre piece Temporarily Humboldt County is a must for me each Thanksgiving, as much of a modern tradition as Google's annual picture:

In addition, you might want to give another listen to Pass the Indian, Please.

Around the blogosphere, Max Sawicky and Kevin Moore and Julia H and Natalie Davis give us lots to think about (I'll add others here as I read them). Tish Parmeley listened to coverage of the Annual Sun Rise Gathering (note: PDF) organized by the International Indian Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts. Meanwhile, closer to home, the NY Times reports that Macy's still has a bee up their bonnet over this:

Ah, the holiday season...

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

They've Got Mercury Poisoning

Excellent article in the December 8-dated issue of In These Times entitled Autism in a Needle?, about which of course anyone who reads Mary Beth or Dwight has known for months.
Look, Someone's Having Fun at the Parade - Quick, Stamp it Out!

Mark Evanier talks about wanting to see the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in person. Trust me, Mark, you're missing nothing. All the applause and cheering and other crowd noises you hear? As faked as the lip-synched music. Even the tap shoe sounds are faked. If it's a blustery day, which it usually is, everyone's wearing mittens or gloves so there's no way you'd hear the applause to begin with. You'd think I'd have been wise to it, but it came as a real shock to me when Steve and I decided to attend one year. It certainly didn't have the same sense of spontaneity and wonder that I'd remembered as a child when my dad took me a couple times (but hey, what does?), but we were unprepared for how utterly manufactured it had all become by that point (early '90s). Still, here and there one can find things of interest, like the balloons Mark mentions and, of course, Harvey Fierstein's naughty little column in today's NY Times. Naturally, the Macy's folks were not amused. And yeah, I'll probably wind up watching part of it on TV, with the set muted to, you know, simulate what it really sounds like.
Maintenance Note

Finally finished the blogroll titles (that's the text that pops up when you put your cursor on a link but don't click it; Robin's browser shows it in the form of a word balloon instead of a caption, which is pretty cool when he positions the cursor on my picture atop the sidebar) through the Journalists section; I may or may not ever do the Fame section on down. While briefly checking through Kultcha blogs for the titles, I noticed that Marv Wolfman has posted the story behind Games, a long-awaited Teen Titans graphic novel project that has just been removed from the proverbial back-burner. Fun reading.

Cyndy Roy reminds us, cool graphic and all, that this coming Friday is Buy Nothing Day. Yes Cat, Kalle's still doing it after all these years. :) While in theory I applaud Adbusters' attempts to subvert so-called Black Friday, I'm afraid I've made previous arrangements and won't be joining the campaign this year. After all, I've been promised drinks of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety, even by fellow bloggers, so who am I to tell them not to buy me a grande mint hot chocolate?
Relearning Curve, Part 2

Following up on last Friday's post, I'm starting to remember more reasons I hate searching for a new job. Today's lesson, children, is "Caveat, um, Agency." Seems that some unscrupulous employment agencies, particularly small ones with no real clout or standing, have a tendency to misrepresent themselves on the phone with potential marks, leading those marks to believe they're being interviewed by actual employers. Yes, I was that mark today. I suppose I should have realized I was going to an agency when (1) I couldn't find a thing about the company online, and (2) they gave me an address right around "Employment Agency Row." So during my second "interview" at an agency that only consists of two people, I had the temerity to ask the woman for a business card. Her look could have melted stone. In a quiet, furious voice, she informed me that the interview was not over. I should have shot back, "You're not an employer, so this isn't an interview, it's only a screening to see if you can fit this big round peg in your little square holes and make yourself a chunk of change as commission." Instead I apologized. That's me, go along to get along. Damn, that's an hour of my life I'll never have back (and, thank goodness, ten minutes of my life spent exorcising it on my blog!). So the moral is, kids, when you're called about an interview, the first question you should ask the caller is whether she or he represents a placement agency or an actual employer. If it's the former, and it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and your boss isn't in and you're going home early, agree to the "interview" if you want to but for God's sake don't knock yourself out, wear jeans.
Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth

Parent-child relationships have been complex as long as families have existed. While I've seen many examples of what I'd characterize as normal, loving families, I've also experienced dysfunction both first- and second-hand. And as I've grown older and come to the realization that I won't have any children to which I will pass along any of my emotional burdens, I've tried to reconcile whatever issues I have with my parents by various methods – mutual agreement to avoid certain subjects, concentration on things we all prioritize, rising above the situation when I sense I'm being baited – so that I can get on with living my own life.

Perhaps someday I'll write in greater depth about my parents than I have so far in this blog, but I don't see that my conflicts with them are anybody's business but mine. I'd rather write about the personal-as-universal than, you know, whine. Of late I seem to be in the minority on that count, though, as a lot of talented artists work out their familial frustrations via (and conveniently seek to profit from) their creative outlets. I recently read a review of the new documentary My Architect, in which Nathaniel Kahn examines the life of his late father Louis, one of the world's premier modern architects. Says Lisa Schwarzbaum, "The filmmaker interviews his mother, his half siblings, his father's contemporaries, and, it sometimes seems, the stones themselves. The son is obsessive and petulant, punishing and self-pitying, and by the time he gets to a talk with his hurt old mother, we understand why. The architect of his own revealing work of art, Nathaniel Kahn has built something affecting he can call his own."

I felt much the same way after reading Gay Block's new book, Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed. Except that the "affecting" was of the negative variety. The more Block whines in this pictorial biography about how her late mother never gave her what she needed, the less sorry I felt for her. Particularly when her mother's words and visage belie the very points she's trying to hammer in. In photo after photo, the two are smiling at the camera and each other with what appears to be genuine affection. For me, the most telling passage is the following conversation:
Gay: In terms of personal relationships, I'm with women instead of men. Do your friends ever ask you about that?

Bertha Alyce: No.

Gay: You have very polite friends. How do you feel about it?

Bertha Alyce: How do I feel about it? I'm not overjoyed, but if this is your lifestyle – you're at an age that this is your life. It's not MY life anymore. I brought you this far and I can't take you any farther, and neither can I force or impose anything on you in your lifestyle anymore.

Gay: But is it an embarrassment for you?

Bertha Alyce: Oh, the world is different now. That's why I guess it isn't.

Gay: I think that's something you could definitely be complimented for. That's an obnoxious way to give a compliment. I appreciate your feeling that way.

Bertha Alyce: I only accept it because it makes you happy, and that's all I want. I couldn't ask for more than that. That's all I wanted for you. That's the only reason I can accept it.
We're supposed to take as a given, on the book's back cover blurb, that Houston-based philanthropist and bon vivant Bertha Alyce Schlenker was an "unusual and difficult mother," but the more I read through the book the more I thought that Gay was the difficult one. She seems to keep prompting relatives and other interview/photography subjects, in the same way that she appears to prompt her mother above, to say mean things to prove what a horrid person Bertha Alyce was. And I just kept wishing I'd known the mother and wanting to steer far, far away from the daughter with her issues. Block's probably older than me, if she hasn't worked out whatever her friggin' problems are by now she has no business, to my mind, whining about them, particularly in public to make a buck— I mean, further her "art," of course. (Full disclosure time: I've always thought of professional photography as more pretense than art, and fully admit this prejudice, but this book does nothing to dissuade me from that view.)

One thing for which I'm grateful after reading this book was that it showed me how much more together I seem to have my life, regarding my relationships with my parents, than does Block. I'm fully convinced that she'll now start searching for something or someone else about which to be vindictive and unhappy, and will doubtless publish another book about that. I've decided to give Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed to my own mom when next I see her, and have invited her to review the book on this blog, so we'll see if she takes me up on it. Natalie Davis is scheduled to interview Block soon, maybe she's gotten some value out of this book that I couldn't. It just makes me want to read a Shakespeare soliloquy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Truly Gone

Eric Idle is absolutely right. "So there's a wonderful moment for you in the upcoming Movie of a truly spectacular concert performed impeccably by Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo, Jeff Lynn, Tom Petty, Joe Brown et al. [Don't ask who al is.] The whole thing is sublime [Pythonesque spoiler omitted]... And do bring plenty of Kleenex, because if you ever loved George you won't get through this one without a lot of tears... Olivia and Dhani Harrison have managed to turn this whole event into a truly wonderful memorial and united all his friends in their grief to make a joyous and utterly unforgettable evening and now they are sharing it with the world." More here. We just finished watching the DVD of it (well, all except for Ravi Shankar's orchestra, we'll be saving that for another time) and we were blown away. It's such a wonderful reminiscence of and tribute to George Harrison. Here's another interesting review. This coming Saturday will mark one year since the concert and two years since his passing. P.S. I should also add this entry from Idle's diary, talking about one of the concert's producers, Michael Kamen, who suddenly passed away last week.
The Quiet Transfer

Via Eli Stephens (and if you're not reading his blog you should be, he's on top of all sorts of things), did you know there have been 20 more prisoners just released from Guantanamo, bringing the total to 88 within the past year? The US isn't saying what countries most of them are from, so we may never hear their stories of treatment - the only ones we know about are returning to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, our "friends" who still seem to sponsor an awful lot of terrorism...
Weasel Words

While reading Paul Krugman's latest column dissecting the Republican National Committee's ad accusing "some" people of "attacking the president for attacking the terrorists." Never mind that he hasn't been "attacking the terrorists," he's been bombing the shit out of countries instead (one of which, unlike Saudi Arabia or, um, the US, wasn't even a haven for terrorists until his army started their occupation) - Krugman terms the use of the word "some" in these contexsts as a sort of fail-safe: "Because he used the word 'some,' he didn't literally lie." And I really resent that. I like using "some" and other qualifiers to indicate to folks that I'm not necessarily tarring everyone with the same sweeping-generalization brush. And I'll be damned if I can't use qualifiers any more because some people misuse them.
He's Just a Regular Joe

As I won't be around this weekend I'm going to vote early this week in TTLB's New Blog Showcase, which has made it easy for me by only having one entry up so far in the Political category: Joe's Thoughts. Joe Fiala seems to be fairly centrist (and centristically fair!) so I'm throwing what little League of Liberals weight I have behind his nominated entry, Politics Trumps Morals.
Yet Another IQ Test

Via Susie Madrak - this one tests your Digital IQ. I only got an 81, but I don't own a PDA or laptop or wi-fi cell phone or whatever. Also from Susie, might as well face it...
The Eids of November

It's Eid al-Fatr (or Eid Il Futtir), the 3-day Muslim holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Both Riverbend and Laura Poyneer (aka al-Muhajabah) wish everyone "Happy Eid, or Eid Mubarek." And Aziz Poonwalla tells us a story.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Dude, You're Not Getting a Foreign Call Center

Dell has bowed to pressure, but apparently only for its corporate customers.
"We saw them crying for help and jumping out of the windows, and we could do nothing to save them."

My heart goes out to the families of all the foreign students who lost their lives in the Russian dorm fire.
Set Your BS Detectors to "Stun"

So I read where Rend Rahim Francke is the new acting Iraqi ambassador to the US, and of course it set off all kinds of bells. On the whole the human rights organization of which she's a founding member seems okay, as does the former lobbyist herself (and yay, another woman in power!), but then you see where she's given talks to places like this that also claim to be non-partisan except look at their boards of directors and advisors. So you know, looks like same-old same-old to me. Caveat lector and all that. I retain my healthy sense of, um, optimistic skepticism? Oh well, at least she gets to stay at home in Washington, unlike whoever the council names to replace Aquila al-Hashimi. I look forward to Riverbend's take on all this.
In with the New

Hey cool, Georgia's interim leader is a woman! She's promised to repeal the state of emergency, saying there's no more need for it, as well as restore the parliament and hold elections within 45 days. This is the kind of thing that happens when a woman's on the job. ;) Seriously, I found most interesting the bit that spoke of what led to Shevardnadze's resignation: "After weeks of refusing to step down, in the end he said he was leaving office to avoid a bloodbath in a region steeped in violence. But by that time, some servicemen had joined the protesters and it was doubtful police and soldiers would have obeyed orders to use force." (emphasis mine) Considering what just went down in the heart of our own flawed presidential elections, I don't think we could assume the same level of conscientious disobedience in the "land of the free." (It also doesn't hurt that the US and Moscow were actively working to help oust Shevardnadze.)
Bill Connolly passes along the link to the Rolling Stone article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that I mentioned here. The article is entitled Crimes Against Nature, with the subtitle "Bush is sabotaging the laws that have protected America's environment for more than thirty years."

Sunday, November 23, 2003

They've Got Everybody's Picture

While perusing last Thursday's Firesign chat to read if Phil Austin gave out any details to supplement Cat's post in a comment section on Friday regarding "the lads doing something on the new liberal radio network" (I found nothing on the news site yet), I was reminded that they actually had my picture up there. I think it may be the best picture anyone's ever taken of me, in that it actually resembles how I see myself in my mind's eye (naturally, Robin was the photographer). So since I've kinda liked it when other folks put their pictures up on their blog sidebars, I've now linked from the sidebar to my Chat log photo, which I resized to fit better, even managing to embed a clickable link to my bio page from our (Soulmate Productions) website, along with the "Who am us, anyway?" title. I can't believe I actually get the hang of this coding stuff now and again. Oh, speaking of radio, check out the latest from Steve Perry about what's going on with the radio station at Antioch University in Ohio.
Stories of Past Courage

Tristero has a wonderful idea - to nominate Brady Kiesling for the John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award®, as the JFK Library is accepting e-mailed nominations. Tristero terms Kiesling's February resignation letter to Colin Powell "one of the great masterpieces in the American literature of dissent," and I quite agree. And speaking of e-mail campaigns, Leah at Corrente has a very good suggestion.
Georgia on My Mind

Shevardnadze resigns. Nice to see some place on this planet where there are actual opposition leaders who can call on their supporters to march on the president's residence after he's "won" an election marred by fraud. Wonder if it'll become a trend?
The Good Doctor

Dr. Who celebrates its 40th anniversary today. (Rob Hansen remembered it in my previous entry's comment section, and Budgie in his blog.) The Beeb has a "favourite Doctor" survey on its site (for the record: Peter Davison - 7%) as well as viewer responses citing favourite episodes. I've previously written about the six-part animated web series and speculation as to who the new Doctor will be when the new series debuts next year. (Here are the results of the Radio Times readers' poll.) Personally, if I voted for a male Doctor at all, I'd vote for this guy. Update: Laura celebrates too, as does Harry at Crooked Timber.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

The Impersistence of Memory

Sometimes I think I'm the only one in my generation (born in '57) who doesn't remember the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed, 40 years ago today. For instance, Tish Parmeley has a well-written reminiscence (culled from her book; someone please publish this woman!). So does Linkmeister and his comments section. So does Steve Bates. So does Billmon, using second-person narration. So does Melanie, my newest addition to the blogroll. So does Groom Lake. Mark Evanier talks about it here and here, and Peter David weighs in here. Also, Kevin Hayden mentions it briefly (by the way, happy blogiversary, Kevin!), and I'm pretty sure Seth Farber recalls the day, reading between the lines of his blog entry today. And this illustration on South Knox Bubba's site is just breathtaking. You know, I remember the moon landing, I remember the night of Lennon's death, obviously I remember the WTC falling... but, even given that my brain only seems to have so much holding capacity and I'm used to recollections disappearing by now, it kinda bothers me that I don't recall the day of Kennedy's assassination at all. Is there anyone else out who was old enough (school age, I guess) to have remembered this national tragedy and doesn't, or is it just me?
LoL Saturday

The League of Liberals keeps growing; welcome to new member Rob Findlay, who has submitted his entry Iraq = Death to this week's New Blog Showcase, and who also has a cute Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum) but does seem to need to work a bit on his spelling ;) . Other LoL posts that caught my eye this morning, in my usual alphabetical order by surname, then the first-name-onlys, then the pseudonyms:

  • LoL leader Barry Bozeman informs us that William Bennett replaced Rush Limbaugh as the Claremont Institute's annual Churchill Dinner speaker last night. Mentioned as well by Maru Soze, who also reveals the Naked Photographer! Glad they got him before my trip there next weekend...

  • Len Cleavelin bemoans the decision by many radio stations to adopt an "all Christmas music, all the time" format as early as this month, with another 200-300 expected to do the same thing in the next several weeks. Sounds like something Robin would love, but considering it's not even Thanksgiving yet and all the Chatzmich crap is already out in force in store windows, I think I may hit my "it's not my holiday, you wacky goyim" tolerance level early this year...

  • Robert "Don't Call me JR 'Bob'" Dobbs reiterates what Firesign chatter Ken DeBusk just informed me via e-mail - the NewsMax report on the interview with General Tommy Franks in the December Cigar Aficionado predicting martial law after the next (some say all-but-inevitable) terror attack on US soil. Also mentioned by Veralynne Pepper. Pretty scary news, particularly when broken by a loony right-wing website.

  • Jo Fish - whom I hope to meet next weekend, yay! - brings us the good news that Utah, at least, has figured out that the No Child Left Behind act is an educational Ponzi Scheme. The local (Riverdale) paper's been calling it that (in not so many words) for awhile now.

  • Jimmy Huck recommends this column on the role of race in current Louisiana politics.

  • Kriselda Jarnsaxa confesses that her husband does his food shopping, um, not unlike I do mine lately, cell phone in hand...

  • Madeleine Begun Kane has a humor round-up of Bush's London trip.

  • PZ Myers summarizes Paul Krugman's talk at Syracuse University.

  • Barbara O'Brien knows it's wrong to hate fundies, but she just can't help herself.

  • BJ can't believe there's almost no advance planning in the military. Doesn't surprise me all that much, why should they be that different from the private sector?

  • Dawn has a timely reminder that pot doesn't kill, asphyxiation due to aspiration of plastic bags kills.

  • Gunther grades the Bush-Blair press conference.

  • Jeff has some stark pictures from the FTAA protests in Miami, and
    Stageleft asks of Guanatamo, Is this humane? The Felonious Elephant surmises that Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma probably wouldn't have a problem with any of this.

  • Jesse mentions, and Northstar goes into more detail about, an NHL game being played outdoors this evening, which received 275,000 ticket requests. That many people want to freeze their asses off in -17C weather? Them wacky Canadians... Oh, and by the way, this "Heritage Classic" isn't being broadcast in the US.

  • Manis2Society's latest conspiracy theory asks, were the bombings in Turkey and Saudi Arabia really US-sponsored? That's rather immanentizing the eschaton, isn't it?

  • Rick wonders why his local CVS pharmacy has put their condoms and pregnancy tests in locked cabinets. (Yo Rick, Bleecker Street has a "c" in it. :) )

  • Scout explores the Collusion Memos, which apparently have a really strange idea of "extreme left" (I'd call most of the groups mentioned "moderate" or "centrist" myself).

  • BlogsCanada discovers the wonder that is Froogle.

  • Nice entry from the Estimated Prophet about selective application of international law, particularly when it comes to the US looking the other way at Israel's history of illegalities.

  • The Mudshark emphasizes there's a difference between big news and important news as he chats about the former.

  • The Poison Kitchen assures us that yes, of course there are actual rules to 3-D chess as played on Star Trek. Next thing you know they'll be swearing Wizard's Chess is real...

  • The Politburo Diktat talks about how to induce an Instalanche, which apparently has something to do with being mentioned by a very popular right-wing blogger whom I don't read.

  • Savage Cruel Bigots has one of the best examples of burying the lede that I've seen in awhile.

  • Sick of Bush wonders why so many people don't like Noam Chomsky. I like him well enough (and extensively studied his linguistic theories back in college when I majored in the stuff, not that I've retained any of that) but, geez, his lectures do have a tendency to put me to sleep.

  • The 18½ Minute Gap reminds us once again that Bush is a boor who hasn't the first notion of proper etiquette despite his upper-class training.

  • Treason Online reports that Americans are preventing the British and other allies from seeing intelligence that could save lives.

  • Finally, according to Wilson's Blogmanac, today is the Eve of St. Clement's Day. Clement is the patron of blacksmiths.
  • Friday, November 21, 2003

    Friday Cat in the Hat Blogging, Part 2

    Yeah, we're cruel, but fair. The cats are "celebrating" that movie, what's it called again... On the left, Datsa in - okay, under - Robin's faux artiste chappeau (Rob's a real artist, of course, but the hat's a RenFaire goof purchase). On the right, Amy's in Rob's arms and wearing the backwards cap thang, not very happily.
    The Only Company Wal-Mart Fears

    "You have to take the shit with the sugar, I guess. We think when you take care of your customer and your employees, your shareholders are going to be rewarded in the long run. And I'm one of them [the shareholders]; I care about the stock price. But we're not going to do something for the sake of one quarter that's going to destroy the fabric of our company and what we stand for."

    That's James D. Sinegal, the president and CEO of Costco, which has been giving the hated Wal-Mart a fair run for their money. Read the whole article in Fortune (via Hesiod). Hmm, I wonder if he's looking for an admin assistant. Meanwhile, I think I'll pay my local Costco a visit...
    Opinions Needed

    Laura Gjovaag has announced on her blog that she'll be guest-blogging for me while I'm at Mid-Ohio Con, and has requested folks write to her to answer the following questions, which I think are so good that I'm putting them up here as well, so feel free to comment: "What do people expect from a guest blogger? Should I be trying to appeal to Elayne's audience, or should I just be myself and hope nobody quits reading in disgust? Should I pick a topic in advance and do a couple of blogs on that? Thoughts? Suggestions? What do you expect when a guest blogger is writing at a blog you like?" She's also thrilled to see that Alan Davis has done the cover for Aquaman #15, so I guess I now know what to get her as a thank-you for guest blogging, provided my one-cajoled-sketch-from-Alan-per-con coupon is still in effect...
    His God? Is God?

    From Margaret Cho's latest:
    Your God is not the only God out there. What you are saying denies the entire reason America exists in the first place, religious freedom. You say same sex union is against the Bible, not thinking for a moment that there are other religions that have no connection with your particular beliefs, because you are not allowing freedom of religion to those who do not follow your way of worship. Dude. You are being like so, un-American.
    Fer sher!
    Loyalty to the Country Always, Loyalty to the Government When It Deserves It

    The above title is the motto of the brilliant BushFlash site, which I've mentioned previously. Thanks to Lisa Rein (who also does some very cool multimedia stuff) I found out about the latest addition to their wonderful animation features, entitled Mission Accomplished. Why aren't the Democratic Presidential contenders making use of the talents of this site?
    Relearning Curve

    Just back from my first visit to "Employment Agency Row," which is actually not a row as much as a specific area, centered approximately right between the New York Public Library's main branch and Grand Central Station, where I paid a five-minute visit to someone who had nothing to offer me. In the 6+ years I've been gainfully employed I've forgotten how dehumanizing and draining something like this can be - why I couldn't have just e-mailed him attachments of their application and my résumé I have no idea. Okay, I have a little idea, they want to make sure you're presentable and well-spoken and prompt, so you have to at least make one personal appearance, but honestly, recruiters - why put up these Hotjobs and Monster and Career Builder listings in the first place if you don't really have anything remotely resembling them when I set foot in your office? Doesn't it just waste my time and yours?

    Ah well, regardless of this expected frustration it was a gorgeous day to walk around midtown, and I revelled in the sun after almost a week of gloom and rain. I found the Internet phone (see previous post) on the southwest corner of 43rd and 5th, but the screen was blank and there were no instructions anywhere so I didn't want to take a chance on losing my money. And I'm also grateful for the chance to fill out apps again because it's reminded me of the sorts of things prospective employers look for besides skills and stable work history and all that stuff that's on the résumé anyway. Two things I'd completely forgotten about were business references and salary history. So I put in calls to the appropriate people to gather info on the latter (it was very cool to call my former employer and get the voice mail of a person I remembered!), and sent out e-mails this morning to five high-level execs I've known during my tenure at this job asking if I could cite them as refs. Three of them e-mailed back almost immediately saying "sure," and one (a lawyer based in Washington DC) even offered to get me an interview at his firm's NY offices! Eris works in mysterous ways - you see, I know it was her today because when I got into the elevator to go outside only the buttons "5" and "17" were mysteriously lit up...
    Web Pay Phones

    Via Gianna - and yeah, I think it's kinda amusing that I read this on an Australian weblog when I work in midtown NYC - we can now have Internet access from pay phones! Ironically, the website for the company that's installed them looks like it hasn't been updated in a year; the only press release details how they unveiled the beta phone in February of last year. Anyway, I'll be on the lookout for one of these babies at lunchtime today, and if I find it I'll try to blog from it. The phones are made by these folks.
    "...or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

    While the Bush administration is busy sending thank-you notes to Michael Jackson for helping relegate the London visit to the status of a backstory, they should probably throw in a bouquet of roses as well for the misdirection away from Miami, where the FTAA meetings have been going on. Here's an Indymedia/Miami summary of the police crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators, many of whom are union activists. And wouldn't you know it, the two protests are connected. By the way, the STW coalition says 300,000+ from yesterday in Trafalgar Square; police lowballed it at 70,000. My instincts tell me it was probably closer to 200,000 but I'm still checking sites for alternate crowd estimates...
    Our Version of David Kelly?

    Via Cyndy Roy at Mousemusings, naturally: John J. Kokal, a 58-year-old official of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research Near East and South Asian division (INR/NESA), "was found dead in the late afternoon of November 7. Police indicated he may have jumped from the roof of the State Department." It gets stranger:
    ...a colleague of Kokal's told this writer that the Iraq analyst was despondent over "problems" with his security clearance. Kokal reportedly climbed out of a window and threw himself out in such a manner so that he would "land on his head." At the time Kokal fell from either the roof or a window, his wife Pamela, a public affairs specialist in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, was waiting for him in the parking garage. Mrs. Kokal had previously worked in Consular Affairs where she was involved in the stricter vetting of visa applicants from mainly Muslim countries after the Sept. 11 attacks.
    And stranger still:
    A former INR employee revealed that some one-third to one-half of INR officials are either former intelligence agents with the CIA or are detailed from the agency. He also revealed it would have been impossible for Kokal to have gained entry to the roof on his own. INR occupies both a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) on the sixth floor that has no windows and a windowless structure on the roof that has neither windows nor access to the roof, according to the former official. The other windows at the State Department have been engineered to be shatter proof from terrorist bomb attacks and cannot be opened.
    There has been almost no coverage of this incident in the media, not even an obituary notice! Update: Natalie Davis explores this further.
    Friday Cat in the Hat Blogging

    Okay, now that the film's finally opening today, would the powers that be please remove the giant billboard of the movie poster from the side of the 34th Street Penn Station entrance so it can stop creeping me out every time I go to the office kitchen and look out the window?

    Thursday, November 20, 2003

    "The Virtue of Honesty"

    I'm sorry, unlike the Columbia University professor quoted above, I find nothing to applaud in Richard Perle's admission that of course he and others know the US invasion and subsequent occuption of Iraq was/is illegal under international law, but, you know, they answer to a higher authority (themselves). Via Atrios, who also passed along this webcam site to watch today's protests in Trafalgar Square.
    Talking Turkey

    Not a Thanksgiving post, but a short bitching about the British and American leaders turkeys in this morning's London press conference who dared to use the tragedy in Turkey as an excuse for why "the coalition" should continue to occupy Iraq so they can, you know, keep feeding a situation that encourages more terrorist incidents. Oh well, at least it gets my blood boiling enough to get out of the house.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2003

    Another Kennedy Heard From

    Yes, I watched the first half of The Kennedys: An American Experience this week (I couldn't deal with the second part, which story I figured I mostly knew because it took place during my lifetime and I can't not follow American royalty, I'm just that way), but this item is actually a sort of spiritual follow-up to the Ken Livingstone remarks about which I blogged on Monday. Via Susie Madrak, there's a fascinating interview up today at Salon with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (and my God but he looks like his dad in that picture!) regarding the Bush administration's "crimes against nature" and other subjects of interest. An excerpt:
    I believe that George W. Bush is stealing my country, that he is absolutely stealing the environment from our children, stealing the breath from my children's lungs and stealing the Bill of Rights, selling off the sacred places, and trashing all the things I value about America. Our reputation across the globe, the love and admiration that other peoples and nations once had for America, the safety of our nation, the security of our children, the economy, the ability of our children to educate themselves for the future -- it's all being liquidated by this president for his wealthy friends and contributors. And I am so furious at this man for stealing the thing I love most, which is America, my country.
    I now have a new favorite word: "biostitutes." And, Kennedy does touch on the topic of Ahnuld, in a fairly surprising way (at least to me). Plus, he likes Triple Delight with Scallions, too. :) You probably know the drill, you need to click through an ad to get a Free Day Pass, but hey, today's is sponsored by PBS' Great Performances presentation of the London stage production of Oklahoma, about which Natalie Davis has blogged, so I got to see the ad (le sigh, le pant) and, you know, it's Hugh Jackman so I'm so there (Saturday at 7 PM and 11 PM for me, check your local listings).
    Just When You Think It Can't Get Any More Bizarre...

    ...the Bushies keep topping themselves on this London fiasco. Via Maru Soze, who always finds the bestest and most outrageous stories, "Phone operators have refused to co-operate with police to block anti-Bush protesters from using mobile telephones in Central London."
    All Hail the Mouse!

    While Disney is busy celebrating Mickey Mouse's 75th birthday (by, notes Heidi MacDonald, posting a $66 million loss at EuroDisney and preparing to shut down their Orlando animation studio), I want to take this opportunity once again to tout my favorite mouse, Cyndy Roy of Mousemusings, who's been posting up a storm of tasty links. Here's a great gift idea for the holidays! Here's exclusive (Flash) video on the capture of the main suspect in the war on terror! Here's her update on fun stuff going on today in London! (Wow, the fountains ran red?! DeMille would be proud...) Great stuff, all of it.
    Working to Rule

    Blogging may or may not be light throughout work hours for the next few days, as my boss is in. But as I've now been informed that an ad has gone up for my replacement, even though I don't yet have another job to escape to, I'm less and less interested in playing by their arbitrary rules. However, if you still care about your job and don't want to get caught blogging or reading blogs, you can now check the green Fire Escape key at left. This ingenius device by Gary Turner was referenced in Blogger's latest advice page, which is all about blogging at work. Unfortunately, at the moment all it does is redirect me to Google, which wouldn't seem to be of much help if someone's being spied upon for excessive Internet activity...
    Another Nostalgic Game to Bookmark

    Pac-Man. Thanks a lot, Brooke, like I wasn't spending enough time playing online games? :)
    Why People Hate Myopic, Provincial, Arrogant Bullies

    Barbara O'Brien does a bit of fisking on the Mahablog of this clueless analysis by Charles Krauthammer in Time magazine. His premise is that, in the words of Riff Raff regarding Frank 'N' Furter: "He doesn't like me! He never liked me!" See, all that "nous sommes tous Americaines" bit? Faked. Yep. They're really just jellus (that's how we used to deliberately misspell it when mocking trolls on alt.showbiz.gossip), and they have been for years. Quoth the idiot, "It is pure fiction that this pro-American sentiment was either squandered after Sept. 11 or lost under the Bush Administration. It never existed. Envy for America, resentment of our power, hatred of our success has been a staple for decades, but most particularly since victory in the cold war left us the only superpower."

    This is wrong on so many levels that I can feel my blood pressure rising just to try to deal with even a couple of them. Fortunately, Barbara does a great job of showing how Western Europe in particular has treated past American presidents very well indeed. But then, those were the days when we signed treaties with other nations and strove to honor them (okay, with some exceptions) instead of trashing them with a "nyah nyah, whatcha gonna do about it?" attitude. And the sheer hubris that causes this revisionist historian to actually believe we're naturally more successful than all other nations is mind-boggling. As for "victory in the Cold War," don't get me started. Just don't.

    I will agree with one bit, though. Yes, people generally resent entities with a lot of power. Particularly when that power is misused time and time again. How dare we demand that other countries disarm when we're not prepared to do so ourselves? How dare we constantly rail against international organizations that are actually trying to achieve peace? How dare we invade countries under utterly false pretenses and flimsy pretexts, kill thousands of people in the process including our own soldiers, and keep lying and lying and lying about it? We've long since lost our footing on any sort of moral high ground that would allow us worldwide credibility. Let's turn this around and pretend we were being imposed on by another country that's acted the way we have to others. Would we like it? Or would we resent the hell out of their constant bullying?

    If you ask me, it's a miracle that as many people throughout the world still like America as much as they do, considering all the things we've fucked up over the years (particularly the last 23, and in specific the last 3). Perhaps they, like many American citizens, acknowledge the ideals on which this country was founded, and believe that with the right leaders we will someday strive for these ideals once more.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    Britain on the Brain

    Our resident in chief and his entourage aren't the only ones lying back and thinking of England today. As it's a fairly slow work-day (doubtless my last breather in awhile, as my boss returns tomorrow) and I'm halfway through my blogroll already after making it all the way through yesterday, not that much stuff has caught my eye. So throughout the day I hope to be adding to this post, as the mood strikes me:

  • Via my ex-pat (UK to US) husband, sales of the Harry Potter books have hit 250 million.

  • Via ex-pat (US to UK) Avedon Carol, here are the new animated Doctor Who episodes.

  • A new adults-only science center has opened in London, dealing with subjects such as "genetically modified foods, face transplants, sex over 60, male pregnancy, death or AIDS." Says the write-up, "The center will feature stand-up comics, neuroscientists and researchers and use documentaries, discussions and even an MRI scan of a contortionist to show what happens inside her twisted body to delve into all areas and aspects of science." Hey, stand-up comics, good luck with those death or AIDS jokes.

  • Also via Robin, Meatloaf collapsed on stage at Wembley Arena last night and is being treated for exhaustion brought on by a virus. Get well soon, Meat!

  • Looks like a rather dim Christmas in Diss, after a call for funds to build on last year's light display elicited "a solitary £5 note."

  • Bill Connolly recommends following the news of Bush's "anti-welcome" at both Indymedia.UK and this "Chasing Bush" site.
  • Monday, November 17, 2003

    "A Threat to Life on Earth"

    Well, I've been waiting for official pronouncements from London mayor Ken Livingstone on Bush's upcoming visit (which as you can imagine, our household being binational, Robin and I been following fairly closely) and, by gosh, I'm not disappointed.
    Smile of the Day

    From Tom Burka's Opinions You Should Have, naturally, on the Sun's interview with Bush: " 'It's not that big a change, really,' said Tycho Firth, a miner in East Chasbrough. 'Page Three still has two big boobs on it.' "
    The Road Not Taken

    I was pleased to learn, via Mark Morford's Daily Fix e-mails, that his sponsor the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus is directed by a woman. This would have been my dream job when I was a college freshman hanging out with these guys. Also via Morford: The Meatrix.
    Disappearing Up One's Own

    You know the blogosphere has gotten too self-referential and insular when even the Washington Post comments on it. And she's only talking about literary blogs; I think the problem is even more endemic with politically-oriented ones. Come on, folks, we're sooo way better than this. Can't we just have, like, an "ignore the right-wing bloggers who annoy us and stop giving them more publicity by bitching about their posts" moratorium for maybe a week? Via Avedon Carol, who also passes along the frightening news, via the Daily Kos, that that stupid Poindexter-led Policy Analysis Market (you know, essentially betting on terror) is set to quietly open for trading in March 2004 after all!

    Sunday, November 16, 2003


    Via Linkmeister, a bedtime story for grown-ups about the recent Frist sleepover.
    Post-Thanksgiving Plans

    As some readers may have noted, Robin and I are headed to Columbus, Ohio the day after Thanksgiving to participate in the 24th annual Mid-Ohio Con on November 29-30. Laura Gjovaag has soooo earned a special Aquaman sketch by graciously agreeing to help me keep my promise of new daily content on Pen-Elayne on the Web and guest-blogging for me during the con, in case I can't locate a computer with online access when I'm there. I've previously mentioned the convention program cover (pencilled by Alan Davis) which Robin inked and colored, snapping a picture of the piece during the inking process. It's now officially up on the con page, so I'm reproing the final result below:

    I've also talked previously about the panel I'll be moderating within the text of this entry. Hope to meet lots of folks there!
    Happy Birthday...

    ...to Liz Farber, wife of The Talking Dog's Seth. I met Liz, as well as their daughter the Locquacious Pup, at the NY Blogger gathering on October 11 (reviewed here).
    If You've Got An Hour to Spare...

    ...and you didn't catch it on C-SPAN last week, I highly recommend watching and/or listening to Al Gore's speech from last Sunday at Constitution Hall, in an event co-sponsored by MoveOn.org and the American Constitution Society. The link to the video is here (first item on the list).
    Yes, We Have No Bananas

    Via Steve Bates, who got it from the Farmer at Corrente: in about a decade you can say bye-bye to bananas forever.
    Sue for Infringement, Please!

    Over at Terry Welch's Nitpicker, guest blogger Amanda reports on the strange phenomenon of US parents naming their kids after trademarks and companies. Now, some of them I can understand; for instance, Armani is not only pretty-sounding but an actual surname of an actual person. But ESPN? Canon? Timberland? Are these people so bereft of imagination, or are they just so self-centered and media-stoned that they're oblivious to how much mockery their kids are going to face? Geez, compared to this crap, celeb-chic names like Rumer or Dweezil are friggin' normal...
    Protesting the Bubble Boy

    Via my husband, a nice Forbes sum-up of how Bush's handlers plan to "avoid unflattering images" on his upcoming trip to London. If you're in the neighborhood, here's the Stop the War Coalition information on plans during Bush's visit. Some things that won't be happening are listed here, including the granting of immunity to American snipers who "accidentally" shoot protestors, closure of the Tube network, the use of US Air Force planes and helicopters, and the shipping in of battlefield weaponry (also to be used, they'd hoped, against protestors). This was essentially the quid pro quo that allowed a "sterile zone" (gotta love that euphemism!) around Bush. Still, 250 Secret Service agents to protect a sitting American President visiting a country that's supposed to be his strongest ally? Surreal. Oh, and as Bush will apparently be visiting with the Queen prior to his confabs with Tony Blair, it's probably worth remembering their previous conversation (thanks, Mary Beth!). Update: The "unwelcome" has begun. And via Jenny and Hesiod, apparently the Queen is not amused by Bush's security demands. Oh, there's just so much to review, here's the Google link to it all...
    BASIC Instinct

    Excellent and highly recommended proto-investigative entry today by Tristero, who saw this editorial linked to at Calpundit and started wondering what kind of structure actually existed underlying all these supposedly-autonomous high school chapters of Brothers And Sisters In Christ (BASIC).
    Forbidden Cinema

    I've always been fascinated by movies, newsreels and other bits of cinema that were societally acceptable during the era in which they were made, but have since proven wince-worthy in an era where we like to believe we're more enlightened. No, I'm not talking about Xanadu or Car Wash, but those bits of entertainment and propaganda where I usually observe that "you can't blame people for not being ahead of their time." Case in point, via Ampersand, is this fascinating overview of "Banned Cartoons." I remember first watching a lot of these in Leonard Maltin's cartoon class at the New School and "Cartoozday" at the Thalia Theatre back in the pre-VCR days (and long before the Thalia was bought by Symphony Space and renamed for Leonard Nimoy). And I would think, "what's the real difference between Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves and, say, [the then-contemporary movie] The Wiz?" I found neither terribly offensive, and both quite entertaining. Likewise with the idea of "oh, we're ever so much better now" - the Banned Cartoons page makes an admirable argument for resurrecting these important glimpses into entertainment history, certainly as discussion starting points, but at the same time implicitly asks, is it really such a great leap forward from something like Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips to South Park's portrayal of Saddam Hussein (or the way entertainment still stereotypes ethnicities and The Other in general)? Incidentally, whilst I was looking for sites that described the Thalia, I came across this neat page about 42nd Street in the Late Forties. Says the author, "This is not nostalgia. There is no desire to return to the settings I’m about to describe, nor longing to live once more the life that centered on them. All in all, it wasn’t cheerful. It had its rewards, though, as what’s called a learning experience…in a unique and impermanent environment, the like of which no one will ever see again." Worth a glimpse.

    Saturday, November 15, 2003

    Scariest Commercial of the Weekend

    Now, mind you, I tend not to watch the Country Music Channel as a rule, but this evening I wanted to see the Johnny Cash tribute concert. And one of the sponsors is Crest, which apparently has a new commercial out, featuring William Shatner... okay, a whole clone army of Shatners doing Irish dancing. In case anyone still in their right mind was wondering, Darren Smith assures us that no, Shatner doesn't know how to Irish-dance, that was his (Darren's) work. Be that as it may, it's a somewhat disturbing image. Given the choice, I'll take Irish dancing by a duck, a vole, and a herd of sheep...
    LoL Saturday

    Things that caught my eye in blogs by some League of Liberals members this afternoon (going alphabetically by surname, then by first-name-onlys, then by pseudonyms):

  • LoL leader Barry Bozeman has some depressing casualty numbers. And that's not counting the thousands of Iraqis we're killing and maiming in the name of liberating them from... um, something. Their resources, I think. New member Stageleft is skeptical that we couldn't count Iraqi casualties if we wanted to.

  • James Chappell thinks it's news that Guinness is officially good for you, but heck, we've known that in the Riggs household for years. Did I ever mention that one of Robin's mutant powers is, when we're out with a group of people, the ability to order a Guinness and suddenly have everyone at the same table crave a Guinness as well?

  • Len Cleavelin explains The Differential Theory of US Armed Forces (Snake Model).

  • Natalie Davis (I'll come back to Reindeer Games soon, Natalie, I promise) says, "Murder, he wrote!" with a great sum-up of Aaron McGruder's appearance on America's Black Forum.

  • New member Robert Dobbs seems to be into CafePress in a slightly skewed way...

  • Jo Fish has more damning evidence against Governor-Elect Ahnuld.

  • PZ Myers warns us of a threat from God, via radical fundie wacko Bryce Gaudian. Wow, I didn't know you could pass the buck that high up!

  • N. Todd Pritsky reports on an EFF alert that the students (and their ISP!) being harrassed by Diebold are fighting back.

  • Maru Soze reveals that Bush gave an interview to Murdoch's Sun tabloid, famous for its Page 3 babes. As Gene Kelly's character said in Singing in the Rain, "Dignity, always dignity..." Kriselda Jarnsaxa has also picked up on this.

  • Mike Stabile examines Bill O'Reilly's desire to run for the White House.

  • A very happy birthday to Joe Vecchio - and his wife! Go crazy, kids. Someone give Joe a way cool job so he can celebrate in style. Byte Me Back mentions that it's also the birthday of an honorable opponent named Michael. Meanwhile, Futurballa's Rick and his wife are off to Vegas; don't y'all bump into my parents, hear?

  • BJ (new member?) at The Sesquipedalian provides some needed perspective for people who take this blogosphere thing a bit too seriously.

  • Dawn notes that China's currently in the lead as far as serial killers go. And what the hey, we aren't even tops in spies any more; Manis2Society reports that the Iraqis have us beat in that category!

  • Gunther recommends reading up on Kennedy's neurosurgeon.

  • Hammerdown recommends we stay away from Chi-Chi's hepatitis-linked green onions.

  • Jesse at The Gotham City 13 visually captures Bush's rhetorical style.

  • Only eight entries so far in Norbizness' Wolfowitz caption contest?

  • Northstar creeped me out with his news about the Hungarian corpse. The really tragic thing is, Americans are no less immune to the stupidity of (and confusing real life things with) performance art.

  • Find out why Pompey at The Felonious Elephant singles out the Ithaca (NY) Journal for this week's Pollyanna Award.

  • Rick at the Cafe Americain outlines what would make him vote for Bush.

  • Scout sizes up the competition for this week's New Blog Showcase. Not to worry Scout, we gotcher back.

  • Veralynne observes that things don't look so good pharmaceutical-wise for oceanic species.

  • Blogs Canada asks us to just suppose the shoe were on the other foot as far as invasions go...

  • The Estimated Prophet tracks down where 9-11 terrorist asshole Mohammad Atta actually partied.

  • Hell for Halliburton says those Enron legal fees are mounting up.

  • Indigo Ocean catches us up on her "holographic healing" career. Wow, a LoL blogger more into String Theory than me!

  • Ink from the Squid tells us about rich zoo honcho Damien Aspinall letting a gorilla babysit his daughter Freya. So this is, what, thinning the herd or survival of the fittest?

  • Awww, the Poison Kitchen has birthed news about the Embrio! Don't you just want to chuck it under its widdow chin? (And where's my friggin' jet pack already?)

  • New member the Politburo Diktat translates, I think, the Gettysburg Address.

  • Savage Cruel Bigot says Japan don't want to play the Iraqi soldier game neither, nuh-uh.

  • The 18½ Minute Gap provides more bad news about health insurance.

  • And finally, Treason Online celebrates the Bush version of the economic boom, with a 98% increase in bankruptcy filings! Woo hoo, we're Number 1, we're Number 1!
  • Sisyphus Speaks!

    I was catching up on my CJR reading, and came across this lovely article on weblogs by Matt Welch in the September/October issue. I don't remember anyone talking about it at the time but I'm sure some blogs must have mentioned it. It's a nice overview of how weblogs are changing the national discourse. There's little question now that we're Being Paid Attention To. So maybe it's more important not to waste time and bandwidth being so insular. Julia H, who has been on a major roll lately, has some great advice in that respect, which I consider must-reading.
    Sidebar Maintenance Notes

    Despite the phenomenal coding work of Laura Gjovaag (who I'm still hoping will agree to guest-blog here during my trip to Mid-Ohio Con in case I can't find a way to blog remotely, thereby keeping Pen-Elayne's "at least a post a day" habit more or less intact), the Google search function just wasn't working so I've scrapped it. Also took my various wish lists off the sidebar and put them into personal bookmarks, as I've gotten less and less comfortable with the idea of bloggers (particularly left-leaning ones) using this type of forum to ask readers to send them money and gifts. Someone reads this, sees my resume, and wants to offer me a job, that's one thing; someone wants to give me a pressie because I happen to entertain or inform them through my hobby, they can certainly approach me in e-mail with a wishlist query. Lastly, I've eliminated the Eatonweb rating thing because the buttons never loaded properly even though I'm pretty sure the site's still working. And I rearranged some stuff so the order now makes a bit more sense to me:
  • the introductory stuff (what's a blog, who I am, the new window checkbox, my resume, Rob's portfolio)
  • my blogrolls, as well as links to columnists, op-eds and politicians
  • links to news round-up sites, message boards and various resources
  • the Pen-Elayne archives
  • my self-reminder to ping Blogrolling (which I never remember to do)
  • cool buttons having to do with blog listings (always looking for more!)
  • my TTLB status
  • the section that reads like I'm barking orders at folks (rate me! review me! bare your bum! take back the media!)
  • lastly, the blog webrings and such of which I'm a member
    As ever, suggestions for additions to any of these sections are most welcome.
  • Friday, November 14, 2003

    Around the Town

    The 6th Annual Chocolate Show is going on right now at the Metropolitan Pavilion. My coworker informs me that tomorrow is also the Diabetes Expo at the Javits Center. I'm sure there's a punch line in there somewhere just waiting to come out...

    If you've decided against doing the Billy Bragg show on the 22nd, there's always the Alex Ross signing to benefit the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art.