Monday, December 14, 2015

Disney : A lesson in marketing

Ramblings Post #307
Why is J.J. Abrams considered an genius? Watching the second Star Trek movie, a film that borders on the ridiculous, I have to wonder what's really going on. My old go to reasoning to was that "somebody got some naked pictures ain't nobody supposed to see." But after seeing how Abrams has lain waste to the sci-fi genre practically unchallenged, I'm starting to believe he might have proof of a felony or three. I'm talking fed time. I'm scared to go see The Force Awakens now. 

Remember three years ago when I was happy that Disney bought Lucasfilm? Yeah, I'm over that. Because while was convinced that what Lucasfilm had produced was basically a series of ads for merchandise masquerading as a film, I apparently hadn't seen anything. My god, Disney can you dial it back....

This is a real thing.
Disney didn't just metaphorically tear down the old burger stand and put up a golf course, milking my childhood for every drop of profit, now they're charging you license fees to get access to be allowed to pay the greens fees for that new golf course, and they've got a reservation charge for the new themed restaurant they just threw up. What haven't they slapped a Star Wars logo on? Now I'm hotly anticipating the film's release just so this can all be over.

Barkeep, can I get...no, I don't want the Kenobi vodka. Or the Ackbar gin. For the love of Jedi, please stop. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Why Justice Scalia should scare us all

This is a political post. 

Justice Scalia, long of the legal tribe of elders of these United States, has seriously suggested during an actual case in front him that perhaps black students would prefer to attend “less advanced, slower-track” schools where they might feel less challenged. What year is it? It's as though a time machine malfunctioned and his brain is operating in 1959. He seems to forget that the person sitting next to him got into school under affirmative action and obviously did so poorly he only ended up on the highest court in the country. If nothing else Thomas, whom in the interest of full disclosure I despise, should take offense at the very idea that "blacks" want to be challenged less in education. What? Thomas just whispered "Yassur boss, dat dere shole do be right" in support of Scalia? I see.

That this case made it into a court room, much less to the Supreme Court (twice) is astounding. I find the claim of injury as a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth amendment extremely dubious unless she can show that but for race being considered as a factor she would have been admitted. I say dubious because once you get past her chosen school's flat top 10% automatic admission concept, the whole decision process with it's leadership roles and awards holistic approach gets more than a little murky. Does she have something like the exact admission chart slot with her name on it crossed out and the name of person of color with lower test and other merit scores filled in it's place? No? I see. So the plaintiff's argument boils down to, after failing to meet the automatic admission requirements for spot at the college of her choice that there is no way that many people of color could have earned through the merit system an bonafide admission, at least not before her, UNLESS they were helped by this system which threw in race. And that such a system is unfair.

Now under the rules a 3.6 GPA from Dirt Poor High will be viewed the same as a 3.6 GPA from Nice Neighborhood High, but once we enter the murk, what about the intangibles? I ask because I'm fairly certain of two things: first that DPH is predominately minority and NNH is not, and two at NNH that there are way more extracurricular activities and opportunities to get those sought after holistic puzzle pieces. NNH might offer internships, travel and access to culture that DPH just can't afford working with less resources. One of the flaws of the argument that only merit should be judged is that not all merit opportunities exist in every forum. Race, in an effort to correct all the other other forms discrimination which have ultimately caused the lack of resources at DPH, maybe the less than 'easy' fix for those missing holistic pieces. But no, she was treated unfairly.

Note: I think the school might be better served by instead considering not the student, but the graduated High School and it's level of resources during admissions, which might have the same effect of diversifying the student body.    

Anyway, the bottom line of the case is that people who are "tired" of affirmative action would like to see race as a factor in considering a person for, well really anything, eliminated. The old I-don't- see-color argument. The jeez, we've got a black president now, everything is equal, don't you get it? The redress of past injustices is done, although we still have clear cases of corporate and individual discrimination and rampant racial injustice as headlines in 2015, these are like 400 isolated incidents that don't expose a deeper core issue stemming from issues of self enforced segregation and other societal factors. No really, it's all good. USA! USA! 

Now, to be fair, these are people who believe affirmative action gives minorities not only access they shouldn't have, but somehow makes the whole following process, whatever it maybe, so much easier. Um, for the record it doesn't make anything easier, it just gives someone an opportunity that they should get but can't because of outside factors. And black detractors of affirmative action, like the aforementioned Justice Thomas, deride it because it makes their owned hard earned success suspect, even when they know how hard they worked. This is ingrained self hate, which speaks to a whole other issue about race in this country if the belief is that the mere existence of this program casts a taint on all achievement. Is the idea that black people are just PEOPLE so crazy?

Which is why Scalia scares me. Because his brain is apparently from 1959. When black people weren't ever going to be just people. And he's a Supreme Court Justice. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Donald Trump is the mole!

This a political post. 

One could say that politics is war scaled back, essentially the same thing with policy and rhetoric substituted for the guns and explosions. Although these days due to the volatile and newly sensitive state of being we live in, those previously "cold war" style actions of the halls of government may not necessarily still be the case. But a little too much real bloodshed due to forces that have gotten out of control is a post for another day. So let's get back to the party at hand. The GOP.  Donald Trump and the Presidency. Sounds like a dreary children's book doesn't. Or a failed series on Comedy Central.

I know I once thought Michael Steele was the mole, but I was just playing. Hear me out here, this almost makes sense. The Donald has clearly stated that the economy does better under the Democrats and famously has indicated that if he ran he'd run as Republican because they're..."easy to manipulate." Words that I am shocked that his opponents haven't pulled out the closet to undermine his momentum early on. It's as though they're saving them up for a knock out punch at the convention or when things look bleak. Too late, things already look bleak.

Donald has billed himself as the Master of the Art of the Deal. And although I think of him as a guy who was born to the country club and worked his way sideways, IF THIS IS IDEA has any validity it's actually a pretty good scheme. This might be the ultimate business plan to ensure long term success. The plan as I envision it:

- For a few million of his own money, Donald runs for President,
- Using reality TV antics and wild hyperbole he ignites the base.
- First out of the gate he gets a huge following.
- He pushes the envelope of decorum until the GOP can't deal with him anymore, gets booted. 
- Starts a third party campaign with a few more million of his own money
- Takes 5% of the Republican base with him.
- In states where it's close, even a 2% shift means the Democrats can now win easily.
- Start of 2017 the Democrats still hold some power (White House, at least)
- Donald gets a good economy to continue...um, going sideways.

Total out of pocket expense - $30 million.
Gain from economic boons over next 4 years - $300 million

And with more than 30% of the GOP supporting him, the idea that he can hang on to 10-15% of that if he gets booted out at the convention isn't exactly crazy. Noting that Democratic turnout is heavy in the Presidential years, more than few seats in the House and Senate that should have been safe might suddenly even be in play as part of the political fallout. This might be the most brilliant plan since they hid whole cities during World War II to keep the German bombing raids at bay. It's Bond villain level genius.

The only problem is, I'm not sure Donald is this smart. Or worse, he's so far ahead in the polls he might have started believing his own propaganda.

And that's where it gets dangerous. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

No, the 'Boys are NOT back in town...

Ramblings Post #306
My brother thinks that Dallas fans are the worst. A win, even by the skin of the teeth, and we start talking about a Superbowl run. I like to think of it as just confidence. We're no worse than nutty Steeler fans or Browns fans, or whatever bandwagon is hot right now because somebody won a few games. I mean, before they won the Superbowl was anybody a Seahawks fan? Tell the truth. But now that I think about it, technically, even now, we could still make a run. I'm just saying. 

There is an old saying, "I root for my team and whoever is playing the Cowboys." It says a lot more about the nature of the game as a whole than about anything else. But I am, as you have to know by now, a die-hard Cowboy fan. And now, as the nadir of our season, I have a couple of things I need to share.

As much I think of Tony Romo, he is on the tail end of great career and after this second injury trying to do too much, should start looking at the next phase of his life. And although the Romo era should be over as of now, it won't be for the reasons we'll see every Sunday between now and the end of the season - there is no one else. Not in development or even on the radar. We have clearly demonstrated that we have no reliable understudy. So, if he desires, Romo will suit up next year and try again to make the dream of  Jerry personally building a Superbowl team come true. Yes, I went there. After Jones famously "bought" his way into the league, he hired the best and won Superbowls. Only Jones didn't get the credit, the coach did. And he's been trying to prove that it was all his idea ever since. Seriously.

Jones was a money man, good with deal making and profit margins. He can build a stadium or put together a marketing deal that makes you marvel at his mastery. But football is, ...well, it's football. It's a whole different skill set, involving guessimation, personal projections, gut feelings and a dozen other intangibles that are beyond quantification. So, while money helps in football, it alone does NOT buy championships. If you think about it, Jones would have let go someone who was as unsuccessful at being general manager as he has been many, many YEARS ago. But it's "his" team so he gets a pass. And what has come to pass for that pass is for the past twenty years Jones has been tinkering and plugging in pieces, each one he can call his own handiwork so that all of the credit will be all his. Even the coaching staff. And after assembling this team of great talent, apparently held together by duct tape and bailing wire, here at the end we find he's still missing a few parts.

As we all know, winning hides a lot of holes, but losing exposes everything. Cam Newton and Colin Kapernick had similar numbers at the point in the season Kap got benched - but Kap was losing and Cam was going undefeated, so who cares. My team hasn't been so lucky, even in what is right now an actual version of  the Norris division in the NFL. Dallas needs..., well they need a lot, but let's go through this carefully. They need a quarterback of the future, a serious running back since we let the last one walk out the door, another receiver to complement Dez and the next generation of Jason Witten. Continuing to build the offensive line wouldn't hurt either. Defensive ends who aren't the focus of social justice would also be appreciated. A higher caliber of corner or three would also be nice. So like... everything. But they're still my team though. My team good or bad.

Let's be realistic. Jerry may resort to the draft for the running back, there are too many good pieces out there, and if he's smart take a developmental player in the second round, if we still have picks. Do we have any picks? Beyond that is a wheeler-dealer crapshoot of epic proportions. My concern lies with Jones's penchant for player "rehab" work, see Terrell and Hardy. And now with Manziel on his way out in Cleveland, I'm seriously revisiting the idea of the city of Dallas buying the team out from under him, or using eminent domain or something. Something!

It's hard being a Cowboy fan right now. That's all I got to say.

Barkeep. The brown. Three ice cubes. No chaser. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I see you MCU...

Ramblings Post #305
Ever realize you forgot to do something. Like eat. Or wash your clothes. Or take your ass to the comic book store. And then, out of nowhere something reminds you, like suddenly discovering you have no clean underwear. I watched the trailer for the next Captain America movie, realized I still haven seen the second Avengers movie - my cheap ass - and wondered just when I would catch up with popular America. Um, what is the Nae-Nae?

I might be the only person in the country not impressed by the MCU's Civil War trailer, other than those shots of the Black Panther which were wicked cool.

T'Challa v. The Winter Soldier
Maybe it's because I can already see from the trailer that in this film, as in the Winter Solider, the titular character comes off like a self righteous ass who believes in tearing something down rather than fixing it and loyalty over the law. I realize that a film is a limited medium for this type of epic storytelling, so a lot gets glossed over and simplified, but I'm of the opinion the writers went a little too far with this one. Sure SHIELD had been corrupted, but it still served a purpose, and history has repeatedly taught us that single mindedness is not a good thing. Maybe there is no Middle East in the MCU? Further, this Captain America is the living embodiment of "friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies." Him trying to help his buddy as opposed to bringing him in? It's that scene from The Town, only with costumes and superpowers.

But then I've never really been a great fan of the films. The simplification I mentioned is one big reason, but also important is that after 20 minutes of screen time between action scenes the the heroes are just way too quick to snatch their masks right back off, as though they get paid by how many minutes their actual faces appear on screen. My opinion has been, is now, and will be that if they don't want to wear the mask of the hero they portray, then maybe we get someone else to play the character. They are actors and wearing the damn mask is what the damn role calls for. You don't want to do it, then don't take the role. Yeesh.

I think the MCU films all need less characters and more story. Too many characters mean no real chance to explore the core group. I well aware that the Avengers films are big set pieces, but "single" character films should have been designed to explore that individual character, what drives them, the small nuances of who they are. But instead of giving the actors a real chance to flesh out the characters, some of whom have hundreds of issues of backstory they could work with, they feel just as crowded as the group picture, all explosions and quick cuts. Civil War seems to double as Avengers 2.5 or something. Which again, in my humble opinion, weakens the whole MCU.

Since I'm commenting, I also think that after the stylish period piece adventures of Agent Carter that its weird that the MCU's next female hero (Netflix's Jessica Jones) focuses on a heroine who is in part recovering from sexual assault. I know it's a direct take from the original source, but still it's not like they haven't played fast and loose with the rules before. Wasn't Nick Fury white? Is there no iteration of her story where she couldn't maybe just save the world? While nicely unconventionally gritty, Jessica Jones seems less like a superhero story where the hero just happens to be a woman and more like a lifetime mini-series where the victim just happens to have super powers. I would have chosen something more along the lines of Nightwing Restorations, which would have provided a black female and an Asian female lead. To me something like that would lend itself better to the serialized nature of television, and provide a broader creative base to work from while still covering the same ground. Of course it maybe that I'm a little miffed that in JJ they have future Avenger Luke Cage as just a bartender, although I hear he's next in line for series.

Hey, since I'm here, Luke, hit me with some of the flavored vodka. No, I'm kidding. Who drinks that? 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wait, she lost?

Ramblings Post #304
There are Champions, and then there are champions. A lot of the greats are crowned by the media.  Full Disclosure, I hate Tom Brady and the Patriots, cheaters all. I measure the greatness of the ages by the caliber of whom they compete against: Magic vs. Bird, Ali vs. Frazier, the 1990-94 Buffalo Bills vs the entire NFC East. Greatness in the abstract has never impressed me. All of sport knows that "to be the man you gotta beat the man." But what if there is no man to beat, or in this case, no woman? Well then you're just practicing. Then you're just wasting time.

Listening to the build up I got the impression that they'd have to carry a crying Holly Holm to the ring kicking and screaming like a human sacrifice, then scoop her up broken after her encounter with the Tasmanian Devil incarnate, Rhonda Rousey. One person joked they didn't want to pay for the fight, a twenty second .gif would show the whole thing later.

We found this not to be the case.   

I never was a Rhonda Rousey fan. There I said it. Something always felt off about her. Not because she was a woman fighter, that registers as an "eh" with me. I used to watch wrestling back in the day and the Fabulous Moolah was no joke I can assure you. Or that she came off as arrogant, after all lots of fighters are arrogant. You kind of have to be more than a little arrogant to want to climb in the ring and risk getting beaten up regularly. No, I didn't like her because she didn't look like she enjoyed it. She looked mad all the time for some reason, even after the press started playing her up. You get played up not just as the best in the sport or a once in a lifetime talent, but possibly the best that ever will be and you continue to look like someone stole your lunch? And not that ham and cheese sandwich with potato chips lunch either, I'm talking the lasagna leftover with the garlic rolls and a piece of cake lunch kind of angry.

And her supporters, currently in denial, need to own up and admit that the loss exposed her fighting style as extremely limited. She had Plan A - Be Rhonda Rousey. True it has served her well when she was facing fighters who were scared to step into the ring with her. But when that didn't work, when the other fighter was able to keep her distance and tag from the outside like the boxer that she was instead of the judo victim Rousey was used to facing, this "great talent" apparently had no Plan B. Great fighters, no, pretty much all athletes in every sport know they have to adjust to fit the circumstances. If the other team is shooting three pointers like layups, you chase them off the perimeter. When the offensive line can't stop penetration, you run screens or change your protection package. Ali stood in the corner at the end of the first round of the Rumble in the Jungle and redesigned his whole game plan when he realized he'd underestimated Foreman. After the first few jabs Rousey just kept trying to be Rousey. Why didn't she have another strategy? Oh, right. MMA. My bad.   


And by the way it's not the losing that will be the hardest. It's the complete and utter dominance that Holm was able inflict while doing it. Had Rousey lost a decision, I could see using that to build on for the future rematch. But getting man, um, woman-handled around the octagon and ending up wrecked, knocked out on the mat bloody while your opponent looks like she might have just finished a grueling spin class? Especially after all the social media shit talk? Um, she might want to take minute. My thinking is that if the "Rowdy" one can't come up with another fight strategy, if she can't adapt, she might just want to consider her other life options. I heard she's filming a movie, so she might want to stick with that. The prospect for the rematch doesn't bode well for her right this second, considering the thoroughness of her ineffectiveness in this first fight.

Will she return much like Ali and take back what she has proclaimed as hers? Now we get to the nitty damn gritty.

Barkeep. I need a Gentleman Jack and Mountain Dew. No seriously. You didn't know the Dew was actually invented to be drunk with whiskey? Like specifically. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Opening a Pandora's Box

This is a political post.

I'm not sure what time the President of the University of Missouri resigned, but I can assure you that fifteen minutes after the announcement that at every university with a sizable athletic program that every campus activist, at least those that already weren't at the athletic dorms because setup looked promising, was headed that way. Every single we will overcome, we must protest, we need a safe space, we need more of program X, the university needs to divest, the the cafeteria is serving green jello and that's the color of money and I am triggered crusader one and all. And you thought the jocks beat out the nerds before? Man, talk about making someone the big man on campus.

I once tried to explain that this is why the President doesn't do everything he's legally allowed to by executive order. All it takes is one, and suddenly you have to have brought enough for everybody. And while this issue may be understandable if not fully justified, the next one may be controversial if not individually self serving and possibly destructive in the longer term. I'm fairly certain there is a political science major down there now explaining to the home team about the power they just found out they possess. At least I hope there is, because they should explain the downsides as well. At the bare minimum let's pray that someone remembers their Spiderman and invokes "with great power comes great responsibility." 

And by the way, the NCAA is in trouble and ain't even know it.

I can already see a protest before the big rivalry game to change school policy on admissions? Or before a bowl appearance to get appropriations for a particular subject? Imagine a threatened walkout before the national championship game to get fill in the blank?

What will play out in the next few months, or possibly even into the college basketball season has the possibility to change the entire idea of college and college athletics as we know it. I'm not even going to go into the NCAA rules involving paying athletes or side jobs, those are obvious. And if this does spill over into basketball season you might go to sleep and wake up to find your Alma mater has had to replace the board to get the team to suit up for the tourney. Think about the implications. It is possible that a particularly persuasive social justice movement may actually cause the implosion of a prominent program if the NCAA feels forced to revive the death penalty in response. 

One only hopes that college athletics have advanced enough that the players realize that only the most serious of subjects deserve this kind of attention and they shouldn't let themselves be manipulated into serving the interests of those who are only interested in them because of the potential power they possess. This was a particularly unique situation, or should be considered so, and thus repeats of this extreme should be rare and infrequent. This should be preached to the team, not necessarily by the coaching staff but by the players to themselves, and if possible to more even keeled of their fellow students.

Well, the box is open. Now let's see what happens. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

They came for my Bacon, and I said too far!

Ramblings Post # 303
What is life? Is not it an series of memories, experiences, sensations that we intersect with as time passes? And if that isn't the answer, pass me a drink. I don't really what know what life is, or what would be a good life or bad life in the grand scheme of things. But I do know that while whatever happens should happen in moderation, I also know that you can't always play it safe. Or those will all be some dull ass memories, experiences and sensations. 

I think we were talking about cooking on my last project, and somehow the subject of Bacon came up. I happen to like bacon. As it turns out, after a quick count, I just happen to have eighteen pictures of bacon on my phone. Not random pictures of bacon, that would be crazy, but photos of particularly well crafted batches that I have personally made over the past few years. I mean, it's a thing now, taking pictures of food before you eat it. Look it up. And I have posted pictures of bacon to Twitter and Instagram, declaring loudly on trying days or when things don't look too exciting that what the world needs is a Bacon day.

One of my better efforts. Properly turned and crispy.
By the way, the proper way to cook bacon is at a medium heat, not high heat. Spanky makes her bacon at high heat and has to use a press to keep the meat from curling up. On medium, the meat tightens but doesn't curl, so a press isn't necessary. Further, because it is cooking slowly, there is less chance of burning or overcooking, which can give your bacon a texture more unto jerky than the crisp you most likely want.

Never microwave bacon, or bake it, or use that abomination Turkey bacon unless you just hate yourself. If you do, take some time and properly cook REAL bacon and some of whatever it is you're subjecting yourself to and compare. It's the difference between Filet Mignon and McDonald's. Or a plane ride across the country and walking. Save yourself. 

Now, I don't eat bacon everyday. Too much of a good thing is just as bad as not eating it. I usually do it about once a week, on Saturdays. I take my time, make some biscuits, or do up some hash browns, eggs and toast. I have done pancakes, but not lately. And I make about a half pound of bacon, which I then proceed to eat over the course of a full day. Not all once, jeez. Maybe three or four pieces at breakfast and then the rest as snacks as I get hungry. A half pound is only like seven or eight pieces, give me a break. 

Get it? I really like bacon. Now some study says that eating bacon will increase my risk of cancer. Marginally. Supposedly proven and stuff, by like science and stuff, and I try not to argue with folks who can do better math than me. Sigh. 

Well, I wasn't going to live forever anyway.

Barkeep. Can I get a coffee, some toast and ....what do you mean, no breakfast food?

Friday, October 30, 2015

A good story can come from anywhere...

Ramblings Post #302
Sometimes you just find a good story. You sit down and read the first paragraph and you have a few minutes so you keep going. And then you get interested - in a particular character, or a setup and suddenly you find that thirty minutes have passed. But you have to know what happens, so you keep reading. It isn't your normal subject matter, or your normal style, but you keep going. That is good writing. And I just found it on twitter of all places Who would have thunk it? 



I read Zola's story without the intention of actually reading it. I stumbled across it on Reddit, where someone had nicely linked the entire thing, and intended to read a few lines to see what it was all about. I mean, the lead-in was interesting, how did she fall out with the other girl? I don't usually go for things like this, on it's face it seemed almost flimsy, like it it would be over in a few lines. I like to believe I'm a more sophisticated reader, but maybe 50 tweets later as the girls set up shop to start trapping after the club didn't pan out and Zola schooled Jess on "valuation", I was hooked, even at a 140 characters per chapter.

As you know by now the story had everything - plot twists, character development, sex, violence, a very film noir feel and as one twitter follower noted, even passed the Bechdel test. I could see the characters even though she didn't really have space to describe them. It was funny, tragic, parts were a little disturbing and at times it was just flat out amazing. I can't say if the whole thing was true, and even if it wasn't, it was still a very good story.

I can only hope that the stories I put together are this good, and I intended to stick to a basic structure, not just pour it onto the soil like this. It is in reality a little intimidating. It's like trying to compose a song for weeks then hearing that someone made up a hit while eating his breakfast cereal. You wonder a little about effort. You wonder. But you keep writing.

One hopes that Zola's story will be a movie soon. Twitter is already picking out cast members. I see Keith David as the first old guy, at the restaurant when they meet. It's just a feeling I get.

Barkeep. A nice bottle of Merlot. And some pickled eggs.        

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crossing the Uncanny Valley

Ramblings Post #301
Technology is both a wonderful and cruel thing. It can ruin industries by making them obsolete, and turn others in almost comedic gold rushes. And what we'll come to realize in time is that constantly moving forward isn't always the best plan, if only because we're human and we need a bit of structure to hang our lives on. Until then I'm going to suggest that society strap itself in real tight, because it's gonna start going real fast for a minute. Don't forget your goggles.  


We will reach a point when we finally cross the Uncanny Valley. Then Hollywood will need to be very, very afraid.


When I was kid I used to read a comic called American Flagg. Well, to be honest comic was the wrong word, because it was the first book I read where the villains had motivations other than your comic basics, i.e., world domination, petty revenge or the next big score. It was the book that introduced me to political heroes that weren't so much heroes, more like people just trying to make sure they can get a decent breakfast the next morning. But why this is relevant is that the main character was a guy called Reuben Flagg, a former television star who had been replaced because they could computer generate his image so convincingly that nobody noticed. That day is fast approaching. There is a shot at the end of Iron Man 3 where RDJ wasn't available, so they digitally created a Tony Stark and added him in. Not Iron Man, Tony Stark, the human person. And we didn't even notice.


Fifteen years from now, the we'll be able to regularly digitally create actors and put them in anything we want. Actors will have their images leased for whole films or a television series, not just how you see past stars sometimes in commercials now, artistically re-cut to fit the limited available motion. Desperate actors may even sell their avatars outright. The enterprising estates of some 50's and 60's actors means we may even get to see Cary Grant and Scarlett Johansson in a new romantic comedy. And then someone, probably in a garage somewhere in Oklahoma will figure out how to do it for cheap with stolen profile information.


And, then we'll get these... bootleg remakes of films not intended to be remade. And I'm willing to bet that some them, with fan perceived plot holes fixed and filled with fantasy casts will be traded around baseball card style on private networks and at the various Cons. One or two might even be converted into actual films, the rough edges smoothed out and the sound fixed because Hollywood has a way of taking good ideas that start other places and capitalizing on them.


This future is so golden, I almost can't wait.

(Note: I didn't make any of these images, but they inspired this post. The idea of a couple of these, just like wow!) 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #33
Sometimes it's not enough for a post...so it's just bar chatter.  
Sometimes you just need to get away....

I should have been a police investigator.

I say such an odd statement because apparently I have that face, that kind that says you can talk to me, I'm listening, interested and concerned. It's great when I'm actually trying to learn someone but then, out of nowhere people I don't even know tell me all kinds of things. I mean stuff that I wouldn't think you talk about casually, sometimes not even in the dark in impolite company, much less to a middle aged black dude you'd met three minutes prior. Oh, the things I've heard.

I believe I have mentioned this phenomena before, but since I've been hibernating the past few years I hadn't noticed it lately. Well I noticed again, and it is...well, I don't want to say aggravating, but it is troublesome. Because I'm polite, and I know that everyone is fighting their own battle, I try to take the time to let them spill. For some I think it even helps, just the talking. But I keep wondering when someone is going to impart unto me something people take to their grave as though they were sharing who won the game. That's when this thing I do is gonna get me trouble. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It is what it is....

Ramblings Post #300
The important part of the journey, is that you start. You might not ever end up where you intended, but you have to start. So much of history has been lost, because we've hesitated, we've waited, we've failed to just start the journey. It need to be a grand dramatic gesture, but the effort needs to be made, the momentum begun. Start the journey. You can always change the destination.


I've been busy for the past few weeks. I'm a Document Review/Project Attorney for now, a sort of new age cowboy moving around as needed handling projects and breaking hearts, then riding off into the sunset. Okay, not really, no heart breaking, but I have seen more than a few sunsets and I am getting this new career moving, even if I'm fairly certain this isn't the short line to arguing before the Supreme Court. But as opposed to my previous gig which boiled down to constant emergency management, this is almost serene. The phones don't ring and nothing is an emergency, instead a slow and steady grind towards a set goal. They brief you, sometimes an hour or sometimes fifteen minutes, then turn you loose with the stuff. It can get intense at times, and the clients make adjustments when they figure out stuff from the data we discover, but all in all it's a very good atmosphere.

Time consuming though.

Slowing down my writing and other projects. But then it is coming. And by "it", I mean the future. I'm meeting other lawyers and hopefully building a few ties that lead to important introductions later. You never know who knows who in Atlanta. In the interim, I am reading cases, learning about aspects of the law I didn't know about and just generally getting back into the swing of things after a virtual hibernation. Well, probably not really virtual, but you get the gist. And because this job is project based, I get breaks where I can pursue other things or just handle side business. I feel so good about this, I mean the good vibes even made the check engine light turn off in my car. (Still getting it checked though.)

I'm having to get used to the idea of not knowing where the road goes exactly.  True cowboy living so to speak.

Have I given up on my dreams? Not a chance. Serious Men adapt, they disassemble and reconstitute with new tools to tackle old problems.

And I am a Serious Man

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ben Carson is ...Action Carson

This is a Political Post

Special Note: It took me a couple of days to construct this and get it how I wanted, and in that time it seems to have become either completely irrelevant in light of the other incidents, OR a much needed  indictment of the kind of thinking that says that if one hole is letting water into the sinking ship, the smart thing to do is to open a second hole to let the water out. You decide.  

I'm more than a little amazed that a man that looks so awkward in front of the camera and sounds to very far off center in his leanings is not only running for President, but one of the early front runners. Carson looks like, maybe he's having trouble with his contacts? Or had a few at lunch and is a little tipsy, but hiding it well? That English isn't his first language three days a week? I'm not sure what he looks like, but I know he doesn't look at all comfortable in any of the interviews. That may just be a Republican thing, as I understand the conservative definition of question is "opportunity to give my wholly unconnected viewpoint unchallenged." I mean sure Trump sounds crazy, but it's a confident crazy.

But his comments on the Oregon shooting are mystifying. I'm not even going to go into the arming of the Jewish people would have reduced the effect of the Holocaust and stick with the modern day concept. He seems to be both living the Action Hero dream of most conservatives while carefully stopping the discussion right before the ill effects of anything he's proposed might occur. Someone please tell them that the credits aren't going to roll anytime soon, and we have to deal with the effects of the situations we create. They will not be glossed over by the time we get to a sequel.

But of his proposed actions, I'm confused, and I like to think both my regular readers would know that. Could someone get Mr. Carson to walk us through his "bum rush the show" solution? Because the logistics baffle me.

You have a room, classroom, and let's say twenty students. The person enters armed at the front, away from everyone, because that's how classrooms are setup, brandishing his weapon. Let's say there is ten feet between the armed person and the students. Carson suggests that he would have said something along the lines of, "Let's get him, he can't shoot us all." So... does Carson go first, hoping that the crowd follows him?  Does he wait to see if anyone else moves? And for those few seconds of indecision, is the man with the gun...checking his twitter feed? It's not like he's loading a musket waiting for the crowd to reach a decision, he was using an automatic, and I'm guessing the guy is already pretty amped up.

Now I've already seen this scene in a movie, and it went about as expected. The cowboy pulls out a two shot derringer on a group of four men who appropriately reach for it. Then the bold one at the front realizes that the cowboy can't shoot them all and pretty much tells them to do what Carson suggests. The cowboy asks the question, "Which ones of you are going to get shot so the others can get me?" As you may have guessed, the cowboy walked out of the room untouched.

Getting shot on purpose is asking a lot. We don't even ASK trained soldiers to do that.

My personal opinion is that Carson's movie hero line would have gone, "Let's get him, he can't.." Gunshot.

And on the way to the Presidency, these are the easy questions.  
 
 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #32
Sometimes it ain't enough to equal a whole post, but still needs to be said.... it's bar chatter. 

Fraiser Crane's Apartment by Nikneuk on Deviant Art.
I fondly remember my first apartment in Atlanta. It was across from a Harry's in a Hurry, Domino's, a Pharmacy, a Steak house and an Ice Cream Parlor, while being  sandwiched between The Landmark Diner and Johnny's Hideaway with a double bonus Waffle House a two minute stroll away. My future real estate agent claimed I had "Convenient-its" for some reason? Weird, right? But one of the best hidden features about that spot was that it was on the top of a four stack. In the winter months, I didn't even have to turn on the heat, as all my vertically diminished neighbors insistence on not freezing kept my place toasty warm. I say this now as I look for my in-house winter clothes. Too cheap to turn on the heat (or too broke, take your pick) in the winter I have a comfy old green fleece pullover and grey sweat pants. And two fleece throws. And I'm thinking about getting a blanket. Man I miss that apartment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reading is fundamental. Pictures are a bonus.

Ramblings Post #299
I had a great comic book collection. I have the remnants of one now. It is my understanding that after I went away to college, that when my younger brother needed money, he would sell MY comics to one of the neighbors, because that's how life works. Now, decades later, yes, I could probably have paid off a student loan or a mortgage with my early foraging, but that just puts me right along with the other million former collectors foiled by fate. Or family.

It just looks Comic Booky! (Note this is a Tuesday, the day BEFORE new comic book day)
I made my first trip to the comic book store in, oh my god, has it been years? I can't remember the last time I walked into the my usual spot, the venerable and always interesting Oxford Comics on Piedmont. Packed to the gills with variations on a theme, it includes not only books but board games, figurines, T-shirts, cards, DVDs and just all kinds of comic stuff. On a good day it is quiet like a library, as people speak in hush tones as they peruse the art and evaluate the offered story lines of this month's issues. At it's worst it's kids yelling, bored girlfriends and people who don't understand the concept of "inside voices."

But I loves it. 

Even though a number of people might disdain comic books, they are still reading. It takes a very good artist to be able to tell a story without words. It would be like shooting a modern silent film. When I was younger, um, no, when I was younger than I am now, but old enough to understand how the world worked I created my own comic, using anthropomorphic characters based on team mascots, but with a story line more akin to modern day spy movies. I allowed me to delve into something I still enjoy - World Building - but I soon suffered

But I digress. Comic book store. NEW COMICS!!!

Well, actually no, it was Tuesday and new comic day is Wednesday, so, NEW TO ME COMICS!!! Which was awkward as I leafed through a Spiderman comic, where when I left off he trapped in Doc Ock's body and dying...and now he's married to MJ again with a almost teenage daughter on BattleWorld....that new Marvel sweeping change...so I didn't get a new Spidey. And Deadpool looks like a swashbuckling pirate? And, um, I realize we're trying to diversify our heroes, but let's try inventing some new ones and not just swapping out the ones we have, kicking existing fans in the teeth and all that. I'm looking at you Hulk. And Chew, which has some eye catching art and a really weird story would have required god knows how many back issues to catch up. Where is the trade paperback?

I ended up grabbing a few titles, including the almost always oddly topical and completely fathomable Groo, which I haven't read in ages. I'm not in a position yet to return to my old habit of a twice monthly run through, but it is one of my goals. Although I read all day at my gig, I still come home a read, and write, until my eyes can't stay open. Through it all, for as long as I've been in Atlanta, Oxford has been there. Chock full of words.

Hold one of those front parking spaces open for me!

Barkeep. A bowl of cereal...don't look at me like that.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Welcome to South Carolina! Lets get Wet!

Ramblings Post #298
You don't think about some things just because they've always been there, and so you expect that they always will be. But then things happen, like a freak rainstorm that just keeps it coming and you're suddenly an amateur meteorologist. Or if you live on the West Coast, brush fire expert. It just happens.  

I'm from South Carolina, born and raised. It is my home state from the empty back-roads that just seem to the lead to other empty back-roads all the way to the sleepy metropolitan-ish kinda parts of the state that stay open until 'pertinear 10:30! (excepting Waffle Houses and Juke joints). And all of it is about to become beachfront property. 

I kid. 

I called the folks to check on them Sunday, and they are fine. I just recently realized that my parents live near the top of a long sloping hill, partially because the actual road they live on isn't very long and partially because you just don't think about it, it's just where the house has always been. A very, very deep and very wide lake would have be created for them to be in any danger. My grandfather lives a few miles from an actual lake, but I was told that he was good, and my aunts closer to the coast were good too. At least I think they're good, because according to my Mom their only concern seemed to be missing Sunday service. 

It is moments like this where we're isolated from our neighbors, well state neighbors, because in Atlanta people were tailgating for the Falcons game.  Not to say that they're insensitive, but isn't happening halfway around the world, this is two hours down I-20. This is a day trip. Note that I make these comments while I sprawled on my couch upset that that the NFL's Injury Fairy has apparently bought a house in Dallas. At least I thought about it though. One of my co-workers said she honestly had no idea of what was going on just one state over.  

But with the news that the family is safe,  and relatively dry, my thoughts turn to things political. It's the politican season, what can you do? Anyway, moments like this make you wonder, considering the number of roads washed out and bridges closed over safety concerns if...and it's a big IF I know, if something like this will get the Terrorist treatment and spur the a great upswing in government infrastructure projects. The kind of thing that has a tendency to build a hard days work for fair days pay kind of pride in America while proving to a lot of people who failed civics that the government CAN create jobs. Plus a job building a bridge in SC is hard to outsource. I am well aware that a return to the massive job creation of the building of a interstate highway is probably out of the question, but this is an opportunity to pump a little juice into the local economies. 

A Republican state too? This has all the hallmarks of something that will set you apart from the field. Let's see who will jump on this one, or am I being too optimistic?  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Dean Sybil C Mobley, on to teach the next lesson.

Sybil C. Mobley. My Dean.

My Dean died

I say my Dean, because she was the Dean of my undergraduate program, and someone who I think should be in a history book, because she sat on corporate boards in the 70's and 80's when being a woman meant you usually didn't get a seat, so that she figured out how to make it work as a black woman is nothing short of astounding. And then she built a business school at an HBCU for, as she called us upon entry, the "Fortunate 400".

It was a business school where you wore suits three days a week, practiced speech and how to think on your feet, learned research and how to connect the dots, then ran mock businesses with real people and consequences so you could see how real businesses worked. It came with a rapid fire education, one that had us on topics some places don't even cover, much less expect them to be tackled by freshmen, and internships at some of the best companies in the world. It was a place where the best were supposed to graduate from and go onto a big thing.

I'm quite frankly surprised she let me graduate. Don't get me wrong, I did ascend to the very top of the "Corporate IQ program," but I was a campus personality and perhaps not the most diligent of students. For a long time, although I was very capable of doing those things that were asked of me (and maybe a bit more), I thought I didn't fit the mold, that I wasn't the very essence of what they were trying to achieve. Now, decades removed, I wish I can say the idea has changed. But not really.

She had a very big dream that I was but a small part of. But I still hope to serve her memory well.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ah, Football Season

Ramblings Post #297
There are many unofficial holidays in America. Days when things just don't happen. The day after Thanksgiving is one. The Friday before Memorial Day and Labor Day. These are days when we're either in recovery from what we did, or preparing to go do something we'll need to recover from. But most of our unofficial holidays involve sport. Opening Day of Baseball Season. The day the new Madden comes out. The Monday after the Superbowl. It is a great time to be alive. 

There is nothing quite like football season. When I was younger, the smell of the pads, the feel of the grass when you stretched, that first crunching hit of the day. It seemed like old times. I didn't play for long, had knee surgery my senior year of high school (that along with some local shenanigans) so I moved on. But it was a good time to be alive and playing football.

As they say, the game has changed. I used to dream of playing, now I dream of owning a team.

But all that aside, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick should be kicked out of football and have no hope of reaching the Hall of Fame. For the judge who handled the case to believe that because the rules and penalties for cheating weren't clearly spelled out there should be no punishment (that's really what the ruling says, not that Brady is innocent) is a farce. I'm with the consensus that the judge probably has Brady on his fantasy team. My understanding is that this punishment is really like an Oscar for what is universally perceived as a merely good performance, i.e, you're not really getting this because you were the best, you're getting this because of something you did in the past. Because if you read the Spygate overview, and i did, I'm quite frankly surprised that two or three folks didn't have to involuntarily retire. Forty games is a lot of games. 

And to top off this inauspicious start to the season, the first game is the Steelers vs the Patriots. I'm not sure who is worse, the Steeler fans or the Pats fans. But since the Pats fans seem to be okay with blatant cheating, I'm hoping the Steelers pull it out. Wait is wrong to root for a tie?

Barkeep. It's beer tonight. But that low cal stuff, okay? Beer guts aren't cute.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Marriage isn't what they think it is

This is a political post. 

Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her beliefs. She's being persecuted because she doesn't understand what she actually does.

First, you have to realize that their are two kinds of marriage in America. There is religious marriage, and then there is legal marriage. We all know religious marriage - it involves months of planning, ugly bridesmaid dresses, flowers, arguments over colors and seating arrangements, culminating with a white clad woman walking slowly down an aisle because it's "HER" day. And then there is legal marriage. That's the one with all the tax benefits and legal rights. And I think it's because the government has co-opted that term, marriage, that people get all flustered.

It has been my experience that words get people all mad. If you changed the term, but kept all the same circumstances I don't' think we'd have any argument here. Everybody gets civil unions from the government, hooray! But then someone would claim they'd "won" which is whole other argument, so forget it. Where was I? Co-opted, right.

The government has co-opted the term Marriage for it's own purposes. But under the law, just like two heterosexual people who agree to a certain social condition receive beneficial government treatment it makes sense that it is discriminatory to tell two people who are homosexual that they cannot receive beneficial government treatment if they are willing to assume the same social condition. To Huckabee's credit, the court didn't write new law. But then if you look at it, they didn't have to. They only applied what we already have. 

Now Ms. Davis seems to believe that granting a marriage license means the bearer can walk into any church and demand a ceremony. Well, a lot of her supporters do as well, why I don't know, but this isn't the case. (By the way, most people get both a religious AND a legal marriage, which may contribute to the confusion, but I digress.) Her argument that she cannot in good conscience grant the license because it offends her belief is misguided, unless her belief is that two homosexual people should not receive treatment from the government equal to that of two heterosexual people in a similar condition. Her act does not grant a marriage in the eyes of God, that position belongs to the church. Her act grants a marriage in the eyes of the government, a wholly less than spiritual organization. There should be no issue here, but maybe she's confused God and the government, or somehow fused the two together in her mind, which is a whole other discussion.

And by the way, the analogy to the Muslim cashier at Target not handling pork, which my very Christian friend on Facebook (and Kim Davis supporter) bandied about as evidence that this is Christian persecution, is an extremely weak one. First, as much as hate to admit this public....access to bacon is not really a Right. And at Target, you can always go to another cashier. But in her county Ms. Davis was the only place to get a marriage license, something that is a Right. And it the issue of pork handling became a real issue for a capitalist venture like Target, those affected workers could always be re-assigned to other positions (provided of course there was no loss of pay.)

Still, the civil unions thing? Anybody? Anybody? Pfft, whatever, so, who wants to discuss climate change?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The House I Want (Part Four)

Planning for the Future Post #4

Don't just rest...relax.
The bedroom is not the heart of the house, but it's the place you rest when you're sick, lounge when you're lazy, entertain when you're serious and rest your head at night. The one I have now has a brown polo paint job (I never did the moldings in the darker brown like I was supposed to) and I've got a leather bed. Not bad work if you can get it. It's a queen not a king, because I believe you shouldn't be able to retreat across the bed from your partner, that the intimacy bred by the proximity is something to treasure. But I digress.

For my bedroom, I want THAT bedroom. With the dark brown walls, but the slightly darker trim. Some art on the walls. Photos that I took. Dark wooden shades and the walk-in closet the size of a complete other room (but that's a whole other post). I want it both spacious and cozy, which I know is quite a trick, with enough room for a couch and a mini-kitchenette, a small space to heat up something in case I don't want to walk down to the kitchen. Maybe a balcony overlooking the fabulous deck I want? Oh the possibilities.

I guess mostly though I want a space where I can close the door and get a good rest.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Straight Outta....well, maybe next time.

Ramblings Post #295
I've had a lot of free time on my hands lately. Too much really. Because when I have too much free time I try to do too many things. I'm still working on my book. (Yes, same book, surprise!) But I'm also starting to think up a new series of characters for a new series of books that would act as a prequel to the book I stopped writing to write this book....which I haven't forgotten, but also working on some songs since I got this app, and also reading a whole lot, and game strategy, and....as I said, too much. 

Straight of Compton
I'm probably not going to see Straight Out of Compton. At least not out. Not out of protest, not because people who didn't make it are mad it didn't include the parts they wanted (see Dee Barnes), not because it somehow "glorifies misogyny", but because the last movie I remember seeing in at the movies was Skyfall, and the next one will probably be Spectre. That AND,  since I was there the first time, actually purchased the albums and listened to the gossip, seeing it all chromed out and cleaned up really has no thrill for me. It's like watching Will Smith play Ali when I could actually watch the documentary and see Ali be himself.

No thrill.

Further, I'm not happy with how the premiere was framed by the media. The implication that there would be violence because of the film was just plain crazy. The audience for this film, NWA fans, are at this point are in their forties and fifties, with careers, mortgages and kids in college. They're not riding up on twenty eights with the choppa in trunk and bum rushing the Regal. They've bought their tickets online at the place with surround sound and stadium seating that serves dinner and dessert, because this is their one night out a week and they need to get home before they piss off the babysitter.  This is folks reliving an admiration of their anti-heros from a hazily remembered youth that wasn't even real the first time around. Think college homecoming in the alumni section more than club full of gangbangers. And yet the media is stunned their was no violence.

I understand the film did well, and hopefully it will open the doors for more films telling the black stories that have black people in them. Hollywood finds every excuse to not tell the black tale unless it's filtered through some other's lens, but here the outlaws were in charge. Well corporate outlaws living off a twenty five year old legend, but outlaws just the same. They did it their way. So maybe a another door opens somewhere. Maybe, just maybe. But I'll be waiting for HBO.

Barkeep, I need me a little gin with some juice. Yeah, I know it's a throw back. But make Tanqueray and the juice a mix of Mango and Pineapple. Fresh juice, now. We're not savages here.
 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Odd Quotes

I unfortunately don't remember who to attribute this to. If you know, I'll add it.
"Be alone. Eat alone, take yourself on dates, sleep alone. In the midst of this you will learn about yourself. You will grow, you will figure out what inspires you, you will curate your own dreams, your own beliefs, your own stunning clarity, and when you do meet the person who makes your cells dance, you will be sure of it, because you are sure of yourself."
~ Bianca Sparacino

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Quick Book Review - Slumberland

I'm reading a lot of books my brother has suggested, and honestly it's been hit or miss. To read his latest suggestion I actually had to activate the Kindle app on my tablet. This is something I had avoided doing for a long time, because I have an issue with Kindle, or Nook, or one of them. Whatever. In any case, my issue is that you don't actually own the books, but read them through a licensing agreement. Which sounds great until you realize it gives them the power to take the books back at any time, without your knowledge. I would say or consent, but we all know its somewhere in the 57-page agreement nobody reads, so whatever. But as a person who re-reads books all the time, sometimes three or four times, the idea of waking up one day and my books are gone just doesn't even feel right.

But I digress.

Slumberland. I wish I could find what the author was on when he wrote it, because the book reads like less like a story and more like the muttered recollections of someone fresh off a three day bender. At 7am and they are still half alseep and still half in the bag. While you putter around somebody's kitchen on a Thursday morning (Do the math.) While trying to conceive of a breakfast that includes chili powder, leftover dip, and pasta. While also trying to remember A)who these other four people are and B) whose house this is and C) whose underwear you have on. Meanwhile everyone is laughing and knows your name. The book feels like that.

What? That exact thing has never happened to you? Um, never-mind. Let's just say it's an odd book.

The hero, um, narrator, um...there's this guy, in a tanning salon. He's black, but he's in a tanning salon. He explains why eventually, but it's not important. Well, maybe it kinda is. Anyway he's produced what he and his sound collective guesses is the perfect piece of music, or so they think. So he, um, goes to...no, tricks these...er, he goes to Berlin, right, just trust me, and he's searching for this guy, this musician he had decided is the singular authority to validate his music. Only he's never met the guy, has no pictures and has no idea what he looks like. It's that kinda music. 

Beatty, the author,  falls into what I'm seeing as the new style....finding a single concept and drilling down to it's very bottom, then creating a story around it, as if to celebrate it. With Ready Player One, it was the 80's video games. With this it's music.

So, this guy ends up working at the Slumberland bar, this spot where German women pick up black guys as the guy who sets the musical tone for the place. He meets some interesting characters on his quest to find this musical guru, and is black in Germany. Seriously, that's a theme, being black. Look, the book flirts with a broad range of stuff, although it makes love to the author's diverse musical tastes, and covers things like bits of philosophy, a take on California, the government, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the modern record industry, pornography, fill in the blank here, something else, etc. It's hard to explain, without telling the whole story, or giving away the bits of the story that make the read interesting. 

Now, be aware, there is not a lot a story, something I only realized after a good bit of reading. It's mostly thoughts and extremely colorful description. Honestly, I could boil the actual story part down to three good paragraphs for Wikipedia. But Beatty takes what he has and tells it well, and as I said, he is so very, very descriptive. There are ramblings and tangents, asides and impressions and a host of other things that aren't really story, but give the story flavor. And a story without a flavor is just text.

This was a good read. Brisk, and occasionally a little convoluted, but good. Maybe you pick it up. Maybe I get another ice cream sandwich.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Odd Quotes



You know what’s really, powerfully sexy? A sense of humor. A taste for adventure. A healthy glow. Hips to grab on to. Openness. Confidence. Humility. Appetite. Intuition. Smart-ass comebacks. Presence. A quick wit. Dirty jokes told by an innocent-looking lady. A storyteller. A genius.  A woman who realizes how beautiful she is, but isn't arrogant about it.
~ The internet

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Quick Book Review - Loving Day

As I've said, I've been catching up on my reading. A few things I've read before, to refresh my memory and perhaps take away a different perspective on the material, a few new items to expand my focus of the world around me. To that end, I, um...got some books from brother. One of them was called Loving Day, in part derived from the Loving v. Virigina case that ended the prohibition on interracial marriage. It was okay, which for a book my brother gave me is a pretty damn good review.

As I've mentioned before, my brother and I have different tastes in literature. In his readings he's looking for subtext and nuance and metaphor. In the stuff I read, I actually like for things to happen. I'll admit that a lot of the books I read are HeroWorks - i.e., there is a hero, this is him and you know he's going to win. The creativity comes in the how. This differs from Literature in which we start with the PTS - Person Telling the Story. They may or may not win, let's just see how this goes. This book was kind of a hybrid, a little of this and little of that. There were long passages extolling the protagonist's thoughts, interpretations and concepts, telling HIS story,  but things also actually happened, people went places and did things. Contrary to popular belief, I don't need explosions, gun battles or a chase scene to occur, but I tend to need more than talking heads.

This story, Loving Day, revolves around Warren Duffy, the product of a interracial marriage, who has just gotten out of an interracial marriage coming home to Philadelphia to his dead father's final property renovation project. A hop, skip and jump later he also finds out he's a father, the product of an interracial tryst in his youth that has produced an interracial child. You may or may not have gotten the idea that "interracial" is an ongoing theme for the book. It's subtle, but it's there. 

Using that as a backdrop, the story quickly becomes, well, almost a little to true to life, sliding from issues of sudden fatherhood, dating, the need for acceptance, love in the modern era with sides of class issues, teenage angst, unfulfilled life expectations and even a little art critique thrown in. And ghosts. It's funny, it's thoughtful, and at times even a little poignant. Everything in the story seems to come at you at once, none of it fitting together quite right which makes it all the more readable. But, although the story touches some real world in its themes, it lives in an insulated little reality of its own. 

Don't get me wrong, some of it was predictable. A few things, at least to me, popped out as obvious future occurrences and so it just became a matter of waiting for them to happen. A few others came out of left, just like life. But he also went places, talked to people and tried to accomplish things. So he told a story, but it was an interesting story. A few of the supporting characters seemed less than fleshed out, almost stand ins to project the protagonist's feelings onto. A few others a little too mystical, seemingly unaffected by the world around them. Although these maybe products of the limited scope chosen by the author to convey the tale. Ah, stylistic choices.

I found it a good read. It did not end up where I thought it would, but it got to where it probably needed to be. Worth the few hours I took to digest it, and certainly worth the pages it was printed on.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bloom County Returns...kinda.

Ramblings Post #294
The thing I miss about being a kid is not paying bills. Currently, bills are the focus of my existence, and even at what I hope, expect, and am working towards for my future, bills will be at best a minor but constant reminder of my ordinary qualities. You know, eating, sleeping, the occasional milkshake. But that aside, I like most people miss things that I think ended too soon. Like Napster. Or shows like Profit.  Or that milkshake. 
Image from Salon.com
I have a copy of Billy and the Boingers - Bootleg.

Or had. I'm not sure where it is now, but I'm fairly certain I did not throw it out. I threw out books once and it felt awful. So I've still got it around here somewhere. But I know that I can put my hands on copies of Classics of Western Literature and Bloom County Babylon in like two minutes.

That's right kiddies, Bloom County is back. The highly political and completely silly daily strip that was last seen being sold to a Donald Trump inhabiting the body of a dead former rockstar/televangelist cat has returned. I'm not counting Outland, which I kinda liked but didn't feel grounded, or Opus which seemed more like a TV spin-off of a former great that had lost a little something. I needed the real thing, and now its back. Well, it's back on Facebook, but it's back. 

For the uninitiated, this is South Park before there was a South Park, and it's comeback is on par with a return of Calvin and Hobbes. Well, maybe not quite on par. Real, real close though. Bloom County is subversive reading. It's entertaining, sometimes scarily satirical, but really funny. From it's odd ball take on politics, religion, plastic surgery, feminism and anything else that popped into it's creator's head, reading it made you feel like you had the inside track or just a plain better understanding of the world around you.

My fear for this situation is that this will tarnish the memory, that the author won't be able to adapt the characters to the NOW, or worse, that I won't get it anymore. That I've outgrown what was. Because nothing hurts quite like realizing you can't go back, not even in your mind. Because you can't go back. I know, I did the math. Right now, it's only on Facebook, and if we only get a hundred or so strips I'll be happy.

Barkeep. A round of tequila. It's what Bill would have done. Ack! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Quick Book Review - Ready Player One


I've had some time off for the first time in a minute, so I've been catching up on my reading, among other activities. I also restarted Grand Theft Auto V, but only because my original restart after not playing for ten months got sidetracked, so I started over starting over. But that's not what we're talking about here, my reading is. I've gotten a couple of books from my brother, wandered down the aisle of my local used bookstore and paid more for shipping than for the actual book on Amazon. In any case, although its a few years old, I'd heard a lot about Ready Player One, so I grabbed a used copy and settled in.

I should have been thrilled at this book. I've been into comics and video games since forever, probably qualified as a actual nerd in my youth and I can say truthfully this story didn't just wallow in nerd lore, it bathed in it. To excess. And then turned it into a weird Tron variant. And maybe because of that, the whole thing failed to gel for me.

 I understand the impetus of the story - after he dies, a famous Steve Jobs-esque character (one who actually coded) creates a global treasure hunt with the prize being his vast fortune. This premise, with the clues all focused on this billionaire's own obsession with the eighties made the main character's  focus, and that of the other "players" make some sense. But the weak framing quickly turned the story into a Clive Cussler derivative, in that you know the main character is going to win out in the end, you just don't know how yet. There was never really any doubt now that I think back about it.

It's clear what he was going for - the underdog to hero trope - but the execution is so poorly done, so blatant that you're almost rushing to the next part to see if anything interesting happens. Further there is no real character development, the antagonists are straight from central casting,  the main character has a decided lack of scope in what he relates, there is no real world building outside the virtual environment and the obstacles pop up like Star Trek story points i.e., the only reason they mention X at the start of this chapter is so you'll know why they used X at the end. It's a series of tropes, cliches and shortcomings molded into a totality using nerdy details to hide story holes.  

I read it all the way through in about three days, but it was a fairly good read and I can appreciate it for what it was. I've read too much and for too long and I realize a story doesn't have to be a masterpiece to be enjoyable. And it was enjoyable. I however, wouldn't put it on my suggested reading list.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Something just feels off

Ramblings Post #293
I like movies. I like them so much I actually read the scripts when given a chance. I like them funny, dramatic, action and artsy and all in between. I am not a big fan however, of  re-envisioning something for the big screen. Or to a lesser extent, the remake. Which is odd, because there are two or three films that given enough cash and time I would love to shoot over and tell the story properly. Don't get me started on that last Star Trek thing, oooh, boy, so many changes. Oh, but I digress.

I wasn't crazy about the idea of a Ghostbusters remake to start with. Wait, I'm sorry, reboot. It's a movie from my childhood that holds special memories, and as it's sequel showed, it was really kind of a once in a lifetime lighting in a bottle sort of thing. Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis. But you know Hollywood. Built in audience, nostalgia factor, creative bankruptcy, all that sort of thing.

Then they announced they wanted the remake to have all female ghostbusters. I get the whole women being locked out of certain types of lead roles for the a large part of the history of cinema, so there is a concerted effort to attempt to balance the scales. It makes sense. I mean, and I know it's coming at some point, why not remake the classic Casablanca as a lesbian love story, the Hangover with just the women or maybe re-envision Beverly Hills Cop with a black female lead? I even liked the talent they chose, as Kristen Wiig is funny and Melissa McCarthy can be hysterical. So give it a chance I said, despite it being a stabbing your childhood in the heart with a stake, give it a chance. It might be good.

Then I saw this picture.


I got a bad feeling about this.

Remember when the last Star Trek movie where to add gravitas they tried to recreate Spock's death scene from Wrath of Khan, the movie they swear they weren't trying to imitate, only got cute and tried to switch it around to Kirk and forgetting that we had no history with this version of Kirk and he and Spock had no background so it was empty gesture and that even a dullard would realize that killing the lead actor in the second picture of an obvious trilogy didn't make any sense so you knew he was coming back? That feeling.

Because this picture - with Ecto1 the old-style ambulance instead of newer one, similar uniforms, the Egon glasses and a person who I am hoping isn't called Wanda Zedmore, looks like they're trying too hard. All the same elements will be there, apparently, sadly, but will they realize they have different actors? I know that the effects will be better, but having just watched a remake last week, will the story be the same? Feel the same? Will they force their lines to mirror those of the originals at crucial spots? In endeavors like this, balancing on that fine line between hewing too close to the original as to be a waste of film and veering so far that you should have just changed the name for clarity's sake is an extremely hard thing to do. And this picture doesn't put my mind at ease that my childhood is in good hands.

I'm not saying all remakes are bad. I enjoyed the remake of um, wait, give me a minute, I know there is at least one. Um, tip of my tongue, just a second...

Barkeep, some gin, I need so thinking alcohol.    

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Old South loses more ground

This is a political post. 

Today I am very proud to say that it is a great day in South Carolina,” Republican Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday moments before she signed Senate Bill 897 to officially lower the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse. The flag will be moved to a new "appropriate display.”

Crowds gather to watch flag come down - Columbia SC
(Japace/ Instagram)
Two things.

First, Wow. I did not expect that to happen so fast. I'm from SC originally, so I figured this a for a bitter fight that would last months. I listened to the arguments made for keeping the flag up, and the "I remember playing with the sword of my great grandfather" is, to put it properly, weak sauce.  Taking it off the state house grounds doesn't ban it, it just means that the grounds of the building that is supposed to represent all of South Carolina's citizens isn't marred by the battle flag a rebel army who would have like to see half of those citizens still in chains. Those who want to honor it still can, but don't make those who don't want to have to.

Second, what is an appropriate display? Because for years, on TOP of the statehouse was deemed appropriate and then after taking off the top of the building was done, keeping on the grounds was deemed appropriate. So what's appropriate?

Oh, and personally, I don't think it should have gotten an honor guard. A janitor with a mop and bucket should have come out around midnight and took it down with no ceremony, folded up and left it in the speaker's office or in a bag outside the governor's office. I understand that the display might have been a sop to those upset that they lost the fight here, but still.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

An Economic Ambush is lurking.

This is a political post. 

For the past week, because I listen to public radio, I've been kept abreast of the goings on in the Euro-zone and the efforts to keep Greece from forgetting to put the check in the mail. Actually, Greece has already said the check ain't in the mail and it wasn't planning on putting one there anytime soon, but that's really a horrible metaphor. And while all this sideshow has been going on, the concern for the Euro and surrounding circus of debtors, the real issue is happening on the other side of the globe and promises to change the game.

Let me put it to you in these terms: It is probable that Greece failing it's loans and subsequently leaving the Euro-zone would actually make the Euro-zone stronger, as it would no longer have the drag of a country stuck in the economic doldrums holding it back. Greece going bust could be a good thing. Conversely, no one in their right mind thinks China's economy crashing could be a good thing.

The Chinese stock market, one of the largest in the world, has lost between 25 and 30% of it's value in the last month, so much that a almost 700 firms have suspended trading of their own stocks to preserve their value. Further contributing to the problems, earlier in the month a number of positions in the Chinese market were taken with the assumption that Greece and the Euro-zone would find common ground. And we know how that's turning out. The term market correction is increasingly starting to sound silly.

Now, supposedly the Chinese market is cumulatively still up for the year, and it supposedly makes up less than 20% of the GDP of the country. Ours economy by comparison is about 100% Wall Street invested, which is strange but oh thank god for removal of Glass-Steagall, which on an interesting side note should be back in another 15 years or so. Theoretically a bursting bubble shouldn't have the same effect it had here in 2007. But, in this case, the Chinese markets are really an extension of the Chinese government and its fiscal policy, essentially a working model of the Federal Reserve conspiracy theory people who hate the government swear by, so this does not bode well short term.  The efforts so far to stem the tide such as tying the hands of major stockholders and giving everyone free lines of credit have been either woefully inadequate or an attempt to fight fire with gasoline. We won't even speak on the long term.

So what does that mean to us, and by us I mean the people of the United States?

Well, now here's where it get's tricky. China is a huge trading partner with America, you know, iPhones and stuff, and if there economy were to collapse, well, let's just say the you might want to dust off your old Nokia just in case. A collapse would also drive down demand for oil, which might mean cheap gas again for us here. I can't even imagine the political fallout. Or maybe the Chinese government will prop the whole thing back up, because who wouldn't want a replica of Moscow and the Kremlin just a short drive from the re-creation of Paris that is relatively empty. But that blatant a shoring up of their market might have an inverse effect as as well. Nobody really knows.

But I do know this, and  I'm going to put it gently, the market HATES guessing about the future. Which market? ALL of them.

I potential problems lie in China. So why are we so focused on Europe?