December 2002 Archives

Peace Triptych


The other day I was driving beneath the freeway in order to go feed my sister's cats while she was out of town. Passing the concrete pillars of the underpass, I saw three posters in quick succession, which I thought I recognized as the work of artist Robbie Conal. A quick visit to his web page revealed a new triptych has recently been plastered about town: Watching, Waiting, Dreaming, featuring images of Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King.

Nixon news

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I've mentioned before my interest in the serial release of tapes from the Nixon era. In fact, I am interested in all Nixonia. That is why I took it as a special Christmas gift to me from the universe when news of Nixon's heretofore secret "madman" strategy was revealed last week.
The purpose of Nixon's strategy was to win concessions from the Russians with "madman" nuclear scare tactics. However, the strategy was deemed a failure since the Russians didn't seem to notice any difference between the madman strategy and the usual U.S. policy.
Perhaps one day far in the future, Donald Rumsfeld's present policy and comments will be revealed as part of a devilishly clever "deranged lunatic" strategy, or maybe a "let's-convince-the-world-I-have-mad-cow-disease" strategy.

Adrienne Rich on these times


This is off-topic, but whenever Adrienne Rich lends her lucid voice to an issue, it seems worth mentioning. From a new essay in The Nation on the growing peace movement in the U.S.: "A sense of the larger picture is growing among US citizens, notably, though not only, among a young generation, along with a revulsion against official and corporate contempt for the will and welfare of ordinary citizens, for the value of human life itself."

Cory's free publications

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I've said it before but it bears repeating: Cory Doctorow is one impressive dude. I had speculated earlier on the positive impact of his various online publications, including a short story and a recent serial. Now he's announced that his forthcoming novel (which I have been not-so-patiently waiting for) will be available online as a free e-book as well as in bookstores in paper format. He talks the talk, and he walks the walk! For some reason, this makes me want to buy his book even more.

Have a merry little Xmas


Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yuletide gay,
From now on our troubles
Will be miles away.

Judy Garland singing a holiday carol.
Thank you to the readers who sent me Holiday greetings! Merry Christmas and Happy Jewish Movie-Going Day to everyone!

Visit the Kunstbar


I guess it's animation links day at In Sequence. While reading Ordinary Morning, I saw a link labeled "for art nerds" and clicked through to a great flash animation called Kunstbar, about a bar where all the drinks are named after artists. The Bosch drink looks like a doozy.

An Odd Todd Xmas

Via Portage, I happened across Odd Todd's Christmas Special animation. There's a false ending, so make sure you stay with it til the end.

Pop Cult Objects


Catwoman in black bra and panties ties up Batgirl with string.Xeni Jardin over at Boing-Boing puts up the coolest art links. The other day, she linked to artist Isabel Samaras who makes wild painted objects that are one part Martha Stewart, one part pop culture fan fiction. Many comic book characters are featured in her work, such as the one I've reproduced here, which shows detail from Cats Love String. It's actually painted on a tole tray--how sick is that?

Body Illustration


Mark Hebert recently asked in one of his comments if I have any tattoos. The question strikes me as quite relevant here since tattoos are a form of illustration, and multiple tattoos, received over time, form a story or narrative on the body.
I do not have any tattoos, though I have seriously considered getting one in the past. I first tried to get one at age 16, at a tattoo parlor on Sunset Blvd. I was surprised to discover that it was illegal to tattoo minors, and even more surprised by the strong discouragement I received from the male artists, who did not like to tattoo women.
After this set back, I found out that the Santa Monica pier (then quite a bit seedier than it is today) was host to a number of parlors that would tattoo just about anyone, under any circumstances. Around the same time, an acquaintance of mine--a band roadie--had just finished putting together a tattoo gun from old sewing machine parts, and offered to experiment with it on me. So I had some options, but did not pursue them.
Which is all for the best, since I now have skin allergies (I won't be getting the smallpox vaccine for that reason). And also, because the three designs I've come closest to getting are:

  • the name of a (now-defunct) punk band

  • the name of a (vanished ex-) girlfriend

  • classically dour Mexican Catholic imagery (see example below)
Sad to say, of the three designs, the one with the most staying power has proven to be the symbol of pain and suffering.
A flaming heart pierced by a crown of thorns.My sister, on the other hand, has so many tattoos I've lost track of them--half a dozen I'm sure. Her tattoos--whether text, images, or pictograms--mark significant events in her life. In some cases they are intended as celebrations, others are pacts or promises written on the body. Some are meant to erase hard times--the painful process of receiving the tattoo acts to displace recent suffering, even as it commemorates it.

Offbeat Westerns


The Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend and I recently went to the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage so that we could see the exhibit "The Jews of the West." While we were there, we also walked through the large collection of costumes and props from old Hollywood Westerns and serials. I know about Western serials mainly through my mother, who saw them in the theater every week while growing up and reminisces about them often.
I saw this week that Marvel is resurrecting an old Western figure, The Rawhide Kid, and remaking him as a gay character. I'm a little dubious about their intention to make him a camp character, as deliberate effort sometimes kills the spirit of camp and comes off as heavy-handed. Still, I will reserve judgment until the title appears.
My favorite Western these days is the TV series Firefly, which is a Western in space drag. They are even more beloved to me these days after the utterly gratuitous but well done lesbian scene they threw in last week. My readers--especially the lesbians (e.g., GreyBird), honorary lesbians, lesbians in the body of men (e.g. Mark, Joel), wannabe lesbians, bean bags (the opposite of fag hags, e.g., Joe), and straight guys who dig lesbians (e.g. Oscar Jerome)--should consider tuning in.
At the very least, it will be much, much better than last night's Extreme Makeover, which I sincerely regret having watched.

A series of letters


I ran across a gothic-themed, illustrated alphabet book called "a is for absinthe" that I'm sure many readers here will like. The book pages launch in a new, smaller window--which you might want to be aware of in case your browser doesn't launch new windows. Make sure you look at the letter T. (Ooops! Link's gone dead.)

To the Max

Thank you to Max Leibman of The Leibman Theory for his mention of In Sequence. Max is new to blogging and is a comics fan.

Added new blog directories


I've made a few additions to the Index section of the About this Weblog page. I'm now listed at Blogwise, an international index for weblogs with a keyword search engine. I'm also included at The Ageless Project, which slices and dices its blogger list by age group. A very cool place to find your blogging peers or to browse a diverse list of web sites.
I recently visited the Myelin ecosystem and found that Mark Pilgrim's recommendation engine has been integrated into the statistics. I tried it out for myself and was excited by how well it worked, delivering wonderfully in-tune recommendations. It appears to act through the same eerie mechanism that uses to recommend to me Indian electronica, the latest Mac games, almost anything with the word "lesbian" in it, and voyeuristic yet unsentimental books on Britain's Royal Family.
It's not immediately clear how to find the recommendation engine from the front page, so here's a quick primer. First, go to the Myelin URL (the site takes a while to load because of all the links). From the long list of links on the front page, find the name of a site you already read or like and click the "s" (for statistics) that's next to it. A new page will come up with the headline "Related" at the top. Click the "Recommended reading list" link just below it. The next page will contain the recommendations, which you can fine-tune by clicking "Already reading" or "not interested." At the bottom of the page, there's a "Recommend" bookmarklet that you can drag to your toolbar to get links while you surf.

Real Author of Class of 91

I made a mistake a few posts ago while writing about NanNoWriMo. I erroneously attributed the online serial novel Class of 91 to Dr. Menlo, who hosts the site but does not author it. It's real author, Jason Lubyk (of New World Disorder) kindly posted a correction in the comments section, but I thought I would call attention to it here as well. Thanks, Jason!

Soy Sauce to the Rescue


Through a link on PsychicPants, I found my way to this lovely bit of Flash animation about the superhero Kikkoman, as in the brand of soy sauce. His superpower seems to involve squirting his special sauce on shrimp in need. There appear to be many resources for fans of the Kikkoman character at this site, including a picture gallery and possibly RPG games.
I notice there is a hero figure in the Flash animation with a tofu cube for a head. Is this a relative of Kikkoman? One of the many forms he takes? Or a sly reference to the tofudolls phenomenon?

Birds of Prey Show Cancelled


I'm sad about the cancellation of Birds of Prey from the TV line-up. I expressed my doubts about the show's longevity in a post at the beginning of the season, but I wish I'd been wrong.
I first heard about the cancellation from the friendly folk at my local comic book shop, and then later that same day Joe confirmed the news. Joe had gotten the word from a mutual friend of ours who attended the big monthly comic book convention in Los Angeles, where the stars of Birds of Prey were scheduled to appear (they cancelled after word got out).
One of the happy by-products of Birds of Prey's short-lived run is that another soul has been brought into the comic book fold. My Cute Little Red-Haired Girlfriend has got the comic book bug, as evidenced by her recent purchase of three Birds of Prey titles (#47, #48, #49).
In fact, it was the Cute Little Red-Haired Girlfriend that suggested we go to the comic book store that day. I thought she was humoring my little obsessions in the sweet way that she sometimes does. (Once, when I was quite down about something, she put a hand on my shoulder, looked me earnestly in the eye, and inquired, "Is it time to go to the Hello Kitty store?") Little did I know she would be browsing for herself!

Co-authored online serial


Not long ago, I posted about NaNoWriMo and wondered if we'd be seeing more fiction available online for free. Today, the first part of Cory Doctorow's co-authored work, "Jury Service" (written with Charles Stross), appears over at The serial segments will appear weekly. I've been waiting not so patiently for Cory's novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom to come out--until then, it's nice to have this work to read.

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