September 2005 Archives

Fragile Peace


I think doves are beautiful birds, but for the most part, the white dove as a symbol of peace is too saccharine for my tastes. I think I've seen too many "peace" holiday cards, too many white dove ornaments perched on towering white wedding cakes, too many birds on the wing in celebration of Michael Jackson's not guilty verdict. I think it's the white-on-white or white-on-pastel color scheme that gets to me.

Drawing of a white dove against a black background by Picasso

Picasso made several line drawings of doves on white backgrounds. They seem like quick drawings, and some even have a cartoonish look to them. The drawing pictured here is my favorite among Picasso's dove pictures. The black background makes the white dove, and the promise of peace that it symbolizes, appear fragile and endangered. The dove is not flying joyously, but stands still and distant against the dark smudges of background.

In times of war, I think this is what peace looks like.

Drag Queen Radio

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Continuing my series of posts on my favorite podcasts, I wanted to mention some of the gay and lesbian podcasts I listen to. Of course, you don't have to be gay or lesbian to listen to these, and if they sound interesting to you, I hope you'll try them out regardless of your sexual orientation.

Lucky Bitch Radio is a day-in-the-life podcast starring drag queen Wanda Wisdom. It's a daily podcast, about an hour in length, and the topics are wide-ranging, from politics to poetry. The core of the show is Ms. Wanda Wisdom herself, and she's gained quite a strong following of listeners on the strength of her persona.

As a listener, I find Wanda Wisdom to be very soothing and encouraging. Listening to Wanda when she's at her best is like being tucked into bed with kisses by your very own fairy dragmother. She has a very personal voice. And because Wanda's in recovery from alcoholism, she speaks with a lot of conviction about living through adversity and that is a very moving aspect of her show. At the end of today's show (#130: The Tao of Moo!), for example, she closed by assuring her listeners, "The most important thing is you don't have to go through life alone."

Wanda is a Midwestern gal, and you can hear it in her twang and the types of phrases she uses. One of her verbal ticks that I just love is when Wanda switches from one topic to the next by saying, "Anyhowsenhoosen..." Lucky Bitch Radio also has a catchy theme song which will probably come to haunt you as it has me if you become a regular listener.

I wrote on this blog previously that I was very excited about the prospect of social television. As it turns out, in today's episode, Wanda proposed that all her listeners watch the same film between now and next week and then engage in some sort of long distance discussion. How it's going to work out in every detail has not been determined, but I am very excited by the idea. It's like a remote film group, or a distributed moviefest. Anyhowsenhoosen, it sounds like fun.

Republicans: The Gathering

Magic card with image of RumsfeldI've written before about the fantastic artwork on Magic: The Gathering Cards. Now someone's mocked up an amazing parody set of Magic cards based on U.S. politics. I've checked the site over the last few days and, as is the case with authentic Magic cards, the size of the deck just seems to keep growing. What's incredible about this deck is how well matched the play rules are to the graphic in each card. It seems like you could actually play a game with this deck.

I chose to show the Rumsfeld monster here because he's the one member of the Bush line-up who elicits a "person you ove to hate" feeling in me. The rest of them I just hate. I don't know if it's Rummy's ties to the Nixon administration, his poetic leanings, or his eerie typological resemblance to Robert McNamara, but at least he's an interesting villain.

Super Ursine Mario

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Beefed up Mario and Luigi take flightI've been trying to get my friend Joe interested in video games but it's been a slow process. Awhile ago he bought a copy of the Sims for PC, so that's a start, but I'd like to see him get excited about console gaming as well. Since Joe is interested in all things Italian, I've tried mentioning Mario games often, hoping this would convince him to buy a GameCube. Now I think I've found the perfect lure for Joe. While reading Joystick, I found a reference to this Japanese fan comic featuring Mario and Luigi as Super Bears. If this doesn't spark his interest, nothing will.

Movies that matter


I recently read David Denby's article in the New Yorker, The Moviegoer, about Susan Sontag's film criticism. It's a thoughtful look at Sontag's work as well as an interesting discussion of U.S. filmmaking and film criticism in general. Denby explains why Sontag came to feel that U.S. cinema no longer mattered. In doing so, Denby quotes one of those devastatingly accurate remarks that Sontag had a knack for making. Sontag claimed that the the overpowering influence of commercial forces on moviemaking in the U.S. had destroyed U.S. film, leaving a "lightweight cinema that doesn't demand anyone's full attention." If you like Sontag, or care about the movies generally, Denby's essay is well worth a read.

Sontag's insult to U.S. filmmaking made me recall one of the many times when I had gone to hear her speak in person. It was before Bush had been "elected" to the Presidency for the first time. Someone in the audience asked Sontag what her opinion of candidate Bush was. She made the audience gasp when she called Bush "the mass murderer from Texas." At that time, Sontag was only referring to Bush's enthusiasm for the death penalty while Governor of Texas. But it was a good call, considering the tens of thousands of people of many nationalities who have died through his wars of aggression, his incompetence, and negligence in handling his duties.

Another close call in the City of Angels

I was at work yesterday when the big blackout hit Los Angeles. Since I work in a high rise, I felt some alarm when I realized that none of the elevators were working. But the phones lines were up, so I was able to contact Joe, who had electricity back in his apartment and was able to check the news reports for me.

It took awhile to determine what was causing the blackout, so I had time to weigh the possibility that this was in fact the attack on Los Angeles threatened the day before by Al-Qaida. My first thought was about how, even though I had dutifully purchased all the elements of a disaster kit for my home, I had no such supplies at work. Or in my car, should I be asked to evacuate.

How does that poem go?

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but with a massive power outage in effect for all areas of Los Angeles

The Beppecast

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My friend Joe has put up his first podcast. Even though he lives in the same building as me, and we talk or see each other several times a week, I still found it very fun and intriguing to listen to his podcast. It's a brand new channel for me to experience "Joe-ness" in.

Cut and Paste

I urge In Sequence readers in the U.S. to write their Congressional representatives and ask for the impeachment of President Bush for his incompetence in handling Hurricane Katrina, resulting in massive loss of life.

If you don't know who your reps are, google your state's name followed by the words "state government" and you should find the information listed on your state government's web page. To make it extra easy on you, here's a brief, generic letter you can cut and paste into a web form or e-mail.

I am writing to request that Congress impeach President Bush for his mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. His incompetence and the incompetence of his appointees has resulted in a catastrophic loss of life. It has also exposed the President's inability to effectively protect the U.S. in the wake of 9/11. I am very concerned that you respond to these grave failures with the seriousness that they require and move to impeach President Bush.

By the way, it's better to use e-mail than mail because safety measures put in place after the anthrax attacks make regular mail service to Congress slow.

I understand stoning now!

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While listening to Ed Schultz on Air America, I heard that the looting and lawlessness in New Orleans has convinced many in the U.S. of the need to buy a firearm. A brilliant response! Incidentally, the threat level this past week has been at "Yellow."

Although many people are applauding the mainstream news media for their coverage of Katrina, I've still turned abroad for some of my news.This summation of the situation by the BBC seemed right-on:

It has been a profoundly shocking experience for many across this vast country who, for the large part, believe the home-spun myth about the invulnerability of the American Dream.

I know people everywhere are aghast at how thin the veneer of civilization is; how we all become animals in the face of survival. But I've found it to be a learning situation myself. For example, I'd never really understood the concept of stoning before. Now that my civilized impulses have been worn away by so many image of suffering, I not only understand, but am ready to embrace stoning. As the "men" say in Life of Brian, "I'll take three of these large flat stones, and a bag of sharp ones as well."

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