Friday, February 26, 2016
This week I was in Houston for a short conference at which I presented. A nice, friendly little conference we have once a year with folks that have known each other a while, and where new folks are usually made to feel very welcome.
I was staying at the hotel on campus, a Hilton commissioned by the late, great Conrad Hilton as part of the hotel management school at the University of Houston that bears his name. During the conference, the candidates for the Republican party were slated to have a debate on the other end of campus, but CNN had set up adjacent to the library. So, yes, yesterday I saw the back of Anderson Cooper's magnificently silver head.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
So, a while back I scheduled myself to be at a conference at the University of Houston. It's a small, local conference and important to my professional community.
And, ha ha, that is the same campus at the same time where the Republican Party has scheduled it's next debate. That's right. As I'm eating the most-food like substance librarian money can buy and talking about the excitement of Thesis and Dissertation workflow over a glass of iced tea, somewhere on that same campus, Trump, Rubio and Cruz will be hollering at each other.
It's gonna be a disaster.
I was working at Arizona State University when President Bush and Senator Kerry had a debate on campus, and it was one of the worst days at that job. And that was a job where I pulled all-nighters and 100 hour weeks. Basically, it was super loud and crazy on campus, and I failed to leave early (because I was working. Like a chump.) and it took me two hours to get home as a post 9-11 Secret Service thought it wise to shut down all the useful roads.
So, we'll see what's up. Could be fine, but I'm staying at a hotel on campus that I assume will be filled with press and party faithful, so, if I get no sleep Wednesday or Thursday night, I blame the free-wheeling ways of an overly-excited bunch of political conservatives loaded up on Pixie Sticks and too many sodas.
Basically, I'm saying - I may go dark for a few days. Unless, of course, I see a news camera. In which case - LOOK FOR ME. Then, send bail. Because I have a LOT to say about this election cycle. Also: workflow for theses and dissertations.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
|James A. Garfield. He wore his beard honestly.|
I don't watch as much of American Experience as I once did. I actually go to sleep from time to time these days, so that leaves less time watching TV, I guess. But when I heard The American Experience, PBS's long running documentary series on key events in American history, was making a doc based on Candice Millard's book, Destiny of the Republic (I believe suggested to me by Picky Girl), I had to check it out.
This week's episode, Murder of a President, covers the assassination of President James Garfield.
Yes, it's a case of "the book was better than the movie", but there was never any way a 2 hour doc was going to convey all the story Millard was able to get on the page. And, while the doc does try to capture the true tragedy of the murder, I didn't feel hollowed out in the same way that I did by the time I finished Millard's book. In fact, I teared up a few times getting through the book. Pretty remarkable for a non-fiction accounting of a President nobody talks about anymore.
Nonetheless, the doc is terrific and does a good job of understanding and translating Millard's work, and that of other historians and archivists detailing the story. You can watch it now on the PBS website.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
It's work related. In theory, I should be home in 48 hours.
It is safe to say I am about done with the schedule I've been on for the past 6 weeks or so and the Thanksgiving Holiday cannot really come fast enough. I could really use some time just laying very still while someone else makes cornbread stuffing and lets me silently appreciate the Rockettes during their number at the Macy's Parade.
|if loving the Rockettes is wrong, I don't want to be right|
I know it made headlines, but the petition sent to the White House and chatter about Texas seceding is all that it is. Chatter. The petition doesn't have enough signatures to fill half of DKR Memorial Stadium, and a whole lot of those aren't from Texas. I expect that in the years to come "secession" will be the pouty rallying cry of Texans wishing they could take their ball and go home when things don't go the way of insignificant politians from scrubby, backwater towns in The Lone Star State (seriously, press, stop giving these people a megaphone).
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Most of you will guess who I voted for, but this isn't a political blog, and we're not going to dwell on the particulars of who received which vote from me.
I will say I am pleased that Austin voted in geographic representation to the City Council, doing away with the At-Large system that had - as Austin has grown - meant that areas (like the 78745) were not necessarily feeling the love from a city council focused on growth in the urban corridor and leaving those of us in Lower Austin out of future development plans for things we can use, like mass transit.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
|click to enlarge|
There's no point here except that I thought I'd share some actual representations of information. I just never really have a feel for Texas' voting patterns outside of Austin and that the majority of Texas is red.
We often say "Austin is a little blue dot in the middle of the state", and that's true. What I didn't know was that Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso would be blue, and I really didn't know The Valley was that blue.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
No matter your political stripe, if you live in the U.S., you've had your 18th birthday, and you aren't in prison, it's time to put on your Civic Duty pants and get to the polls.
We may forego the right to private political opinions at seemingly every juncture, but in Rome you had to publicly cast your vote. Which sometimes ended very badly for the guy getting beaten up or murdered as he left the polling location. That @#$% was CRAZY.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
It's now been more than 20 years since I sat in class and watched video of Germans dancing on the wall, and I still don't really understand how one day we had An Evil Empire with whom we were locked in the world's worst staring contest, and the next, we had Eastern-block countries cut loose from Mother Russia and spiraling into fresh, new problems (see: Sarajevo) and Russia deciding that a government based on something that looks an awful lot like gangsterism should take the place of the death-mask Stalinist taskmasters.*
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Was I surprised to read on a mainstream news site that Captain America is going to become President of the United States in the "Ultimate" version of the Marvel Universe? Well, yeah. I mean, that's a pretty drastic idea. Of course, I haven't followed the Ultimate universe in a while, and last I checked they'd also killed off Peter Parker, half the X-Men, and, I think, basically gone "dystopian" with their version of the world. So, you know, whatever.
I mean, Cap over in the mainline Marvel U pondered a run circa 1980 (we got Reagan instead, who, while charming, couldn't have taken Batroc the Leaper). And Superman was elected President in one of those "Imaginary Stories" back in the day, Lex won the election in 2000 as a third party candidate (with Superman's childhood pal, Pete Ross, as VP), and Morrison made a version of Superman President who appeared as recently as Action Comics #9 (Volume 2). And, Superman has been the Prime Minister of Russia over in Red Son. And that doesn't include the dozens of times Superman went crazy and declared himself either king of the gorillas, some locality or of all the Earth.
Back in the 1970's, Batgirl served in Congress for a number of years (it was insane). And, of course, one must never forget DC oddball youth-culture-appeal character Prez Rickard.
|and the President thought he'd really discovered something when he watched his first Kubrick movie...|
Friday, August 31, 2012
1. The mother-in-law, Judy, has returned home! This is big news. She'll be receiving rehabilitation at home for a while, and then, I guess, maybe at a clinic. But watching her progress over the last 20 days or so has been absolutely stunning. And, if I can step back a pace, it's also been completely fascinating.
Judy had damage in her speech center, and so in the days immediately following her surgery, she couldn't say much. And then more words came, and she could sometimes communicate what she wanted, but not very often. It's this slow build up. You can tell all the words are on the hard drive, and her thoughts are complete, but she's having trouble accessing a lot of her vocabulary. So while she isn't slurring not is there any loss of that fashion, she might not remember a word like "California". Even after you say "California".
The really interesting bit is what is there. A lot of phrases are there completely intact, and if you want her to sing a song she knows, she can do it from beginning to end. I sat with her last week and a commercial came on which used "Blue Skies", and when it ended, she sang the whole song. She does this with great regularity. Apparently, songs and phrases are in an easy-to-reach part of the memory bank.
Anyway, Jamie went down today and worked with her and hung out. I think I'm going down Sunday. But it's great to have Judy home and I am sure my father-in-law, Dick, is pretty pleased to not be sitting on the couch or chair in the hospital. Kudos to him for all the hard work.
2. The RNC is on but I haven't watched a minute, just as I haven't watched a convention since high school, so no news there. I'm not really following the election except via Factcheck.org, and, people... it's not pretty coming from either side. Let's just say I think we had a good run with this "democracy" idea, but we may need to move onto the Philosopher-King model.
I would also pitch the notion that we just let a council of scientists who would judge you via videoconference rule us. The one flaw in this plan would be if they ignored crucial, planet-saving scientific evidence. Which would never happen.
3. The annual sale is on at Austin Books and Comics, so if you're in town and want half-off on back issues or to go raid the back-issue store, they're open all weekend.
I had dinner with PalKevin who does not read comics, but he wanted to go with me to ABC afterward, and it was fun walking around with him. I found out he's read all the John Carter books (we agreed to disagree on the movie), but I had a harder time actually selling him on any comics.
As a man who already owns a lot of comics, I do have a strategy. I basically knew of a bunch of back issues I wanted that I didn't want to pay full-price for, and I just waited until this week, and then I bought them. I didn't really look for anything new, and yet, somehow, I was able to spend money. I was a bit more impulsive at the Sidekick Store, but not too much. I realize I am getting picky about the conditions of my Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane issues, and I'm not ready to start with reader copies unless its a book I've just not seen out before.
Came home with a lot of Joe Kubert drawn comics, including Tor, Our Army at War and others. And I picked up the DC Christmas Special with the John Byrne drawn Enemy Ace story which I've had in reprints, but, you know. Enemy Ace.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Over the past few days I've received a few links from you guys, and I guess its appropriate to comment.
If you haven't seen the video of the little boy receiving a visit from Captain America for his birthday, and then learning that the unmasked Cap is the dad he thought was in Afghanistan where he's serving, then you really need to watch it.
An amazing and poignant moment, and a reminder that the US military is a volunteer military of men and women who are also fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Here's to all of our Captain Americas coming home.
Yes, I saw the Gawker article and cartoon. Yes, that's The Daily Texan.
Yes, The Daily Texan is the student paper at UT Austin where I went to school and currently work. Yes, its embarrassing.
I have literally no idea what the cartoonist was thinking, but contextually, just the use of the word "colored", which is only used in Texas in a weird, gallows humor sort of way to suggest backwards thinking, tells me that this cartoonist was trying to make a point which never quite made it into the strip, and instead just made UT's daily student paper look backward and racist.
If the cartoonist was trying to make a point about how the matronly and condescending media is telling the story by framing the story to a child-like audience to scare them, then... okay. I guess I get it even if I don't buy necessarily buy that interpretation. You'd pretty much need to be handed a few sign posts to get you there.
From looking at the rest of the cartoonist's work on the Texan website, all of her strips (if you want to call them that) are terribly inept and seem to fail to actually convey anything other than a general sense of "I watched CNN last night" and a bit of anger at someone running for student government*. Frankly, political cartooning is hard. The skill to create icons and symbolism to convey your opinion or some greater truth with a 2 second glance is hard to come by. Even among comic nerds, political cartooning gets a certain level of respect for the difficult task it represents. This student gets an F in cartooning.
But, pulling Eisner's work would mean The Daily Texan would then need to either fill that space with another cartoon (and lord knows how hard that would be to find), or run an ad for Forbidden Fruit or Tom's Tabooley or something. I just wish the editor or faculty advisor had been able to make a better decision before letting this see print.
Update: Eisner more or less admitted she screwed up the cartoon.
Yes, I saw that a guy who owns a Lamborghini apparently likes to dress up as Batman
And I saw that the cops pulled him over for having a bat-symbol, I believe, as his license plate.
Several comics sites talked about the guy, and who can blame them? A dude who owns a completely amazing black Lamborghini dressed himself up as Batman and drove around in the car (with the top down), pretty much doing what every single person in the world has always wanted to do.
Some were saying this guy does this for kids or a charity or something. Really, I don't know why he does it, but he's okay in my book.
Speaking of Batman
Here's every window cameo on the 1960's Batman program with Adam West and Burt Ward.
And how can you go wrong hiring Andy Devine to play Santa? I will tell you: You cannot.
My Personal Bug-a-Boo of the Day
Mixing historical figures with genre tropes is getting played out. Especially when you can tell that neither the artist nor the person writing the article (a) realizes this, or (b) realizes that this one in particular was done a long time ago and better as "Tales from the Bully Pulpit".
No, I don't care about the Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter movie.
Thanks to everyone for thinking of me and sending me links! Keep them coming.
*dear students: these elections will never matter anywhere, to anyone but to sad people reading grad school applications in basements
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I've censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet--a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit: http://americancensorship.org/posts/6377/uncensor
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I ██████ █████████ ████ ███████.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
How has this not been a part of the story? Why is this buried several paragraphs down in every article where the information actually does appear in some form other than "hiking along the Iranian border"?
I guess I know now why the Iranians thought our friends may have been up to no-good shenanigans. Hell, I'm not sure I don't believe they were up to something.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I first saw this cover years ago, and only recently obtained a copy of Action Comics #311, the one where Superman becomes a despotic tyrant over all the Earth. Only, you know, in the kind of goofy way Superman would have become a despotic tyrant during the Silver Age in comics aimed at kids.
|I like that he added the fleecing to his cape. You got to class it up as king.|
Superman does nothing by half-measures, so you should expect none of that here. The story in brief: Superman gets exposed to Red Kryptonite, which splits him into two sides, one bad and one good. The bad side remains Superman, but the other becomes human-strength Clark Kent. Bad Superman decides there's no good reason to help people, and so he decides to just lord it over them.
No, no it doesn't make any sense. But where have we seen this good/ bad split before? Well, not exactly before... you saw it in the Star Trek episode The Enemy Within. Also, we see good/ bad Superman as Superman/ Clark in... SUPERMAN 3 where Red-K was also to blame!
So, yeah. Red K. Its a real problem. Avoid it.
I'm going to editorialize like crazy here, but there's also an ad run in the front cover of the comic, featuring Bob Hope teaching kids about loving their neighbor, religious tolerance, wrestling with singular world viewpoints, etc... all in 5 panels! And it is seemingly sponsored by the US Govt.
|clearly, Bob Hope was a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda|
Also: apparently kids were still into Bob Hope in the mid-60's.
But it's not that, nor the suggestion the comic makes that China built an entire replica of New York City (to scale, btw) just to blow it up for atomic bomb tests that I want to point to. No, its exactly the manner in which Superman demands the nations of the world crown him Head Cheese.
He heads to the United Nations general assembly, takes the podium, and...
|I invite you to click for full-sized madness|
For those of you who didn't look...
|We will SUPER bury you!|
Of course, the actual pounding of shoe to podium associated with Krushchev may be Cold War myth, but it was taught to me as fact. I am betting that was one of the more fun panels these guys put together. No idea what readers, their parents, or the CCA said about this one.
And I particularly love that Superman is still going to town, menacing the General Assembly with a bright, red boot as the cameras roll.
|at this point, I imagine Superman has broken out into song|
This, by the way, is a two-parter!
And if you missed it:
|You can drop the "tator" part, Olsen|