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Friday, December 27, 2019

Don Imus is dead

I generally don't get angry at what people say in the world of entertainment, either in terms of scripted works, or in the moment live voices.  I don't agree with anyone or everyone unless I do, so, that others have opinions does not surprise or bother me.

But Don Imus was called a shock jock, a radio DJ who went to the edge of acceptable words, and beyond.  And the people who refer to him as this, often lump into the definition of shock jock Howard Stern.  But that is so far from the truth to suggest they are made of the same sort of flesh.  They've both offended groups of people, and they have been in trouble with the FCC.  But that is where the resemblance ends.

Yes, Howard Stern has made mistakes and has said bad, even intolerant things. At the same time he has people on is staff from across ethnic groups and genders, and has for a co-host Robin Quivers, who is very bright, beautiful, and black.  Howard has been quoted as saying, he'd retire if Robin left the show.  There are a group of guests of the show called the Wack Pack, they are a gathering of people of different race, different gender, different abilities, who are celebrated by Stern. A sort of member of the Wack pack was Eric the Actor Lynch, a person with substantial birth defects and issues.  He'd scream at Howard to stop calling him a midget. But in the end, Eric the Actor Lynch had appearances on television that his relationship with the Stern show made possible.  When he died Howard was deeply wounded.  He celebrates the differences in the human species.  Whether Howard Stern is funny or not is a question of taste.  But as human beings go, he doesn't have any problems from me.  Don Imus on the other hand...

Don Imus didn't treat others well.  And yes, he might have done good things in his personal life, he might even have been a good person quietly doing good.  But his public persona was not good.  He was racist in ways that shouldn't be celebrated.  He referred to the aforementioned Howard Stern as being a Jew, so put him in the oven.  Howard Stern's black co host Robin Quivers was called a Nigger by him.  He referred to the women basketball program of Rutgers University as "Nappy-headed 'Hos'.  He suggested that the football player Adam Jones committed crimes because he was black.  Imus used the term Ragheads to describe people of Arabic descent.  He called gay people faggots.  Any one of these would be sad, or troubling, but you could perhaps accept that a person can be out of step on one area and not be a worthless human.  Taking all as a larger picture, the man was racist, and racist jokes stopped being funny a long time ago.

I don't wish the Imus family to be broken by the loss, I am not suggesting he is Hellbound.  I don't make other people's choices, and I am not God to judge.  But aside from his family, and whoever benefited from his work, I can't imagine many will be bruised by this loss.  I used to say, to shock people, that when a person dies, who I wasn't a fan of, that I would love to say in public, regarding the death "It is about time they died." Regarding Don Imus's passing?  I hope his family recovers, and I hope he was at peace with his life.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A LIFE in Media Five from each area of interest

I get asked by a certain few people all the time what my various favorites are in the worlds in which I have interest.  Sometimes that is great, sometimes it is hard as heck because I haven't thought enough to delineate favorites.  I think that it is a valid question, and am not saying it is too hard, but, I think choosing five favorite anything can be more difficult than choosing food to eat or sports to watch.  So, in each area of my interest, here are five each of whatever I am considering.

(The only thing I'd say is that there are great comics talents who created amazing works, who are not represented since I've rather large swaths of works I considered.  However, feel free to notice in the comics the works of Timothy Truman, Chuck Dixon, Grant Morrison, Mike Grell and Mike Baron.  I like others too, but you have to make do with the 5 allowed.)

Have a beautiful new year.  Whatever faith you do or don't celebrate, I hope this holiday season is or has been moving and rewarding to you.

COMICS
Ongoing comic series, limited series and manga.


GAMES
Roleplaying Games, War boardgames, Video Games, Boardgames


TV, ANIMATION, FILM
Animated series, Cinema, Kaiju


BOOKS/BOOK RELATED
Philosophy, Fantasy fiction, History, Cooking



Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Dark and Different Brain Trips

I was asked what comics are there that are completely new.  Since I don't altogether think new is a possible,  

"Ecclesiastes 1:9 New International Version (NIV)

9 What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun." 


I absolutely cannot tell you what comic books you might think are new. I can only think about the world we have and new ideas or outlooks.  These four books consider different and new paradigms than normally found in the world of comics, and whatever your personal outlook these are all worth reading and buying.

However different, perhaps transgressive, there are works that assume a paradigm that is different than most, that rise above purely speculative, and by doing so, make good and relevant use of the many issues facing humanity.

What are those issues?  We live in an era of vast amounts of information.  We have choices to make that involve sexual expression, drug use, violence as both sport and lifestyle.  But we also have to do all those things in conjunction with a world that tries to limit one's access to those choices.  If you pursue almost anything, it is found on the internet, as well as within the world.  Should you choose to eat, drink, smoke, inject, or anything, you can find a way to do so, and do so both legally and illegally.  

The Filth by Grant Morrison and Chris Weston (DC/Vertigo)

The Filth features a world that is controlled by an over arching society if not necessarily government, and the options that someone has within that world.  In the world of The Filth the reader is asked to look at the life of a character who pursues an interest sex and pornography, to a possible exclusion of real relationships. He is a member of a world that is both outside of the normal world, and interested in culture in a manner that asserts an interest in creating by participation in secret societies to create a new society that is postmodern.  Drugs, Sex, Violence, are all avenues of creating a new sort of world, with permissions from individuals to allow society, government and personal agency to revalue the world.  At the time The Filth was released the worst excesses of the Patriot acts and subversion of individuals in a post war on terror world had yet to be seen.  It seems, however vulgar, to be more hopeful that one might have thought possible considering the near future choices Morrison saw as possible in his near future world.

Narcopolis by Jamie Delano and Jeremy Rock (Avatar Press)

The Narcopolis world we are looking into is very much the sort that 1984 by George Orwell or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley would have perceived, and that isn't in any way to say less of it. The protagonist has to explore his world, rights, causes, and eventually rebel from that world. Drugs are used to enhance, to empower citizens and is used to disengage from society.  The society in question relies upon certain ways to control citizens, while individuals are able to enhance or "adjust" their existence by pharmaceutical means, by ability to adjust sleep, to receive surgery or the like.  The world is one where the individual is forced to transgress against society to be allowed to pursue their own path.  This work, even more so than the Filth, looks deeply into our present world,  if you consider the world we live in presently. Data mining, predictive text and AI, the ability to intercept personal data and knowledge by government of individual behavior, surgery to enhance the individual abilities or even to achieve a level of beauty, and drug use by the individuals as well by government to alter lives, all exist in ways that are frightening to consider, but have become deep parts of existence.  While fiction, Narcopolis imagines a world that isn't that hard to consider.


Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson (DC/Vertigo)

The protagonists in the previous two mentioned works, feature both rebels and individuals, but Transmetropolitan features a dystopian world with a reporter who is actually a part of that world, and he looks into it, challenges it, and tries to change it.  It seems far more interested in considering the present than the future, that is to say, the world presented is far less futuristic or science fiction, but decayed forms of the presents aspects of life.  Government, media, and culture are presented as dystopian, but are recognizable in ways to suggest, something not so far way in time or event than this our present. Perhaps there isn't an agency to change the present, but perhaps to show that the present world has masses of people who do not perceive the politics, media and cultural forces that exist and that there are forces that alter access to democratic, free, individualistic existence. The lead character is much more a personal character who the reader sees through the eyes of.


Tokyo Ghost by Rick Remender and Sean Murphy (Image Comics)

The three previous series all considered worlds that were mostly extension of the present issues, government, culture that by being made extreme came further into focus.  Tokyo Ghost was a brilliant deep future consideration where the world becomes addicted to forms of entertainment that stimulate adrenaline and addictions to technology, creating a world that allows few areas with little or no technology.  Brilliantly, it suggests that the evolution of tech is something that is self perpetuating, and evolves due to human intervention, but is beyond human perception.  It only reached 10 issues of comics, and has a collected version, but it remains open to further chapters.



So, whatever you are looking for, I think that are new books to consider, the dystopias presented are all means to consider the world of the near future.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Kaepernick Question

On occasion I try to go beyond the concepts of media products or interviews of talents here.  I don't say those are bad, but, popular culture includes sports, as in the following commentary, or food culture, and ever changing values and ideas that challenge the mainstream. Challenging the mainstream offers that someday the idea in question might enter our popular ideals, as having been a victor in a free market, free speech, free will society, where the best idea wins the argument. If we do not talk about things, if we erect echo chambers and follow and listen to only those thinkers we already agree with, why talk?  Why bother if the possibility of change is impossible?  We talk to learn, to negotiate culture, we talk to exchange ideas, ideals, and share dreams and nightmares, because if we do nothing, our society begins to decay, for stasis is not a way to lead, it is the path of those who are accepting of being dead or are too ill to realize that they are dying.

The reason Colin Kapernick began his protest was to bring attention to the problems of police brutality, nationwide inequity towards black people from the US Justice department, and the protest was aimed at changing how people think about the people they watch on the stage of football.  These men are not all just muscles and agility and power.  They have minds and do not agree with the National Anthem, because the country has failed them.

Recently pro football exile Colin Kaepernick was offered a chance to work out for NFL scouts as arranged by the NFL head office.  He saw flaws in the plan, and arranged an alternative event, to showcase his talents.  No one signed him. The NFL has suggested either directly or through channels that the overall product offered by the NFL is harmed by his choice to protest the offering of the national anthem.  Some cynics suggested that his play had seriously declined, and that taking a knee was a means to making his presence more difficult to remove.  Others suggested that his previous career earnings were more than enough to sustain him should his "plot" fail. The worst argument for wanting Kaepernick out of the NFL is to say life is so much better today for African Americans that the act of protest is selfish, false, and attention grabbing.  First of all, it is attention grabbing, that was the point to use the attention to draw interest to the cause. Many people were pissed off by it, that too, was the point.

So did his plan work?  Did change happen as a result of his protest, and was he able to be redeemed by the changed world and raised aloft to return to the NFL?  No. It is also categorically wrong to suggest racism does not still exist, hasn't existed throughout the life of the NFL, and that enough has been done to stop it.  He couldn't stop the continuance of such behavior, and his protest didn't change enough minds to do anything.  But does that make him wrong? I'd agree that it does seem foolish to see African American athletes raise the specter of being slaves upon the plantation.  Millionaires have far more choices than those poor, black or white.  That is called hyperbole.  It is also false that there is any connection between the protests and improvements in the situations regarding inequity and outright racism.  But if John Brown had attacked Harper's Ferry only to die, and not achieve his goals, it doesn't mean he failed.  His legend lived on.  In Japan there is a cultural concept that sincerity makes any attempt to change or fulfill the task given, already worthy.  Rebels do not often succeed.  Because they die in the attempt should we say it was wrong to try? If Martin Luther King had not led a movement, would blacks have the vote and power to use it, or would the Jim Crow laws be unchanged still, without his effort, and ultimate sacrifice?

I promise you, I am made uncomfortable by people who think patriotism is foolish, or that love of country is silly. I don't like flag burning. I don't like a number of speakers for the movements of various causes.  But I like the fact that those who fought in wars because of the love of country did so knowing that the end result might be someone burning a flag.  Many believed in free speech and part of that freedom is the freedom to hear opposing viewpoints and not kill the person speaking those viewpoints.  We live in a world where it is FAR easier to walk alongside of people who are not protesting, who are being well paid, and who prefer no one else to rock the boat. Nothing different happens without something, someone or many things changing course. We live in an era where we had Obama, a good man, a President I voted for, who stands to some as a living symbol of the final victory over systemic racism.  I say no.  He was elected for good reasons, I think I have issues with most presidents so I am not going to jump up and down saying I loved his choices.  We are not seeing the end of a revolution.  We are seeing a moment in time that defied the traditional ways of thinking.  As someone who did analysis for a political non profit organization, I believed in Obama, but believed something that had never happened would have to happen for him to win.  And he did.

As a result of his victory we do not thereafter find an African American dominance of politics.  Nor do we yet have equality over all for all people in America.  You might argue the reasons for that, it isn't going to happen here. My point is, we, as a whole people, Americans, haven't made things that much better nor have they been willing to change. Kaepernick is protesting, or was, the true situation, as well as perhaps being used by some to create a movement that his causing waves might be able to take advantage of that person or group.  We have failed to make America the home of righteousness, of hope, of being fed, or being happy.  We have allowed some but not all to do that.

And as I go, remember, just because slavery ended, it does not mean inequality ended as well. There have been race riots in this country, and I refuse to believe that because it is comfortable for me, that it is similarly so for others.  That isn't the truth.




Thursday, December 12, 2019

TIMELESS Holiday Deal


GET SOMETHING TIMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Armand Baltazar announces special holiday deals around his book
Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic.

(Los Angeles, December 10, 2019) Author creator Armand Baltazar announced today two special holiday deals that let readers get keepsakes from the global fan favorite which can be personalized for the holidays. All orders MUST be placed by December 16th to guarantee Christmas delivery and the holiday specials will run until January 1, 2020.

Holiday Specials:
1) Buy a Hardcover copy of TIMELESS and receive a FREE Goldfish enamel pin! Books will be signed and personalized.
2) Buy any signed and numbered limited edition print of art from the TIMELESS book and receive a FREE Hardcover copy of the book that is signed and personalized.

To Order
For Book & FREE Pin:
Go the Book Purchase page and PURCHASE a book.
https://timelessarmandbaltazar.com/timeless-book.htm
THEN: Email us at info@armandbaltazar.com with the name(s) that the book will be personalized to.

AND type Book & Pin Holiday Special

For a Limited Print & FREE Book :
Go the  Book Art page and PURCHASE the signed and numbered limited edition print that you want. https://timelessarmandbaltazar.com/book-art.htm
THEN: Email us at info@armandbaltazar.com with the name(s) that the book will be personalized to
AND type LMTD Print & Book  Holiday Special

About Timeless: Diego and The Rangers of the Vastatlantic:

The book is a first in a new science fiction/fantasy series that explores a world painted new by the Time Collision. Integrating art and text, this epic and cinematic adventure features more than 150 full-color illustrations.

You’ve never seen Earth like this before: continents reshaped, oceans re-formed, cities rebuilt, and mountains sculpted anew. Dinosaurs roam the plains alongside herds of buffalo, and giant robots navigate the same waters as steam-powered ships.

This is the world Diego Ribera was born into. The past, present, and future coexisting together. In New Chicago, Diego’s middle school hallways buzz with kids from all eras of history and from cultures all over the world. The pieces do not always fit together neatly, but this is the world he loves.

There are those, however, who do not share his affection. On his thirteenth birthday, Diego learns of a special gift he has within, a secret that is part of something much bigger—something he cannot understand. When his father, New Chicago’s top engineer, is taken by the Aeternum, Diego must rescue him and prevent this evil group from disrupting the fragile peace humanity has forged.

Stay up to date on Armand Baltazar at https://timelessarmandbaltazar.com/.