Monday, April 30, 2007

Filtering Your News For 27 Years

Mike Gravel is a former Senator from Alaska, current Democratic Presidential candidate, and has his fingerprints on all sorts of accomplishments we're grateful for, and take for granted, these days: ending the draft in America (by filibustering, for FIVE MONTHS, a bill that would have extended it), ending nuclear testing in Alaska, establishing the Alaskan Pipeline, which now provides 20% of our country's oil, and playing a role in the release of the Pentagon Papers, secret government documents relating to the Vietnam War. He also played the role of "cranky old man" in the South Carolina Democratic Presidential Debate last week. Here he is either saying something Awesome, or complaining about what he had for lunch:

I can't say my vote would go to Mike Gravel in a primary, but I'm glad he's running. His exasperation over play-it-safe-politics is refreshing from a candidate on the national stage, and he provides a kick-you-in-the-nuts alternative to Kucinich if you like the idea of a candidate who wants to end the War in Iraq immediately. Here he is with a mustache:

He's been excluded from a planned New Hampshire debate hosted by CNN, WMUR-TV, and the Union Leader. CNN says this:

"Because Mike Gravel has not demonstrated measurable public support for his campaign to date, he has not received an invitation. But we have not excluded him (or anyone) from the debate. If he meets our criteria between now and the debate, he will certainly get an invitation."

And Mike Gravel says this:

"What was Orwellian in my not meeting certain criteria which the media organizations would not divulge becomes Kafkaesque when I am now told that I have not been excluded and can still be invited if I meet this mysterious criteria."

I think, especially in light of the post-debate interviews that featured Gravel on MSNBC last week, CNN is writing him off as the crazy/longshot candidate, and since Kucinich already fills that role without being as likely to spout off on uncomfortable topics (like in last week's debate, when he laid out how Senators Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Biden could practically end the war by filibuster starting tomorrow, if they really wanted to), they're closing the door on Gravel's face.

Gravel has practically stated outright that he doesn't expect to win the candidacy, much less the Presidency -- he's running to have a national spotlight on the issues he wants to discuss, and I'm grateful for it. When most politicians are more interested in soundbites, and too afraid to be candid with regard to the issues and their beliefs, I'm counting on the occasional crazy old man to stumble into the room and lay out some uncomfortable truths. In Gravel's case it's that, you know, "war is over, if you want it." It's more than likely he'll run out of cash long before the first primary is held in 10 months, but I'd rather the lifespan of his campaign be decided by the support or non-support of the public than by CNN's decision that his voice doesn't deserve to be heard.

Gravel went on to say:

“The statement said that there are literally dozens and dozens of declared presidential candidates. That is true but out of those dozens of candidates, how many are former United States Senators who have been given the stamp of legitimacy by the Democratic National Committee, SEIU, AFSCME, ABC, the Nevada Democratic Party, the Center for American Progress Action Fund etc? Only two, former Senator John Edwards and myself.

“Though this is not the only criteria for deciding the legitimacy of a candidate as other aspirants may have contributed distinguished public service as an appointed official or as an officer of an NGO or excelled as individual public figures such as Ralph Nader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton making them eminently worthy, it is one indisputable criteria for defining a legitimate candidate.”

Complete statements from both sides here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Earth Rules, and stuff on it is awesome

My friend sees coyotes in Chicago:

I can't decide if this is awesome or terrifying. I guess it's both.

In other news: there was a naked lady in my driveway earlier. She was sunbathing, so I guess that makes it summertime. Or, it just means I live in California these days.

Also, this is a thing that happened today:

Monday, April 23, 2007

We Are Handsome, and Talented

Ben Costa, Amy Martin, and your humble author, selling our wares at APE in San Francisco, April 21, 2007. Details, memories, dirty secrets to come.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Command D

So I won't lose it: a run-down on KAMANDI. I love the "world name" Kirby came up with -- "Earth, AD."

Monday, April 16, 2007

TV on the Interweb

Make Internet TV is a website that helps me n' y'all make, um, TV on the internet:

"This guide has step-by-step instructions for shooting, editing, and publishing online videos that can be watched and subscribed to by millions of people.

"Very soon, this site will feature short videos from experienced internet video publishers. If you're interested in sharing your expertise, visit the Make Internet TV (MITV) wiki and find out how."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

#7: Robots Conquer Earth

6 Ways to End a TV Series.


Found via Warren Ellis -- it's from M. John Harrison's blog:

"Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

"Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

"Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid."

And when you are done you sit on it

Cave Story, an 8-bit style video game with very basic controls and a whole lotta plot. I played for about two hours tonight, and I still get flustered when I fight a Boss -- having the movement keys on my right and the action keys on my left is almost too much for my Nintendo-trained brain to handle. But it's fun, and it has a video game kind of storytelling technique that might be interesting to use in a certain upcoming comics project ... our hero wakes up with no memory of his past, in a strange land where rabbit-folk need his help ...

Also this, from Jame Kochalka's Cute Manifesto, specifically the essay "Craft is the Enemy":

"You could labor your whole life perfecting your 'craft,' struggling to draw better, hoping one day to have the skills to produce a truly great comic ... If this is how you are thinking you will never produce this great comic, this powerful work of art, that you dream of. There's nothing wrong with trying to draw well, but that is not of primary importance.

"What every creator should do, must do, is use the skills they have right now. A great masterpiece is within reach if only your will power is strong enough (just like Green Lantern)."

And then, from "Craft Is Not A Friend":

"Creating a powerful work of art is like running and leaping across a chasm. It takes all of your strength and you'll be dashed on the rocks and fall to your death. Being a craftsman is like sitting in your woodshop all day carefully building a chair and when you are done you sit on it."

That, and a well-timed and well-worded email from a certain Amy Martin, was what I needed to get my writerly head back in a good place today. Another of the day's victories was when I narrowly avoided supergluing my fingers to an Abe Lincoln button ... although there are worse things to have permanently stuck to your hand.

Go read American Elf. Read it every day.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A BoingBoing kind of day

BoingBoing also has this picture today, from a blogger who has "a small collection of photos of mothers disguised as chairs."

Another one

This Vonnegut quote turned up on BoingBoing:

"Do you know what a Humanist is? I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that functionless capacity. We Humanists try to behave well without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.

"We had a memorial services for Isaac a few years back, and at one point I said, "Isaac is up in Heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to a group of Humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in Heaven now." That's my favorite joke."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So it goes.

The NYT is reporting that Kurt Vonnegut has passed away:

"He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.

"His death was reported by Morgan Entrekin, a longtime family friend, who said Mr. Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago."

The article goes on to talk about Slaughterhouse-Five, of course:

"The defining moment of Mr. Vonnegut’s life was the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied forces in 1945, an event he witnessed firsthand as a young prisoner of war. Thousands of civilians were killed in the raids, many of them burned to death or asphyxiated. “The firebombing of Dresden,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote, “was a work of art.” It was, he added, “a tower of smoke and flame to commemorate the rage and heartbreak of so many who had had their lives warped or ruined by the indescribable greed and vanity and cruelty of Germany.”"

But they touch on the hope that lived in his stories, too:

"To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” summed up his philosophy:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”"

Goddammit, you've got to be kind.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We won't hear your dreams, unless you really, really want us to

The house is bigger than anyone can tell. No, bigger isn't the word - it's the size of a house, as it should be. But it's more expansive inside, there are balconies without a clear path to reach them. And once reached, without a clear path away. But again, "balcony" isn't the right word - "loft" is better.

The point: the outside has four walls, and clearly defined beginnings and beginnings, but on the inside there are doors that open, and no map to where they lead.

There's a boy there, and a girl. They have shared history. They're acquaintances, but here's the thing: they are closer now than they ever were before, not because of a thing that they've gone through, but because of a thing they haven't gone through quite yet. Time goes both directions. They don't have the memories yet of what they'll experience, but they have the inner knowledge of what the experiences will bring.

Questions Raised, Never Answered

"There's mystery in the world, and we don't get all the answers ... seldom is a thing truly exhausted and known completely, and when it is, it cast aside as an empty husk, learned and experienced, but also forgotten. It becomes the empty shell of a mollusk, wrapping paper, a conveyor of something, but not the thing itself. It was once experienced and loved, but is now forgotten - it never remains the thing of affection.

"But a person, or a time, loved and taken away, or explored but not fully known - that is the thing. That becomes song, or poetry, it is remembered with longing and never forgotten. It becomes what endures."