So to recap: during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing (for Attorney General) a woman in the gallery laughed. She was arrested and charged and the Department of Justice, now run by new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, put her on trial. For laughing at Jeff Sessions. And they won. Then the judge threw out the verdict, because the jury convicted her based on a bad interpretation of the law argued by the DOJ lawyer (they told the jury that “laughter alone is enough to convict”). So then the DOJ offered her a plea deal, but she refused because it would have meant admitting guilt for something she does not believe is a crime (laughing).
So the Department of JUSTICE, under Jeff Sessions, is taking her to trial. AGAIN.
At Jeff Sessions.
The Attorney General of the United States.
Sometimes we get an Attorney General who doesn’t use their authority to settle petty personal grudges. Other times we get Jeff Sessions.
On Thursday, August 18 2017, President Trump tweeted: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
The story he’s referring to involves General Pershing executing Muslim fighters by dipping bullets in pig’s blood, to “send a message” to the other fighters to knock that shit off. This single twit by Trump perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with the man and his Presidency.
1. The story isn’t true, it’s a myth. And worse, it’s a myth that’s only found on white supremacist sites.
2. They weren’t terrorists. The Muslims in this story were fighting invaders. The invaders were Pershing and the Americans.
3. What he’s describing is a war crime. He’s admiring summary executions of prisoners of war without trial, and executions that disrespects their religious beliefs.
So to sum up: it’s a lie, it’s racist, and it’s criminal.
Trump’s Presidency in a nutshell.
The worst day of Donald Trump’s life, though he may not know it yet, was November 8th, 2016.
That was the day the big orange fish hopped out of his small New York pond, and subjected himself and his decades of shady business deals to the whole wide ocean of global public scrutiny. A combination of ego and idiocy, and probably a significant amount of Russian guidance, convinced him no one would find out his entire business was just one money laundering scheme after another.
It won’t be quick. It won’t be easy. Remember O.J. Simpson; while he avoided a murder conviction in 1995, he blundered into a robbery conviction in 2008, thirteen years to the day of his dramatic murder acquittal. It was imperfect justice, but better than nothing. He basically got busted for stupidity.
I think the same will happen with Trump. In the end his downfall won’t be treason or espionage, it will be for ego and stupidity. And while it may not be a life sentence, be satisfied with the thought that after they take all of his money and seize all of his assets, he just might be incarcerated in a private prison he once owned.
Chief of Staff Priebus: “Ok people listen up. With all of the indictments coming down, we are in crisis mode. We have got to get people on the air to push back and defend this administration. Who do we have that isn’t compromised?”
Intern: “Well, sir, let me check. Uh, Sessions, no, Collusion with Russia. Ivanka? Money laundering. Don Jr or Eric? same. Chaffetz? Money laundering, foreign donations, obstructing congressional investigation, affair. Gorka? Nazi, money laundering. Page? Russian collusion, hacking, money laundering. Ephsteyn? Russian spy, money laundering. Manafort? Holy mother of god money laundering. And Russian collusion. Cohen? Russian collusion. Bannon? No he looks like the inside of a Greyhound bus smells. Giuliani? Leaking classified data, money laundering, Russian collusion. Flynn? Ha I know sir just trying to be thorough. Russian collusion, foreign agent, affair with Russian spy. Sorry sir, I can keep going but really there is absolutely no one else.”
Priebus: “Sigh. Fine, ok. Well Spicer, you’re.. all we got.”
It is hard to believe that my “Jesus Riding Raptor” sketch is TEN YEARS OLD. Where does the time go? Seems like just yesterday I was making fun of fringe creationists.
Now I’m paying them my taxes.
“Hey Kid,” the unit leader called out. “Not so close to the edge. It’s ok kid, you’re doing fine,” the unit leader said as he approached. “Your patrol patterns are solid, your head’s on a swivel, I got no complaints. That was just some friendly advice, keep well clear of cliff edges or sheer drops.”
When the new guy asked why, the unit leader drew in close, and in almost a whisper replied, “In private security circles we call him “The Body Snatcher.” He hides in the tall grass, or hangs from above, or clings from below those ledges, and patiently waits for his victim to patrol near. One moment you’ve got a great job, good career path, loving family, and the next you’re falling to your death, some dumb quip like “Going down?” or “Seeya!” the last thing you ever hear.”
The unit leader left the new guy to his patrol, and walked over to the area commander. “You give the new kid “The Body Snatcher” story,” he asked, smiling. “Oh yeah, he’s good and spooked,” the unit leader replied, laughing.
They laughed so hard, they didn’t notice that the new guy was no longer there, or heard the faint words “Going down?” echo off the cliff walls.
Little gifts would be left on the back porch, or sometimes by the barn. Wildflowers planted in strange places. Stick figures hung from tree branches. They believed the.. creature.. was trying to be nice, in its own way. Perhaps it was saying “thank you” for not shooting at it, when the neighbors often would. Maybe it was just trying to give back a little something, in trade for what it took.
They appreciated its thoughtfulness, but still wished it would stop mauling their sheep at night.
“Of course it’s not fair. This is a street fight, kid. You’re trying to end the fight as fast as you can, and you’re trying to teach anyone that messes with you a lesson. There’s no cheating here. There’s just laying on the ground spitting out teeth, or walking away laughing. You want to put the guy down, and make it memorable, really fuck their shit- Ah, crap. Sorry about the language kid, I keep forgetting you’re.. how old are you again?”
“Geez yeah, twelve. Maybe I shouldn’t have showed you that stuff with the brick..”
“It’s fine sir, you have been very instructive. This was really great. My ride is here so I have to go, but I hope I can come back and learn more from you. will you be here next week?”
“Yeah, sure, I’m here most days, kid.” The boy paid the man triple what he asked for, thanked him again and walked to the waiting limousine.
“Did you learn anything valuable, Master Bruce?”
“I did, Alfred,” the boy replied, his eyes narrowing. “I learned there are no rules.”
“Hi I’m Twilight Sparkle! What’s your name?”
“I am The Death Dealer. My steed was killed in battle. I wish to ride you.”
“Yes. It will be glorious.”
“How about we go make friends instead? Would you like some friends? Here [Bamf!]! I just made your axe thingy magical. Now when you hit people with it you’ll make them happy. Some might even sing! It’s always better to make people happy than to hurt them. Right?”
“I.. yes? Wait what are… you’re doing something to.. my head.”
“I’m Twilight Sparkle. What’s your name?”
“I’m the Death Dealer.”
“No. I SAID, what’s your NAME?”
“I’m.. The Friend Maker.”
“Yay! Let’s ride!”
After the storms, and the pesky birds, and that very peculiar shark, Pooh was tuckered out. Tigger cavorted as ever, nevermind their predicament. Pooh wondered about Christopher Robin, whom he had not seen since the frightful waves took him away. But he did not worry, for deep down Pooh had a pretty fair inkling that he was Christopher Robin’s dream. So how could Pooh think the thought, Pooh thought to himself, if Christopher Robin wasn’t out there, safe and still able to dream his thoughts for him?
So Pooh lived his life as best he could, protected his hunny from those pesky birds, and secretly wished that peculiar shark would come back around. Because Tigger was very, very annoying.
I learned how to draw from comic books. I’d copy the shapes, make my own stories, and in the process learned a lot at an early age about composition and visual storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, I have a degree in classic studio art and art history too, and there’s no substitute for submersion in the classical arts. But I take the history of the comic book medium and how much it shaped my creative and professional life, very, very seriously.
The earliest drawing I remember, when I was six years old, was of The Hulk farting so hard he knocked down Manhattan.
Detail of a previous piece, with some slight re-coloring.
It is good that I have never thought of my artworks as children, because sometimes I come to like only small portions more than the full piece. If it were a child, how awkward to only really love the lower left arm, or just one side of the face.
Anyway, here’s the big left toe of an earlier work, which I liked very much.
I heard it from a key grip, who heard it from a set designer, who heard it from the 2nd unit director of “Cannonball Run”, who said it was told to him by Ricardo Montalban one night over dinner with friends.
This is a true story.
Actor Roddy McDowell, Montalban’s friend and sometimes co-worker, spent much of the 1960s and 1970s dressed up like a man-sized chimpanzee. First as Cornelius in the original “Planet of the Apes”, then in later sequels as other ape characters. Unfortunately the elaborate makeup took forever to remove, so Roddy was often last to the catering table, and forced to live with whatever he could cobble together. So he usually just took some romaine lettuce, and mixed it with lemon, olive oil, some egg, and worcestershire sauce. This light concoction had the added benefit of not staining his ape makeup, so he could eat without doffing the mask. He would later perfect his recipe with black pepper and croutons.
Over the course of his ape-career it became a regular staple. By the time filming began on “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes”, the catering crew made it special for him. When other actors asked what he was having, the caterers named it after his character’s name: “It’s Caesar’s Salad.” The rest is history.
Explorer: The indigenous lifeforms were easy enough to reprogram. I am in control of a creature with a penchant for finding metallic objects and clever enough for basic puzzle solving. With any luck I can use it to help secure the parts I need to repair my ship and get off this strange rock. It attacked me a couple of times, but the force shield held well enough. Down to forty percent power but I think the beast is smart enough not to try it again.
Creature: Alien put buzzy thing in my head, tells me to do things. I do what it tells because it points me to shiny things. I like shiny things. When it stops taking me to shiny things, I think I will kill it and eat it. I hope it is soon because my suit itches, and my helmet keeps fogging up.
“My Mom says we don’t need shots,” Becca announced, “because the diseases aren’t around anymore.”
“That’s pretty dumb,” Zoe observed, balancing precariously on her head. “The only reason the diseases stay away is because everyone keeps getting shots.”
“Did you just call my Mom dumb? Wet Willy!” Becca yelled, licking her finger and wiggling it in Zoe’s ear.
“Ah, stop! Ok I’m sorry,” Zoe squealed, losing her balance and tumbling to the ground. “I didn’t mean it! Ew! At least she didn’t make you go to a measles party! That was gross AND dumb.”
“Hahaa! No you’re right my Mom’s pretty dumb,” Becca admitted, turning a cartwheel on the grass. “Yours too. Isn’t it weird to be ten years old and know we’re already smarter than our parents?”
“I know! How did that hap-” Zoe interrupted herself, head cocked to one side. “That’s my Mom. I have to go to the funeral now.”
“Another one? Geez that’s like three this month,” Becca exclaimed.
“Yeah, and they’re so boring! But I’ll try to bring back some rice-krispie treats. Seeya!” Zoe turned a quick cartwheel then sprinted towards her house.
Becca waved until Zoe was out of sight, doubled over and coughed for a few minutes, then went back to play with her other friends on the playground.
“Nonsense! There is no such thing as “man-made climb change”. How high or low in the sky we reside is a natural occurrence, nothing more. To believe our tiny forms could affect the massive land beneath our feet in any way is the height of arrogance.”
The arm’s doing a lot better, so I think it’ s time to graduate to something more complicated and retire this “pop culture vehicle” series. It feels appropriate to bring the series full circle back to cars. Interestingly, it seems that our infatuation with cars somehow came to a close with the 1980s. What happened?
Personally, I think the cultural shift might be traced to the lack of individualism in modern cars. Starting in the 1990s the design paradigm shifted towards sleek, rounded sameness. No sharp edges, no distinguishing characteristics of any kind. Is it a Nissan Sentra? A Toyota Corolla? Honda Accord? A Camry? Sonata? Without a logo most people would be hard pressed to pick any of them out of a lineup. And the high end cars dispensed with descriptive names altogether, and just went with a random assortment of letters and numbers. “A8L”? “XF”? “Q40”? “528i”? “S600”? These hardly match the evocative names of yesterday’s “Challengers” and “Stingrays”.
On the big screen it’s a tough sell symbolizing stoic individualism, when the hero arrives in a car so unmemorably interchangeable that they have to pull it right up to the camera so the audience can see the logo up close.
Maybe we’ve moved on from the symbolism. A character no longer needs a horse or a car or a helicopter as a stand-in for his innate prowess. The Jason Bourne’s of the world can excel driving anything, even a clunker mini. The Fast and Furious can just build their own cars to spec, then crash them without concern, because they can just go build another. Maybe we’ve just externalized what cars represented and grafted it onto the characters directly.
Or maybe modern cars are just really boring.