Tag Archives: comics

Lending Credibility

Fake news

Back in February 2014, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” debated Ken Hamm, the creationist who built and operates the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Prior to the debate, people didn’t think it was wise for Bill Nye to be debating Ken Hamm. Though Nye wanted to have a debate from a more inquisitive perspective, to learn more about creationism and to see if it is an actual viable model for explaining the origin of things, people saw it as a way of elevating Ken Hamm, of inviting superstition to the scientific table, long after most of the world’s academic and critical thinkers have discarded religious dogma to explain natural phenomenon. I thought it was a useless exercise. Nye was lending his credibility to Ken Hamm and making him an “expert” equal to himself. I’m not opposed to debate, but I don’t see the value of debating people who sees a challenge to their ideas as fuel to their faith, scientific evidence as devilish trickery. The religious don’t even have conversations to be convinced. They are there to convince you, to add you to their flock. Scientists debate to see if there are holes to their ideas; see if their initial hypotheses holds up. So in the end, the debate didn’t do anything but raise Ken Hamm’s profile. It made him known to people outside of religious circles.

This is similar to my problem with Bill Maher. He claims that the best disinfectant is sunlight; and that we should confront irrational ideas and characters, and show them what fools they are. His show will have accomplished people like Senator Elizabeth Warren, Michael Eric Dyson, and Cornel West, then he will have people like SE Cupp, whose initial schtick “I’m an atheist but I envy the faith of the religious” is such a boldfaced sham that it’s a wonder why Maher didn’t run her out of the panel. Cupp was just a blip on the media radar at the time, but Maher elevated her, lent her his credibility as well as the credibility of his guests, and this resulted her getting employed by CNN and other media outlets. Maher claimed to do the same thing with Milo Yiannopoulos earlier in the year, to invite him to his show for a dialogue to see what makes him tick, then later took credit for Yiannopoulos getting exposed for his past comments regarding homosexuality and pedophilia. I saw the show and was not impressed with either of them. He didn’t really challenge Yiannopoulos too much on his flimsy arguments. I predict if Yiannopoulos wasn’t drummed out of the public eye by the Internet a week later, Maher would’ve had him as a regular guest, feeding off of his notoriety.

And now we see Kayleigh McEnany working for TrumpTV. A lawyer who graduated from Harvard, she worked at CNN as a Trump supporter, arguing for Trump’s and the administrations worst comments and actions. I wouldn’t mind her if her arguments were substantive, but the points she defended often goes against the viewers own senses (like Trump’s flip flops) and she sounded so disingenuous that it makes me wonder what it really takes to graduate with a law degree. She added nothing of value to debates, and it was infuriating to see CNN has people like her misinform their audience. A previously unknown person, CNN has elevated her and lent her their credibility simply by having her on their airwaves. The Most Trusted Name in News has misinformers on their payroll. And now McEnany is doing propaganda on TrumpTV. TrumpTV can now boast that it employs not just Trump relatives, but also former CNN contributors, giving merit and credibility to its “news.”

James Randi did it best. He had scammers on his show and showed them the flaws of their tricks. He exposed them in such a way that it wasn’t disrespectful. With logic and science, he showed how a person was deceiving the audience. Afterwards, he moved on to the next scammer. He didn’t have them as a regular guest nor consulted them regarding other matters. He didn’t lend them his credibility. Now, I’m not saying people like Bill Maher or networks like CNN should be debunkers. But they should call out lies and disinformation for what they are, and don’t reward liars by employing them or inviting them to sit on discussion panels to lie again.

 

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Christmas was an asshole this year.

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This year is the worst. I’m not just saying that because of politics and celebrities dying, but personally, the years have been getting worse and worse. Outside of my mother dying in 2008, this year has me most beat.

I feel like Paul Robeson on Showboat, “tired of living and scared of dying.” 

 

 

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Good Times in New Internets

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GoDaddy decided to retire my old Web site’s template, so I had to go with another design. I think the slideshow is a little better and makes for a more organized look, but visitors can’t zoom and see details of the small drawings. Unfortunately, I can’t import all of my old Web site’s contents including old Weekly entries, so if anyone’s really interested (unlikely), they can just go to my other blog site.

While I don’t mind the new overall look, the site is still a bit wonky on mobile devices. Hopefully, I’ll get it all sorted out in the next couple of days.

I just realized that as I write this, I post a link to my WordPress blog, which has a link to the new site, this site which happens to be talking about the WordPress blog, both of which are reflected on Medium, which rarely gets any hits but also links back to the Web site, which again, has links to other sites.

And that is how Internet  news  media works!

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Anime STP Marvel Sadness

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I saw an ad for a show that promises anime style oil and acrylic paintings that reinterprets Greek myth and biblical stories. Intrigued, I went and was sadly disappointed that it had nothing but giant renderings of nude anime women. Hard as I try, I couldn’t find any connection with biblical and mythological themes. It’s as if the show description is describing a totally different set of works.

I try not to be too harsh on criticism, but I walked away from the show thinking I could do better. So I started messing around with anime style drawing, this time dealing with Canadian themes. I figure I’ll try to make ten posters or so, see where that takes me.

Scott Weiland passed away a few days ago. The news hit me hard because I was still kinda hoping he would get back with Stone Temple Pilots, despite his solo work has been amazing and his album with the Wildabouts was promising. I remember him being interviewed by Howard Stern when STP got back together and Sterb was talking to them like they were children who couldn’t get along, and in the process of bickering fail to see the bigger picture. I had hopes back then, but even during the interview, I could tell that they were still pretty unhappy and that Weiland was still pretty much on drugs.

Then years passed and STP fires Weiland, replaces him with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, and even had Slash and Duff McKagan, Weiland’s old band members from Velvet Revolver, play with them at MusiCares. It’s almost like a collective F***you to Weiland who obviously needs help. What annoyed me more, aside from never really liking anything Linkin Park put out, is Chester Bennington dying his hair and dancing around like Weiland. I know you’re a fan, but we can tell you’re not Weiland, dude. Sammy Hagar didn’t prance around like David Lee Roth when Van Halen took him in.

And now Weiland passes away, everyone tweets out condolences and what an honor it was to have worked with Weiland. You know, the guy that STP is suing and is being countersued by. .. the guy that Slash and McKagan fired as well. I’m sure it must’ve been difficult working with the guy. Even Weiland admits that he has a bit of an ego. As for the drugs, he surrounded himself with people involved in it. Heck, Weiland and Tommy Black from the Wildabouts were arrested on drug charges, and their guitarist, Jeremy Brown, died presumably due to drugs. The guy was difficult, but he needed help. He wasn’t just a difficult band member, he was also someone’s son, husband, and father. Now he’s passed away and everyone’s tweeting roses about him. I wonder who it really serves, talking nice about someone after it’s all too late.

Stone Temple Pilots was Scott Weiland. Without him, I wish they’d just call themselves Talk Show.



I don’t like what Marvel is doing with some of their beloved franchises. It’s been written about in many outlets but Marvel is slowly killing IPs that do not belong in their studio’s cinematic universe.

I’ve never been too excited watching the Marvel movies. I think the X-Men films, especially the First Class film was far superior. Even the upcoming Civil War film is not very exciting, especially since the movie is based on a book with a dumb premise and characters acted uncharacteristically. But what annoys me is not so much the push for the Avengers characters, after all, it attracts a new generation of readers, but the almost aggressive effort to push out the X-Men from existence. Just look at what happened to the Fantastic Four.

To recap, back when Marvel didn’t make movies, they licensed their IPs to film studios. Two notable and very successful IPs were the X-Men and Spider Man, whose licenses are held by Fox and Sony respectively. The licenses were giant money makers for the studios, and even to Marvel at the time who gained benefits despite movie studios taking all of the risks. But then Marvel decided to make its own movies starting with Iron Man and continuing with members of the Avengers. The movies were very successful but due to licensing agreements, they don’t have control of characters that the other studios continue to own, at least in the cinematic world. The Avengers cannot have stories involving the Fantastic Four or members of the X-Men.

So what’s Marvel to do? Well, what they appear to be doing is killing off the X-Men. I’ve been a regular comic book reader since the late eighties and I know that the X-Men basically was Marvel’s bread and butter in the nineties. Without them, Marvel wouldn’t exist as a company. The Avengers books were gathering dust on shelves. Iron Man was “Ol’ Shellhead.” But now that Marvel is more interested in the movie-making business, they are actively trying to devalue properties which they don’t have full control of or just creatively try to put a spin on characters which puts them in IP limbo. They made a new Spider Man. Not Peter Parker, but Miles Morales. As exciting a change as that may seem, it puts the control of the Morales character into question. Does Sony own the Morales Spider Man license or just Peter Parker?

But what’s worse is that with the rejiggering of the Marvel Universe, they killed off many of its popular X-Men characters (Prof. X and Wolverine) and made all mutants impotent. A fictional substance, Terrigan mist, is killing of mutants and activating the powers of a superhuman race called the Inhumans. Unpopular with readers, the Inhumans have been getting a push in the comic books and now have a movie scheduled to be made in the future. Kill off the mutants and replace them with Inhumans. Good job, Marvel. Even making Cyclops, a character that was never attractive to many fans, the leader of the X-Men seem like it’s designed to turn readers off. In the X-Men movies, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the mutant offspring of Magneto were played by different actors in the Avengers film. To spit at the X-Men movies, Marvel retroactively makes the two characters non-mutants, thus delegitimizing the Quicksilver and the Scarlet With of the X-Men movies for no apparent reason.

This is all nerdspeak, but what annoys me about the whole thing is that Marvel is now letting the movie business dictate the world of its comic books. In the process, it’s spitting at fans who have grown to love characters that have sustained the company for many years. I would argue, that they are sacrificing a medium that is more creative and exciting for a world that it is very lucrative but ultimately shallow.

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Resets and Monogamy

death

I had this dream last night where a naked woman was lying next to me, she touched a spot on my back and it triggered a heart attack. She said this way, I’ll die and we’ll end up together for eternity.

Wouldn’t that be great? A quick and easy way to end it all? A great off switch (or reset button, depending on what you believe). I mean sure, a person can just take pills. But taking pills alone isn’t really that quick, painless, or effective. I believe only a small percentage of people actually succeed in committing suicide using pills. Some people advice using a plastic bag over one’s head in combination with the taking pills, but that just sounds too grim.  Of course there’s also Nembutal, but it’s far too difficult to obtain.

I don’t really believe in fate or destiny, but if such a thing does exist, then it doesn’t look too good for my marriage. First off, I just read Chester Brown’s brilliant comic strip memoir Paying for It. In it, he talks about giving up on having relationships and instead just paying for sex. It’s not so much about the adventures of being a john but an analysis of what relationships truly are and what we’ve been conditioned to believe are the meanings of love, sex, and adult relationships.

Around the same time I was reading Chester Brown’s book, I was listening to ‘This American Life’ ep. 95 on Monogamy. Act One, despite being the longest part, was definitely the weakest, and if anything, it reeks of a bored rich couple coping with their failing marriage in ways that doesn’t really connect with most people. “Oh I’ll just spend the weekend decompressing over at the Hamptons!” Nothing against the French, but the husband being French doesn’t help either. The rest of the show was really interesting. Roy Romer talks about how having an affair saved his relationship, and how he was able to separate his sexual needs from his intimacy with his wife. Dan savage examines how successful and how “happy” monogamous and non-monogamous couples really are. And Ian Brown discusses the struggles of being monogamous. In many ways, the show paints monogamy as a romantic fantasy much like a Rockwell painting. If you can be happy with it, then good for you… but then again, it’s not for everyone.

Then on Sunday, I had a rather public fight with my wife in our neighborhood. She ends up yelling at me while I kept my volume to a minimum (I always do). I thought it was rather unnecessary, if not cruel, for her to make such a spectacle. People in South Korea already automatically assume I’m the bad guy whenever we’re in a fight (we’re a mixed couple, she’s Korean). She doesn’t have to yell at me to shame me even further. Of course, one can argue that me posting this online is my equivalent of shaming her. But no one really reads my weekly entries, certainly no one where I live.

Trying times. We’re okay now, but boy that was bad timing.

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Slacktivism as News

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I grew a mustache for Movember once. I didn’t donate money towards cancer research nor did I get my prostate examined. I grew a mustache. That was my bit for help the cause against cancer. By growing a mustache, I was informing people about the need for cancer research and preventative measures… except I didn’t really personally donated money nor make any precautions. Deservedly, I got criticized for it, but isn’t it any different than many of the causes we see on the media these days?

The problem with Internet media is that it’s quite easy to produce, easy to consume, and that many news outlets rely on sensationalistic click-baiting, or what I think is more appropriate, guilt-baiting.

Now, I don’t mind a good cause. But recently, there’s been a lot of energy put on causes that in my opinion don’t really amount to anything in the most practical sense. An issue is manufactured out of a bigger and more real problem and slacktivism is encouraged. They come in all degrees of seriousness, but sometimes they’re so insignificant that it’s no longer amusing. As an example, let’s look at Eli Keel’s article on Salon, It’s time for Marvel to make Magneto black. Yes, this was on a news site.

In the article, he writes that what makes the comic book villain Magneto great is that he is based in a real-world historic tragedy. And now that Marvel is rebooting all of their characters, it’s time to make the character black in order to reference the Civil Rights Movement (ignoring the fact that the whole humans vs. mutants theme in the X-Men books is an allegory to the Civil Rights Movement). Since the election of their first black president, the US has been undergoing quite the surge in racial tensions, especially recently with the way police officers have been policing black communities. But is this really a battle one has to fight in the comic books? Should the tragedy of the Holocaust be replaced by the Civil Rights fight? I don’t think so. I don’t think great black leaders would waste time campaigning to change the motivations of comic book super villains (make Magneto a civil rights bad guy?!). There has got to be a better way to address civil rights issues, and it’s not in changing comic book characters. Sure, comic books have championed many social issues before, and in many ways they have influenced young minds and made them better people, but if you’re going to fight for civil rights, don’t campaign a company to change their characters. It is probably the least you can do for the cause. In fact, you might even alienate people who A)love the character and would not want it changed and B) are annoyed that you are fighting the civil rights fight by barking at comic book creators instead of doing something yourself. Instead of asking people to create a solution, how about making a solution?

And this is what annoys me about many of the Internet causes. It gives people the illusion of actually doing something positive without actually doing something to help the cause. For one, I see too many articles talking about rape culture, perpetuating the belief that we are living in an environment where rape is encouraged/celebrated. Really? But aren’t rapists jailed? When and where do we exactly celebrate the brutalization of women? Not in the United States. But from the way the articles are written, you would be forgiven to think that a third of all women are victims, and that society is high-fiving itself for making it so. And what do the articles ask in return for such dire message? Share the article. Click like. Spread the message and you’ve done your part.

If rape is such a trend in society, then shouldn’t we be more proactive about it? Why are we sharing links? Why aren’t we writing to our congressmen or campaigning at their doorsteps? Why aren’t we locking up all men? Why are we making Youtube videos debating whether video games are training young men to become rapists? Why are we marching half-naked? Whose minds are we actually changing? Either we don’t understand the meaning of “culture” in “rape culture” or our modern day approach to sweeping social problems is the most lackadaisical.

I guess the biggest example of the flash of the pan, guilt clicking, share this or you’re an asshole story is KONY 2012. The campaign to get rid of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, was so viral that I kept seeing it shared on Facebook for weeks. Now while Jason Russell, the campaign’s creator suffered a bit of a meltdown, but the cause itself was worthwhile, after all, Joseph Kony is a horrible guerilla leader. But after all the Facebook shares, television media coverage and street campaigns, Joseph Kony still walks the planet. It made us all feel good liking the stories and sharing it to our friends. It made us all feel worldly, well-rounded, and conscientious. But it didn’t really do a damned thing. Jason Russell was criticized for being a bit narcissistic, appointing himself a savior of Ugandan children. Truly, the whole thing was an exercise in narcissism. We all felt good for “doing” something good, and now we’ve forgotten about those poor children. And I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I believe that even if Magneto became black and everyone on the Internet agreed that there is indeed rape culture aimed against women, ten years from now, we’ll still be having issues regarding race and sexual violence.

Of course, there are many examples of stories that guilt the public, become viral, and actually do something significant. The water bucket challenge was a huge success which allowed the MDA to raise a significant amount of money without that horrible Jerry Lewis. Good for MDA! But with every video of people actually donating money after getting water dumped on their heads, there are others which didn’t really amount to anything, except maybe a few views, a couple of likes, and some comments.

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Them Snakes

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I remember seeing the character “Zuma” on the silver screen when I was a small kid. I don’t remember the movie exactly, what the title villain’s motivations were, or why I was even in the theater watching it (Who would take me?!). But I do remember the character vaguely; green skin, shaved head, loin cloth, and two snake heads, which at a young age I wondered, “where are their tails? How do they poo?”

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I gotta say though, the whole things does reek a lot of Freudian imagery: the hyper penises, the ultra-macho character, the allusion to rape, the deflowering imagery, and the preying on white, blonde women.  It even says so right there, the victims are “young, virgin girls.”

I consider myself a feminist, although I’m not one of those hyper-feminists who devote so much effort trying to find patriarchy where there really is none. It is interesting however to see a character that is quite overtly inspired by male aggrandizement and sexual violence. I guess that was part of the appeal. I guess that’s also why it’s still in my memory.

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Wrong!

Kuntoy

The most vulgar-sounding brand for a toy ever. “Buster cube” doesn’t help either. I wonder if no English speaker in the company ever pointed this out.

My wife and I went to a local toy convention called the ‘Kidult Expo.’ It was interesting, a little something different to do on a Saturday. But compared to North American counterparts, it was quite lackluster. There were many things on display, but most of the stuff that’s for sale are mostly items that are already available out in stores… and in Korea’s case, bookstores and department stores. I gave my wife fifty dollars. We were both to spend fifty dollars each on items that will probably just take up space in our tiny apartment. We left the convention with no money spent.

I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s cultural. We went to a comic convention in Winnipeg a couple of years ago, and that convention beats out the convention last weekend in terms of the amount and variety of commerce as well as excitement. I don’t think the organizers or even some of the businesses managing the booths know how to properly run a fun convention. I even saw a booth for life insurance, facial treatment, and credit cards. And amazingly, people were checking them out.

Downstairs from the toy convention is a comic book convention running at the same time. These are mostly kids making and marketing their own comic books, posters, and other paraphernalia. It’s more “creative,” and there are more opportunities to see products not sold anywhere else. But there’s a distinct high school feel to the whole thing, and I definitely could feel my age. Also, the whole manga aesthetic is a blur to me. The characters all start to look the same regardless if it’s a Korean or Japanese artist.

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This is probably the most interesting thing in the convention for me. I should start buying cheap art and putting robots in them.

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The saddest battle scenario ever

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I’m out. I don’t recognize anyone here.

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Dead Strangers

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I was reading a great obituary over the weekend. It was tragic, but inspiring. It was of this young lady who devoted so much of her life to charity, so much of her life to helping others. It’s really sad, but she was one of those people whose life Lao Tzu was referring to when he talks about flames that burn bright but burn half as long. (http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/jennifer-joy-logan-1982-2015/) Though younger than me, she probably helped more people in her short life than I ever did… than I ever will. I was and am not as generous as she was. And for that I do feel a tremendous amount of shame and regret.

The beauty of such obituaries (and no, I don’t often read strangers’ obituaries) is that not only do they celebrate a person’s life, but they also inspire others. Perhaps they push others to be more grateful for what they have, enjoy the moment more, or in this particular young lady’s case, be kinder to others. It is like the one last good the departed could do, to inspire and teach.

Speaking of death and remembrances, I watched the documentary about Vivian Maier over the weekend.  (http://www.vivianmaier.com/) What a fascinating life! Her works are amazing. It’s such a shame that she didn’t push harder for them to be shown while she was still alive. Of course, the woman was suffering from some mental illness, the film made sure to explore that aspect of her life, but it doesn’t remove the fact that she was an utter genius who had an eye, not just for light and composition, but for human drama.

Again, the documentary, even the current interest in her life and work, serve as form of obituary, a tribute to an artist that was almost forgotten. And while the first obituary I was talking about was about a life of charity and giving, Vivian’s was a life that appears she never wanted to be shared.  She was never particularly kind. In fact, some of the children she cared for described her to be cruel. But she was relentless in her art, and in it, her humanity blossomed. It’s as if what she lacked as a participant, she made up for as keen observer. And what she saw was beautiful.

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