Wednesday, August 28, 2013

RANDOM SMILES AND FROWNS

“Six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day.  Adults only
laugh 15 to 100 times a day.”


- Real Fact #831, Snapple cap

Snapple Peach Tea was my beverage of choice for last weekend’s Vast
Accumulation of Stuff garage sale. The usual pattern for my sales
is that the first hour and sometimes the first two hours are crazy
busy.  That’s where I make most of my money each day, to the point
where I sometimes wonder if I should just run the sales from 9-11
a.m.  Except, of course, that not all of my customers can make it to
the sale during those hours and I do love my customers.  Make that
I love almost all my customers.  That last sentence is what’s known
as “foreshadowing,” but, tease that I am, it may be another day or
two before I follow up on that.

After the initial garage sale rush, I sometimes have entire hours
where I’m sitting alone in my garage.  I read the newspapers and I
make notes for future blogs and other projects.  I often make notes
even when I do have customers because something will occur to me or
because something a customer says sparks an idea.

What I’ll be doing today and through the weekend is sharing some of
my random notes and thoughts with you.  Hopefully, this will be fun
for you and fun for me...especially when I try to make sense of a
few random words that apparently had great meaning for me whenever
I wrote them down but which make no sense to me now.

******************************

Senior bloggy thing India correspondent Robert Petersen brought me
two English-language graphic novels from India.  He goes to India
for work several times a year.  I have not yet read either Krishna:
Defender of Dharma
or Valmiki’s Ramayana, but I will be reading
and writing about both of them soon.

I was grateful for Rob’s informative answers to my many questions
about India.  I am fascinated by “Bollywood” movies and how all of
them have lavish song-and-dance sequences and run more than three
hours.  I have watched maybe two of three of these movies in their
entirety.  They can be a challenge, but they certainly give theater
goers their money’s worth.

It makes me wonder what some of my favorite movies would be like if
they shared such sensibilities.  For example, what kind of musical
sequence would have appeared in Jaws?  And, now that I’ve actually
posed that question, I wonder how long will it take the Asylum to
do a Bollywood-inspired sequel to Sharknado?  It could be the next
step in the evolution of delightful cheesy monster movies.

******************************

Leslie Feagan, Facebook friend and all-around good guy, brought me
a gift as well.  It was a Viewmaster viewer with a set of Godzilla
cartoon images.  The images came with a booklet and, naturally, I
will be writing about this gift in the near future.

****************************** 

It took me a while to figure out what the “People in Hell” note was
all about.  That happens from time to time.  I finally realized it
was in reference to something editorial cartoonists do that I find
distasteful. 

I don’t like when editorial cartoons show a deceased public figure
in Hell.  Yes, sometimes they show very bad people in Hell, but it
still strikes me as arrogant.  They might wish the person will be
burning for all eternity, but it’s really not their call to make.
For believers, Hell is the worst fate that can await a human being.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to make the assumption that someone
is going to end up there.

Quick confession.  In the past, I have made comments about someone
burning in Hell.  That was wrong and I’m not going to do it again.
If I backslide on this, please remind me that I’m being an asshat.

Of course, the First Church of Godzilla does not include a Hell per
se in its belief system.  Well, we kind of do, but we don’t call it
Hell.  We call it Florida.

******************************

One of the most popular items at my garage sales are my five-dollar
“mystery boxes,” filled with wondrous things that, together, would
cost far more than five dollars even at my absurdly low garage sale
prices.  I offer them because they are fun to put together and fun
for my customers.  However, because they do take a lot of time to
make, I usually only manage to put together a few of them for every
sale.  This past weekend, I had four of them and they were all sold
by 9:31 am on Friday.  I’ll do my best to make more of them before
the next garage sale.

******************************

Wikipedia defines slash fiction as...“a genre of fan fiction that
focuses on interpersonal attraction and sexual relationships
between fictional characters of the same sex.”
  I first heard the
term in reference to Kirk/Spock fan fiction in Star Trek fandom and
I’m told it’s now expanded into every genre franchise imaginable.
The subject came up at the garage sale during a discussion of anime
and manga fan fiction.

Slash fiction sometimes involves real people, which I learned when
I read the Wikipedia entry on the genre.  Which makes the question
I posed during my garage sale less ridiculous:

Is there slash fiction about comics creators?  Certainly, thanks to
the Internet tubes, fans know more about the lives of these comics
creators than ever before.  But do they ever imagine them in steamy
same-sex encounters and then write about it?

I’m not about to suggest any pairings, but I’m more than willing to
let my readers do so.  For that matter, you needn’t limit yourself
to same-sex pairings.  We’ll accept opposite-sex pairings just to
make everybody uncomfortable.  Heh, heh, heh.

If there already is slash fiction about comics creators, I sort of
want to know about it and also sort of don’t want to know about it.
It’s that kind of topic.

******************************

I’ve been thinking a lot about Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, who was
born Bradley Edward Manning and who has been sentenced to 35 years
for leaking the largest set of restricted documents in the history
of restricted documents.  She has also been dishonorably discharged
from the United States Army, the only part of her sentence I agree
with.  She knowingly violated her oath to the service and shouldn’t
be allowed to serve in it.  That said...

Government and military often restrict documents to cover their own
shortcomings.  Perhaps the unhappy Manning isn’t the classic figure
of a whistleblower, but neither is she a traitor.  If you want to
put actual traitors, not to mention war criminals, on trial, then
let’s put Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and that crowd in irons.  Until we
do that, a sentence of 35 years strikes me as a petulant tantrum on
the part of the military,

Manning identifies herself as female and I think the media should
respect that without mocking her for it.  While I’m not convinced
taxpayers should foot the bill for her hormone replacement therapy
while she serves her sentence, I wouldn’t oppose it either.  If a
charitable organization starts a fund to pay for it, I’d contribute
and consider it a small payback for the despicable way in which our
nation has treated and continues to treat the transgendered. 

With good behavior and credit for her time served, Manning could be
paroled in eight years.  I’d like to see her receive a pardon well
before that.

We have put up with all sorts of “national security” nonsense for
far too long a time.  Transparency in government at all levels is
the hallmark of a truly free society no matter which party happens
to be in charge at the moment.  This crap was wrong under Bush and
it’s wrong under Obama.  We shouldn’t need a Chelsea Manning, but
the sad fact of the matter is that we do.

I can already see that these next few days of random thoughts are
going to earn me many responses.  Not all of these will be ringing
endorsements of my views or my character.  And I’m just warming up.
You have been warned.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

5 comments:

  1. "Of course, the First Church of Godzilla does not include a Hell per
    se in its belief system. Well, we kind of do, but we don’t call it
    Hell. We call it Florida."
    LOL! South Florida in the summer sure feels like Hell.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sure there's slash of comic creators. I'm also sure I don't want to read it.

    Real-person slash is disturbing, both for the obvious reason and because the slashers sometimes extend their fantasy into real life. For example, there's a lot of nastiness flung at the wives of the two leads from Supernatural (for ruining the pairing, I guess), to the point that one of the wives has to walk around SDCC with a security detail. Xenogenesis.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Co-incidentally, I've been engaged in a -- to me -- interesting discussion of "Slash" fiction on my own Facebook.

    A bit of history: The name "Slash" derives from the typograpical character -- "/" -- which was used to denote a romantic or sexual relationship between the characters it was used to join. Specifically, it started with Star Trek fan fiction in the '60s and '70s in which Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock were lovers. The stories would be labeled "Kirk/Spock" or indeed "K/S."

    I would quibble with Wikipedia's definition. While slash fiction has traditionally depicted same-sex relationships, that's simply a function of the fact that, in primary pop-culture source material, it's only been very recently that gay characters existed. When canonically straight characters in fan fiction had romantic, sexual relationships with characters of the opposite sex -- even in those cases where, in the canon, those characters would never look twice at one another -- it would not be considered slash because it would be considered possible within the canon.

    That makes it clear to me that the defining feature of slash is not that it's same-sex relationships, but that the fiction places characters in relationships that contradict their canonical sexual orientation.

    Until recently, that was a difference that made no difference: Source characters were straight, therefore in slash they'd be in gay relationships. But now that we're seeing gay characters in bigger and bigger roles in mainstream sources, then seeing those characters in same-sex relationships wouldn't be slash, as it wouldn't be transformative of the character.

    This leaves us with a couple of interesting conclusions. One is that we may soon see "slash" fiction in which gay characters enter into "straight" relationships. It's very common in slash fiction to see characters say, "I'm not gay. I'm straight. What I have with you is an exception." Logically, we could see slash stories where it's "I'm really gay; I'm only straight for you!"

    Another is that it's impossible to write slash fiction featuring Captain Jack Harkness, the character played by John Barrowman in "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood." How can you contradict the sexual orientation of a character who's perfectly willing to have sex with beings of whole new genders unknown and unimagined to us? Captain Jack's orientation is "If it moves I'll have sex with it, and if it doesn't, that's even easier!"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Michael Kelly SchurmanAugust 29, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    I have many conflicting feelings and ideas concerning Manning and Edward Snowden.

    I was born into the beginning of the Cold War (in 1948) and into a moderately conservative family. My father was an officer in the Army Air Corps during World War II and the U.S Air Force for Korea. I was in ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) in high school and a wee bit of college before draft dodging into the Air Force from 1967 through '71, as an enlisted man.

    During my tour in the Air Force (which was spent miraculously at the base just outside of Austin, Texas) much important American history occurred. My response was a turn away from the Viet Nam war and into democratic socialism which I still embrace in an independent and old-man, slightly less blatant way.

    The only argument supporters of government secrecy have which makes any sense to me is that I don't want some secret cop or spy to get killed because a name is revealed.

    But I don't think we should have secret cops or secret spies in the first place. And I don't believe a democratic republic should have secrets from its citizens at all.

    During the Cold War, from my perspective, our government attempted to keep secrets from the Soviet Union and others. It did not do a very good job. Each side knew all the other's secrets and the only ones in the dark were the citizens of both nations.

    I'm not, however, comfortable with Manning or Snowden either one. I'm not sure why. Is it generational? Do I just not understand radical political actions in the internet age? I don't know.

    There is something awkward about these two. Something ill-conceived, ill-planned, ill-executed. Did Manning do it to pay for his sex change? Does Snowden have any concept of the irony of fleeing to countries much less open than ours?

    Again, I don't know.

    The worst thing either of them has done seems to be forcing citizens of the entire world to recognize how little privacy we have. Something most of us who pay attention already knew. They don't seem to have gotten anyone killed or destroyed anything of importance.

    So, yeah, I'd probably support pardons for both, even though I just don't understand them or the form their actions took. I also can't see any real harm in those actions.
















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  5. I'm pretty sure that, while a dishonorable discharge was part of Chelsea Manning's sentence, it is not going to be carried out until she is released from prison. While she is in military prison, she has to remain a member of a military service.

    ReplyDelete