Saturday, June 29, 2024

Nominee Anomaly


Anybody expecting...


...should run out and get me several months' supply of...





Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Smart Art (Surf's Down Edition)


There ain't no cure for the summertime blues.

Sea Watchers, 1952. Edward Hopper

Friday, June 21, 2024

Quips and Quotations (Unordinary People Edition)



Acting is not about being someone different. It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.

--Donald Sutherland

MASH (1970)

Klute (1971)

Don't Look Now (1973)

National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Ordinary People (1980)

JFK (1991)

Six Degrees of Separation (1993) 

The Hunger Games (2012)

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This Day in History

 Proclaiming it was one thing, ensuring it something else. The North had to win the war first!

On June 19, 1865, that war finally having been won in the North's favor, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, took command of 2,000 federal troops in Texas, the last place in the former Confederate States of America where slavery still was practiced, and informed the people in that state that the practice was now over: 

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Idleness? Jeez, stereotypes start early, don't they? If they're as lazy as all that, what was the point in making them slaves in the first place? However, let's end this on an audaciously hopeful note with a quote by a man who was anything but idle:

Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.

--Barack Obama

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Back to Bataan



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. military launched a secret campaign to counter what it perceived as China’s growing influence in the Philippines, a nation hit especially hard by the deadly virus.

The clandestine operation has not been previously reported. It aimed to sow doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and other life-saving aid that was being supplied by China, a Reuters investigation found. Through phony internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos, the military’s propaganda efforts morphed into an anti-vax campaign. Social media posts decried the quality of face masks, test kits and the first vaccine that would become available in the Philippines – China’s Sinovac inoculation.

Good job of reporting, Reuters. Of course, it's just another reason for the rest of the world to hate our guts, but it's not morality that concerns me at the moment. What perhaps Reuters could investigate next is all the antivaxxing and antimasking sentiment that occurred here in the United States at the same time our enforcers were encouraging it in another country. Was what happened by design in the Philippines just happenstance in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Or was it also by design? If so, who did the designing? The Pentagon? The Octagon? And for what purpose? I doubt it was to curb Chinese influence in Alabama.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Senatorial Pride


A week and a half ago I did a post on the Pride march held in Downtown Cleveland. Well, that's not the only LGBTQ event of note in the great state of Ohio. Case in point, a smaller but still jam-packed (up to 1600 people) Pride festival took place in Cleveland's far-flung southern suburb of Broadview Heights this past Saturday, one with a special guest star, three-term Senator and straight ally Sherrod Brown, who's up for a fourth term this November. Now I've said the place was packed with people, and the crowd surrounding Senator Brown was especially thick, but I still managed to shake his hand anyway. It occurred to me afterward that this was as close as I've gotten to a celebrity since 1982 when General Hospital's Jacklyn Zeman (who died last year) made a personal appearance at the now defunct Parmatown Mall. At the time mightily laboring under the queer-free delusion that I was nothing less than a normal red-blooded healthy American male, I told Ms. Zeman that I thought she was the prettiest girl on GH (sorry, Genie, but you weren't there), to which she smiled and replied, "My mother would agree with you." As erotically charged as that response may be, in the end it just wasn't enough to keep me out of the club with the shirtless bartender and poster of Rita Moreno as Googie Gomez in The Ritz. The road not taken. Or rather, the road taken. Whatever. Getting back to Senator Brown, I had hoped to spend 30 to 45 minutes discussing with him everything from the Gaza Strip to the border situation to my suggestion that FDR's Supreme Court-packing bill be reintroduced into Congress. Unfortunately, standing right behind him was a burly man in a dark suit and dark glasses who looked like he was getting ready to smash me with his right thumb, so I hastily skedaddled out of there but not without first assuring the senator that he had my vote this fall. A long-time Democratic Party mainstay of Ohio politics, Brown has a very good progressive record, but I probably would vote for him even if he didn't, as the present-day GOP is as evil as any soap opera villain faced by Luke and Laura. Stay tuned.  


Saturday, June 8, 2024

Photo Finish (Not of This Moon Edition)


Earthrise, 1968

 The most influential environmental photograph ever taken.

--Galen Rowell, wilderness photographer

We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing was that we discovered the Earth.

--William Anders

Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders job on Christmas Eve, 1968 was to snap pictures of the lunar surface in preparation for the first manned landing sometime the next year, when he noticed this:

Black-and-white film was cheaper and more commonplace in the 1960s, which is why the first picture of the Earth taken in lunar orbit is monochromatic. However, a few rolls of color film were on board in case of a special occasion. Anders figured this was a special enough occasion and beckoned his fellow astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell:

Anders: Oh, my God! Look at that picture over there! There's the Earth coming up. Wow, that's pretty.  

Borman: (joking) Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled.                                                                    

Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim? Hand me a roll of color, quick, would you?                            

Lovell: Oh, man, that's great!

And that's how the famous color photo at the top of this post came to be, though Anders, Lowell, and Borman would have seen it from this angle:



Anders, 90, died yesterday when the plane he was piloting alone plunged into the waters off the San Juan Islands in Washington state.                 

Lovell, Anders, and Borman

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Rainbow Riposte

Castro Street

West Hollywood

Christopher Street

Downtown Cleveland?!?!

2023-2024 has not been exactly the best of times for the LGBTQ community, has it? In the last year or so, some 500 bills targeting gays, lesbians, and in particular the transgender community have been introduced in state legislatures across the USA. Not all of these bills have become law, but enough have to give any queer person pause. Yet the Pride celebrations continue unabated, and not just in such historical LGBTQ meccas as San Francisco and Greenwich Village, but even here in the flyover rust belt metropolis of Cleveland. Nevertheless, the question must be asked, given all the bad news, what exactly is being celebrated? 

That's easy. You tell you what, why don't you watch eight minutes of the Pride march that took place this past Saturday morning in Cleveland while I do some head-scratching and try to figure this whole thing out:

I've now decided there is something to celebrate, and that's the celebration itself.  This is the second Pride march I've participated in--my little UU church group wasn't caught on camera, I'm afraid--and there were a whole lot more people there this year than last year, the marchers--both members of the LGBTQ community and their allies--totaling around 7000. 7000! No official count yet on how many people watched the march or took part in the festivities held afterwards, but it was easily in the thousands as Cleveland's downtown was transformed into a sun-drenched super-duper cosplay Mad Tea Party for the masses. The glam masses, that is. Now, is there anything else I can tell you that the above video doesn't? Just this. There was more a sense of camaraderie between those marching and those watching this year. I dare say it was even communal. You saw all the waving to and fro in that clip, but there's more. Every so often a watcher yelled out, "Thank you for doing this!" Whenever they waved or I heard the thank-yous I felt at one with those people, an exceedingly rare occurrence for li'l old self-absorbed me. Hey, if it takes 7000 people to get over myself, so be it. I responded by mostly waving back at the crowd, but at one point I remember yelling out, "And thank you!" because, really, the marchers needed the watchers as much as the watchers needed the marchers. Without anyone watching, the whole shebang would have been nothing more than a huge exercise in talking to yourself (and I do that enough on my own anyway.) Thank you for doing this. Such an expression of solidarity is a reminder that as much as it may resemble Mardi Gras, a Pride march or parade is still very much a political statement, a form of social activism. Nothing to celebrate? Darling, we have not yet begun to party!






Saturday, June 1, 2024

Graphic Grandeur (Down for All Counts Edition)

Sure, he's been found guilty of a felony, but is there still a chance he could avoid...


Upcoming illustration (the magazine hasn't hit the stands yet) by John Cuneo.