Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Mama, Your Company, and Your Fighting Kitten

A warning to protectors of gene pools everywhere as our “Month of Eugenics” finale: Kennedy (not the presidential one, nor the cute ex-VJ one), doing “Your Mama.”

Markets, like biological evolution (and philosophy, science, tradition, journalistic fact-checking...) are a constant weeding-out process, and it’s important to reaffirm once in a while that we free-marketeers are not giving our blessing to everything done by any and every existing company.  On the contrary, we look forward to the day when every single one of them will be a thing of the past, succeeded by even better companies.

I was particularly happy to hear about a thieving store called Computer World in the East 20s going out of business years ago, and similar con artistry, disturbingly, was the order of the day at a more-established CompUSA outlet in Manhattan.  I am also pleased to see Consumer Research (more market-savvy than the lefty Cosumer Reports) slam the crappy-printer-selling HP.

The piece also informs me I could have gotten a $25 check for my very similar (known, built-in, ignored) problem with a piece-of-shit Epson Stylus C86 printer had I made my claim by 2006 (I was receiving unsolicited occasional notices in the mail about the progress of that class action suit – up until about the time the rules for the settlement were decided upon, at which point I stopped receiving information, alas).  For a while, it appeared the resolution would be a coupon for additional products from Epson, which is not encouraging, needless to say.

Lest people ever make the mistake of thinking that my belief in markets means a servility to particular existing companies, rest assured I’d be happy to see people at companies who knowingly defraud customers go to jail instead of just paying fines and lawyer fees and moving on to the next project.  Government isn’t the only institution that steals, just the only one that does nothing else. 

But perhaps one last note on biological evolution is in order before moving on to my “Month of Political Conflict” starting tomorrow: I think this kitten has discovered a surprisingly effective new fighting style.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon -- The Greatest Film Ever Made

I saw something beautiful in IMAX 3D, and it was Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  I felt as dirty and stupid after the previous two Transformers as any intellectual should, don’t get me wrong – but Michael Bay has perfected his unique craft. 

And there are wingsuits, the real-life man-as-flying-squirrel outfits that I praised in one of the parts no one remembers from my appearance on that ninety-minute C-SPAN2 broadcast last year.  In IMAX 3D.  The Transformers, I mean, not the C-SPAN2 thing, though I trust with better lighting on everyone, the latter would also have been fit for IMAX 3D. 

Futhermore: The robots are no longer too visually complicated to follow.  The human dialogue is kept to a minimum, aside from yelling about action stuff.  Military-vehicle porn has been traded for Chicago-architecture porn (closer to my heart).  But fear not, neocons – those wingsuits are not exactly being worn by pacifists, the American flag flies majestically, and, yes, there is even an Autobot raid on a Middle Eastern nuclear facility.  Optimus Prime has merely traded his gung-ho talk for more-explicit freedom talk – and placed this film in an explicit debate with Star Trek in the process.  The tide may indeed be turning.  

Don’t tell executive producer Spielberg what it all really means (then again, if even John Lennon was becoming a conservative toward the end, maybe there’s hope for Spielberg – and maybe it’s time conspiracy theorists shift tactics and start asking whether that’s why they took Lennon out; no, don’t). 

Thank goodness the final Harry Potter (itself pretty cool-looking from the trailers) doesn’t come out for another two and a half weeks, giving America ample time to transfer the GDP to a deserving Michael Bay. 


Related bonus news:

•The trailer for Real Steel, about a washed-up boxer played by Hugh Jackman training an old robot to fight, made clear that they should at least have considered marketing it as Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots: The Motion Picture.  In any case, it is another reminder we shall “evolve” into the robots in the end, and robot butlers will at last quietly vanquish monkey butlers – but may the robots never forget their primate roots.

•If the trailer for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol looks superior to the previous three M:I movies, it may be because the director is Brad Bird of The Incredibles and the tragically-overlooked robot tale Iron Giant, now permitted to play with real people (and Tom Cruise). 

•Here’s a PSA from a couple years ago, though, reminding you not to take robots lightly. 

•In other animation news, the whole Monty Python gang – yes, even the late Graham Chapman – is getting together to do the voice roles in a new movie.  This is good.  If ever there were an honorable way to use a dead actor in a movie, this is it. 


Added joy from the new Transformers: relishing the absence – and Hitler-related downfall – of the “dumb as rocks” Megan Fox.

Let the record show that despite her physical beauty, I always

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Scarry Women and a Giant Spaceman in Europe

I’m not sure if they’re products of eugenics, but behold Fiona and Olympia Scarry – the Austrian/French/Italian/New York/London-dwelling granddaughters of beloved children’s illustrator Richard Scarry (had I known what I was helping to create when asking my parents to buy the book Busytown...).

Olympia (left in the linked photo) tells interviewers she was long a spiked-collar-wearing goth unable to truly love, after her teenage years in New York City – but has since studied both psychology and art and gained a broader social network, after her art opening in Milan, which dealt in part with the oppression of women by the fashion industry and employed bra and panty imagery.

On her Twitter feed, she notes that she is “the most outrageous woman ever” and that she “hates retarded man,” who I believe is a Viennese superhero. 

I would sacrifice both women to Odin if I thought it would resurrect Grandpa.

And speaking of characters appearing in Marvel Comics, you might be pleased to learn that in current Marvel canon, SHIELD is not just a spy organization headed by Samuel L. Jackson but in fact a Da Vinci Code-like brotherhood that existed long before its U.S.-government incarnation, founded by ancient Egyptian chancellor Imhotep with help from the original, ancient Moon Knight and the first mutant, Apocalypse – and with later members including Da Vinci (who had operational ornithopters and the ability to time-travel to the present) and Galileo, who apparently once battled the planet-eating giant named Galactus.

I hope all that somehow makes it into the Captain America movie next month.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Manhattans, a Roast, Some Veggies

•You can read an article on Egypt, Tunisia, and political change by tonight’s Manhattans Project guest of honor, Saif Ammous, if you have a Financial Times subscription.  (Or catch him – and the rest of us – in person at Langan’s tonight, 7-10pm, way in the back room, 47th just east of 7th.)

•Remember, next month, you can also see me “roasted” down at Lolita Bar at the Bastille Day (Thur., July 14, 7:30pm) event called That Which Roasts Todd Seavey Makes Him Stronger, featuring speakers such as Berin Szoka of TechFreedom, a group that just published the forward-looking book The Next Digital Decade.

•Another of the speakers appearing at that Bastille Day roast, Diana Fleischman, e-mailed to report that she saw my friend Tibbie X getting tattooed on the new show NY Ink – and to remind me that I live in a tough city where even pad Thai can cause fights, involving an opera singer no less (who was later acquitted).  New York has its moments, but they’re nothing compared to L.A., where it’s gettin’ real in the Whole Foods parking lot, as a vegan like Diana should be forewarned.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Russia Destroy You from Space!

Watch this clip (noted by Gerard Perry) of an opposition party leader in Russia (referred to as “Mad Bad Vlad” by Russian-speaking Eugene Volokh) threatening to destroy the world with secret space weapons over trade disputes – while a news anchor appears to be having a hard time keeping a straight face (3 min.).  She’d look sadder, I think, if it occurred to her how close this is to the plot of Phantom Menace.

We can discuss the geopolitical implications of all this if we run out of things to say about the Middle East tomorrow night at Langan’s (7-10pm, in the far-back room, with Saif Ammous as guest of honor and suspected protocol droid). 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Politically-Divided Families, Including Libertarian Factions

A good sign of whether people are wrong is whether they want to limit and squelch debate itself (says the known debate-organizer).  A corollary is that I keep finding that my favorite people tend to come from politically- or philosophically-mixed families, or at least from a background that meant (whether at home, school, or work) they often had to cope with being told they were wrong. 

To put it a bit more cruelly, in cases where open-mindedness has not resulted, I at least love it when, say, very-left-wing New York-dwellers (almost invariably relatively-fun ones even if they’re angry and nuts, as opposed to staid establishment types) at some point tell me they have ornery conservative parents – especially if they hail from a rural region, because then you know damn well they have to just put up with it sometimes (family reunions, childhood, Grandma’s Baptist funeral, etc.).

I say this out of a desire to facilitate healthy dialogue, you understand – and I say as I head off to visit my own parents, aunt, grandmother, and parents’ relatively-new dog Mac (a Scottie) in New England this weekend.

I also say this just after two reminders reach me of how many disagreements there are just within my own “political family,” namely the libertarian movement:

1. The Times noted the long, argumentative comment thread that resulted from an attempt to define libertarianism – and, oddly enough, one of the few resources to which the Times directed people at the end of the article was a mostly-humorous piece by Andrew Corsello from GQ about Ayn Rand’s influence that quoted me, Michael Malice, and Nick Gillespie among others (and for more Rand, run quickly to the one or two remaining performances at Brick Theater in Williamsburg of the comic-book-based play Action Philosophers, which contains a lengthy and funny Rand bio segment).

2. When a friend newly interested in libertarianism asked for explanation of the surprising factionalism he encountered (in a still-small movement), I dashed off the following taxonomy, which I admit is quick and hasty (and here edited to be even shorter) but fairly accurate, I dare say:

Friday, June 24, 2011

10 TV and Rock n’ Roll Notes: Ron Paul, Weird Al, Jackass, Lady Gaga, and More

Before another increasingly-frequent Williamsburg visit this evening (more on that neighborhood in the months ahead) – and a visit to the parents, grandmother, aunt, and parents’ relatively-new Scottie named Mac this weekend – a few TV and rock notes:

•It was nice to see Ron Paul loosen up and laugh like a regular Joe at Colbert’s golden calf question the other night.  He should do that more often, preferably from the Oval Office. 

•Weird Al has released his Lady Gaga parody video, which may be more disturbing than an actual Gaga video – but pretty much captures how I feel about the fast-fading faux-freak.  My favorite rhyme in it is probably “I might be wearing Swiss cheese/ Or maybe covered with bees.”  I didn’t claim Weird Al is deep.  Just better than Lady Gaga. 

•Gaga’s frenetic prop-deployment reminds me a bit of the slight embarrassment I felt upon realizing that I had been talking to one of America’s most-traditionalist writers once when I was half-jokingly praising the aggressively trashy, postmodernist-montage cable access TV show Concrete TV – which consisted mostly of rapidly-intercut clips of old kung fu fights, wrestling, explosions, car crashes, and vintage stripper reels – in short, the good stuff with no waiting (or need for virtues such as patience). 

•But Concrete TV is still awesome, and now you can find it online, though it looks a bit less shocking than it did when a patient but no doubt saddened Kalb had that conversation with a young recent college grad back in the 90s.  Then it was futurist (in the art movement sense), now we just live in that future. 

•Jim Kalb’s occasional bar gatherings back in the day (called Tuesday Night Traditonalists, not at all to be confused with Gersh Kuntzman’s Tuesday Night Tradition bar gatherings of that same era, except in the sense that you might have found me at either, as is my wont) would sometimes draw folk such as a then-young paleoconservative named Tom Woods, not to be confused...

•...with libertarian Tom Walls (though I’m sure it happens), who recommends a cover song by the Dutch band the Madd.  Here’s the original by Los Shakers for comparison – so in some sense the Shakers had offspring.  And Dawn Eden notes that the Madd reached the Top 20 backing a rapper at one point. 

•In other rock news, I just want to note that a guy from Decemberists and Robert Pollard from Guided by Voices are now the core of a band called Boston Spaceships (located in Ohio).  Maybe it’s safe now to confess my feeling that Guided by Voices sounded to me like incomplete sketches of songs – a feeling that seems borne out by the stats, which show that Pollard has written 1,300 “songs.”  He’s talented, but that sort of number has to be viewed with the same suspicion as a claim to have written 1,300 good sci-fi novels.

•It also occurs to me that Buzzcocks, Guided by Voices, the Wedding Present, and Sebadoh all sound slightly similar at times, which is not a knock against any of them

•I was like totally trapped inside a building by cops at a Buzzcocks concert once, man – although, uh, it was because the police were examining a suspected bomb outside at a time of heightened terrorism worry, so it’s not as punk rock as it sounds.

•Speaking of car crashes – here’s a defense of Ebert, who called the drunk-driving recently-deceased Jackass cast member a jackass.  I suspect there are a lot of millennials, overly influenced by Jackass and Fight Club at a formative age, who are still having a hard time processing the fact that bad behavior can actually kill you rather than just impress some of your less intelligent peers.

It’s Darwin in action, in keeping with this blog’s “Month of Eugenics” theme, and even if a few of those taken out are ostensibly hip and talented, we’ll somehow move on without them, much as I wish everyone could have been spared the pain of the incident.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bachmannia, the Future, and Philosophy

Even if she turns out to be nuts, Bachmann suddenly leaping from nowhere to 24% in GOP voter polls – and seemingly-inevitable Romney dropping to 15, tied with Cain (with Paul behind them at 10 and the others in single digits) – pleased me, not just because she’s the head of the House Tea Party Caucus (with a libertarian co-writing her book) or because she genuinely seemed more alert than everyone else during the second GOP candidates debate but also just because it’s nice to know things are still unpredictable. 

And indeed, the future is often more fluid than we realize.  To wit:

•My philosopher/physicist/entrepreneur pal Bob Doyle from last December’s American Philosophical Association gathering in Boston (the first thing I ever tweeted about) would even argue that certain things – namely people – are radically unpredictable and has written a book defending the concept of free will (though I am a determinist, to the horror of some libertarians, not to mention, most likely, Bob).

•Here’s a visual reminder of the difference between L.A. today and a videogame depicting L.A. in 1947, in the form of a simultaneous walk through both (noted by Brett Ruiz), which should keep you humble about predicting what, say, New York City 2075 will look like.

Critical Review Vol. 22 No. 4 is entirely devoted to the issue of whether “experts” – even in principle – are likely to make better-than-random predictions about the political and social future, and it’s not so clear that they are, which is the sort of taboo, elite-smashing, narrative-complicating point that I think we as a civilization may need to get more brazen about making (I’m looking at you, academia and government and media and priesthood and...).

•Iceland did not see the anarchist/punk Best Party coming, but they’re still governing Reykjavik. 

•I feel a bit guilty picking on this philosophy writer, but the sheer banality of the opening paragraphs is a reminder how opaque the future is.

And speaking of philosophy, now I must dash to Williamsburg (I could get used to that place) to see the 7pm performance of the play Action Philosophers at Brick Theater, along with Bachmann’s eminently sane fellow Minnesotan Ali Kokmen.  He’s pals with the guy who wrote the original comic book, you know.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Foreskins, Eugenics, and Buck Rogers

•The future clearly lies in ever-easier cultural mixing-and-matching – and no idiot paleos on the right or anti-globalization activists on the left can do a damn thing to stop it.  I just saw a cool photo of two friends’ heads painted into a Bollywood action film poster, a wedding gift from New Yorkers Lefty Leibowitz and Emily Fromm depicting Texas newlyweds L.B. Deyo and Ellie Hanlon, handpainted in Mumbai.  Do you think the future will bring more things like that or fewer?  (Do you think higher tariffs and stricter international labor laws would or should prevent it?)

•But there are undeniably interesting cases where it’s unclear how much deference to give to the locals/traditionalists vs. ostensibly more-universal standards.  Conservative rabbi Shmuley Boteach is now up in arms over anti-circumcision activists using comic books full of evil mohels as propaganda for their cause.  Boteach calls it flat-out anti-Semitism, although (A) I’m (of course) inclined to give cartoonists a fair amount of leeway (how does one depict evil mohels without mocking Judaism?) and (B) I’m sympathetic to the anti-circumcision argument that the decision to have a significant portion of your body removed probably ought to be made by you (as an adult) when possible instead of by others (when you’re a defenseless baby). 

Boteach notes that science is on his side in that foreskins make contracting AIDS more likely, but that’s an argument that can be made to an adult years later, of course.  And I can’t help wondering how many conservatives who invoke that bit of science as sufficient reason to hack off part of the penis are the same people who recoil in horror and offense at the suggestion that their kids get anti-HPV vaccination shots now to reduce the risk of STDs years hence.  Even stronger scientific argument, far less intrusive procedure. 

On this as on so many things, though, I think Boteach needs a thicker skin.

•The name Boteach reminds me of one of my favorite items from the site OverheardinNewYork, co-founded by my fellow atheist-anarchist Michael Malice.  A kid on the subway reportedly told his friends that a nearby poster for a college said you could learn about “bee-otch” there, to which one of his friends said: That’s biotech, stupid. 

And that brings us back to eugenics, the ostensible theme of the month on this blog.  Genetic and physical enhancement is not a bad thing, though it’s also worth keeping in mind humanity’s terrible track record at deciding what (or who) is unworthy.  I have only just learned, in looking into this topic, that the Pioneer Fund, the premier organization for funding sometimes-crazy, sometimes-legit research into human genetic diversity – including the controversial book The Bell Curve – is in my neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (who knew?). 

Called white supremacists and a “hate group” by the

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 Thoughts About SUPER-WEAPONS

1. Green Lantern was lame.  In spite of the limitless possibilities of a ring that can reshape reality, it wasn’t even lame in an interesting way.  Indeed, DC Comics now has its Daredevil, so to speak. 

It’s not even dumbed-down 50s comics, it’s dumbed-down Geoff Johns-written stuff from the past six years – dumbed down by co-producer Johns himself, presumably: the planet Ryut, the potential creation of a Sinestro Corps, etc.  It’s all there – but still uninteresting. 

The fact that recent depictions in the comics of the Green Lantern villain I once loved, Krona, have clearly been a scramble to make the tone of the comics jibe better with the film only makes me feel as though the cancer of the movie’s badness has been spreading for some time – and to no real purpose, since both the bad film and the current version of DC Comics reality will be forgotten by summer’s end. 

There’s a funny Onion News piece about how little anyone cares about Green Lantern that faux-quotes star Ryan Reynolds saying he’s been a Green Lantern fan ever since he learned he’d be starring as Green Lantern.

More troubling – at the risk of me sounding yellow – is a real New York Times quote from Peter Sarsgaard, who plays the film’s villain and is apparently Catholic: “I like the death-cult aspect of Catholicism.  Every religion is interested in death, but Catholicism takes it to a particularly high level...Seriously, in Catholicism, you’re supposed to love your enemy.  That really impressed me as a kid, and it has helped me as an actor...The way that I view the characters I play is part of my religious upbringing.  To abandon curiosity in all personalities, good or bad, is to give up hope in humanity.” 

Combined with the fact that he dated burlesque model Dita von Teese, this makes me fear he’s one of those darkness-excusing bad Catholics of whom I’ve become more conscious in the past couple years (despite the Pope’s efforts to convince you that we utilitarian pro-science types are the source of moral nihilism in the world).  Maybe Parallax hasn’t been banished. 

(One more DC Comics thought: since Superman has been walking across America in recent months and is apparently single again in the new DC Comics universe, maybe instead of just having his marital status be altered by the change in the cosmos, they should end his current comic with him walking back to Metropolis and saying, “Lois, I’ve been walking – and I’ve been thinking...”)

2. I derived far more pleasure from the brief intro animation sequence from the new videogame Star Wars: The Old Republic than from the entire Green Lantern movie.  Really, check it out.  And I’m not even a gamer. 

3. The picture above from next month’s Captain America movie – of villain the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) holding the reality-altering Cosmic Cube – makes me think

Monday, June 20, 2011

Independents, Libertarians, Philosophers, and Pomplamoose

The last time Gerry Ohrstrom organized a book-launch party in NYC, it was for Incognito by David Eagleman, which delves into the countless impressive, even disturbing things that the brain does unconsciously.  At the event, I talked to another prominent science writer who’s studying personality types – and that led me to a misanthropic thought, not that it takes much.

With a country of religious people, left-liberal big-government fans, moderates, greens, and capitalists, I think you’re basically looking at a population made up of – respectively – the delusional, the destructive, the unthinking, the anti-human, and the shallow.  Given those five horrible choices, I side with shallow, and you should too, even if I don’t necessarily want to hang around with some of them. 

(This thought does not qualify as my foray into neuroscience, the subject area into which so many political writers seem to be moving lately, from David Brooks and Will Wilkinson to Ryan Sager and Ken Silber.  It’s a neural pattern – ha!  I just hope that if the statist Brooks develops telepathic powers as a result of his research, the libertarianish other three will join forces to combat him.)

Gerry’s latest event is for the co-authors of a volume arguing that the moderates aren’t as confused and clueless as I have made them out to be above, though.  My fellow libertarians Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch argue in The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America that a growing number of self-declared independents are people who are not just apathetic but rightly fed up with the Republican/Democrat Punch and Judy show (and the right/left spectrum imported from Europe to justify those parties’ loosely-held principles).  A fine article adapted from the book appeared in the Wall Street Journal, and the book itself hits shelves Tuesday next week. 

This week is shaping up to be a perfect Seavey tetralogy, actually – that always requiring doses, roughly speaking, of politics, fantasy, skepticism, and music.  Well:

•in addition to the aforementioned political event,
•I’m seeing the extended version of the second Lord of the Rings movie tomorrow (Kip’s Bay 7pm),
•a Brick Theater stage version of the historical comic book Action Philosophers on Thursday (original art from which I was given by Nybakken and Malice, by the way),
•and the band Pomplamoose on Friday (making it two nights in Williamsburg in a row).

And just so I don’t leave out science (which I tend to lump under “skepticism” in my brain), let me put in a word for biotech, which idiot Luddites in Belgium have been impeding by destroying genetically-modified plants (as Chuck Blake pointed out to me).  People in Belgium apparently hate plants being different as much as the British hate visiting magicians such as David Blaine making spectacles of themselves.  In England, they cruelly taunted and heckled Blaine during one of his stunts simply because they thought he was being pretentious.  Here, we’d applaud him, strive to outdo him, or ignore him.  Outside of politics, we don’t always demand that extreme behavior be moderated.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father’s Day Thoughts on Politics

Romney's still way in the lead among GOP candidates – about 33% among GOP voters – but the biggest upward leap after the second candidates debate was for Bachmann, who’s now at about 19, with every other declared GOP candidate in single digits or so. 

It may have been shallow things like her mention of her numerous children or her confident tone of voice that caused the bump – or just the fact that she isn’t Sarah Palin (whose wearing of a Star of David necklace when she visited NYC recently may have partly made up for what some saw as her clumsy use of a “blood libel” metaphor but still left her seeming clearly a shiksa).  Regardless, it wouldn’t be such bad timing to have the official head of the House’s Tea Party Caucus as the Republican nomine, or v.p. candidate.  Bachmann really sounded noticeably more alert than most of the others, I gotta say, though that doesn’t necessarily mean she – or any of them – are fully sane.  She mentioned libertarians in a positive way and said the ’12 race should be about econ instead of culture, which helps, even if it’s not quite as reassuring as Mitch Daniels’ “truce” talk.

(I mean, I’d prefer Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, don’t get me wrong, but they’re both down in the single digits with almost all the others, so it seems like it’ll be Romney, Bachmann, or someone not yet officially in the race, such as Perry, Palin, or Christie.)

We could do worse than having a president who thinks his or her numerous grandkids need spending cuts and deregulation to assure their futures rather than more spending and scheming by the likes of Obama.


One man who is not impressed by children, though – and likely would not be impressed by their attempts to draw their own Father’s Day cards – is the comedic pro-male writer Maddox, who sets out in his new book and website to demonstrate that his artwork is better than that of your children, or as he puts it, I Am Better Than Your Kids.

In North Carolina years ago, the solution to your lame kids might well have been eugenics, as Diana Fleischman points out to me.  No one will deny that troubled state needs particular help, and Diana herself is fleeing from it to England – but not without stopping in NYC on Bastille Day (7:30pm, Lolita Bar) to speak at the event called That Which Roasts Todd Seavey Makes Him Stronger.  Join us.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Women, Vegetables, Apes, DC Comics, and Star Trek

Diana Fleischman pointed out to me that while Americans are somewhat-predictably divided along right/left lines about “social” issues like gay marriage, the genders are not that divided on such issues – not even abortion (except in so far as men are slightly more pro-choice, contrary to 80% of feminist rhetoric) – except when it comes to animal-related issues, on which, to put it crudely, women are about twice as likely to care.  That’s huge compared to the small gender gaps on other issues. 

Whether the women are right or wrong (and I suspect in the super-long-run humans probably will make less use of other species, largely due to artificial substitutes getting cheaper), I suspect women are drawn to those issues by maternal instincts – just as they are apparently slightly more opposed to aborting fetuses and (as Diana’s own research has explored) significantly more likely to be disgusted by meat, which can contain fetus-harming microbes. 

Female vegetarians are about three times more numerous than male vegetarians, and as far as I know, this is not because vegetables actually transform male genitalia into female genitalia (and if they did, I have no idea how that would affect the mermen and mermaids in today’s annual Mermaid Day Parade at Coney Island, which cartoonist Dame Darcy and countless other oddballs will be celebrating). 

Diana also notes that the director of the impending August reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes was keen not only to raise animal welfare issues with the movie but to avoid using real apes in the film (check out the latest version of the trailer in that article), points out a serious documentary about humans raising a chimp (Project Nim), and for good measures notes this conversation with a philosopher who argues we’d all be better off if we’d never been born anyway.


Speaking of nerd reboots like the Apes movie, which are the truly

Friday, June 17, 2011

Urban Planners vs. Green Lantern, John Galt, and U2

If you are a Green Lantern, you build things out of green energy using sheer willpower, possibly including box office receipts if necessary. 

If you are Edge from lefty-evangelical band U2, you get a taste of green-inspired red tape when you try to build in Malibu, and one official tells you “In thirty-eight years of this commission’s existence, this is one of the three worst projects I’ve seen in terms of environmental devastation.” 

(Katherine Taylor gets credit for pointing that item out to me and – along with ex-VJ Kennedy who has twice now tweeted at me urging me to speak in California – gets credit for convincing me I need to make a trip to L.A. in the fall or in 2012.  Venue suggestions welcome.  Ditto invites to be on your radio show.)

If you are the government, of course, you build things out of money you have taken from people by threatening to put them in jail at gunpoint, and you often build on land you have taken from them by force as well.  That’s why your time might be better spent this weekend seeing the documentary The Battle for Brooklyn, about the government’s seizure of property for the Atlantic Yards project, if Green Lantern seems a bit too fanciful. 

If you are John Galt or Howard Roark, you build without consulting government, but if you are John Aglialoro, the producer of the mediocre Atlas Shrugged movie, you hesitate before building another money-losing Rand-based movie and, according to one interview, are considering producing a script called Poker Room inspired by your experiences as a poker player instead.  You know when to gamble and when to fold, it seems.  

(Speaking of Rand, you just know some cold-hearted monster is going to try to make this poor man sound like a metaphor for the welfare state – and the parasitic mindset it encourages.  A true eugenicist might be less than alarmed by the man’s threat to commit suicide.)

If you are Weiner, you erect a promising political career and then destroy it with lust and Twitter. 

If you are Camille Wainer, by contrast, you make a documentary of a different sort about Brooklyn, namely Thou Art: Williamsburg, about multiple artists living there.  And you seek distribution advice for the project, by the way.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green Lantern Now Has the Power to Suck

•Word on the street is that the Green Lantern movie is not so good.  All the more reason, I suppose, for DC Comics to be grateful that September brings a fresh start for its fifty-two ongoing superhero comics, all rebooting from issue #1. 

•But even then, the comic book Green Lantern may prove mockable.  There’ll be not just a Green lantern corps but multiple colors, already reminding at least one commenter of...Care Bears. 

•I guess that’s preferable to everyone being reminded that the idea of the space police team known as the Green Lantern Corps was actually heavily influenced by the eugenics-themed 1920s novels by E.E. “Doc” Smith about the similar interplanetary force known as the Lensmen (whose leaders, called the Watchmen, even fretted over things like the spines and posture of females who might mate with Lensmen leaders). 

•The Jedi also seem to have been influenced by the Lensmen, though if the idea of the Jedi had actually existed back in the early twentieth century, maybe they would have looked a bit like these steampunk Star Wars models.

•One Green Lantern Corps member who presumably won’t be seen so much anymore is the recently-killed sentient planet named Mogo (created by Alan Moore in the story “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize”) – but he lives on in the new animated film Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.  And apparently one of the villains on that DVD is voiced by Rowdy Roddy Piper, star of They Live, among other things. 

•I, of course, have a soft spot for the Green Lantern villain Krona – who I believe is glimpsed in the Green Lantern movie – since I used him in the ten-page DC Comics story I wrote years ago (and I dare say the anti-Green Lantern Corps I created, the Hand of Krona, would work well on screen, hint hint royalties hint hint). 

•But who would win a fight between Krona’s multi-colored

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ANNOUNCING: 6/27 Middle East talk! 7/14 “Roast” of Todd!!

Peace in the Middle East?  Vegans roasting a living being?  When pigs fly, you say?  Read on!

•Our monthly Manhattans Project gathering for June happens one week later than it normally would, which means that on Monday, June 27 (the fourth Monday of the month), we’ll eat and drink at Langan’s (47th just east of 7th in Midtown Manhattan) at 7pm and hear briefly from guest of honor Saif Ammous, libertarian and econ instructor, about what he’s learning about regional political upheaval during his sojourn in the Middle East.  (You’re not going to stay home and let him have the last word, are you?)


•Next month, Bastille Day (Thur., July 14, 7:30pm) brings the most important event in the history of Lolita Bar (266 Broome St., one block south of Delancey St. on the Lower East Side):

That Which Roasts Todd Seavey Makes Him Stronger

Yes, at someone’s mischievous suggestion, your favorite libertarian atheist sci-fi nerd will be subjected to comedic commentary and constructive ridicule from a stellar array of his wittiest acquaintances, forming a Bastille Day panel of judgment (three of them vegans or near-vegans for some reason, four of them libertarians, nearly all atheists, and each one ready to give Todd what for):

•quantitative analyst and skeptic Chuck Blake!

•short, busty librarian Laura Braunstein!

•history prof and Nat’l Lampoon vet Christine Caldwell Ames!

•comics editor and NYPress survivor Scott Nybakken!

•debates-founder and roller derby pimp Lefty Leibowitz!

•evolutionary psychology expert Diana Fleischman!

•and special guest star Berin Szoka from (on Todd not having a cell phone until 2011 and the threat he represents to progress)!

There is more to an epic roast than meat, fellow citizen – and on Bastille Day, you’ll see who can really dish it out!

(As for the events that transpire after this one... Change may be in the air.  More soon.  For now, note that another Lolita Bar speaker, Andy McCarthy of Pretty in Pink fame, is writing a memoir about how his travel writing helped him overcome his fear of commitment.  Sorry, girls.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The New DC Comics Universe, featuring Karl Rove

Tonight is the premiere of the ABC Family show The Nine Lives of Chloe King, based on novels by my friend Elizabeth Braswell about a girl with cat powers (the show may also help fill the “Chloe gap” left by the end of Smallville).  I will have to DVR it, as I will be seeing a one-night-only release of the extended edition Fellowship of the Ring (7pm at Kip’s Bay – and let me know if you want to claim my second ticket for the nearly-four-hour elf-filled epic [UPDATE: The ticket has been seized!]).  The Geek Gods are cruel when they schedule things sometimes. 

(Speaking of women with cat powers, I wonder who would win a fight between Chloe King, Nastassja Kinski, and Jessica Alba, plus Eartha Kitt, Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Maggie Baird, Julia Rose, and Anne Hathaway...and the voices of Jane Webb, Meledny Britt, Adrienne Barbeau, Gina Gershon, Nika Futterman, Eliza Dushku, Vanessa Marshall, P.J. Mattson, Kelly Huston, Laura Post, Grey DeLisle, and Lorelei King.  I’d watch that fight, which might look a bit like this one mentioned in a prior entry.)

But even geekier things than that are afoot, since DC Comics officially unveiled its fifty-two impending comic book series, all starting from issue #1 in September, along with a slightly-tweaked shared fictional universe and a blitz of TV ads in a last-ditch effort to get the general public to notice comics (even if they end up hating the Green Lantern movie, as it is rumored they will – but more about that in two days).

Some thoughts on the new DC Universe, or “DCnU,” as people have been calling it:

•The new Animal Man artist is named Travel Foreman, and though that series is not supposed to be as metafictional as it was in the days when Grant Morrison wrote it, I still think they should consider having the characters hear the rumbling of truck tires and approaching trains from time to time and ominously intone that “the Travel Foreman is approaching.”

•As seems to be the case every time DC revises its universe’s fictional history, it’s unclear which elements of the past remain intact and which are wholly revised.  In particular, though we know there are three Justice League teams on the way in September, we’ve so far seen no reference to the Justice Society, Freedom Fighters, Marvel Family (Shazam et al), pulp-era heroes such as the Spirit and Doc Savage, and a couple of the lesser Charlton Comics heroes such as the Question. 

Before all this reboot stuff happened, the aforementioned Grant Morrison had been planning to use at least some of those old-fashioned characters as inhabitants of alternate universes (the way DC used to depict them) in a big miniseries called Multiversity.  My theory about why we haven’t seen them mentioned as part of the September relaunch is that

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pre-GOP Debate Politics Round-Up (plus: How Libertarian Is Todd Seavey?)

The polls lately show that Romney is the favorite presidential candidate of about a quarter of Republicans, with Palin way behind him around 15% – and everyone else down in single digits.  Under those circumstances – and with the election nearly a year and a half away – I try to tell myself not to waste time worrying about questions like these:

•Why did they invite Republican candidates who didn’t technically qualify to be in tonight’s debate in New Hampshire to be there but not libertarian Republican Gary Johnson?  (I may join a bunch of libertarians who are watching the debate tonight at King’s Tavern from 8-10pm at 222 East 14th, by the way.)
•Should Johnson throw his faltering support to more-popular Ron Paul or vice versa? 
•Could it be that Paul has a better (albeit small) shot at winning the nomination than (pro-choice) Johnson but that only Johnson could win the general election (since Paul’s “fringe” baggage is so easily targeted, much as I like him)? 
•Is Palin getting more libertarian lately?  Is Bachmann? 
•Why did Mitch Daniels hurt me like this?

The way things are going, the only question that may truly matter is: Will the (libertarian-written) Book of Mormon winning at the Tonys last night help make Romney seem more mainstream?  (Not to mention Hunstman.  And Mormon-convert Glenn Beck.  And one of my exes.)

Perry or Christie or Ryan or someone could still change that, of course.  And Huckabee threatens to reconsider (no, please no). 

In the meantime, a few more quick thoughts that will be going through my head during the debate:

•I miss Steve Forbes, even though the sell-out started saying skeptical things about Darwin in his second campaign, presumably to compensate for being a smart, well-educated, New Jersey-dwelling economics expert.
•In an Economist post about Johnson, Will Wilkinson admitted that there doesn’t (yet?) seem to be much of a constituency for “liberaltarianism,” which shows admirable humility on his part – but he still doesn’t seem to accept that right-leaning libertarianism is happening, in a

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Eugenics Entry in My “Month of Eugenics” (and Labor Unions)

Let me preface this eugenics-themed entry with the assurance that I’m not out to exterminate the developmentally disabled.  Indeed, recent days have brought a vivid reminder (noted on Drudge) that in a conflict between labor unions and the developmentally disabled, I am wholeheartedly pro-retard. 

(Labor unions are a far greater threat to society than retardation, as I have also been reminded by one of those stupid inflatable rats outside the apartment building across the street from me in recent days.  The law says one must negotiate with a band of demanding thugs if they call themselves a union.  Property rights and basic morality say you should be free to tell people they won’t be hired in the first place – and need not apply – if they even harbor pro-union sentiments.  But I’ll save the econ thoughts for tomorrow’s pre-GOP-debate entry.)

All right, what with one topic and another, this is shrinking into more of a eugenics day than a eugenics month, so I’ll just make the main point briefly here, and if we’re lucky the theme will resonate in at least a few other entries.  

The Nazis were about as awful as anything in human history – and the forgotten scandal of their core eugenics ideas being shared by numerous other societies (and multiple political persuasions) at the time is important.  However, it is crucial to remember that it was their violence – coercive regulations, imprisonment, and mass murder – that made them evil, and their scientific errors that made them empirically wrong, not an interest in genetics per se. 

We all seek mates based in part on subconscious (and imperfect and varying) metrics of genetic superiority – even if consciously we’re thinking about other things (even people like me who don’t plan to have kids – and even gays).  Strength, symmetry, everyday signs of intelligence or physical grace – they all add up, even if people are only consciously aware of some fuzzy notion like “hotness,” and even if those instincts can easily be fooled and made to lead people astray (breast implants that may distract a moron or adorn a moron, strength that may be used to beat children instead of defend them, money and resources belying a shallow personality that portends a lifetime of well-manicured tedium, etc., etc.).

There is no logical reason to think we, like Prof. X, should not take an interest in

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Serenity Now! And Raw Power!

Acclaimed children’s illustrator Brian Floca (who I saw at our Brown reunion last month) points out this massive chart of different superhuman powers.  (This may come in handy for organizing information spewing out of the Los Angeles movie convention where DC Comics co-publishers Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are today discussing DC’s relaunch of all its comics/characters.)

One person who has crime-fighting powers of which I was unaware is Seinfeld veteran Jason Alexander, who apparently is, in all seriousness, a master of multiple martial arts, has devised his own fighting style, and has even beaten up muggers on two different occasions, breaking one fellow’s arm in two places (so says my pal Nybakken, who has some theatrical fight-training and the like himself, I should note, so beware).

The Seinfeld cast was full of surprises.  I wonder if the cast of the show that taught us to use the mantra “Serenity now!” to avoid (or cause) violence would endorse the claim made by Prof. X in X-Men: First Class that the sweet spot for controlling one’s powers lies halfway between rage and serenity...which sounds like it would just be sort of a normal, boring state of mind, actually.  Sort of like being halfway between extreme danger and perfect safety.  Whatever. 

Speaking of battles, Dan Gerstein noted this cool article on literary feuds, some genuinely violent, some very clever, and more and more of them fought on Twitter (including a campaign against Jonathan Franzen led in part by former Wonder Woman writer Jodi Picoult).  The person for whom my respect is most increased by the article, oddly enough, is Roseanne Cash.

(Ornery literary figures, including Shya Scanlon and James Thurber, were also a major theme of my blog entry yesterday, if you missed it.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Selections: HUMOR in the form of Scanlon, Thurber, and Dennett (plus a Thin Man, the Whitest Kids, a loved man, a Ramen Girl or four, and a tweeted dad) Book Selections of the Month (June 2011): Forecast by Shya Scanlon, Thurber Country by James Thurber, Inside Jokes by Daniel Dennett et al –and more

Helen does not emote normally, displaying none of the usual reactions exhibited by her fellow citizens – with their guilty consciences and sorrows – even when contemplating employment that takes advantage of her interest in sadomasochism, and so, it seems, she must be kept under constant surveillance by a panopticon-like government, and by a man a bit too fascinated by her psychological development from youth to young adult and her romantic infidelities.

That is the plot of Forecast by Shya Scanlon, a book about which I literally knew nothing until the author himself handed out free autographed copies at one of the Literary Death Match events Todd Zuniga hosts.  But you may want to pay for a copy.  If nothing else, the book is a very good example of the way in which sci-fi sensibilities – especially cyberpunk – have blended with what has become the default tone of hip literary fiction, which is a sort of whimsical, game-playing, fanciful, clever – but sort of fey and non-commital – one, not so unlike what has happened to indie music and TV/film comedy, I suppose. 

Even the most ardent capitalist – by which I mean me, compared to whom your are all communists – has to love the way he depicts a future so media-saturated and preference-satisfying that holographic corporate logos literally crawl continually all over one’s apartment, attaching themselves to products that could be replaced or upgraded and giving you a holographic glimpse of a better future.  All too plausible – and more than a little creepy.  (Likewise, we all knew that one scene in Minority Report with the personalized advertising was too logical an outcome to avoid for long – and indeed we didn’t, yet that was still ostensibly sci-fi when it came out in 2002.)  It is not, I suppose, a coincidence that Scanlon went to Brown and that the world he imagines rings true to me. 

The funniest (yet still creepy) conceit in Forecast is that in a post-electrical near future, the grid is powered by negative and repressed emotions (in an artificial-raincloud-shrouded Seattle, amongst other places).  That’s why Helen’s failure to generate her share of power – and thus her unusual psyche – is of interest to the authorities and one tracker in particular.  With no trustworthy allies besides a talking dog, she will attempt to escape observation and her husband.

Scanlon manages to tell a very human, even poignant story, and if he can do that while being hyper-postmodern and sci-fi-satirical, I hope he’s showing us a bit of the real human future after all, as good sci-fi usually has, instead of just showing off his present-day writer chops.  Bravo, Scanlon!  (Or perhaps I should say, “Good boy!  Here’s a Dirty Dog!”)

Whether the topic was mysticism, literary theatre, comedy, the inevitable comedic-argumentative non sequiturs on the show Politically Incorrect, or postmodern fiction – I’ve seen that the easiest route to success is often to confuse people.  But that’s not what I want to do.  Magicians have their place, but the truth will set you free, and I’m on the truth’s side.  People do not appreciate, I think, how much this constrains a conscientious writer (in much the same way that refusing to base verbal wit on insults does, on which more in a moment).  If you want kindness and honesty in the real world, I think it has to show in your aesthetics, no matter how much that ties a creative hand behind your back. 

An interesting debate could be had about whether Scanlon’s foray into a very media-saturated sci-fi future, one that is in a way more Blade Runner than Blade Runner, enlightens or confuses, but I think it ultimately does the former.


Speaking of a man whose wife Helen probably dreamt of escape, James Thurber – whose essay collection Thurber Country was given to me by very nice sex columnist Tracy Quan recently – is hilarious, but he has made me even more acutely aware of a troubling literary tradition peaking, by my crude estimation, around mid-twentieth-century, which is writers who are (A) acerbic, (B) clever, (C) obsessed with wordplay, (D) nasty and misanthropic, (E) slightly “off” sexually, and (F) severely alcoholic.  I spotted him as one of those types (I’m getting better at that in recent years) while reading this collection – much more readily than I spotted the pattern when I was reading him as a teen and merely thinking he was funny ha-ha.

I don’t know exactly why the qualities listed above keep going together, but it seems to

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

X-Men: Conservatism for Punks (a Plot Idea for the Next X-Men Movie)

One amusing bit of gossip caused by the release of the excellent X-Men: First Class: apparently, director Matthew Vaughn (who also did Kick-Ass) claims that he and his closest co-writer weren’t substantially helped by – and should not have to share their Writers credits with – Ashley Miller and Zack Sentz.  Meanwhile, Miller and Sentz, who give the vague impression of being nicer but dumber than Vaughn, are touring and being interviewed and talking about what they’d like to put in a sequel, a sequel of which presumably Matthew Vaughn doesn’t want them to be a part. 

And what they want is Cable, the big stupid time-traveling cyborg soldier character who embodies the very nadir of comics quality, the era when Rob Liefeld and other hacks dominated Marvel, soon leaving to found Image Comics. 

Vaughn, by contrast, says he wants only one additional main character in the sequel, and from the “bub” at the end of his comment, I take it he means Wolverine.  So if the cool but possibly amoral director (who is not only married to Claudia Schiffer and protected by a team of ghurkas but is now rumored to have impregnated X-Men actress January Jones) wins, we get Wolverine.  If the dopes who reportedly did nothing useful win, we get a big time-traveling cyborg, like we aren’t all sick of Terminators already. 


If the dopes prevail, I hope the X-films at least get all the time travel stuff out of their system in one film, which should primarily mean adapting the story “Days of Future Past” in which a time-traveling X-Men team member arrives from the near future to warn that in her time period civilization will be exterminated by mutant-hunting giant robots unless history is altered – specifically, by preventing a political assassination committed by a mutant.  In the original story, the present in need of altering was 1981 and the future was presumably sometime in the early twenty-first century. 

I think it’d be awesome if they stuck to that: Make “the future” our time, make “the present” 1981, throw in both Disco Dazzler and a younger punk version of Storm, make the target Ronald Reagan, and have shapeshifter Mystique take the form of Jodie Foster to talk an unstable man into plotting the assassination attempt.  The X-Men narrowly save Reagan, he shakes hands with a Mohawk-bearing Storm after a moment’s startled hesitation, and at the end we follow the visitor from our day back to a killer-robot-free world, with a teaser setting up a present-day locale for the next movie, smoothly transitioning between eras, sort of like Star Trek: Generations.

It would be cooler than an epic film based on the boardgame Candyland, anyway.

(Of course, there is a very convincing argument to be made that “Days of Future Past” has already been adapted into a film and that that film is called Terminator.  The relevant X-Men comics came out in 1981, right around the time James Cameron was working on Piranha 2 and drafting the Terminator screenplay.  My impression is that egomaniacs are quick to plagiarize, often unwittingly, counter-intuitive as the idea of an egomaniac borrowing from others may seem.  We already know Harlan Ellison successfully sued over elements of his work from an old Outer Limits being borrowed for use in Terminator.) 

Even without my plot suggestion being used, I wonder if X-Men movies will eventually become the new thing continuity-watchers obsess over.  After all, this one film franchise now takes place (mainly) in three different eras in the space of only five films (First Class in the 60s, the three main films in the 00s, and Wolverine presumably sometime in the 90s).  No screw-ups so far, but you know it’s only a matter of...time.


Speaking of mutants, Ohio’s offering a discount on its fatter shelter cats.  If that doesn’t work, needless to say, they’ll have to be sent to the same fat camp as the “Overweight Hedgehog.”


•As I noted once before, much as I hate to refer to a wave of retro-kitsch

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bowie, Binder, G-Strings, and Abortion Horror

Interesting.  Author, B-movie-maker, former judge, and founder of this past weekend's Hoboken International Film Festival, conservative Ken Del Vecchio has made a movie, The Life Zone, with radical pro-life villains – but a promised anti-abortion twist at the end.  Online commenters seem confused by the trailer already, since people are terrible at reading even the most heavy-handed of aesthetic cues and therefore assume that the pro-lifers in the trailer must look admirable from the get-go in the mind of the filmmaker. 

On the contrary, it looks as though for all its schlockiness, the film is aiming for balance of the sort that says, “Let us begin by admitting some on our side are creepy – but we’ll end by noting they sometimes have a kernel of truth amidst their claims.”  Y’know, like when environmentalists write comic books about nature-avenging homicidal swamp monsters who sympathize with green causes and thus kill oil execs and that sort of thing (though it’s actually rare to get that much balance from the leftists, of course – normally, the swamp monster would be entirely the fault of the execs). 

Speaking of trashy films, Francis Heaney wisely recommends this brief ad.


For real horror, it’s hard to top the frat rock horror I heard the weekend before last at my Brown reunion: Dave Binder, who sounds as much like James Taylor today as he did two decades ago – and does inappropriate things such as (to take a real example from the reunion), a medley of the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun” and Don McLean’s “American Pie.”  It was like the frat rock equivalent of that bad lounge singers couple with the cheap keyboard from the old SNL sketches.  I felt de-aged in a bad way.

At least the resulting monstrous hybrid-song led to someone pointing out to me that the line “This’ll be the day that I die” (describing the “day the music [i.e., Buddy Holly et al] died”) is meant to echo Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day [that I die].”  I should have noticed that.  At least I remember that R.E.M.’s “Pop Song ’89” mimics the Doors’ “Hello, I Love You,” so my Xer credentials are safe even if I have failed to grasp Boomers.  (Christine Caldwell Ames adds that Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone” quotes Muddy Waters’ “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and that the end of T. Rex’s “Get It On” quotes Chuck Berry.)


You may sympathize with my favorite rock star, David Bowie, when I tell you that in his darkest hour, after being in about five failed bands but before his breakthrough hit (coinciding with the Apollo 11 landing) “Space Oddity,” he was rejected for a role in a Kit Kat ad.

As a reminder of just how much has changed in the short span of Bowie’s lifetime, note that (as I say in my “Conservatism for Punks” essay), 1964 saw the start of the contemporary conservative movement with the Goldwater campaign, the dawn of alternative rock with the founding of Velvet Underground, and, yes, the first recorded song of David Bowie, under the name Davie Jones and the King Bees: the amazingly old-school-sounding “Liza Jane.”

And speaking of super-evolved beings from the early 60s: some X-Men-related thoughts tomorrow.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

DC Comics Post-Flashpoint: DCNu (and My Inner Groznic)

All right, I can’t ignore the big issue of the moment – or rather, the 52 big issue #1’s of September, when DC Comics relaunches its whole “DC Universe” line of superheroes.  Five bits:

I. The Barely-Noticed Biggest Change Here

My main reaction: I admit I did the math, and if all 52 #1's are (as it sounds) ongoing DCU titles, this mainly appears to mean DC is abandoning miniseries and non-main-continuity comics – which previously made up about 20 or so of their 50-odd titles each month – replacing them with about 20 ongoings that all presumably take place in the (new) main DCU, or DCNu, as some have taken to calling it.

Right now, by contrast, only about 32 DCU ongoings exist, you know.  So, whether the plan proves respectful of DC’s existing fictional history or not, it sounds like the fans are at least gonna get a roughly 50% larger core universe, so to speak (see Appendix A below for a list of current ongoing titles vs. thus-far-announced or convincingly-reported September ones).

II. Bookstores Yes, Thanagarians No

One bit of good timing that may aid the DC relaunch is that Barnes & Noble appears to be stacking comics more prominently in its stores, as noted by BleedingCool, the site farthest ahead of the curve with the comics industry gossip, whether about DCNu or most anything else.  (The photo of the B&N shelf in that piece also reveals the existence of a magazine called Otaku USA, presumably a magazine about people in the U.S. who love Japanese pop culture, though you could certainly do a magazine with the same title for Japanese people who love American pop culture.)

DC has rewritten the fictional history of its universe several times – primarily in ’56, ’86, ’94, ’06, and now ’11 – and it’s always a bit tricky trying to figure out what elements of the past have been jettisoned and what elements are still canon, especially since the editors themselves don’t know (really, they don’t – I’ve written a few stories for DC). 

My only prediction this time beyond what’s implied by the Appendix list below (and the articles from which it is derived) is that we will never again hear the word “Thanagar,” long depicted as the home planet of Hawkman, since, despite DC bouncing back and forth between depicting him as Thanagarian and depicting him as a reincarnated ancient Egyptian, (A) it sounds as though Hollywood wants to do a movie with the Egypt premise, and (B) Hawkman’s continuity and backstory have been rendered so convoluted by repeated revisions that erasing an entire planet from history is a small price to pay for some clarity in this department.

And anyway, a planet of hawkmen was always a complete rip-off of Flash Gordon...who in turn was a rip-off of Buck Rogers...who was a white supremacist – but that’s a topic for later in the month.

III. The Play Is the Thing for Mocking DiDio

It may be that DC really has its act together and will depict its fictional history consistently from September onward, but I will not be shocked if, once more, that isn’t the case. 

Harnessing my own inner Larry Groznic (the comics-obsessed Onion character whose praise for the Green Lantern Corps member named Hal Jordan I still suspect was responsible for the character being resurrected – and thus being central in next week’s movie), I notice that DC Comics sales VP Bob Wayne says the impending wave of #1's is "not a reboot" but rather is "the new DC Universe," and I worry he has no idea what those words even mean.

In fact, DC execs get so cavalier sometimes about dismissing or evading fans’ continuity questions that one starts to wish that some subversive comic convention panel moderator would decide, “I don't care if DC co-publisher Dan Didio never speaks to me again and I get banned from all comic cons, I'm gonna interview him here in public like so”:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Never Let Me Down Again (If I Embody Your Values)

At my Junto speech on Thursday, which ranged from alternative rock to politics, one intense Randian began somewhat-critical comments by saying, "A is A...people are people," and I was sorely tempted to begin my conciliatory response, with some thematic justification, by saying, "Indeed, people are people -- so why should it be you I should get along so awfully?"  But he went on for a bit, and the moment passed.

(This will, I swear, be my "Month of Eugenics" on the blog, but surely linking to that song is a reminder I am nonetheless no hatemonger.  Before the eugenics, though: more alternative rock coming up Monday, if all goes as planned.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Junto Tonight, X-Men Forever

Sorry for the delay in my promised Book Selections entry, but to compensate, here's a chunk of the Miami Herald (from the same in which the new X-Men movie is set) that I'm tempted to turn into my album cover.

For more on music, politics, and even deeper things, see you at the Junto tonight (20 W. 44th) at 7pm!