What I’ve Been Doing

So, been quiet around here. Sorry about that. Been working a lot. But also been doing a brand new project that has gone live.

If you like what I do here, take a look at Sequentially Yours where I do the same for comic books, only in video format. Two episodes are up, one deep look at comics and social progress and one editorial about Future’s End.

Also, if you like the opening and closing themes, please consider donating even a dollar or two to the artist who is trying to raise enough money for a new single. He’s blind, independent, and awesome in every way. Just a little goes a long way.

Beyond that, please take a look, feel free to like, subscribe, and comment. Also, I will have more of the news and opinions that you love shortly. I haven’t abandoned here, just trying something else that I have wanted to. Also, if any of you have any pull with That Guy With the Glasses, I would really appreciate a good word since I’m submitting to their open auditions.

Thank you, each of my Conversationalists. You’re amazing, as well as the smartest and most attractive people on the Internet. Enjoy!

 

Why the Recent Spate of “Religious Freedom” Bills May Be a Good Thing

Anybody who has been paying attention to politics recently has probably heard about the “religious freedom” bills that have been hitting a number of states recently. It’s a little mind boggling that all of them have been making it to state legislatures all at the same time, with similar language, but so far it’s been very difficult to actually track where they are coming from. Usually when bills like this are all proposed simultaneously, there is somebody not only writing the model legislation but willing to claim it. So far it’s been difficult at best to track down the origin.

Regardless, what started in Kansas has grown to a number of other states including Georgia, South Dakota, Tennessee, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Idaho, Alabama, Michigan, Maine, West Virginia, and is being considered in Utah. Most famous has been the recent veto of a bill that passed both houses of the Arizona legislature.

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Go see why this might be a positive thing in a couple of ways in the full post over at Queereka.

Lowered Expectations + Vague Statements = Person of the Year

fckh8-pope-meme

By now you’ve heard that the Advocate has named Pope Francis its person of the year. In perhaps one of the most cringingly apologetic and sycophantic pieces published about the Supreme Pontiff, Lucas Grindley reaches to draw the barest scraps of meaning out of the most innocuous of statements. In fact, reading this piece, you’ll notice that most of the article is Grindley doing little more than repeating himself or explaining why other people deserve the praise more. I almost feel as if the editorial board made the decision, and poor Lucas was tasked with writing it up. But let’s examine this article to see if we can divine the thinking that makes what appears to be pandering to pop culture lionization into a legitimate choice.

As I mentioned, the first six paragraphs are about how other people should have been given this honor. Grindley focuses especially on Edie Windsor, the brave woman whose case got a part of DOMA thrown out in court. It’s followed by this remarkably cop out

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Thus begins my new piece for Queereka. Read the whole article on that site.

Let Slip the Reindeer of War

Seeing as how we are post-Thanksgiving, I think it’s safe to say that the War on Christmas has begun again. I’m woefully under armored for this particular fight, having no t-shirts or jackets that actively disparage religion or Christmas in general.

In fact, I am a pretty miserable soldier in the War on Christmas. Yes, I commit the unpardonable sin of saying “happy holidays,” but there are those like Richard Beck who claim that I am actually being less blasphemous by doing so.

It’s blasphemous to post “Merry Christmas” all through a shopping mall. It’s blasphemous to slap the name of Jesus on all the Xboxs, Playstations, iPhones, and High-Def TVs. “Happy Holidays,” while still not great given that I don’t like the word “holy” being involved, is much better than “Merry Christmas.”

And the association of “Merry Christmas” with the local, state and federal governments is just as problematic. The Nativity set in the town square is just as profane and blasphemous as the “Merry Christmas” on the Xbox.

In short, while I’m very happy to have a more tolerant and liberalized shopping experience during the holiday season (out of simple civic respect I don’t want my Muslim or Jewish neighbours to be greeted with “Merry Christmas”), my deeper concern is how the “War on Christmas” panic is inherently blasphemous and idolatrous.

Leave it to Beck to ruin my fun.

Though, I have to admit, it’s a rather quiet war this year. I mean, we’ve had some early volleys with Sarah Palin’s failed book and Rick Santorum’s failed movie (point of order: what idiot thought to release a contemporary Christian film in theaters instead of direct-to-DVD?), but for the most part we haven’t been given the Full Fox Press on every retailer that didn’t address their specific holiday consistently. Maybe because it’s still Hanukkah and it could be considered anti-Israel to ignore that as long as it doesn’t conflict with December 26th?

Either way, unless Christians find some new way to weaponize The Christmas Shoes this year (a collectable card game, maybe?), I’m planning a nice, relaxing holiday season where I don’t have to worry about being berated for not paying obeisance to the cobbled together remains of somebody else’s celebration. So, here’s just some of the things I plan to do this December.

1. Listen to Holiday Music – This can include a lot of things. I’m always looking for new versions of Good King Wenceslas, since that’s my favorite carol. Of course, I’ll probably work on trying to learn the perennially beautiful White Wine in the Sun. I’m a big fan of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s A Very Scary Solstice and An Even Scarier Solstice (my favorites are “Harley got Devoured by the Undead” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth”). Otherwise, whether they’re religious or not, I love Christmas carols and will spend the next month singing them to myself and anyone who stands still long enough to listen.

2. Watching Holiday Movies – When I was growing up, I had a VHS tape that was just loaded with holiday movies. Santa Claus: the Movie, A Chipmunk Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and a number of others. I have since found digital copies of all of them seeing as I no longer own a VHS player and the tape is worn out anyway, and I make an effort to watch them all this month. I have since added a number of others. Alf’s Special Christmas is a tearjerker about love and life that shouldn’t come from a big nosed puppet Rodney Dangerfield rip-off.

The Muppets have so many Christmas specials it’s hard to watch them all (BTW: if you haven’t seen this year’s with Lady Gaga, watch it. It’s hilarious, and the gender-swapped “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt is perfect), but I try. The Muppet Christmas Carol is a must, however, and it’s something the whole family enjoys. In fact, part of the tradition is gushing with my father over how entertaining the rats are in that film.

A Claymation Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Die Hard. I love them all and can’t wait to be able to start watching through them this year.

3. Charity – I find myself more in need of charity than able to give it this year, but I still plan to work for local charities when I have the opportunity. By sheer luck, the restaurant the Dark Lord of Bakery works at got in contact with the person who runs a local battered women’s shelter, so I’m going to try to help them do fundraising for that group. I also won’t donate to the Salvation Army for obvious reasons, but I do make a point of noting how much money I would have given a bell ringer and, at the end of the season, donating that amount of a local charity, usually one that takes in homeless LGBT youth like the Zebra Coalition. And there are countless opportunities to do good all season long that I will try and avail myself of.

4. Spend Time With Loved Ones- The Sovereign of Aesthetics and the Bladed Poet are having a gathering at their home this year for us to get together, drink, sing, and play board games. So basically the same thing we do all year long, but I get to do it in a sweater, and I look amazing in sweaters. I also plan to go over there, in combination with #2 above, to show said Sovereign the Muppet/Gaga holiday special she missed. Plus I might make my family’s annual Christmas party this year, which is always fun. And for the holiday itself, it’s a big Italian meal at my parents’ house. So there will be plenty of time to socialize and enjoy the company of loved ones this year.

I could go on, but this is how I plan to fight the War on Christmas this year. More to the point, I plan on fighting it by doing basically the same things as the religious right professional martyrs do, but with no obligation to say “Merry Christmas” unless I feel like it. I encourage everyone, this holiday season, to use the greeting they feel comfortable with, accept other greetings in the spirit in which they were meant, and focus your ire on yelling at your family about health care reform, as is traditional.

Happy holidays to you all, and keep an eye out for more posts as I can.

Batkid is The Best Thing Ever

Wow, it’s dusty around here.

So, all of my writing time has been for work these days (please click the donate button on the main page if you want to see me focus more here), but I had to come out and write here because I apparently missed the best story of the month, possibly the year, and need to comment on it.

My favorite charity, the Make-a-Wish Foundation (I toured Europe with a jazz band doing work for them twice) granted a wish for a leukemia survivor by going to my favorite medium, comic books. Not only did they turn him into “Batkid,” they had him running around the city in a Lamborghini Batmobile with Batman and his kid brother dressed a Robin. He disarmed a bomb and rescued a woman tied to cable car tracks, mere seconds before the cable car came by. Then he stopped the Riddler from robbing a bank. Then he saved the SF Giants’ mascot, Lou Seal, from being kidnapped by the Penguin who was also hauled off the prison. Both villains were in their delightful Adam West-era costumes.

But that’s not the best part. The best part is that thousands of people got involved in this. San Francisco was turned into Gotham City for this event. There were people cheering him wherever he went. The actual Chief of Police made a public call for his help, and thousands begged his assistance. Graham Nolan, co-creator of Bane and artist for several excellent Batman stories, drew a picture of Bane being frightened of Miles Scott, the 5-year-old secret identity of the mini Caped Crusader.

batkid baneAbout 12,000 volunteers from the city got involved in this. The president of the United States sent him a Vine to congratulate him on his work. He was given the key to the city. The San Francisco Chronicle turned its front page into the Gotham City Chronicle to run stories about his exploits. Former and future Batmen Ben Affleck, Adam West, and Michael Keaton all had great things to say to him.

gotham city chronicleThere is nothing bad about this story, except for a few assholes who think that it was wrong to do because he is in remission. Make-a-Wish’s response: “We would never penalize a child for getting better.”

This is so incredible. This is what comic books are supposed to be about: giving hope to people who don’t have it, making ordinary people feel extraordinary, and uniting people in goodness. It’s what a lot of comic book fans were saying was missing from Man of Steel.

But the sheer outpouring reaction from people is a perfect example of the greatness of human beings. When we come together for goodness, we do amazing things. Thousands of people gave up part of their days just to make a sick five year old feel good about himself.

This story made my year. This is why I read comic books, and why I support Make-a-Wish, and why I love human beings despite all of our flaws.

Man Divorced From Reality Running For Sheriff

Mark Kessler, a man who doesn’t let reality get in the way of his simplistic worldview and violent hatred of people not like him, has decided since it’s likely that he will be fired as police chief of Gilberton, PA, that he will run a write in campaign for county sheriff.

The parade of ridiculous is amusing and frightening, like Halloween Horror Nights with fewer strobes, but pay attention to the bolded part from this Facebook post (emphasis mine) :

when your back is against the wall, when the odds are almost impossible to overcome, that my friends is when we the people finally stand up and say , ENOUGH! so all I can say is this!, BRING IT YOU PACK OF SCUM SUCKING SHIT BAG POLITICIANS, i’m not politically correct , damn proud of that I must say! I don’t come with a smile and a bag of bullshit every four or two years, NEVER HAVE NEVER WILL!, I don’t need to suck the so called elected elites ass cracks to run for anything, or get the stamp of approval from the so called elected elites! I’m an AMERICAN, nothing more nothing less, I love my country, I honor our military who honor their oath, I honor all American Patriots, and all those who shed their blood of gave the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom whether on the field of battle or not! as for you scum sucking politicians from the left & right, WE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE COMING AND YES WE ARE PISSED OFF! so NOVEMBER 5TH 2013 WRITE IN MARK KESSLER FOR SCHUYLKILL COUNTY SHERIFF, one true american patriot! and lets give this CURRENT thuggery regime here in Schuylkill county & across the nation THE BOOT!

I’m going to do a favor to everyone who has ever claimed not to be politically correct and recommend that you stop making that claim. When you say, “I’m not politically correct,”  you think you’re saying, “I’m a bold warrior for free speech.” What you are actually saying is, “Other people? Who gives a shit about them? Why should they stand in the way of my saying any bizarre or ridiculous thing that comes into my head the moment I think of it and suffer no social consequences for it?”

You see, another phrase that means the same thing as being “politically correct” is “being nice.” If you sincerely believe that there are people who, due to any given difference from you, don’t deserve at least a modicum of respect or kindness as the default behavior, then you should not be proud of that. You should be ashamed and start immediately watching re-runs of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

People who rail against political correctness either don’t understand what it means, or they’re looking for an excuse to be gigantic assholes and feel morally superior for it. Nobody is buying it, though. You want to be a douche of epic proportions, you go right ahead, but don’t expect me to praise your honesty. If your honest opinion is, like the thoroughly unhinged and armed Kessler that people who disagree with him are “fucking cocksuckers” who ought to be shot, then you are a seriously sick individual and I hope you’ll limit your contact with human beings.

If you reject kindness as some sort of unfair burden on your liberty and attempt to martyr yourself because people didn’t like that you’re a jerk, then it’s time to re-evaluate your behavior. There is nothing noble about being “not politically correct.” It is no more a virtue than being uninformed and claiming that that gives you a completely unbiased perspective. In both cases you are glorifying ignorance.

Daily Caller Mocks Trans* Students

There are some people who think that Tucker Carlson is a nice guy, one of those conservatives that aren’t fire breathing radicals. They remember when he was on MSNBC, they look at the bowties that preceded Doctor Who but not Buckaroo Banzai, and think, “he’s not so bad.” But they would be wrong, at least when it comes to his website.

The Daily Caller actually has a habit of being awful, especially to trans* people, but this is somewhat of a new (not really new) low: being awful to trans* kids. On September 11, the Douche Canoe posted an article titled, “This week in transgender high schoolers running for homecoming king, queen, whatever“, a misgendering nightmare about school districts that are giving trans* students a hard time about running for the appropriate Homecoming title.

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Thus begins my latest post for Queereka. Head over there and take a look.