Monday, March 29, 2010
Randomly reprinted post (XXII)
Poor ol' Russell Jay Kuntz (pronounced 'Koonts'). Doomed to become one of the most hilariously misnamed athletes of all time--#1 according to one online poll--and the only such person in my sports card collection (several thousand baseball and nine basketball).
TODAY'S BOOK: 'The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle', by Avi ((c) 1990)"
--176th post, 9/25/08
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The above is my 100th cartoon drawn for The Jerusalem Post. Unfortunately it did not get submitted; in fact more than half lately haven't. Still, 15 of the 30 submitted since the 327th post have gotten in (making exactly 55% overall), so that's something. Four of those also appeared on the Post's website (two exclusively there) before they stopped featuring cartoons there for esoteric reasons.
The subjects of those 15 cartoons were:
The "peace" process (3)
The Goldstone Report (2)
Israeli political maneuvering
The war on terror
The Mabhouh assassination
Who featured in them?
Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu (seven times, thrice unpublished)
US President Barack Obama (thrice, once unpublished)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad (four times, twice unpublished)
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak (four times, thrice unpublished)
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (twice)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (twice)
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni
Dubai Chief of Police Dahi Khalfan Tamim
Anne Frank hider Miep Gies
Plus all of the following who did not make it to print:
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin
Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin
Israeli Deputy FM Danny Ayalon
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan
US JCS Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen
Israeli Vice-PM Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon
Quartet envoy Tony Blair
Earlier this month a cartoon featuring Ahmadenijad failed to make it to print for the first time ever; he still wound up 9-for-11 overall. Netanyahu is by far the overall leader in both tries (21) and appearances (13), but both Obama (67%, 10/15) and Abbas (70%, 7/10) have a better average than him. And the current leader on the perfection board, at 3-for-3, is Hillary Clinton. What does all this mean? Absolutely nothing.
Anyway, here's my favorite unpublished cartoon from this period!
How fitting. (Also, see how I managed to work into one post both of Ahmadenijad's unseen appearances? Ha! I'm a sly little bugger, ain't I?)
TODAY'S BOOK: "The Last Patriot", by Brad Thor ((c) 2008)
Monday, March 22, 2010
There's nothing terribly significant about the fact in and of itself. It's just a number. 8 8 8 8. It just means that 8,887 days of jailtime have already passed, with G-d only knows how many more to go.
Jonathan Pollard is a spy.
Perhaps you may have noticed I keep a running tally of Pollard's days at the bottom left of the blog. It's not automatic, so I have to sign in every day and update it in the template. It helps me remember.
No one should ever forget Jonathan Pollard.
In case you don't know who he is, and you probably don't, here's the score: Jonathan Jay Pollard, a Jewish American intelligence analyst, was recruited by Israel's secret service to pass on to them classified information. The reports Pollard passed on did not contain information about the American military, but rather were about enemy countries--reports that America should have been passing along to Israel (a friendly nation), but wasn't.
Jonathan Pollard was discovered and tracked down; when he sought sanctuary at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, he was kicked out (!). At his trial, Pollard entered a plea bargain by which he would plead guilty and therefore receive a reduced sentence, in addition to cooperating fully with the governmental investigation. Instead, at the last minute, the judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole, based on "secret evidence" submitted by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger that only he saw.
Pollard's lawyer forgot to submit an appeal before the deadline (!!), sealing the deal.
Jonathan Pollard has now been in a maximum security prison for eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty-seven days. That's twenty-five years, four months and one day. He is serving the longest American prison sentence ever handed down to a spy of an ally nation. Just to compare, David Barnett (KGB spy) received 18 years, David Boone (USSR) was sentenced to 24 and a third, Chi Mak (China) got 24.5. Andrew Daulton Lee served 18 years; William Kampiles was sentenced to 20 years and served 18; Christopher Boyce served 25 of 40; Ronald Pelton is scheduled for release in 2015. The list goes on. Recently, Ronald Montaperto--who passed classified information to China for over a decade--got sentenced to three months in jail.
Let me reiterate: Jonathan Pollard is serving a life sentence without parole.
This is unconsciable.
The United States needs to free Jonathan Pollard. The man has served 25 years in jail, incarcerated alongside murderers and rapists, for a crime that did not harm national security, and is now sick with a variety of illnesses.
It's time to end this debacle. It's time to let Jonathan Pollard go.
TODAY'S BOOK: "Fast-Talking Dolphin", by Carson Davidson ((c) 1978)
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The cover to today's Green Lantern Corps issue
Friday, March 12, 2010
--joke received from the Interwebs, c. 2005
Mother (translating a document): "What's the opposite of 'progress'?"
March Hare: "Why don't you start at the beginning?"
Mad Hatter: "Yes! And when you reach the end--stop."
--Alice in Wonderland, first viewed c. 2009
Man in synagogue (to chazzan): "Start from the beginning!"
Me: "And when you reach the end--stop!"
Saturday, March 06, 2010
TODAY'S BOOK: "A Man Called Intrepid: The Secret War", by William Stevenson ((c) 1976)
Labels: the blog
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Hitting the fan: In Memoriam
DC, you ____ing b______s!
NOW ON TO THE MAIN EVENT:
It has been said that, if the entire population of China was to walk in front of you nine abreast, the procession would never end due to the rate of birth. Well, if the readers of DC Comics--and any person who loves decent comics in general--were to somehow form themselves into an orderly queue to deliver a kick in the balls to Dan Didio, James Robinson, and anybody else involved in the production of the just-concluded Cry for Justice miniseries, that line would also never end because they would keep lining up for more kicking, and keep on lining up until their feet were eroded down to stumps, and then they'd have corrective surgery and get new titanium feet just so they could keep on kicking.
Justice League: Cry for Justice is a 7 issue miniseries made to lead into an upcoming crossover event. It was written by James Robinson, who made his mark writing Starman during the 1990s, a run that brought acclaim from readers and critics alike, and has since made it onto many "best of" comics lists. Robinson then proceeded to fritter away all the goodwill he gained from this until it reached nil with Cry for Justice.
The series started out a as being simply reviled, a relic of the Dark Age, with overblown dialogue and actions and cliched grimdark storytelling. The main villain was Prometheus. Prometheus started out as one of the greatest threats the DC heroes had ever faced right off the bat. Subsequent appearances, however, made him less and less threatening... until it was revealed that this was an impostor, and the original, hypercompetent Prometheus had been imprisoned. He was reintroduced to the DCU in an impressive special issue of Faces of Evil. The buildup then and throughout his appearance in Cry for Justice was intense.
Then he just got killed quite easily, but not before destroying a city, offing several minor heroes, and capping it all off by killing Lian Harper.
Before I continue, let me state that DC has absolutely no idea how to deal with child characters. Practically the only child ever allowed to age and reach teenagerhood is Robin, or rather the three individuals who took up the Robin mantle as children and grew out of it (Dick Grayson as Nightwing, Jason Todd as Red Hood [another snafu, but we won't get into that here], and Tim Drake as Red Robin). Yes, three. And there's currently a fourth Robin, Damian Wayne. Formulaic much?
Anyway, the only time this rule was excepted was in Young Justice, a series about a team of underaged superheroes. It was completely AWESOME, and I'd show you pictorial evidence of this but scans of the series are hard to come by ever since writer Peter David pissed off many fans by complaining about too much of his work being shared online, leading to one of the dreaded Inernet Backdrafts. (Despite it being one of the very few positive-attitude, family-friendly mainstream comic books in recent years, YJ was canceled so that some members could reform the Teen Titans, via the "Graduation" storyline, which was bad but nowhere near as bad as CfJ.)
Back on topic. Quick history of Lian Harper: daughter of the hero Roy Harper, a.k.a. Speedy a.k.a. Arsenal a.k.a. Red Arrow, and the villainess Cheshire. Made her debut in New Teen Titans #21 back in 1986 (with red hair even though it's been black in every other appearance, but let's not hold that against her). Grew up into toddlerhood and childhood in her father's home. Friends with some of the DCU's heaviest hitters.
Cute as a button
and twice as awesome.
That, my friends, is what was revealed in Cry for Justice #7 yesterday.
The first intimations of impending disaster were revealed on the Titanstower blog, which found disturbing implications in the dialogue of an issue set after CfJ. Their suspicions, sadly, have been proven correct. How can this possible be a good thing to do, DC? How??
It's Lian Harper! Lian freaking Harper! She was sweet and funny and adorable and she was just an innocent little girl, you shmucks! How dare you, James Robinson? How dare you, Dan Didio? This is vile. This is nauseating. I would say that this is "everything wrong in comics today", except this is worse. You knocked off this cute little girl who had inoffensively been a cute little girl for 24 years--longer than I have been alive--and the apple of her father's eye, loved by all! Why? Why??
"Character development"? You think Lian's death was required for character development? Let me tell you, I can think off the top of my head ten dozen ways to give a character development, and, get this, not one of them involves the death of a little girl! It's nothing more than a cheap trick, a shock for the sake of no more than shock value, a revolting offense against all modicum of good taste.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people? Bad stuff happens in the real world? Guess what! I don't read comic books about aliens from other planets and millionaire vigilantes and alternate dimensions for realism! It's escapism! How hard can this possibly be to understand? Comic books are (meant to be) one of the best sources for fun escapism ever created! I want tragedy, I'll go read Shakespeare or something! I'm not saying comic books ought to be devoid of death and disease, but KILLING LIAN HARPER--?
Remember when I metioned Internet Backdrafts earlier? This one has set off the Mother Of All Internet Backdrafts, at least in the part of it that concerns itself with comics. I have not had an active online presence for very long, but I doubt there's been much like it in the history of ever--no single event immediately incurring such wrath. (Except "One More Day".) I mean, other series like Ultimatum or Countdown have been hated for their permeating stupidity, and issues like the way Stephanie Brown's death and legacy were handled became a byword for incompetence, sure, but this takes the issue of quality, throws in callous offensiveness, and drags the series beyond So Bad It's Good, beyond So Bad It's Horrible, beyond So Horrible It's ____, and into some uncharted realm of awfulness where, by some horrible quirk, it practically circles around to become a masterpiece.
As one internet commentator has put it, DC has gone from women in refrigerators (trope namer Alex DeWitt) to raped women in refrigerators (Sue Dibny) to girls in refrigerators (Lian). What's next, RAPED GIRLS in refrigerators? Wait, don't answer that. I don't want to give Mr. Didio any ideas. In fact, all this made is even odder by the fact that Didio is supposedly moving DC into a "newer, brighter" mode with the "Brightest Day" event set to follow the awesome ongoing "Blackest Night" crossover. This is brighter and happier? This plumbs new depths of depravity, and to what end? To provide a cheap shock, to propel characters into more moneymaking miniseries. What characters? Roy Harper and her grandfather, Green Arrow.
Whut.Yes, her grandfather. He's the one who killed the mighty Prometheus (with an arrow, through his armor. How the hell does that make sense?), he's the one who went out and avenged her death. What the...?! Green Arrow was never this close to his granddaughter! He was never even that close to her father! In fact, it's a misnomer to term him her grandfather, as he never even formally adopted Roy Harper. And when he found out he'd become a heroin addict, he threw him out onto the streets. Way to parent, Ollie! Recently, however, DC has perplexingly been ignoring all this, making Roy willingly go into the "family business" by changing his alias and costume to resembles Green Arrow's and encouraging the latter when he began teaching Lian archery despite the fact that he'd previously said that he didn't want her to be a part of his dangerous world. Tough luck there, Roy! Hey, guess what else? Now you've actually lost all character depth you had when Lian was around and are about to become a one-note "hero" fueled by angst and vengeance!
(Roy also lost an arm in this miniseries but even that was not so facepalmingly awful, not even when they milked that particular development beyond all its worth in subsequent cover imagery and planned storylines.)
Why do such revolting stories still get published? We can't just blame the writers and editors--a not-insignificant portion of fans actually like this type of drivel. As of this writing, 46% of the voters on a Newsarama poll have rated this issue 2 out of 4 stars or higher, with over 250 fans giving it the highest ranking. Money talks, bull____ gets printed, and all in all I have to say is this is very lousy time to be a comic book fan.
Capping this all off, Lian Harper may have been unique in that readers saw her growing up from the sidelines from birth to... um, whatever age she had reached. 6? 10? Comic book ages are left deliberately ambiguous, which can be a pain. But the point is, she was the first. Let's take a look at some other kids born to DC characters:
*Aquaman's son Arthur, Jr.. Asphyxiated in infancy.
*Tempest's son Cerdian. Killed along with his mother off-panel, age about 1.
*Donna Troy's son Robert. Killed in a car crash, age about 1.
*Catwoman's daughter Helena. Taken away soon after birth, location unknown--and perhaps, seeing this list, that's all for the better. Like I said before, DC has no idea how to deal with children, or at the very least the concept of them aging and developing into something--gasp!--new. The exceptions to the rule, the underage Young Justice members, were introduced when they were already almost teenagers; tellingly, the only one without superpowers was... Robin (version tim.drake), who as I've pointed has character immunity (except for Jason Todd, sort of, but we won't get into that here either) (EDIT: Arrowette [another archer!] had no superpowers either; she just retired and dropped off the radar completely except for the Wonder Girl mini a few years back). Apparently you need abnormal abilities if you expect to reach maturity in the DCU.
Lian Harper found this out the hard way.
____ you, you b______s!
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Elegant weapons for a more or less civilized age
Main body is drum tripod. Special timer attached to right side with belt; copper pot knob-piece taped on for olde timey funke ambience. Laser scope from brother's BB gun taped to top. Gear meter of bicycle attached to top left side. Computer power cable stuck into bottom. Chair wheel inserted into "barrel". Gear-like pieces from my electric shaver attached to lower front with inside of twist-tie.
Meter and cable attach back to...
Main body is a mixer. Asthma inhaler lashed to one side. More pieces from shaver taped to front, as well as computer cable. Gear meter snaked into hole on side.
TODAY'S BOOK: "Just So Stories", by Rudyard Kipling ((c) 1902)