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Monthly Archives: June 2013

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Here is an oblique salute to comic-book artists, who must think of their multiple illustrations on a page both as individual images and as elements in a greater composition.

I seem to remember an issue of GRAPHIS Magazine, perused in the Glendale Community College Library (which has since evolved, or something, into a “Media Center”) by me in the early 70’s, that was devoted to the comic-book art of old-school Jack Kirby and (then) new-wave Neal Adams. But before the issue got to those two gentlemen they asked themselves who the FIRST Comic-Book Artist was, and they offered Francisco Goya as a possible answer: he’d done a multi-panel sequence of a monk disarming an armed robber.

All two-dimensional artwork is one or more Wander Windows. The quality and delivery effectiveness of the window wander capacity depends on a few factors, skill of the artist being but one of them. Interaction, not mere execution, is key. (Wow, that sounds pompous; sorry!)

Here are my acrostical words:

Wallops whaling with Kapow
As the foe goes Yai-Kai-Yai
Now the damsel frames a frown
Double-Dee’d unless she lied
EC Comics’ Anti-Hero
Rousted bouts down Pain&Fear Row

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“I’m gonna tell on you” is one of the oldest tropes in the history of sibling interpersonal dynamics. Given sufficient maturity a civilized human being sheds this tendency. But in the world of hegemonic power-lust, withheld-for-profit revelation is very much alive and well.

My hero Kurt Vonnegut, long before he became world-famous, wrote a classic science fiction story entitled “The Report on the Barnhouse Effect.” In it he imagined Professor Barnhouse, a man of conscience becoming more and more psychically powerful through accidental discovery of the key to Mind Over Matter. Soon he attracted the interest of the American military, who wanted him to use his power to destroy enemy weaponry, and to inflict domestic weaponry on the enemy. Professor Barnhouse humbly asked if it wouldn’t be better to solve the causes of conflict, for instance moving cloud masses to relieve drought. He was told he was being naive. Soon after, seeing the handwriting on the wall, Barnhouse escaped military jurisdiction and hid out, destroying ALL Weaponry when and as it was revealed to him. What followed was called “The War of the Tattletales.”

I won’t be a tattletale and reveal what happened next, but it is one humdinger of a good story and I urge you to read it.

J. Edgar Hoover was tattled on in a book by Fred J. Cook entitled The FBI Nobody Knows. When Rex Stout, creator of Nero Wolfe, read it, he was so impressed and outraged that he wrote what for my money was the best of his stories, The Doorbell Rang, which had Nero Wolfe defying the FBI in the pursuit of the greater public good, not to mention the mystery he had to solve.

J. Edgar Hoover needed tattling on. He abused his power shamelessly.

Here are the words to the acrostic:

Jury’s been out since Ham & Shem
Eavesdrop/know stuff/aye: dilemma
How & when to reveal/demean
Out in the open & onto the scene
Otherland voices revealing un peu
Voltage delivered sans call from the Guv
Ever-electrical verdicts to share
Rosenbergs roasted in long underwear

Historical note: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for passing secrets involving the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The FBI was instrumental in their conviction and execution. What is particularly interesting is who was, and who wasn’t, executed. Should Ethel have been electrocuted? Shouldn’t her brother, David Greenglass, have been executed? And what about Gold and Fuchs?

“Lives in the Balance” was written in the mid-Eighties by Jackson Browne, protesting Ronald Reagan’s war crimes in Central America. It is for my money one of the best protest songs of all time, applicable to a multitude of American improprieties involving administrations across the political spectrum. And, tragically, “Lives in the Balance” does not and has not amounted to a hill of beans as far as Saving the World goes. But, Jackson, you had to try, and your “Lives in the Balance” earns my admiration.

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There are lots of quail in these parts. They make me think of if the Vatican were zapped with a morph-ray that turned all Vatican personnel into birds. The type most prevalent around here is the Gambel’s variety.

Here are the words to the double acrostic:

Q-Tip tops a cap of russet
Quirk is there–not hard to suss it
Ululations near & far
Angsty birdsong aria
In the feathered hoi polloi
Lilting comes to warbly boil

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My grandmother unintentionally stymied and stumped me time after time with the simple question, “What do you know for sure?” She left us in early 1979; if she were here now I would still be stumped, but might glib it off with, “Well, Gran: A long time ago…there was this BIG Explosion…”

Over fifty years ago Robert Heinlein wrote a Russia-critical article entitled “PRAVDA Means TRUTH.” He and his wife Virginia had just returned from the Soviet Union; they happened to be there when American spy pilot Francis Gary Powers (no relation to your humble narrator) was shot down, or otherwise forced down, over Soviet airspace. Heinlein took it upon himself to write an apologia (emphatically NOT an apology; rather, a defense) of the US spy mission Powers was conducting, and of spying as a way of leveling the Cold War playing field. The title of the article was meant ironically; Heinlein scorned the idea of anything remotely approaching truth in (the Soviet newspaper) Pravda.

To his credit, Heinlein later acknowledged that it is hard to find truth anywhere, including Time Magazine. But he’d written his article in the heat of the moment, after what he regarded as shabby and hypocritical mistreatment by the Soviets. (Interested parties may find the article in Heinlein’s Expanded Universe.)

Anyone heard of the Pentagon Papers? Great. Anyone know what was IN the Pentagon Papers? Me neither–but I cheated by looking it up on Wikipedia, which says that the Johnson administration lied to the American public and to Congress about the extent of our involvement in Vietnam and surrounds. Anyone surprised? Anyone surprised that the Pentagon Papers in their entirety–not just the juicy parts Daniel Ellsberg leaked to the New York Times–were not declassified and made available to the public until 2011?

Smithsonian.com has a great article entitled “Nine Historical Archives That Will Spill New Secrets.” Such is the nature of some sealed documents, that some of the information therein might embarrass people still living…

Here are the words:

Uphold the Law–some documents in escrow
Need secrecy to make U.S. securer
Delay, detain, denounce as Apocrypha
Encourage Need-To-Knowers to shut up
REPEAL the 1st Amendment as seditious

–And of course I suggest nothing of the sort.

Historical note: As of this writing a fellow named Snowden is fleeing U.S. jurisdictional space for having spilled some beans in a possibly-indictable way.

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This page has an image that is mostly text. I debated whether to leave it all text, in the spirit of Corita Kent, peace be unto her, long may she wave, and rest in peace, but at the last moment intuition had me put a short-skirted brush-and-palette-wielding Babe in front of the wall of words.

Here is the cryptically spiritual text:

Sassafras: a sacred tea
Tunes an active outcome: C
Rice: a sacred orchid sac
As we EAT nae NEEDE nor LACKE
TEMPEST and its celebrants
Arts essay as Shepherd shunts

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I would like to apologize to Wildebeests both blue and black for the short shrift this page gives them. I started this page some time ago, and then it sat around like a half-eaten sandwich, the bread getting staler by the second; I just wanted to get it done and enjoy a day off with my gloriously goddesslike girlfriend. So the page has good sketchy drawing, but words so crapulous I won’t trouble your attention by transcribing them.

Have a great weekend, wildebeests, and thanks in advance for your forgiveness.

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How would one go about getting Chelsea Handler’s attention? Throwing money at her wouldn’t do any good–she’s loaded, one of her claims to fame being having the #1, #2 and #3 top books on the New York Times Bestseller List. Outrageous behavior is no good; she can out-outrageous you with her hand tied behind her back. (It’s probably flipping you off.) Offer her a late-night talk show? Someone already went there and did that.

No, what you need to do is to write her a sonnet. But not just any sonnet–make it an Acrostic sonnet. But not just any Acrostic sonnet–make it refer to the most intriguing of the Madonna movies, Desperately Seeking Susan. And then put a good quotation by Chelsea on it, and an illustration enhancing the quotation…hey, Chelsea, do I have your attention now?

Here are the words:

Delilah would’ve loved her story arc
Especially the Boyfriend dump–delish
Scenarios to rival Kubrick/Clarke
Photography to stir an Eric Fischl
Enjoyment of an all-year Mardi Gras
Required a Little Person with a ‘stache
And NYT Best-Selling–ooh la la
That Horizontal Lifestyle’s led to cash
Elle Magazine–a Hosting gig–La Strada
Let’s see her do a runway left-hand turn
Yell epithets One, Three & Five–they’re odd
Sass fast on Laura Dern if wearing dirndl
Kiss kiss bang bang, young lady, if you dare
Good karma may well follow–this I swear

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You want Justice in the courtroom? Good luck with that. Usually Justice–or Injustice that does you-the-client more good than Justice would–comes at a price few can afford.

But in the world of make-believe, of For Entertainment Value Only, justice is well served by these two gents. They almost always get the REAL bad guy, or bad gal, to confess in time for the cute wrap-up.

Several of the people I grew up with are lawyers now. One of them went off the rails, costing him his marriage and his health. No further details forthcome; he might sue me.

I know a man who’s argued before the Supreme Court in the mostly-vain hope of keeping his death-row clients from being executed. He does this in spite of the fact that his own father was murdered. (Talk about principles being acid-tested!)

I know a woman who gave up practicing corporate law for the sake of defending the downtrodden. That decision has probably cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars so far, and she’s got at least ten years of career left, if she’s “lucky.” Crazy world, ain’t it?

I also know a fellow art student who went to law school and DID take the corporate track; his estate-planning practice probably nets him more income than any ten of his fellow art classmates, including me. Crazy world, ain’t it? (But he worked, and works, harder than any ten of his fellow art classmates–EXcluding me, this time.)

Here are the Perry Mason acrostic words:

Prosecutors? Smoke ’em if ya got ’em
Exhibit G comes thanks to Paul & Della
Relevance is tested with objections
Recall the witness who’s a real Bozo
You think he’ll walk? Wake up & smell the ōzōn

The Ben Matlock:

Bumpkin in the courtroom
Bet he can’t be beat
Exhibit G creased Tyler’s skull
Entered breaking never dull
Evil mistress, crooked Doc
New NOT GUILTYs are in stock