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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