Archive of articles classified as' "Buzz Dixon"

Back home

2020 Forward

27/04/2016

jack-davis-westerns-2-john-wayne-620

Favorite Westerns Of Filmland #2, August 1960
cover art by Jack Davis

Methinks it would behoove both the Democratic and Republican national committees to adopt something along the following for their 2020 presidential primaries:

No one may enter the presidential primary unless:

  • They have been elected governor or lieutenant governor of a state
  • They have been elected mayor of a city with a population of at least one million (threshold may be reached at any time during one’s term)
  • They have been elected to either the Congress or the Senate of the United States
  • They are a retired field grade military officer who has led troops in combat

A person is banned from entering the primary if:

  • They have entered and dropped out of a previous primary (while the national committee may choose to grant an exception to specific individual cases such as those involving a health or family crisis, or being recalled to active military duty, the committee is not obligated to grant such exceptions)
  • They have lost a previous primary or convention ballot with less that 30% of the total votes cast

Point #1 is to block the dilettantes, the egomaniacs, the attention hogs, the mouthpieces for individuals and groups with ulterior motives.

Make candidates demonstrate their self-discipline and their party loyalty by campaigning for a smaller office first.

If you can’t win some custom tailored gerrymandered backwater district, you don’t belong on the national stage.

Exceptions are made for retired career field officers who have served their country all their life and know the enormity of the responsibility they’ll bear as president.

Point #2 is to eliminate those who waste the party’s time and resources.

If you haven’t got the stamina to finish the game, you don’t deserve a place on the bench; think long and hard about your chances and how it will affect your own political future before you throw your hat in the ring.

If you can’t get even one third of your own party to back you, you don’t deserve that party’s support in a national election.

Now, some folks will claim this only allows a select few to run for president under their party’s banner.

If it’s time for somebody outside the system,
start a third party; set your own rules.

But if you’re going to be one of the big two,
then do a better job of vetting candidates.

No Comments

I Luvz Me Some Silent Danish Sci-Fi

26/04/2016

We live, as the eminent philosopher Louis CK has noted, in an age of wonders, and films long thought lost or available only in badly deteriorated form are now restored to almost pristine condition.

1918 A_Trip_to_Mars_aka_Himmelskibet_advertisement_1920

One year after D.W. Griffith made Birth Of A Nation in the U.S. (and American audiences blithely bought into the ballyhoo that he had invented the language of cinema and creature the feature length film format), the Danes opted to end the world with a film called — surprise, surprise — The End of the World (Verdens Undergang).

Before we proceed, a bit of historical context: 
From 1914 to 1918, Europe was up to its neck in a little number called World War One.

It severely disrupted all the European nations involved in it, killing millions of people (mostly young men), and bringing much of those nations’ pop culture (read “movies”) to a screeching halt.

The United States, sitting safely on the other side of the Atlantic, was able to stay out of the first half of the war and kept cranking out big budget, high polished films that dominated the international market.

With virtually no home grown movies of their own (and the few that were made reflected the Spartan resources and budgets available), the European film markets eagerly lapped up the Hollywood product.

Even after the U.S. entered the war, our nation was never under direct threat, much less attack, and so was able to continue making highly polished big budget films.

Hollywood had no competitors in the world at that time…

…except for Denmark.

The Danes took a look at the gawdawful bloodbath going on just south of them and said thanks but no thanks, we’re sitting this one out.

As a result, they were able to make some truly astonishing movies, films that could — and did – compete head to head and nose to nose with the best American products.

While they made movies in a variety of genres and styles, I’m going to focus on two big budget (for the era) science fiction films they made (although the term “science fiction” wouldn’t be coined until almost a decade later).

The first was the above mentioned The End Of The World, a pretty straight forward tale that also clearly reflected Danish anxieties about the hell breaking loose just below their southern border.

Written by Otto Rung and directed by August Blom, it’s a story about a near collision with an asteroid causing worldwide havoc.

It pretty directly influenced the latter French film La Fin du Monde (1931) and both directly and indirectly (through adapted source material) the American productions Deluge (1933) as well as the opening chapter of Flash Gordon (1936).

1916 verdens1

Those films in turn influenced When Worlds Collide (1951) which in turn influenced both Deep Impact and Armageddon in 1998, and those films influenced a shipload of crappy direct-to-video disaster-from-space movies.

Not too shabby for a 77 minute movie you never heard of before, eh?

1916_verdens_01

While The End Of The World has a compact cast, it makes an effort to provide as impressive a spectacle as possible.  An elaborate village miniature was built and destroyed in a hail of smoky comet debris, terrific storms (stock footage and tank work) flood the countryside, and in a poignant ending, the heroine wanders through a now desolate and decimated village that has been reduced to utter ruins.

1916-apocalyptic-and-post-apocalyptic-fiction-the-end-of-the-world-screenshot

The movie clearly reflects the Danes’ then anxiety about what was happening south of them, as well as their fears they would get swept up in it (they didn’t…in that war; World War Two did see them overrun by the Nazis).

Two years after that, as World War One was finally winding down, the Danes tried an even more ambitious science fiction project, A Trip To Mars (a.k.a. Himmelskibet, Excelsior, and Das Himmelschiff in various markets).

1918 Trip To Mars 6

Adapted from Sophus Michaelis’ novel by screenwriter Ole Olsen and directed by Holger-Madsen, A Trip To Mars is the space opera genre delivered full blown, with all the trappings we’re familiar with.

While the spaceship, the Excelsior, is somewhat fanciful, it’s based on aviation technology of the time and compared to the tiny cabins of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers’ rockets, certainly looks like it could be a functioning spacecraft.

1918 Trip To Mars 8

It may be the first time spacesuits were depicted in a film, and the actual trip itself takes place over a several month-long flight.

animated atriptomars

But the most impressive part comes when they finally reach Mars.

1918 Trip To Mars 3

Although the Martians are depicted as being identical the humans — specifically Danish humans – there are hundreds of them on screen in various scenes, all in full costume.  An elaborate set was built for the Martian city, and unlike most films an attempt is made to show how Martian civilization differs from humanity’s attempt at the same.

1918 Trip To Mars 7

What’s missing is the slam bang violence that’s the hallmark of American sci-fi films.  The Danes, clearly appalled by the carnage they’d seen unleashed beside them, stressed a pacifist message, and after an initial conflict between the human crew and the Martians, peace is made and the daughter of the Martian leader opts to come to earth with the returning crew to help spread the message of love.

1918 Trip To Mars 5

While Danish cinema continued on, it lost interest in science fiction themes and, coupled with the impact of World War Two, the country did not produce any more science fiction films until Reptilicus in 1961 and Journey To The Seventh Planet in 1962.

Despite being in color and sound, neither measures up to either The End Of The World and A Trip To Mars, both of which have been extensively restored by the Danish Film Institute and are available for viewing on YouTube.

No Comments

Review: MARY WEPT OVER THE FEET OF JESUS

22/04/2016

MW Cover

A graphic novel by Chester Brown
Subtitle: “Prostitution And Religious Obedience In The Bible”

I recommend this book with reservations.

Some of you who are Christians shouldn’t read it; not because it has naughty pictures in it, but because you aren’t spiritually capable of processing Brown’s interpretation of the Bible.

You will rant and rave and condemn his book
and his ideas but gain no benefit from them.

And by “benefit” I don’t mean you will change your mind and accept what he says, but that you won’t take his perspective to look at the source material with fresh eyes.

Because frankly, that’s the most important thing about this book: Its ability to get us to step out of our traditional mindsets and look at the text anew.

We may opt to say, “Hmm, interesting, but I’m not convinced” and return to our original point of view, but we will at least now have the ability to evaluate that belief in comparison with another, far more different interpretation.

And that can only strengthen our belief in the long run.

Conversely, some of you who are skeptics shouldn’t read it either because you lack the perspective and context to grasp the points Brown makes.

You’ll gleefully shout, “Aha! Mary was a hooker! I knew it!”
and decide there is no reason to look any further into
the teachings of Christ because it’s all bogus.

That’s not what Brown is saying.

So after the jump I’ll analyze what Brown’s point is.

I will say here that Brown’s style is aptly suited for this book, just cartoony enough to make the stories and characters accessible to all readers, realistic enough to forestall unintentional comedy. Brown has chosen to approach his versions of the stories mostly from a plain text reading (i.e., what does a story itself tell, not “Is this story factual?”) although he does look at some stories in the context of extra-Biblical knowledge of the cultures involved.

As Brown has chosen a plain text approach, I will offer my critique of his book based on a plain text reading as well. If you’re not capable of reading what follows with an open mind, here is a hopefully amusing post to keep you entertained.

Read the rest of this article »

No Comments

Seriously, 2016, Stop It. Just…Stop.

21/04/2016

FU2016 prince-side-view

FU2016 david bowie

FU2016 Haggard

FU2016 blowfly-studio-1970-billboard-650

FU2016 Dale-Griffin-Mott-the-Hoople

FU2016 dan hicks

FU2016 george martin

FU2016 glenn-frey-old-1453160905

FU2016 Jimmie Van Zant 2 BWs

FU2016 kantner-700x602

FU2016 keith-emerson-lake-palmer-portrait-bw-billboard-650

FU2016 maurice white

FU2016 vanity

This is only a small portion of the large number of talented people we have already lost this year — musicians, composers, songwriters, creators — but I thought 13 would be an appropriate sample.  

No Comments

Shut Your God Damned Mouth

15/04/2016

I am using the term “God damned” in it’s proper Christian theological context: Jesus of Nazareth, whom we Christians recognize as God incarnate, very specifically condemned judging other people. Further, in the Old Testament when God Himself offered the covenant from Mt. Sinai, He admonished against bearing false witness against your neighbor.

So let’s proclaim
a digging implement
a digging implement
and proceed apace,
hmm?

Recently political hacks, in an effort to appeal to the ever decreasing white and/or Christianist bigot vote, have passed or introduced a number of bills designed (among other things) to keep the icky transgender people out of public restrooms.

anti LGBT bill never about bathrooms

And make no doubt about it, this part of these bills is a blatant attempt to drive transgender people out of the public sphere: A bearded masculine looking transgender man would be required to use restrooms and facilities reserved for females, a feminine looking transgender woman could be required to use facilities reserved for males, in both cases regardless of their current sexual identity.

she has penis he has vagina 2

The reason for this is a completely groundless fear that a transgender male in a ladies room will suddenly snap at the sight and smell of females defecating and urinating and revert back to a presumed heterosexual male starting point, attempting to rape any “true” woman within reach.

Go read that highlighted text again. Keep reading it until you realize just how damned stupid and bigoted and hateful it is…

…to heterosexual males.

Seriously.

The rationale behind the bathroom ban is that heterosexual males are rapacious sub-human filth who are unfit for polite company, that they are incapable of self-control, that no force on earth short of the full weight of the law can keep them from raping and murdering.

Penn Jillette on morality w o God

Now, truth be told,
there is an argument
to be made in that case.

We have plenty of heterosexual males who have committed heinous crimes such as sexual assault.

For the most part, however, they don’t commit sexual assaults in areas where they might be discovered and interrupted by witnesses and/or law enforcement.[1]

No, when heterosexual males rape and murder, they either like to have privacy or else operate in a pack large enough to prevent / thwart / intimidate any witnesses or rescuers.

So this law as crafted does absolutely nothing to protect people from sexual predators as those sexual predators will be attacking victims regardless of what the law says about who can / cannot use a particular public restroom.

For example, we have conservative moralist politicians who have been arrested soliciting sex from other males in public restrooms, we have high school wrestling coaches who seduce their charges in locker rooms, we have purported Christian ministers raping children in their care.

NC longest term speaker

Do we need a law that specifically forbids conservative politicians from using public restrooms? Wrestling coaches? Preachers?

No, of course not; no moral or ethical person will sexually assault another; those capable of sexual assault will not be deterred by laws.

We don’t need laws to define the crime,
we need laws to define the punishment.

We have to be able to say, “Because you did X, you will now have your freedom limited for Y period of time” in order to insure the criminal does not victimize more people during that period.[2]

So there is nothing — nothing – these bigoted bills will provide in added security to potential victims.

Rape and sexual assault remain punishable crimes regardless of the location of the crime or what the rapist and victim are / are not wearing.

All the bills do is let smug anusoids demand other people show them their plumbing so they can decide if they get to sit in the front of the bus use that particular restroom or not.

Sound familiar?

NC rest rooms

Now, several turd mongers have been quick to rush and report violations of a citizen’s right to privacy in a public restroom.

They cite a couple of recent cases in which voyeurs violated the right of privacy of other people by sneaking cameras into restrooms; one such voyeur disguised himself as a female to do so.

Folks, they’ve been doing this for decades.

Peeping Toms

Voyeurs, by and large, are not transgender people seeking to feel comfortable in their identity but low grade sex offenders who are aroused by spying on other people.[3] They are morally and emotionally sick people who regardless of their personal predilections, do not respect interpersonal boundaries.[4]

Banning transgender persons from certain restrooms will not protect victims from voyeurs.

Imprisoning voyeurs will protect victims of voyeurism by denying the voyeurs the opportunity to sneak photos.

But again, none of this has anything to do with the actual issue of the role of transgender people in this society.

It has everything to do with bullies and bigots desperately trying to find one last thing they can gloat over before they are flushed down the toilet of history.

NC look away

.

.

.

[1] And those that do are mentally deranged to some point or another, such as the maniac who followed a little boy into a public restroom and slit his throat even though the child’s aunt was standing outside, or the President of the United States who had sex with an intern in the Oval Office. Those offenders are either too insane to recognize the risk of exposure they are facing, or else they get off on the thrill of possible discovery. In the latter case, passing laws against doing something will only increase their desire to do it!

[2] One of the Manson family “girls” (now in her seventies) is up for parole. From the Tate-LaBianca murders all the way to the various crimes and murders committed by other members after Manson himself was thrown in jail, the Manson family has demonstrated themselves to be singularly psychotic, remorseless, and exceedingly dangerous. Any Manson family member serving a life sentence needs to stay behind bars for the rest of their life: The family as a group has repeatedly demonstrated they are capable of causing great harm up to and including murder, and if that means a genuinely repentant family member has to stay incarcerated even though they are no longer part of the madness, so be it; they have proven they cannot be trusted.

[3] Whenever one discusses what arouses any human being, questions to be asked have to include consent. Anybody who gets aroused taking pictures of people in what should be rightfully private settings is perfectly free to hire a model to pose for them under simulated condition, or to obtain permission from a partner to spy on them, or read fictional stories or watch commercial porn which, despite claims to be genuine voyeurism, is almost always professional models posing for money after signing a release form. Professional pornographers, as opposed to the creeps who run the revenge photo sites, do not have a viable business model that sees them getting thrown in jail and still turning a profit; the creeps are not motivated by money and are willing to face legal repercussions in order to inflict harm on others.

[4] To some degree we are all voyeurs insofar as we are curious what goes on behind closed doors: This is why tabloid news remains so popular, this is why we are amused by candid photos that capture people unawares doing amusing things. There are lines that can be drawn, however, and while snapping a photo of a cosplayer at a convention using a cell phone in an out of character manner can be considered harmless and charming, stalking that cosplayer to catch them in an embarrassing or revealing moment is not. Regarding the University of Toronto incident, the circumstances are clear: All human beings have a reasonable right to privacy in their domiciles, be they private homes or dormitories, and sneaking a photo of a person in a locker room is no different from creeping up on their home’s bathroom window to snap a shot. If a person is streaking in broad daylight across the university commons, they have no reasonable right to privacy and can feign no outrage if their photo is taken. It’s not that difficult a concept to master, folks.

No Comments

Tony Millionaire Calls The Cops

11/04/2016

Tony Millionaire self portrait as Uncle Gabby

Police: Yes?

I just saw a guy touching my car door at midnight.

Did you chase him and/or shoot him, sir?

No, I yelled at him.

Good. What did he look like, sir?

It was in the shadows at midnight, so he was dark.
If it would have been noon he might have been light.

What direction was he going?

He was going down the street.
Can you catch him and arrest him?

No, sir.

Ok, thanks. Goodbye.

Thanx to Tony Millionaire granting
permission to post this.  Visit Tony on
Facebook and his website.

No Comments

“You Keep Using That Word…”

9/04/2016

words1

The human concept of “God” is to the true divine nature of God what the flag is to the land & people referred to as the United States of America.

The map, as Alfred Korzybski was so fond of pointing out, is not the territory.

Neither is the flag the nation,
nor the word the reality.

Read the rest of this article »

No Comments

Fictoid: punting

8/04/2016

Edwin Georgi - how long

art by Edwin Georgi
text © Buzz Dixon

 

No Comments

I Luvz Me Some ZOOTOPIA

7/04/2016

I’m going to break my overview of Zootopia into five parts:
How it succeeds as a social critique, how it succeeds as science fiction, how it succeeds as an animated film, then — because this part will be spoilericious – after the jump how perfectly plotted it is, then finally for the most masochistic of you, the theological implications.

Shall we begin?

Zootopia_ticketsZootopia as social critique:

This would make a perfect double feature with Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful 8.

Like The Hateful 8, Zootopia is at its heart a sincere and surprisingly profound meditation on prejudice and ethnic stereotypes in contemporary society.

Unlike The Hateful 8, Zootopia is afforded the luxury of being an animal fable, and while certain parallels are evident between its characters and ethnic stereotypes in modern day America, there are no one-to-one analogies.

The Hateful 8, on the other hand, even though it is apparently set in the alternate Tarantino universe, can’t avoid very specific comparisons among and between various ethnicities in the US today.

The Hateful 8 is a hard film to digest. As noted, it is Tarantino’s most significant film to date, but it’s also his least successful one.

That’s because there is no cushion between the audience and the ugliness it portrays, there is no distancing that lets people identify-with-yet-pretend-they-aren’t exactly like the characters seen on the screen.

Zootopia, conversely, has the luxury of being an animated animal fable, so audiences can nod sagely in recognition yet at the same time not feel a condemning “thou art the man” finger pointed at them.

Zootopia also lets the viewer off the hook insofar as those few scenes in which the audience recognizes themselves are quickly offset by those same characters doing something virtuous or by non-ethnic comedy.[1]

What Zootopia does brilliantly is to admit there are friction points among us all, and that not every body gets along well with everybody else.

But it also points out that, while life is messy, it is also full of options, and just because one particular path is blocked does not mean there isn’t a way to the ultimate destination.

If The Hateful 8 tells us we must pay for our sins before the healing begins, Zootopia tells us we can forgive the sins of others and ask forgiveness for ourselves.

Zootopia as science fiction:

The basic premise is this:
Thousands of years ago animals — predators and prey — found a way of living peacefully with one another and, because there was no longer disruptive hunting preventing the advancement of societies and science, the world became a better / cleaner / happier place.

zootopia2-2

The world realized from that premise is flawlessly executed. Every imaginable detail is either demonstrated or alluded to, and everything seems to fit.

In a perfect exampled of the old dictum, “He who handwaviums least, handwaviums best”[2], Zootopia doesn’t have to explain every single little detail of its world.

Something is presented to us and we simply roll with it. “Of course that’s the way they’d do it” even when five minutes of thought would make us realize what we’ve just seen actually opens can after can of worms.

ZOO Screen-Shot-2015-12-31

The trick to writing good sci-fi is not to explain each and every thing but to let the audience presume there is an explanation for each and everything.

The world building in Zootopia is great, a perfect combination of advanced CGI technology[3] and clever human ideas. It looks and feels real enough for us to accept it without thought, and that acceptance is what makes the powerful impact of Zootopia’s social comment possible.

Zootopia as an animated film:

This may be the best animated film ever.

I’m talking Ghost In The Shell quality.

Technically it is flawless. The character animation is great, the world building superb, the voice acting just about the best ever heard.

zoodebate

Snow White and Pinocchio and Dumbo
are great, but they can’t hold a candle to this.

This is Wizard Of Oz perfection and timelessness, and like the quest for the ruby slippers, so much more complex and enriching than Disney films of the same era.

And more importantly, it’s a demonstration of what animated films do so much better than live action movies: Properly executed, they can engage audiences of all levels and all backgrounds better and more effortlessly that comparable live action films.

Zootopia is a parody of classic 1980s buddy-cop movies, but it is so much better than Lethal Weapon or 48 Hours or Die Hard or The Last Boy Scout.

zootopia-is-an-important-movie-disguised-as-a-comedy-869236 Indeed, crap stuff that would be ridiculously over the top in a live action film is accepted here without breaking the gossamer thin suspension of disbelief.

Zootopia is a funny talking animal cartoon that grown-ups can enjoy without apology, and if one studio can do it, any studio can do it.

This may be the death knell for big budget live action movies.

No, I am not kidding…

SPOILERICIOUS AFTER JUMP

Read the rest of this article »

No Comments

Fictoid: one night in a flop house

6/04/2016

James Avati - Im going to beat myself to death w this gun CAP

art by James Avati
text by Buzz Dixon

No Comments