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Truth is the home
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You are one of the joys of any convention.
Geekdom gathers to celebrate their infinitely diverse interests, and nobody does it more openly and more sincerely than the cosplayers.
I appreciate that.
I truly admire the costumes, your efforts to emulate characters from various media, or your imaginative wit in mashing up two or three genres into one outfit.
It’s always a delight to see cosplayers on the floor, and you brighten up every show you attend.
And while I offer my open admiration for your costumes, I also know it’s cosplay;
i.e., costumes + playing.
If you’re dressed like a vampire, I don’t believe you’re going to lunge for my neck.
If you’re dressed like a superhero, I don’t expect you to fly.
And if you’re dressed in a sexy cat girl outfit, I don’t expect you to be a bundle of hair-trigger hormones.
In a costume.
And while you want people to look and you want them to admire, I know you want us to look at the costume and to admire how well you pull it off.
Anything else is at best unwanted.
And at worse…
The sad thing is that the number of reports have gone up.
The good thing is that this reflects a willingness by the cosplayers
and by their fans not to continue putting up with swinish behavior.
I know at times it seems like there’s no one who understands what it is you’re trying to do, that there are nothing but boorish trolls out there who think you put in all that hard work on your costume just so they could say something ugly to you and / or grab a cheap feel.
Rest assured you have more friends than you realize. Never hesitate to speak up if some creep crosses the line; you will not be alone.
Don’t let their shriveled ugliness dampen your joy.
On another Christian forum, in a discussion about the lack of morals in the modern world (“morals” in this case being explicitly referred to as “Christian values”), I observed “At one point the Christian message swept the Mediterranean world, then on into Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor. Now it’s being weighed and found wanting by contemporary societies. Why is that? Has contemporary society changed all that much from the ancient & medieval worlds? Or have we as stewards of the Word gone adrift, and what we present to the world is not what Christ taught?”
The response I got — and from someone who considered this to be a good thing — was: “What was no doubt keeping the reprobate in check before was militant social ostracism and good old fashioned Puritan derision.”
In other words, judgmentalism & tyranny.
I don’t find Christ talking about that too often.
Well, actually, he does talk about them quite a bit.
But he has nothing good to say about either.
Look, ancient Rome had a plethora of various religions to choose from. Christianity caught on because it offered something that other religions didn’t: A world view free of fear and hate and selfishness. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:35 KJV.
Don’t see much room for militant social ostracism and
good old fashioned Puritan derision in there, do you?
Let’s look at a perfect social laboratory to test out two competing worldviews:
“Militant social ostracism & good old fashioned Puritan derision” vs. unconditional acceptance.
Drunkenness has been a problem for at least as long as humans have been keeping records, probably a whole lot longer. In the 19th century a group of Christian women formed an organization called the Women’s Christian Temperance Union with the wholly logical & admirable goal of curbing the destructive influence of alcohol in this country. They launched a three pronged attack: Persuade people to stop drinking (abstinence pledges), persuade governments to outlaw the sale & consumption of alcohol (prohibition), and the hands on destruction of businesses that made or sold alcohol (terrorism).
In the 1920s they finally succeeded in getting Congress to pass and the prerequisite number of states to ratify the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Prohibition became the law –
– and the country promptly went to hell in a handbasket and has never recovered.
One can not dry out drunks by legislative fiat: They want their booze and they will get it. Rum runners soon sprang into business, bribing the very same authorities who had passed the law against alcohol sales to look the other way while they raked in millions.
Of course, with no legal controls on alcohol, the rum runners ended up policing themselves, and the streets of America ran red and even tiny rural towns saw sharp upticks in violence.
America finally wised up and ditched prohibition, but the damage was done and it has been permanent. We are still using prohibition today against drugs — throwing more people behind bars than any other nation on Earth & allowing investors to make money off of this by running private for-profit prisons. We have rampant political corruption extending not just from the drug trade but seeping into big business, politics, and the judicial system.
And people still drink…
And people still use drugs…
And the wicked make more and more money…
All because a group of sincere, well-intentioned Christians gave them the keys to the kingdom.
There’s another group with Christian roots that took an entirely different approach to alcohol abuse.
They sought no laws.
They smashed no saloons.
They demanded nothing of anyone.
They offered — free and unencumbered, open and available to all who asked — the only thing they could offer: Camaraderie in the face of the daily struggle against alcoholism.
They didn’t look for fame or power or money: They shun it to this day.
They just open their doors and welcome anyone who will come.
They don’t judge others for who they are, where they came from, or what they did.
All they do is try to help them get through one more day without drinking.
Their organization is based on the teachings of Christ.
But they never mention him by name.
They don’t require anyone to believe in anyone or anything other than some “higher power” that is stronger than they are, and that can help them get through the day without resorting to alcohol.
They judge not.
And they save lives.
They’re Alcoholics Anonymous and they are the single most effective group in combating drunkenness that the planet has ever seen.
And they do it one day at a time.
One drunk at a time.
“G.I. Joe is the code name for America’s daring, highly trained special mission force.
Its purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra,
a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.”
1970s / early 80s cartoons were often suckalicious pablum. Various groups and busybodies hammered the networks over violence, racial & religious references, and any hint of impropriety.
As a result all the juice got squeezed out of most shows long before they hit the air. They were sanitized, purified, and rectified.
We were told to produce entertaining programming, yet robbed of all tools to do so.
I worked on a show called The Little Clowns Of Happytown, an attempt to deliberately engineer a show for kids with no conflict, no violence, no “victim based humor”. For example, we couldn’t have the little clowns actually throw pies at one another, but a little clown could place a pie on the ground and then another little clown could accidentally trip and fall face first in it.
Beyond any shadow of a doubt,
the show was an abomination
in the eyes of God and man.
We shall speak of it no more.
So when toy companies found a loophole in FCC regs, big enough to drive 30-minute commercial thru, the syndication airwaves were choked with Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcakes, GoBots, Transformers…
…and G.I. Joe.
even when the doctors confirmed it was terminal
even when chemotherapy ravaged his body far worse than the disease
he didn’t stop being him
he was in pain, certainly, and there were a million and one tiny
that now had to be attended to just to keep his condition from becoming
unmanageable on a daily level
but that’s just what they were
the core of his being did not change
he still attended church
(as if church attendance in and of itself
amounts to anything; most regular church
goers would get the same benefit going to
the movies every sunday morning)
he voiced a faith that sounded in line with his fellow parishoners
but words are deceptive
the same words from one masks a simplistic garbled misunderstanding
while from another masks a profoundly nuanced wisdom of the spirit
so he talked the talk
but he walked the walk
there were times one wanted to say
now can you possibly say / do / support that
and still call yourself a believer?
but it’s not our call to make
not our place to judge
he lived a conventional good life
supported a family
had much to feel satisfied with
now that he reached the end
this is what makes him remarkable:
he is not in denial
he knows he is dying
he knows his daily routine reflects this
no bucket list
no grandiose gestures
was it his faith that gave him this strength?
then i realized strength had nothing to do with it
strength couldn’t possibly withstand the forces
unleashed against him
no, it was something different
he stands — for as long as he is able –
a man who is alive
a man who feels no need to prove anything
because he knows himself
and that is sufficient
this is not bravery
bravery is admirable
courage in the face of adversity
intestinal fortitude, as it were
nothing wrong with that
but bravery starts with a negative
there must be fear before valour
what he shows is a far different thing
he stands there not because he is strong
but because he is fully alive
knowing who he is (past & present)
and because of that
not intimidated by what is to come
he has loved
he knows love
he has been a part of the lives of others
and has allowed others to be a part of him
his chipper attitude is no facade
that’s who he is
who he has been
and by the grace of God
who he will continue to be
and each breath he draws
is as precious
and as valid
and as full of promise
as the first one he drew
coming from the womb
until he dies
and that just may be
the point of this story
that the way he lived
proved a blessing to himself
by giving him an attitude
that he couldn’t help but share
through the simple act
of being alive
and that attitude
made it easier for those who loved him
to minister to him
and care for him in his last days
thus making it easier to keep
the very attitude that blessed them in the first place
and in turn made their blessings possible
no grace is ever wasted
no charity is ever in vain
(c) Buzz Dixon
Since Soon-ok’s retirement, there have been a lot of changes in our lives, almost all for the good.
First off, she’s happier, more relaxed, and more energized than I’ve seen her in ages. She never wanted a job, much less a career, but took one to keep the family stabilized as my own career started careening wildly. Without her we would not have squeezed by; without her my own career would have floundered completely.
So we owe her a big one, and she is more than entitled to her retirement.
Second, as she rightly deserves, she’s getting to do a lot of things she wanted to do, such as travel and renovate the house. I’m glad for this, and more than happy to go with her and help her in the various projects.
But it plays havoc with my own productive schedule, and I find myself falling further and further behind.
To get caught up, I’m jettisoning a lot of things I used to do. One of those things was keeping up with numerous comic strips. I’ve been a fan of the art form since I was a little kid and first entranced with Dick Tracey and Little Orphan Annie and Buck Rogers and Pogo and Li’l Abner and Mr. Mum. Each December I post my list of the ten funniest strips of the year; I want to keep doing that, but in recent years I’ve had to forgo the yearly overview of all the strips I track.
I’ve already dropped several strips that I felt had exhausted themselves and become repetitive. Here are six I’m dropping simply because of time constraints; they’re still good and I still enjoy them but I have to
jump through too many hoops make too many clicks to read them.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but every productive minute is precious now, and I’ve got to ration them like a stranded traveler in the desert rations his water. If you read my previous post on the topic, you know what it feels like when I can’t write, so to squeeze out a few extra minutes, I’m giving up a lot of things I used to enjoy.
Feh, enough mawkish self-pity. If you like comic strips / web comics and haven’t tried the following, give ‘em a look. They’re all good. (Descriptions courtesy JSOline)
Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott is an entertaining and poignant view of parenthood and childhood. Wanda and Darryl MacPherson spend the majority of their time chasing, refereeing and pleading with their three children.
Edge City by Terry & Patty Laban is a groundbreaking comic strip about a hip, Jewish-American family juggling relationships, careers, and tradition at the fast pace of modern life.
Mutts by Patrick McDonnell explores the special bond between animals and their guardians, and the endearing friendship of Earl, the dog, and Mooch the cat.
Safe Havens by Bill Holbrook is a comic strip that focuses mainly on Samantha and her group of friends, who met as toddlers at Safe Havens Day Care and are now young adults enrolled at Havens University.
Sally Forth by Francesco Marciuliano, Jim Keefe is a timely comic strip about a working mother, who juggles her mid-management job and finding enough quality time for her husband and daughter. Somehow, Sally manages to keep her sanity and sense of humor.
Zippy the Pinhead by Bill Griffith creates a reality all on its own with a unique cast of characters, including Griffy, Zippy’s foil; Zerbina, Zippy’s wife and their children, Fuelrod and Meltdown.
Traveling in Canada & New England, I can find time to update this blog no problem.
Get home, and Events Conspire Against Me…
We’ll try not to have as many unnecessary lapses in the future.
(albeit thanks to
human nature not
very easy to apply)
Treat people the way you want to be treated.
If somebody is doing something and no one is harmed, mind your own business.
If somebody is doing something that harms a third party without the third party’s consent, do something about it.
If somebody is doing something that harms only themselves, be very careful how you proceed.
(For the record, the terms I use above I define this way:
Somebody is one or more individuals, harm is something
that uncorrected will have a permanent negative effect on a person’s life.)