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The Real Green-Book

Posted on February 25th, 2019

Dave!Last night the Oscar for Best Picture went (unsurprisingly) to Green Book, yet another "white savior" film where stories detailing the lives of Black people are told through the lens of the white people who "rescued them" from racism and made life better for the entire Black race because of it. It's a trope that's been done to death, but Hollywood just can't seem to help themselves.

Whether it's a story of outright theft, as in The Help where a young white woman "liberates" Black servants in the 1960's by publishing their stories in her best-selling book (the story of which was stolen in real-life too)... or real events being reframed, as in 42 where Jackie Robinson's story is snatched away from him to be viewed from the perspective of the white Major League Baseball executive who decided to integrate the sport (and his white teammates who overcame their prejudices to accept him as a player)... or the unforgivable revisionist history in Hidden Figures where white Kevin Costner rips down a "whites only" sign on the bathroom so Katherine Johnson didn't have to run across campus to pee (something that never fucking happened)... it's a tired trend of making white people the hero in the lives of Black heroes when the actual stories are compelling enough as they are.

In the case of the Oscar-winning film Green Book, we get the story of real-life Black pianist great Don Shirley hiring a racist white chauffeur to drive him for a concert tour. Something which would be a great story, right? Except it ends up being the story of how Don Shirley's driver overcame his racism to build a friendship with him instead, making the white guy the hero of the movie. Because of course he was. Getting a movie about Don Shirley told from the perspective of Don Shirley is apparently asking too much. That film wouldn't get an Oscar for Best Picture because white voters wouldn't have somebody to root for (Black Panther had white Agent Ross, but he was only a minor hero in the movie... if Marvel wanted Black Panther to be a real Oscar contender, they apparently should have told T'Challa's story from the perspective of the white guy and how he saved all of Wakanda).

But I digress...

I'm not holding my breath that we'll get a major motion picture about Don Shirley from Don Shirley's perspective, but tonight on The Smithsonian Channel we did get a documentary on The Negro Motorist Green-Book, which inspired the name of the big budget film that did see release...

The Green Book Guide to Freedom Poster

Titled The Green Book Guide to Freedom, the documentary is a terrific exploration of the "travel and survival book" for African-Americans who dared to travel during a time when traveling while Black was a potentially life-ending experience. Stay out too late in the wrong city with the wrong color of skin, and it could mean your death. Something that we like to think happened hundreds of years ago in this country... but "Sundown Towns" were still in existence into the 1960's... less than 60 years ago. Meaning that there are people alive today who survived this horrific segregation brutality first-hand (and some of them are interviewed in this program).

If you have the opportunity to see it, The Green Book Guide to Freedom gets my highest possible recommendation.

NOTE: The documentary is excellent, must-see material that's well worth your valuable time. As of this writing, iTunes has it available for FREE and I think other streaming services may be giving it away as well.

NOTE: Another resource I enjoyed was this article from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture which has links to digitized copies of The Green-Book as well as a US map where locations have been mapped out... and even a Green-Book travel planner tool!

The first I had heard of The Green-Book was when I was visiting one of the best museums I've ever seen... The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. They explained that away-games for Black players was often a difficult ordeal given that there may not be restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other kind of services available between cities (or even in the city once you got there). Everything had to be meticulously planned, and even then you could still end up in danger if a bus broke down or some other pitfall ensued.

As I was reading about this abhorrent concept, I overheard a couple nearby talking about "The Green-Book." I had never heard of it before, so I investigated further on Wikipedia when I got back to my hotel...

Cover for the 1940 Edition of the Negro Motorist Green-Book

I found out that it's essentially an AAA Guide with a specific audience in mind. Namely, Black motorists during the time of segregation. Inside you get a list of African-American friendly hotels, restaurants, and other businesses designed to make travel safer and more enjoyable...

Page from the 1940 Edition of the Negro Motorist Green-Book

Page from the 1940 Edition of the Negro Motorist Green-Book

As explained on The Green Book Guide to Freedom, the books often-times had editorials and articles that went beyond travel, delving into civil rights issues of the day. As also explained on the program, the book was created in the hopes that one day it wouldn't be needed. Ultimately creator Victor Hugo Green got his wish, and the final issue was published the year I was born, 1966. Sadly Green died in 1960, four years before the Civil Rights Act came into being and six years before his book ceased publication.

Not that the end of segregation was the end of segregation. South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster infamously refused to give up his all-white country club membership when he took office... just two years ago in 2017. Not to mention a president who has said white nationalists have some very fine people in their ranks. Apparently to some people, The Negro Motorist Green-Book was not a symbol of escaping oppression but a symbol of "the good ol' days." Which kinds of puts that whole "Make America Great Again" bullshit into proper perspective, doesn't it?

Seek out The Smithsonian Channel's The Green Book Guide to Freedom. You'll be glad you did.

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KonMari and Closure (Or The Absence Thereof)

Posted on January 2nd, 2019

Dave!At the end of 2018 my mom's post office box expired and I closed it out. I had kept it open for six months so I could be sure to get all her remaining bills paid. Also to find out who hadn't heard she had died and was still sending her cards and letters and such. All she's getting now is mail from places like Degree of Honor and AARP Life Insurance. I have been marking up their crap "DECEASED - RETURN TO SENDER" for months, but they won't stop sending. I've even called them and sent them letters (strange they don't have email) but AARP Life Insurance is still mailing her every damn week. No exaggeration. EVERY WEEK! How the fuck can they afford that postage bill?

Anyway...

For some reason I thought that shutting down a PO Box would act as some kind of closure.

Of course it wasn't.

I've gotten rid of her clothes. I've gotten rid of her furniture. Heck, I've gotten rid of most of her possessions.* None of that worked. How stupid was I to think that letting go of a frickin' PO Box go was going to be any different? I dunno. Maybe I was just being optimistic. Or naive.

There will probably never be closure when your mom dies. Even if you weren't as fantastically close to her as I was.

But, alas...

Last night when I was burning through episodes of Schitt's Creek in an attempt to get caught up before the fifth season starts in a couple weeks, I noted that Marie Kodo has a new show on Netflix!

For those not in the know, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizational consultant who developed the "KonMari Method" of tidying your home. I discovered her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up before I bought my new place. I used her methods once with my possessions before moving in. Then let things settle for a year before using her method once more to sort through my mother's things, simplify my life, and declutter my new home. It's a magical process that's difficult to explain to people who have not studied it or seen it in action. It's essentially forming a relationship with your stuff and only surrounding yourself with things that "spark joy."

KonMari The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Book

KonMari changed my life.

My garage, for example, used to be a heinous mess with crap stacked to the rafters. I couldn't even park in it, things were such a mess. After KonMari, I was able to get rid of 2/3 of my junk. A huge amount of that being travel souvenirs that were never organized and just tossed into boxes. But not anymore...

KonMari Organization

KonMari Organization

On the left is my wood supply, all organized and easy to get to. Next to that in the middle of the shelf is seven plastic bins for my souvenirs (I've since bough two more for a total of nine). Originally my souvenirs were in 22 massive boxes. Most of it was stuff I didn't even care about, so KonMari made it easy to pare down to a much more manageable level, all organized by country and stored vertically for easy access. The only other things I kept were my Hard Rock T-shirt collection, some of my mom's Christmas decorations, touch-up paint for the interior and exterior of my home (with paint supplies), winter tires, plus extra bathroom tiles and extra hardwood planks in case I need to replace anything. There's also some LEGO sets I'm keeping for my grand-nephew when he gets older. Everything else? Gone. Donated or trashed.

My biggest tidy improvement in my garage was going all KonMari on my tool collection. For the longest time they were just stacked in boxes. This did not spark joy. Eventually I found that having them all hanging on a wall so I could find them is the best way for me...

KonMari Organization

Kondo-san's Netflix show is a total of eight episodes.** They are entertaining and insightful, but I don't know how helpful they would be if you hadn't read her book. At best they just show you the process in action...

I didn't learn anything new from the show, but I did enjoy watching them (Marie Kondo is ten tons of adorable in a tiny package). If you're in need of tidying your home, check out the show and see if her book might be for you.

And now back to Schitt's Creek. I should be able to watch a couple more episodes before I have to go to work.

   
*I still have some of mom's collectibles I need to try and sell. I am sooooo not looking forward to that. But, what else is there? leave them boxed up in the garage until I die and somebody else has to deal with it? Better to get rid of it all now while I can. Another goal for 2019 to add to the list.

**Interesting to note that the seventh episode of Tidying Up has the song A Home to Come To over the closing credits which is from the No. 6 album on my Best Music of 2018 list. How is it that Silhouettes can have their music popping up all over and still be a mystery band you can barely find?

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Bullet Sunday 489

Posted on November 25th, 2018

Dave!Do you enjoy the ramblings of somebody with frozen feet? Then you're in for a treat... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Pooh! I was anxious to see the new Disney movie Christopher Robin, but it was never showing on any flight I was on, so I had to buy it from iTunes when it was released. It's a good (not great) film that I enjoyed quite a lot. Mostly because the CGI version of the animals are amazing. Jaw-dropping amazing. The way they are rendered and the way they move is remarkable. You can believe these stuffed animals are alive...

Christopher Robin Screencap

Christopher Robin Screencap

Christopher Robin Screencap

Christopher Robin Screencap

Christopher Robin Screencap

And here's the trailer...

I adore the wit and wisdom of Winnie the Pooh. All the Winnie the Pooh. I love the original A.A. Milne books, the Disney movies and book adaptations, and the Benjamin Hoff Tao of Pooh and Te of Piglet books too. If you are a Winnie the Pooh fan (and why wouldn't you be?) the movie is worth a look. Disney movie magic!

   
• Care! Hallmark has been airing some wonderful commercials for their #CareEnough campaign...


This last one reminded me of one of my all-time favorite ads...

Always amazed that people can create commercials I want to stop and watch!

   
• Proposal! This was my favorite thing on the internet this past week...

So sweet. And that reminded me of this...

The effort that must go into planning these things is mind-boggling.

   
• Winter is NEVER Coming!

"George R.R. Martin will be on Colbert to promote his new book..."

"WINDS OF WINTER IS FINISHED?!??"

"Of course not. He wasted his time on yet another Westeros history book. He still has no idea when Winds of Winter will be completed."

In all honesty, I don't think Martin will ever finish A Song of Ice and Fire. I don't think he gives a shit (regardless of how much he pretends to care). He's got the HBO money coming in. He's got a Nightflyers series coming up. He's got the Game of Thrones prequels coming up. He's got millions of dollars. And he has said repeatedly that writing the Song of Ice and Fire books is hard work, so why would he bother? The HBO series will wrap things up so he doesn't have to, and he can keep getting distracted with writing "easy books" that still make him tons of money. What incentive is there to finish up Westeros? It's all too easy to procrastinate until you die and leave your notes to another author so THEY can deal with it.

All that being said... how excited am I for April to get here so we can see the final season of Game of Thrones?

   
• Unpossible! Mission Impossible: Fallout (AKA MI6) is easily the best of the entire series. Everybody is brilliant in it, and Henry Cavill is exceptionally good. Which makes me all the happier that Paramount told Warner Bros. to go fuck themselves when they wanted Cavill to shave his mustache for reshoots as Superman on the abysmally shitty Justice League movie. Otherwise Cavill's continuity would be jeopardized and he may have had some of his part cut in a far, far better film...

Tom Cruise does the majority of his own stunts. And the dedication he has in delivering some really scary and dangerous scenes really pay off in Fallout. If you haven't seen it and like a good action flick, this is the movie for you.

   
• No NOAA! Now that winter is here, I wanted to see if I could re-code the program which controls the heat tapes on my roof. Right now they turn on when it's 33° or less. Which is better than having them on all the time, but also not ideal because they turn on whether there's snow on my roof or not. What I want to do is capture NOAA data to see if it's snowing and then turn on the heat tapes. If we have heavy snowfall with a lot of accumulation, then I'll switch to the old temperature-based program until it's melted.

NOAA Weather Data

Problem is... the local NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) station has closed. So now I'm having to pull data from 6 miles away. Which would be fine if I lived on a flat plain, but I'm in a valley. The weather 6 miles away will be similar, but different. And so... better than nothing, but now I don't know if trying to adapt for snow is going to be worth it since the data may not apply to me. Time to start my own weather station, I guess.

   
And there's your bullets this fine Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 479

Posted on September 16th, 2018

Dave!Fall has arrived and warm Summer days are over, but all is not lost... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Dark! Whilst looking for something new to watch on Netflix I happened upon Dark Tourist. The show was a bit meh until the fourth episode when host David Farrier visited Turkmenistan. Holy shit. If not for North Korea, this would be the most bizarre restricted country on earth! Even if you don't want to watch the show you owe it to yourself to at least watch the animated intro, which is fantastic...

And here's the trailer for the actual show...

If you're bored and like off-the-grid travel, Dark Tourist is worth checking out!

   
• Tourist! And speaking of travel...

It's funny because it's true.

   
• Tammy! And speaking of things that are funny because they're true...

Classic Redneck Tammy!

   
• Solo! It's difficult to sort through my feeling on a movie which was essentially two hours of Easter eggs. Most likely because this ended up being both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it firmly entrenches the film in the Star Wars universe. A curse because you spend the entire film going "So that's why that happens" and "So that's how that started." Fun as this was, it was a bit distracting. And not in a good way...

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The story was actually kind of good, and having it constantly being interrupted with made for a bit of a slog. Even so, it's a beautiful film to look at. It has a great cast. The special effects and sound design are incredible and the action sequences are well-constructed. I just wish it had more of an imagination about it and broke new ground to keep moving the Star Wars Universe forward. Instead it's more of the same. Which puts it in the middle of the pack of Star Wars movies for me...

Star Wars Movies Ranking

I was hoping for a bit more, but still liked it quite a lot. I wish I had seen it in a really good theater, but I bought into the rumors that Alden Ehrenreich was so terrible that he required an acting coach and the movie was going to be terrible. But he was terrific as Han Solo. Guess that's what I get for believing internet rumors.

   
• Caught! You know how you happen across a video and it's pretty great and you want to see more so you click over to YouTube to see what else there is? Yeah... this started it all...

Adorable. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all judges were like this instead of megalomaniac assholes? If you want to fall down a YouTube rabbit hole of entertaining videos, the Caught in Providence channel is worth a look!

   
• Heart! Ooh! The latest book from Thrice Publishing is out! This wonderful tale of growing up in Ireland from longtime Thrice Fiction contributor James Claffey is a perfect add to your Fall reading list, and is now in-stock at Amazon with Free 2-Day Shipping for Amazon Prime members!

Star Wars Movies Ranking

   
And that's a wrap. Have a great week!

   

Thrice Fiction No. 23

Posted on September 3rd, 2018

Dave!Oh look! The new issue of Thrice Fiction is out!

With everything that had been going on in my life these past months, I admit that it was tougher than usual to get things to come together. Many thanks to the artists who stepped up and helped me out, even when they had a shorter deadline than usual to work with...

Thrice Fiction Magazine No. 23

If you want to check it out, the online editions are FREE! Click here to get a copy!

The reason I enjoy working on the magazine so much is that I can use whatever style or technique I want. And I can experiment with new stuff. Thanks to goofing around for ThriceFiction, I have transitioned to creating art 98% digitally (I still do scratchboard & ink by hand). Some of the very first 100% digital art I created was for Thrice Fiction No. 1, and with our latest issue I was able to revisit a piece I made for a story by longtime blogging friend Marty Mankins (of Banal Leakage fame) seven years ago. I grabbed the original drawing, swapped out the background with a radiator, changed Aquaman trunks for Speedos, added some chest hair, and BAM! New story art! Just for fun I decided to honor the original art by adding a faux color-separation overlay like you'd find in an Aquaman comic book...

Swimwear Art

Fun stuff.

And now we start work all over again for December's issue.

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Art and Captain America: Winter Soldier

Posted on August 10th, 2018

Dave!This was one of those days.

I compensated by hiding in my bedroom and reading through all the of "Art of the Movie" books from the first eight Marvel Studios films. Except... it's actually nine books because I bought the art book for the Peggy Carter series that was on ABC, which I love (there's also books for the Agents of SHIELD series, but I don't love that show even a little bit). It made me want to watch Agent Carter all over again, but that will have to wait...

Art of Marvel Studios Books

The only book I'm missing is the one for Agent Carter: Season Two, which was an okay-not-great-series, but I'd still like to have it because the production design was fantastic for it. But... $48. Yeesh. That's a chunk of money considering I wasn't a big fan of the show.

And now It's time to re-watch one of the best movies ever so I can finish up this entry!


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 9: Captain America: Winter Soldier
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
There's a part of me that wants to call this my favorite Marvel Studios film. It gives us a flawless portrayal of Captain America, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Agent 13, and also? Robert Redford(!) as Alexander Pierce! But the real beauty of this movie is that it defines Captain America in a way that makes his 1940's mentality painfully relevant to the modern world, and positions him as the definitive conscience of the entire MCU. And speaking of relevant... how cool is it that a film set in 2014 managed to continue story elements of the first movie set in 1942 so amazingly well. Bucky, Zola, and Hydra were old ideas made fresh. And not in a way that rang hollow or was contrived. Even Cap's original uniform (which is far superior to what he got in The Avengers) was dusted off and came back. Genius.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Pick one. There are no wasted moments in this entire film. The action sequences are all brilliant. But that scene where Steve goes to visit a dying Peggy Carter... yargh... a lump in my throat every time.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Not a damn thing. If a perfect comic book movie exists, this is a contender.
   
SIDENOTE: The way they updated Falcon is, as with everything else in this movie, perfect. By the way... that's Jenny Agutter as the lone woman on The World Security Council and the one that Black Widow impersonates to infiltrate SHIELD. Many Americans probably won't know who she is, but anybody familiar with British Television knows that this is just as cool casting as Robert Redford!

   

Thrice Fiction No. 22

Posted on May 1st, 2018

Dave!Oh look! The latest issue of Thrice Fiction magazine is out!

And you can read it online or grab a copy in PDF or eBook format absolutely FREE by visiting our website at ThriceFiction.com.

As always, it's got a great slate of writers and artists...

Thrice Fiction No. 22

Including art by yours truly. And guess who is making his Thrice Fiction debut in our latest issue? IT'S JAKE! No... he didn't write a story... but I did use him in the artwork I created for a story by Meg Tuite!

Jake in Thrice Fiction No. 22

Alas, all efforts in getting him to hold a Rolodex met in failure, so there's some Photoshop involved... but he's just as adorable as ever!

So what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

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Born a Crime

Posted on March 2nd, 2018

Dave!I remember how gutted I was when Jon Stewart left The Daily Show... thinking that nobody could ever take his place... swearing I'd dump the show. And then Trevor Noah came and he was a little rough but I saw how it might work out if he was given a chance. So everybody gave him a chance. And it ended up working because Trevor didn't even attempt to replace Jon Stewart... he just did his own thing within the format he was given. And now it's almost impossible for me to think of The Daily Show ever having been anybody's show but Trevor's, and I am glued to my TV every week night watching him dazzle with his charisma and brutally smart commentary on current events.

A while back I mentioned Trevor's audiobook, Born a Crime, which made me want to listen to it all over again.

And so I did. Seriously, even if you don't like Trevor, The Daily Show, or his politics, his story of growing up under Apartheid is unbelievably compelling. Highest possible recommendation...

As I said, you can sign up for Audible and get a free book credit so you can listen to his book for Free. Assuming you're not already a member. If you are a member, it's worth the credit. If neither of those are an option, check to see if your local library has audiobooks. Many of them do.

In the meanwhile, if you want to get a taste of what Born a Crime is about, check out this fantastic 90-minute interview that The Guardian which touches on a lot of the book's story...

   
Absolutely amazing how things worked out for him!

And he recently renewed his Comedy Central contract to host The Daily Show through 2022, so it's also amazing how things worked out for his fans too!

   

Bullet Sunday 542

Posted on February 25th, 2018

Dave!Prepare yourself, because a Very Special BLACK PANTHER EDITION of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Art! One of the best things about Black Panther is the production design. A lot of what went into that is explored in yet another wonderful edition of Marvel Studio's Art of the Movie books, which somebody on YouTube was kind enough to thumb through...

There's very little of the book that's not fascinating... or gorgeous...

Black Panther Art of the Movie Page

I own the entire series and love them. You can pick up the absolutely beautiful Black Panther edition from Amazon.

   
• Trevor! The detractors for Black Panther have been pretty stupid about it. I mean, if you don't like the movie, fine... to each their own. But the whole "This movie is racist because it's mostly Black people" is laughably stupid. My favorite commentary on this was by Trevor Noah from The Daily Show...

Speaking of Trevor Noah, if you haven't read or, better yet, listened to the audiobook of his Born a Crime, then it is absolutely worth your valuable time to do so. While interviewing Lupita Nyong'o for Black Panther, it was revealed that she will be producing and playing his mother in the movie adaptation...

Can't wait!

   
• Mother! Speaking of audiobooks, a momentary aside... I am just now finding out that Jenifer Lewis released a book last month called The Mother of Black Hollywood. Whether you know her as Ruby from Blackish or one of her many roles over nearly 30 years in Hollywood, it is so good...

Here is Jenifer Lewis being Jenifer Lewis... while plugging her book (and other things)...

If you want to be entertained for hours, search for "Jenifer Lewis" on YouTube and prepare yourself. This video is an hour of amazing...

I have only just started listening to the audiobook, but it is fantastic already. If you are a member of Audible, it's worth a credit. If you are not a member of Audible, you get a FREE credit when you sign up! Go do that and get this book!

   
• Comics! If you've seen the movie (and I'm assuming you have), there's a lot more to the story in the original comic books. Here's my four favorite series...

Black Panther Comic Book Covers

  • Black Panther by Christopher Priest (Vol. 1 Amazon link).
    During his epic run on the character, Priest defined and redefined a lot of what we know today about Black Panther. The movie owes a lot to his work on the character.
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Amazon Link).
    Having a writer of Coates' caliber take over Black Panther is the gift that keeps on giving. The beautiful art by Brian Stelfreeze is just the icing on the cake.
  • Who is The Black Panther? by Reginald Hudlin (Amazon Link)
    I like this series because it has a good ties between Black Panther and the rest of the Marvel Universe. They actually made this into a motion-comic you can watch.
  • Black Panther: Masterworks by Don McGregor (Vol. 1 Amazon Link)
    Here it is... the 1970's masterwork that gave us an epic story arc that's just as thrilling today as it ever was: Panther's Rage.

I would be remiss if I didn't add Jack Kirby's work on the Black Panther, which is also an important read.

   
• Wrong Panther! It'll be reiterated below, but I think it important to state it here: There is NO relation between the Black Panther of the comic books and the Black Panther Party. And yet... I've seen this pop up more times than I can count online.

   
• Panther Facts! Let's wrap up this Bullet Sunday with a list of interesting Black Panther bullets, courtesy of Kevin E. Ross, who has asked that people share it...

  • The Black Panther (real name: T'Challa) is the first mainstream black superhero ever. He was created by Marvel Comics and the team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the same two responsible for heroes like Thor, the Fantastic Four, and Captain America.
  • Created in 1966 during the turbulent Civil Rights era, he is the first black superhero not created as an "token," a dependent, or a sidekick. This was considered extremely controversial for the time period. He predates Captain America's Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1971). He also preceded the revolutionary activist group the Black Panther Party by 3 months (he was introduced in July of 1966, and the Black Panther Party in October of 1966. They were not connected).
  • T'Challa (his real name), is also the ruler of a fictional African kingdom called Wakanda (population 6,000,000). Wakanda is considered one of the wealthiest nations on Earth as well as one of the most technologically-advanced. Imagine if Disney World's Tomorrowland and the Rainforest Cafe merged.
  • Wakanda's wealth is the result of a meteorite that crashed on to the continent 10,000 years ago. Composed of a rare alien material called Vibranium, the metal is sought by many in the world for its scientific applications and its military capabilities. It is only available in Wakanda, thus the country keeps itself closed and shielded from the outside world. Vibranium basically absorbs any energy directed towards it and holds it like a sponge. Imagine buildings that wouldn't crumble under the force of an earthquake, or soldiers protected against explosions from grenades and other explosive devices. Wakanda does export other commodities such as coal, diamonds, and technology, which contributes to its worth.
  • Wakanda has tons of vibranium in underground storage. One gram of vibranium is worth $10,000. That means Captain America's 12-pound shield, which is composed of the material, is worth just over $54 million dollars.
  • Being the monarch of the world's richest nation also makes you rich. T'Challa's net worth is $90.7 trillion dollars, which makes him richer than Batman's Bruce Wayne (9.2 billion) or fellow Marvel running mate Tony "Iron Man" Stark (12.4 billion). By a lot.
  • In the comics, the Black Panther is also one of the most well-respected men in the world. He is a combination of nobility (Thor), patriotism (Captain America), and superior intellect (Iron Man). He is also an Oxford graduate with a PhD in physics and is considered one of the top-5 minds on the planet.
  • The Black Panther is more than the special costume he wears. He is also a world-class athlete who was trained in martial arts, judo, wrestling (a popular Wakandan sport), and all forms of hand-to-hand combat. He also has enhanced healing properties, strength, speed, agility, and tracking senses. This is the result of ingesting a special heart-shaped herb that grows only around the site of the crashed vibranium meteorite. The radiation from the meteorite produces the plant which, once ingested, gives the recipient the aforementioned special abilities. Only those in the royal hierarchy and heirs to the panther mantle are eligible to use it. This means that the Black Panther has absolutely no problem going toe-to-toe with Captain America, who is considered the world's best hand-to-hand combatant and fighter.
  • Steeped deep in African tradition, Wakandans worship Bast, a female deity known also as the Panther God. The symbolic mythology here is also directly connected to ancient Egypt. She is revered as a protector and defender of the nation. This makes the Black Panther her agent outside the spirit realm, and thus more than a hero, but a true mythical figure. Imagine if the Pope wore a costume, had superhuman abilities, and defended the Vatican from its enemies both foreign and domestic.
  • Because of Bast, Wakandan women are highly-respected. The king's personal guard, the Dora Milaje, are an elite female fighting force. T'Challa's younger sister Shuri is a genius level intellect and considered one of the smartest women on the planet. Not only does she give the Black Panthers technologically-advanced suit & tech superior upgrades, but also other inventions to help further her country's technological dominance. While Tony Stark, who is considered one of the smartest men on the planet, graduated from MIT at age 17, he did not invent the Iron Man suit until age 42. By contrast, Shuri is only 16 years old.
  • In the comic books, the Black Panther was briefly married to Storm of the X-Men (remember Halle Berry?). Storm was from Wakanda's African neighbor Kenya (but grew up in Cairo, Egypt).

   
Until next week... WAKANDA FOREVER!

   

Oddly Devious in Trying Times

Posted on November 14th, 2017

Dave!With all the crazy shit that's going on in this country right now, I'm afraid to turn on my television, look at a newspaper, or even go online. I've been beaten down and just don't want to hear it any more.

The bad news is that bad news is unavoidable now.

And so I'm reading all the Tarzan books again, starting with the brilliant original, to take my mind of everything...

Tarzan of the Apes Book Cover

Yes, it's a bit dated... the thing was published in 1912 for heaven's sake... yet it's surprising just how well it holds up. Incredibly imaginative and engaging fiction that's very different than so many of the stupid "Tarzan" movies that were inspired by it. The Lord of the Jungle is far from the grunting ignoramus he so often gets portrayed as on the silver screen and television. He's smart, crafty, and can be oddly devious when the need arises.

Much like the apes who raised him.

If you've never read the original book that started it all, I highly recommend giving it a read. It's just the ticket for escaping these trying times.

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