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Patriot and The World Gone Away

Posted on November 14th, 2018

Dave!Last night as I went to bed with the California wildfires fresh in my mind and the smell of burning orchard brush filling the valley, my own experience with a wildfire threatening my home* came rushing back to me. Rather than try and battle that demon again, I took sleeping pills and waited for the world to go away.

When I woke up, I went through the news and saw that even more homes had been lost in California. There were a surprising number of stars in the list. Miley Cyrus & Liam Hemsworth, Gerard Butler, Robin Thicke, Shannen Doherty, and Scott Derrickson all lost their homes. Loads more famous people had to evacuate (it's as if Mother Nature doesn't give a fuck if you have your own reality show or whatever!). I feel horrible for everybody involved... and even more horrible for the poor animals who have been displaced. There's enough suffering in the world.

Yesterday when I showed up at the tire shop for my 2:30 appointment to get my winter tires put on, I was told that 50 people were ahead of me. Apparently they had a computer bug that allowed people to keep making appointments even though no slots were available. I pushed for a new appointment this morning, which meant I ended up heading back into The Big City.

That's when I got the news that my snow tires are nine years old, which means this is the last season they can be used. Apparently you're not allowed to have 10-year-old tires on your car, regardless of how much tread is left on them. This is a colossal bummer, because my tires look practically new. Then again, it's recommended that you get your tires replaced after six years, so I guess I should be grateful I got to use them for as long as I did. They were purchased for my mom, so I bought the best I could afford at the time. Maybe that's what gave them a decade of life? Probably. If there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that you get what you pay for.

And so... something new and expensive for me to buy next year! Yay.

Then my fun really began.

Today was the day I finally decided to rip apart my work iMac so I could replace the internal "Apple Fusion" drive with a shiny new 100% SSD drive. I was terrified to make the attempt because Apple no longer uses strong magnets to keep the computer together... they use glue tape! You have to use a special tool to literally cut through the adhesive, remove the glass display, then glue everything back together once you replace the drive.

Turns out it wasn't a big deal at all. The kit I purchased from Other World Computing made it fairly easy, and they have videos you can watch to explain everything.

Pretty sweet!

Except... apparently when you install macOS X on an external boot drive, you cannot then just pop it inside and have it work as an internal boot drive. Which meant I had to reformat, re-install, and re-load everything. Again. There's six hours of my life I ain't getting back.

And six hours work I have to make up for tonight.

Looks like I'll be able to burn through another couple Hallmark Christmas Movies on my DVR. Or not. There's a show on Amazon Prime Streaming called Patriot that I'm interested in giving a watch. It's actually just started its second season. Apparently I missed it when it debuted last year...

Amazon Prime Presents Patriot

The show looks very funny. And very disturbing. I guess that would make it "disturbingly funny" then?

I hope so. Given the state of the world just now, "disturbingly funny" is right up my alley.
   


*Back in September 1992, the hillside behind my apartment building caught fire. It spread so fast that the evacuations followed in short order. I didn't evacuate. I stayed behind with a downstairs neighbor to put out the fires that were starting as embers blew onto the building and the yard surrounding it. After a while, my neighbor left. I was alone, on the roof, using a garden hose to home down the flames that kept popping up.

Eventually the fire department came and I was forced to evacuate. I grabbed a photo album, my laptop, and an armload of clothes as I left, not knowing if I would have a home to come back to. Thanks to the firefighters (who later told me that they felt obligated to save my home after I had spent the entire day battling for it), I did end up having a home to come back to.

My lungs never recovered. I still have respiratory problems after all these years. And sometimes I wake up swearing I smell smoke when there is no smoke. I know it's in my head, but it feels real.

   

Open The Pod Bay Doors, HAL

Posted on November 12th, 2018

Dave!Stan Lee, co-creator of a huge chunk of the Marvel Comics Universe... and Douglas Rain, the iconic voice of HAL 9000 (the onboard computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey), have died.

This was already a tough day for me.

But now?

When it comes to being absolutely terrified by a movie, there is no film that compares to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not for me, anyway. And it all comes down to that one riveting exchange where HAL refuses to let Dave back on the ship. Until I saw this scene while watching the movie on VHS videotape back in the early 80's, I had always thought of computers and robots as fantastical, wonderful inventions here to make our lives better. Then here comes HAL 9000, whose psychopathic method of self-preservation dictates that he straight-up murder the crew.

This could have been a comical situation. Especially given the dialogue HAL is speaking. But the way Douglas Rain delivered HAL's lines in such a cold, detached manor was horrifying...

"Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult." — I mean, holy shit!

In the sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, we find out that it wasn't HAL's fault that he went crazy. Humans were ultimately responsible... but that movie came out three years later, so it wasn't much consolation to me watching in 1981!

For years I had HAL as the ringtone on my iPhone. One of the many benefits to being named "Dave." I doubt that would have ever happened if not for the vocal talents of Douglas Rain.

   
And then there's Stan Lee...

J. Scott Campbell draws Stan Lee
Amazing Art by J. Scott Campbell

When I first started reading comics, I was mostly a DC Comics guy. That's where Batman was, and he was hands-down my favorite comic book character. But eventually (as my allowance increased) I was expanding into Marvel Comics more and more. My "gateway drug," as it were, was Doctor Strange. His surreal adventures were unlike anything happening at DC, and it was a quick hop from there to my reading other Marvel titles like The Avengers, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and whatever other team books I could afford (team books, you see, had more heroes in them, so it felt like more bang for my buck than solo titles).

Stan Lee co-created all of them.

And many, many more.

But his prolific comic writing output was almost incidental compared to his being the "face" of Marvel Comics. His rampant enthusiasm for their books in letter columns and his Stan's Soapbox column were the stuff of legend. He made you want to read comics.

As if that wasn't enough? He was also a wonderful man. Here's one of his most famous Stan's Soapbox columns...

Stan's Soapbox

Even if you're not a comic book fan, odds are you've seen Stan in one of his many Marvel Studios Movie cameos...

Or on one of his many, many television appearances...


The guy was legendary, and will be missed by a great many people. Thank you, Stan Lee.

Excelsior, True Believer!

'Nuff said.

   

Schadenfreude and Concession Speeches

Posted on November 7th, 2018

Dave!I have voted for many Republicans over the years. Here in Redneckistan, you kind of have to for some positions because Seattle-side politicians don't give a crap about us after they get our votes. But President Trump is so abhorrent that not only did I NOT vote for a single Trump-enabling Republican like Dino Rossi... I take great joy in their defeat. Rossi was hardly an honorable politician, but that wasn't the deciding factor for me (are any of them?). It was Trump, only Trump, and it will always be Trump. Any party that would unleash this monster on the country will not be getting a single vote from me. And may never get a vote from me again.

Rossi would have most certainly voted in support of Mitch McConnell wanting to steal from our Social Security and obliterate Medicare, both of which we pay for. He would have definitely voted to increase our debt in favor of more misguided tax breaks for the über-wealthy that will never benefit working-class Americans (no matter what Republicans say). He probably would have voted for Trump's stupid wall which will ultimately do little-to-nothing to halt immigration or drugs, but would certainly destroy animal migration and the environments which animals live. And I'm fairly certain that he would have supported stopping Mueller's investigation of the horrendous accusations against our president (seriously, shouldn't we be 100% sure about this?). I'm not sure about supporting Dear Leader's insane tariff war, which is decimating American farmers and our exports. But it's a foregone conclusion he would sit idly by as Trump continues his shitty attacks on reporters, the environment, science, poor people, immigrants, Persons of Color, the LGBTQ community, non-Christians, logical thinking, and actual human decency. I'd like to think he would have drawn the line at condemning our allies and praising the enemies of The United States of America like Cheeto Jesus does, but you never know. President Trump is very quick to make enemies of Republicans who do not offer whole-hearted support and non-stop praise of every fucked-up thing he does.

Short-term power gains that Republicans get by enabling the heinous crap Trump says and does on a daily basis will ultimately continue pushing people like me further and further Left. There's just nowhere else for politically unaffiliated people like me to go and feel sane. Or be able to live with ourselves.

It's because of this that I hope the Republican party continues to erode from within because they 100% deserve it. And after they're gone we can work on getting rid of the Democratic party too. Perhaps then we can finally find a political system that works for the people instead of corporate lobbyists. Finally get a political system run by citizens instead of billionaire puppet masters. Finally smash this two-party system that is destroying all of us with corruption, divisiveness, and fear. We've let politicians make ourselves our own worst enemy for far too long. At some point we need to put differences aside and start confronting the REAL enemy. But will we?

Fortunately, it's not up to us, because what we have now is unsustainable. Change will ultimately be coming whether people want it to or not. The question is whether we'll be annihilated in the process. The way things are headed now, it certainly feels that way. We are just too lazy, uninformed, and easily manipulated... and content to remain that way.

In the meanwhile... chocolate cake for breakfast though, so I guess it's not all bad.

   

Bullet Sunday 485

Posted on October 28th, 2018

Dave!It's a surprisingly beautiful day after a surprisingly nasty night, but the sun isn't the only ray of light to bless my day... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Humanity. If you visit Wikipedia's page on terrorist incidents worldwide, you'll notice something interesting. At first the list is by decade. Then by year. Then it's by half-year. Then it skips right past quarter-year and is listed by month. And it occurs to me that we may very well get to the point where it will be listed by week. At some point we will either escape from this downward spiral or destroy ourselves utterly...

Terrorist Incidents Worldwide Graph

With the murders at the Pittsburgh synagogue which, let's be honest, is a terrorist act as much as it's a hate crime, my hope for humanity is diminished yet again. At this point people may survive humanity... but I'm pretty sure actual humanity is headed towards extinction. There are bright spots to be sure... but the fact that somebody could enter into a place of worship (again) and murder multiple civilians (again) has me wondering if our inevitable extinction is something worth crying over. Look what we have become.

   
• Anecdotal. Case in point.

   
• Protections. The desensitization which our minds develop to protect our sanity from the horrific onslaught of non-stop tragedy in the world is failing me. Pittsburgh ended up being one of my favorite American cities. And nobody was more surprised by this than I was. I went there to visit the Hard Rock Cafe and was expecting some big dirty steel town backwater... only to find one of the most beautiful cities on earth with a city-culture that is uniquely Pittsburgh and wholly wonderful. Which is why the devastating attack on Pittsburgh's Jewish community which left 11 people dead and 6 people injured has hit me harder than I thought it would. My desensitization protections are failing me. Just as they did with the Boston Marathon bomber in another city I love. Just as New York. Just as London. Just as Paris. Just as in every city I've been to that I fall in love with. Which, as I'm just now realizing, is most cities I visit. And they're all fodder for political points more than they are the home of innocent people. Lord knows how my mind is supposed to protect itself now.

   
• Anecdotal. Case in point.

   
• Essential. Wow. Patriot Act is everything I dreamed it would be. And Hasan is starting out with a bang by examining Saudi Arabia and Affirmative Action in a way that few other people could...

Essential viewing. Essential.

   
• Anecdotal. Case in point.

   
• Privilege. Here we go again...

As a white guy, it's easy for me to say that I would have told this racist piece of shit to go fuck herself sideways, because I would totally do that. I have done that... and for far less. But I have that privilege. A white person can tell another white person to go fuck themselves and it usually doesn't result in somebody calling the police (so long as it doesn't turn violent). But if a Mexican were to do that? The cops would be called and they'd probably be arrested for assaulting a white lady. Or even shot. So if you're looking for a way to put your privilege to good use, stepping up and telling racists pieces of shit to go fuck themselves when they act like garbage towards minority persons minding their own business while trying to live their lives is a good start.

   
• Anecdotal. Case in point.

   
And now? I'd like to say I'm going out to enjoy this glorious day. But instead I'm going to work. Until next Sunday then!

   

Do Your Part

Posted on October 24th, 2018

Dave!Early voting is in progress in many places around the country. Here in Washington State where we vote by mail, the ballots have been arriving for a week now. If you're lucky enough to get to vote early, you might want to check into that so you can avoid the madness of November 6th. Because these days it's more important than ever to let your voice be heard, especially at a time when assholes are working overtime to rob some of us of that right.

There are people have died for your right to vote, so listen to John Lewis and GO VOTE...

John Lewis says VOTE!

Assuming that you haven't been purged and are able to vote, that is.

   

Bullet Sunday 484

Posted on October 21st, 2018

Dave!Another weekend of winterizing, plus cleaning out my garage... but there's still a warm spot in my heart... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• BOSTON!!! Congratulations to my beloved Boston Red Sox as they head to The World Series!

Dave Loves the Red Sox!

And then there's this, which is pretty funny...

SUCK IT, YANKEES! BWAH HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!

   
• Sears. Five years ago, my local Sears store closed. As I mentioned at the time, Sears was a huge chunk of my childhood, as that's where my first PC was purchased (an Atari 800) and the games and software that I grew up with (viva la Infocom!) all came from there...

Atari 800 Illustration
   
I drew this Atari 800 for the cover of Kevin Savetz's terrific book, Terrible Nerd!

So hearing that Sears is now in bankruptcy is met with a note of sadness for me. After all these decades, my local store is still ingrained in my memory. I remember everything about it. I remember exactly where the computer aisle was located. I remember what the display looked like. I remember the sound that the glass door made when it was unlocked to retrieve a box of software. I remember how excited I was when my family made a trip to Sears where I would immediately run to the computers to see what was new. That's how it was all done back in the 80's. The public internet didn't exist... certainly not like it is now. Computer magazines were always outdated the minute they were printed. There was pre-release information here and there, but I never really knew what was real until I saw it at Sears.

And now it's likely the entire chain will be gone forever. It's a tough hit to take, even though the only reason I'd ever shop there (if I even knew where to find one) was maybe for tools. Or appliances. Godspeed, Sears, you will always be in my heart.

   
• Owls. I've watched this too many times this past week...

Owls are such awesome creatures.

   
• Security! "Social Security, let’s lay it to rest once in for all... Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security trust fund. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing the budget or erasing or lowering the deficit." — President Ronald Reagan, 1984.

President Ronald Reagan

Once more for the dumbfucks in the back... YOU FUCKING PAID FOR YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE! IT'S TAKEN OUT OF YOUR FUCKING PAYCHECK! So when gaping assholes like Mitch McConnell and other Republican crooks start talking about cutting these programs to cover tax cuts for the rich and out-of-control government spending, THEY ARE STEALING FROM YOU. I honest-to-God do not understand why anybody in their right mind continues to support these pieces of shit when they are openly committed to the destruction of the working middle class. They are for themselves (like all politicians) and their wealthy puppet-masters. And nobody else. So unless you are the 1%, voting for these turds is only cutting your own throat.

   
• Of Note. We live in hypocritical times...

And, just in case there was any doubt whatsoever that Pat Robertson is a steaming pile of shit... here you go...

Excusing evil for lots of money in weapons sales, just like Jesus taught us!

And had it been a Christian journalist... a journalist from TBN... who was hacked apart with a bone saw? He would be calling for President Clownface VonFuckstick to nuke Saudi Arabia. This fucker cannot die fast enough. Not that I am unaware that there are dozens of assholes waiting to take his place, but still...

   
• Millennium.I liked the original Swedish movie trilogy based on the famous "Millennium Trilogy" of book... I *loved* the US adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was about as flawless as movies get. Daniel Craig was great... Rooney Mara was unbelievably great... she was Lisbeth Salander. Which is why I was really sad to learn that they would not be reprising their roles for the upcoming The Girl in the Spider's Web. Instead we're getting Claire Foy, which is not a terrible choice... but it's not Rooney Mara...

Fingers crossed. Lisbeth Salander is too good a character to be wasted.

   
And that's the end of bullets on this fine Sunday morning!

   

Bullet Sunday 481

Posted on September 30th, 2018

Dave!Time to remember the past and move forward... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Marker. My mom's marker finally arrived. I placed her remains on Thursday and the stone was set shortly thereafter...

XXX

Burial vaults used to be big cement things. Now they're tiny plastic! She barely fit! The guys at the cemetery helping me were incredibly kind a respectful, which was very much appreciated.

Mom's Marker

It still seems strange for her to be honored as a Vietnam veteran when she wasn't in combat, but the VA assures me that her service during wartime absolutely qualifies her for the honorarium. I think this means the American Legion will put a flag on her grave come Memorial Day? That would be nice.

   
• Obituary. After my mom was buried, I could finally send in her obituary. I was surprised that I was able to do the entire thing online. I didn't have to talk to anybody...

Mom's Obituary: Patricia A. Monroe Simmer passed away on June 29, 2018 in Mill Creek, WA. She was born December 19, 1944 to Marie and Charles “Ray” Monroe in Bremerton, WA. Her family then returned to their home in Cashmere. Pat graduated Cashmere High School in 1963, then joined the Navy and underwent training in Bainbridge, MD. In 1964 she was stationed at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay where she married David L. Simmer. She left the Navy in 1965 and moved to San Diego where she had two children. Pat returned to Cashmere in 1971 and worked at the Aplets & Cotlets factory for 31 years from 1978 to 2009.
An avid traveler, Pat circled the globe visiting dozens of countries from Aruba to Zimbabwe. Her travel led her to such adventures as riding a camel at the pyramids of Egypt, climbing a glacier in Alaska, trekking the jungles of Costa Rica, exploring temples in Cambodia, and going on safari in Africa. Pat is survived by her sons David Simmer II and John Simmer, her brothers Jerry Monroe and Ron Bromfield, and was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Bobby Monroe. She was laid to rest in a private service in Cashmere.

I picked a photo from our last trip together. She's sitting across from me at the five-star Victoria Falls Hotel Restaurant in Zimbabwe. Sure she's in a T-shirt, but what the heck. She was an adventurer. That's the kinda stuff she wore when tearing up the planet doing awesome shit.

A sidenote... The photo I used for my mother's obituary was taken exactly four years from the day I sent it in to the newspaper, and I didn't even know it until I saw the date stamp of the photo. Weird how things line up from time to time if you pay attention. Here's my blog entry from September 27th, 2014. Amazing how the universe works.

And so I guess that's it. The last thing to do in a long list of things to do so we can both move on. Or not...

   
• Memoriam. When I purchase a copy of our local paper today so I can see my mother's obituary in print, I will also be purchasing yet another opinion piece by the paper's publisher who previously compared rape to cheating at golf and smoking. Did he apologize for his flippant and tone deaf attitude? No. No he did not. He doubles down and says that men have nothing to be ashamed of... we were born this way, after all. Most of us are good guys, so the horrible way that women get treated is not our fault.

Then whose fault is it?

You're saying the toxic masculinity which permeates our society and is a constant and consistent threat to women is nothing to be ashamed of? Men can hold their heads high while women are harassed, humiliated, beaten, raped, and even killed? Are you serious?

The idea that men should just keep going on about their business while a society which endangers women is thriving is categorically absurd. Jeff Ackerman says we should just keep drinking from the milk carton, mowing the lawn, and ignoring rape culture because most of us are nice guys. It's nothing to do with us. Men should stick together against these evil women who want to be able to walk down the street at night without fearing for their life. Apparently that's what he considers "behaving like a man."

I call bullshit. Real men should be standing together with women to put an end to this. Real men should be actively dismantling toxic masculinity at every opportunity. Real men should be teaching their sons that being a man means being a partner to women, not dominating over them. Real men set an example by respecting women, cherishing women, valuing women, and supporting women. Real men work for a society where women are heard.

My mother was victimized by a man who professed to be her boyfriend... but she was never a victim. She picked herself up, pulled together the pieces of her life, then moved on the best she could. She loved her family. She served her country. She was kind to those she met. She worked hard. She traveled the world to understand it better. And her reward for having such courage? To be memorialized in a newspaper where the publisher says that what she went through is none of my concern because that's just the way men are.

My mom deserves better than that. I'm a better man that that. And society will be far better off when "old men" like Jeff Ackerman are gone.

   
• Love. And in yet another "Making History" segment... MIKE PENCE BECOMES FIRST VICE PRESIDENT TO ADDRESS ANTI-GAY SUMMIT — But I'm sure he was hating the homosexualizers with Christian Love® in Jesus® name... so it's all good. I mean... these "Christians" have branded their hate as "Christian Love®" so I'm assuming they've trademarked that. Oh... and Jesus® of course. Can't go having The Wrong People co-opting The Savior® can we? They might tell people to love everybody as He did instead of weaponizing His name to push an agenda. We can't be having THAT! Can you imagine? People coming together to love one another? Why, the notion! So silly! Christian Love® is reserved for those who believe EXACTLY LIKE PENCE DOES... and nobody else! Lord, what a piece of shit. Pence, Trump, and their entire administration is garbage. Way to represent all Americans.

   
• Political Climate. When given the choice from here on out, I am voting exclusively for progressive women candidates. I honestly do not give a single fuck's worth of thought to any of these old white men destroying this country. I'm voting all women, all persons of color, all LGBTQ, all ANYTHING but the status quo from here on out. These assholes had their chance. The future belongs to anybody but them. Because the only way we are going to get FAIR REPRESENTATION in government is to have ACTUAL REPRESENTATION IN GOVERNMENT.

   
And until next Sunday, when I'm sure there will be a whole new set of horrors to deal with, I bid you adieu.

   

Bullet Sunday 480

Posted on September 23rd, 2018

Dave!Pull up on that pumpkin spice latte... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Boston! My beloved Red Sox are American League East champions for the third year in a row...

Dave Loves the Red Sox!

LET'S GO, BOSTON!

   
• The Last O.G.! I was watching... something... on TBS and saw a commercial for Tracy Morgan in The Last O.G.. As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of Tracy, I was excited to see it. Only to find out that it had already aired this past Spring...

It is phenomenal. Funny as hell. But touching too. I loved every episode and am relieved to find out that it has already been renewed for a second season. Highest possible recommendation. If you haven't seen it, please do yourself a favor and take a look.

   
• Believer! The last thing I would ever want to do is convict an innocent person for a crime they did not commit. That being said, Brett Kavanaugh is up for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. There is no walking this back. And since it makes no sense whatsoever that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford would invite a felony by lying to the FBI (or invite death threats towards her and her family), I think it's critical that an investigation be done. Especially now that more women have come forward. Anybody who thinks otherwise is either an asshole or wanting to serve a personal agenda over the good of this country...

I believe women. I believe in due process. I believe in innocence until proven guilty. I believe in justice. And I seriously question those who would sidestep any of that. Like the fucking piece of shit publisher of our local newspaper who equates rape to cheating at golf and smoking (you only think I'm joking). I don't expect people appointed to the Supreme Court to be perfect. They're human, after all. But I do expect them to not be rapists. Because no, not all boys do it, and rewarding this heinous behavior only propagates the rape culture that keeps creating new generations of rapists. It's got to finally end sometime. That time is now. Because time's up.

   
• Family! To all the single parents... to all the double dads... to all the double moms... to everyone who is trying to raise the best kid they can while listening to people scream "EVERY CHILD NEEDS A MOM AND A DAD!" over and over and over... know that you are exactly enough. Love alone makes a family. It always has...

Mom is Dad for Dad Day

I saw this meme floating through my Facebook feed and was reminded for the hundredth time that the people who think it's their business to stick their nose into other people's business are the ones most likely guilty of whatever it is they are professing to hate. So you do you. Everybody else is just doing the best they can with the cards they were dealt and don't deserve your stupid-ass judgement.

   
• Cold! This has got to be the most insane political commercial I've seen yet...

What kind of piece of shit do you have to be to have all your siblings not only not vote for you... but take out a devastating opposition ad to boot? Cold!

   
• Chewie! It's the little things that add up to make a good thing great. Nobody is more aware of this than Marvel Studios. In their new movie poster for Captain Marvel, people have been noticing a cat walking off-frame in the shadows. I took a look in there with Photoshop and, sure enough, there's a cat there...

Chewie the Cat?!?

This is undoubtedly meant to be Carol Danvers' cat, Chewie! Who is not actually a cat, but an alien species called "Flerken" which resemble and earth cat. He's a rather large part of the Captain Marvel comic books, having made several appearances...

Chewie the Cat?!?

Chewie the Cat?!?

Holy crap does Marvel know how to handle their characters. And now it's been confirmed that Kevin Feige will be overseeing The X-Men and The Fantastic Four in addition to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As it should have been all along! So long, FOX, your shitty, shitty, unbelievably shitty super-hero movies will not be missed.

And that's not all in Marvel news... rumor has it that Loki and The Scarlet Witch may be getting their own TV series on Disney's new streaming service. That will be fantastic, if it happens. But if I'm being honest? The character I most want to get a TV show is Hawkeye. If they were to base it on the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book run, it would be absolutely amazing.

   
And... I'm done with bullets for the day. I got things to do.

   

AIDS and The Long Run

Posted on September 20th, 2018

Dave!I remember the AIDS crisis very well.

The first time I was exposed to it was when a guy a few years behind me in school was rumored to have the disease. Eventually he just... disappeared. No news. No nothing. I have no idea what ever became of him. I do know that his younger brother deflected it by telling unfunny gay and AIDS jokes.* I guess he was intent on making sure nobody thought he was gay too. At the time, I didn't know much about AIDS (there wasn't much to know) but it still seemed incredibly sad. If the guy did have AIDS, then even his family was ridiculing him as he was struggling.

I grew up in rural America where homosexuality was so deep in the closet that it was virtually unheard of outside of gay jokes and people like Boy George becoming famous. I'm sure gay people existed here in the 80's when the AIDS epidemic was beginning, but they were invisible in our community so far as I knew. Probably out of necessity. I heard more than one story of people being run out of town (or, more likely, being threatened with being run out of town) for whatever reason (like having the wrong color skin, for example). So if you were gay and still wanted to live here knowing how some of the natives are, you probably didn't talk about your sexuality openly.

Heck, I had a hard enough time growing up here when people just thought I was gay.** I'm not the most masculine of guys, and apparently that's enough. Never mind that I've only ever dated women and am not sexually attracted to men,*** it's what people think that matters.

Anyway... where was I? Oh yeah.

And then I graduated high school in 1984 and found my way to the real world.

At this time people didn't know much about HIV and AIDS. It was still very much thought of as a "gay disease" even though it had spread far beyond that. I remember seeing protests on the news because people didn't want to send their kids to school if another student had AIDS. Ignorance and fear were rampant and there was a huge amount of misinformation about how you get the disease. Everybody was in a panic, and our government seemed uninterested in helping matters. Despite this horrific failure by President Reagan and our elected officials, people had become better-educated by the time I was finishing up community college in 1986-87. But the stigma was still there. As were the deaths.

My occupation in graphic design is a highly creative field. For whatever reason, creative jobs attract a higher-than-average number of gay persons to their ranks. Which meant I had to set aside my sheltered upbringing and go from barely knowing homosexuality exists... to working with gay people on a regular basis. Luckily my parents provided an atmosphere of tolerance growing up which made this an easy adjustment. What was not easy was living from day to day wondering if any of my friends and colleagues were going to end up missing due to an AIDS-related illness. I'd call to speak with somebody I had been working with just the week before... only to be told that they were no longer there. They were too sick to work. You knew it was coming. They would tell you it was coming. But it was never an easy thing to hear. Sometimes I was able to make it to Seattle or Portland or San Francisco to visit them. Sometimes I wasn't. Sometimes I made it to their funeral.

After a while it became difficult to get through the week without AIDS being a part of the picture. If it wasn't news about somebody you knew, it was somebody known by somebody you knew. As we reached the 90's you'd find yourself becoming numb to it. You had to. It was the only way to stay sane. Usually hearing that somebody died is like a bomb being dropped. Even if you didn't know them very well. But now it was worked into passive conversation. You'd find out someone was gone while eating dinner. It would be "Can you pass the guacamole? Oh... did I mention Bryan died last week?"

It's almost impossible to describe what it was like if you weren't there.

And I'm straight.

I'm filled with despair trying to wrap my head around what it was like for the gay community. I had friends who told me that they spent years in hospitals. Years. Not because they were sick, but because everybody they knew was sick or dying. I am aghast if I have to attend a funeral once a year. If you were an integral part of a large gay community, you might end up at a funeral every month.

Due to the AIDS epidemic, the 80's and early 90's were a tragic time of sadness and loss for a great many people.

As I said, I remember it very well. Too well.

Which is why reading this morning that President Trump's administration has removed $260 million from cancer research, HIV/AID prevention, and other programs is hard to take. AIDS hasn't gone away. AIDS is still here. I know people living with AIDS right now. There still is no cure for AIDS. And the minute we lose vigilance, it could explode all over again. Sure, AIDS is survivable now... it's not a guaranteed death sentence as it once was... but it's still a horrible disease which can have dire consequences. And we want to take money away from making sure it doesn't become a massive health crisis all over again? I don't get it. And if people aren't completely outraged, they don't get it either.

Towleroad published an article yesterday called Wasn't That Long Ago which collects tweets by Tucker Shaw about what it was like to lose somebody back in the day. And here it is in case you didn't know or have forgotten...

I overheard a young man on the train on the way home today, talking to another young man. Holding hands. In college, I guessed. About that age anyway. Much younger than I am. He was talking about AIDS, in a scholarly way. About how it had galvanized the gay community. How it had spurred change. Paved the way to make things better, in the long run.
   
The long run.
   
Maybe he’s right. I don’t know. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the theory. He spoke with clarity and with confidence. Youthful, full of conviction. But. Remember how terrible it was, not that long ago, during the worst times. How many beautiful friends died. One after the other. Brutally. Restlessly. Brittle and damp. In cold rooms with hot lights. Remember? Some nights, you’d sneak in to that hospital downtown after visiting hours, just to see who was around. It wasn’t hard. You’d bring a boom box. Fresh gossip. Trashy magazines and cheap paperbacks. Hash brownies. Anything. Nothing. You’d get kicked out, but you’d sneak back in. Kicked out again. Back in again. Sometimes you’d recognize a friend. Sometimes you wouldn’t.
   
Other nights, you’d go out to dance and drink. A different distraction. You’d see a face in the dark, in the back of the bar. Is it you? Old friend! No. Not him. Just a ghost. At work, you’d find an umbrella, one you’d borrowed a few rainstorms ago from a coworker. I should return it, you’d think. No. No need. He’s gone. It’s yours now. Season after season. Year after year.
   
One day you’d get lucky and meet someone lovely. You’d feel happy, optimistic. You’d make plans. Together, you’d keep a list of names in a notebook you bought for thirty cents in Chinatown so you could remember who was still here and who wasn’t, because it was so easy to forget. But there were so many names to write down. Too many names. Names you didn’t want to write down. When he finally had to go too, you got rid of the notebook. No more names.
   
Your friends would come over with takeout and wine and you’d see how hard they tried not to ask when he was coming home because they knew he wasn’t coming home. No one came home. You’d turn 24. When he’d been gone long enough and it was time to get rid of his stuff, they’d say so. It’s time. And you’d do it, you’d give away the shirts, sweaters, jackets. Everything. Except those shoes. You remember the ones. He loved those shoes, you’d say. We loved those shoes. I’ll keep those shoes under the bed.
   
You’d move to a new neighborhood. You’d unpack the first night, take a shower, make the bed because it’d be bedtime. You’d think of the shoes. For the first time, you’d put them on. Look at those shoes. What great shoes. Air. You’d need air. You’d walk outside in the shoes, just to the stoop. You’d sit. A breeze. A neighbor steps past. “Great shoes,” she’d say. But the shoes are too big for you. You’d sit for a while, maybe an hour, maybe more. Then you’d unlace the shoes, set them by the trash on the curb. You’d go back upstairs in your socks. The phone is ringing. More news.
   
The long run. Wasn’t that long ago.

   
No. No it wasn't that long ago.

To me it seems like it was only yesterday.

How long must it seem to the people running this country?

   

*The only joke I remember hearing him tell had something to do with a ferry rear-ending a sailboat in Puget Sound and now they both have AIDS. Yeah, hilarious.

**Many people still do, I'm sure.

***Though, if I'm being honest, I think I have better relationships with men. I'm not sexually attracted to men. I've never had sex with a man. But building a healthy relationship with women is apparently not something I'm built for because they never last. Even when the sex is great. Which is why I'm guessing I'm still single. Meanwhile, I've had non-sexual relationships with men whom I love on a near-spiritual level that have lasted decades. So... never say never, I guess. I've had sex with women whom I wasn't sexually attracted to, so maybe one day I'll meet the right guy and everything will change! If it happens, dear reader, you'll be the first to know.

   

That’s So Yeti

Posted on September 19th, 2018

Dave!Uhhh... okayyyyyy...


Toad!

   

   

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