December 26, 2013

Wealth of nations

X-mas eve at an extended family gathering when an older gentleman starts a conversation with me about Midtown and arts patronage. As with 99% of my conversations initiated by strangers, he quickly stated his strong conservatism. I do not know how this happens. Unless friends or family, I generally avoid heated subjects and so have the opportunity to gather opinions fresh. His gripe: pointedly left-leaning artistic expressions should be suppressed by the institutions themselves, based on the assumption that most wealthy donors are conservative. When the Alliance Theater staged a play overtly questioning Bush's policies, he asked the director that they give equal voice to anti-left playwrights. The every-view-must-be-equally-represented impulse from a presumably laissez faire invisible hand-ite was odd: good art should not rise from judge of art but from dictate of patrons? And what would the patrons of NYC or San Francisco say of his The Wealthy are Conservative theory? It's an old problem. He hated that government support of culture weakened the power of the conservative and wealthy.

Later, we had dinner with the Swells at Bacchanalia. Our meal could have helped many a small gallery or theater.

posted by sstrader at 7:36 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

December 18, 2013

Assassination dept.

[ updated 19 Dec 2013 ]

Tom Ashbrook had Ryan Lizza on discussing his article.

In the summer of 2003, while Congress debated a crucial vote on the future of the plan, Wyden instructed an intern to sift through the Pentagon's documents about T.I.A. The intern discovered that one of the program's ideas was to create a futures market in which anonymous users could place bets on events such as assassinations and terrorist attacks, and get paid on the basis of whether the events occurred.

-- from "State of Deception" by Ryan Lizza in the 16 Dec 2013 New Yorker, minor details disputed by Robin Hanson in his blog article "Wyden Puff Piece Errors"

Compare with the Assassination Market that Bitcoin's detractors grouse about: a site that offers crowd-sourced Bitcoin bounties to assassins of government officials (reported in this November Forbes article). Interesting that an anarchist started the web site and that TIA's and NSA's overreach so keenly embodies the anarchist concept of "might makes right".

posted by sstrader at 11:58 PM in Politics | permalink

December 7, 2013

New comic books discovered in Denver in October

[ updated 20 Dec 2013 ]

Best-of lists:

[ updated 12 Dec 2013 ]

Forgot about Morning Glories, also acquired from MHC. I got the first anthology in hardback (simply because that's all they had) and then ordered the second from Amazon. Fun-ish, but I won't be going any further with it. The art was very average and the story was very Lost with equally scarce payoff. Obvious now how I forgot this one.

When I went to visit Lisa while she was working at a trade show in Denver, I decided to visit Mile High Comics. I'd purchased from them on-line over the past several years and had time while she worked during the day to make a pilgrimage. To the rental car! I mapped a route to the first listing and dove into east Denver traffic. The night before, we'd found that there was a location just a couple of miles from the hotel. In my rush to head out, I instead mapped one that was off in some warehouse district. Further, but fortuitous:


Kid, meet candy store; candy store, kid.

After a few back-and-forths along the new release wall--and many Internet searches for descriptions of interesting titles--I found several new-to-me series to start. I generally collect a small number of titles. Most are limited story-lines that end after a couple of years, so purchases only occur every few months. I really had no reference point on what to get, since I don't do super-heroes. Here's what I found:

East of West - Alternate history America where some mystical asteroid hits the center of the country in the 1800s and forces a split into several distinct countries. The site of the impact starts a new religion, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse appear (and re-appear) to do what they do. Death is in love with one of the princesses of China's territory and their rocky love story is the primary thread. The story lines are intriguing. The art, covers, and issue structure are beautiful. This is why creators should get full control of their work. Image Comics.

Mara - Future world where sports have been subsumed by governments as a, sort of, military replacement. The military still exists but, like Rollerball, sports diverts the public's attentions and children train like they're in the IDF. Six issues total. Unique pacing and concepts. Another Image Comics title.

Rocket Girl - Cheesy, glossy, high-action story about a time-traveling teen chick cop who wears a rocket pack and goes to 1985 in order to stop a corporation from altering the future. Took a chance on issue #1 and I'll probably stay with it. Silly fun with hints of later surprises. They started with a Kickstarter campaign. Neat. Yes, Image Comics.

Thumbprint - three-issue horror from Joe Hill. Good comic, but not my cup of tea. IDW comics.

This week, I went to Oxford Comics to pick up new issues of East of West, Saga (discovered several months ago, perfect), and Rocket Girl. On impulse I picked up all six issues of Nowhere Men. Densly detailed images and extra-story content such as book excerpts, magazine interviews, and advertisements, tell the story of a quartet of science geniuses who change the world with their inventions and in-fighting. As creative as East of West and as recommended. Image Comics.

posted by sstrader at 11:06 AM in Art , Language & Literature | tagged comic books | permalink

December 6, 2013

Three sci-fi music videos

Broken Bells Present "After The Disco" part 1 and 2 - late-night TV watcher gets transported to a barren planet where he saves a stranded Space Chick. Style is more 1950s sci-fi.

Broken Bells "The Ghost Inside" - with Christina Hendricks on a doomed flight to a vacation planet.

Kvelertak "Evig Vandrar" - Norwegian metal band. Animated video with inexplicable story of warring factors on a desert planet, reminiscent of Heavy Metal.

posted by sstrader at 8:34 PM in Cinema | permalink