Going On the Account: Running Down the Checklist

Source: http://www.nara.gov

It’s been an interesting week on Capitol Hill, to put it mildly…

I’m probably going to try going forward to put a lot of things mildly; if anything the last few years taught us, it’s that you can’t go nuts in the crisis of the moment, lest you have nothing to meet the next crisis likely to pop up a few hours later…

There are probably a lot of hot takes out there already about what happened and why. Some of these may even be right-

Okay, probably a lot of them that discuss how little to expect from the next session. When you have one-dimensional characters like the loudest of the lot giving you the rundown of how they want to make it all about themselves, there’s not a lot you can second-guess them on. We have all the times we’ve seen announcements by terrible people about what they were going to do, then watched as they did it. The only surprise is that the audience assumes that they aren’t going to do horrible things this time, thinking it’ll be better.

Cue the Charles Schultz characters…

So, with fifteenth being the charm, the house got a new speaker, while the leader of the minority party had a few remarks that went out well after midnight.

And boy, did Rep. Hakeem Jeffries give a strong set of them:                           

While the speech in toto is worth watching or listening to, it’s how he wrapped the piece up that’s really worth noting. There’s some great writing in it where he compares Democrats in the House of Representatives with the other party, and lists how his side of the room will differ from those across the aisle:

“House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy,

benevolence over bigotry,

the Constitution over the cult,

democracy over demagogues,

economic opportunity over extremism,

freedom over fascism,

governing over gaslighting,

hopefulness over hatred,

inclusion over isolation,

justice over judicial overreach,

knowledge over kangaroo courts,

liberty over limitation,

maturity over Mar-a-Lago,

normalcy over negativity,

opportunity over obstruction,

people over politics,

quality of life issues over QAnon,

reason over racism,

substance over slander,

triumph over tyranny,

understanding over ugliness,

voting rights over voter suppression,

working families over the well-connected,

xenial over xenophobia,

‘yes, we can’ over ‘you can do it,’

and zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation.”

It’s a brilliant piece of writing, no matter what you may think of where it came from. And looking at how right-leaners characterized it, the way they tried to gloss over this section says a lot about how they felt about the call-outs.

We like to think that once upon a time, we had great orators who gave fantastic speeches. We tend to assume that those days are gone, that we can no longer expect to find good writing when a politician takes to the mic.

After hearing this one, that assumption may need to be re-thought…

Going On the Account Coming ‘Round More Often

Sprout” by dixieroadrash is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. – Anaïs Nin

I will probably keep doing that as well, as I have the last few years, but this time I’ll do something a little different:

I’m going to try and share more here.

You might think, even with three different presences out there to blather out on, that there’d be no reason to add another place to show up. That was certainly the thought guiding the last few years, the idea of having one more place to show up and spill out being tiring, and maybe an annoyance to folks who don’t need more of me than this, thank you.

But as much as I share with the places above, it’s usually interacting in reaction to what others are saying. There are a lot of talented, funny, creative people over there who are all worth clapping in appreciation, sharing with, laughing alongside, and even jibing a bit. Good natured jibing of course, as there’s been too much bile spilled haphazardly the last few years.

But there are times when things need to be said that don’t lend themselves to other outlets. There are character limits for posts on Mastodon, which makes deeper ideas difficult to throw out there thoughtfully. Instagram is better for pictures and films, which I’m practicing with, but none of my pics are yet worth a thousand words. (Hell, half of them barely merit 200 characters…) And if everyone I’ve even known who got “Facebook Jail” for saying something a deranged or damaged algorithm were put in a real-world jail, it’d make the problems that Rikers Island is famous for seem miniscule as that group crushes any facility they might be sent to. Even Australia might have issues with all of them were they to go back into the penal business…

Here, the only limit I really have is my own judgement.

…and laziness, yes. Which has been an issue as far as keeping things fresh here, and has to be addressed, hence this post to put myself on the spot.

But lack of inertia is not the main reason for leaving things out to melt or rot here. There are things that don’t lend themselves to an easy introduction as noted above, things that whether they need to be said or not would still should be shared. If for no other reason, these’d get shared because sometimes you can’t recognize there’s a problem unless someone speaks up about it.

What I’ll post here may not be the best answer, or even germane to anything current, but we won’t know until that takes place. Who knows, there might be some kernels coming out when we blow the chafe out…

<SFX: Deep breath before heading to the edge of the diving board…>

Going On the Account: Following the Herd

I have to admit, I never really got into Twitter.

There were all kinds of reasons to do so, the need to “be part of the conversation,” especially among journalists and politicians. Until now, though, I never really felt I needed to be part of that. Probably the presence of an “orange politician,” for lack of a good term, had something to do with it…

But, the times change, and require new things of us as they do. I’m at a point where I do need to “be part of the conversation,” for a number of reasons. And, as the news can attest, I picked a GREAT time to reach that point…

So, though it’s time to speak up, I’m going to a different place to do so:


At this point, I don’t have the button for Mastodon set on the contact page, and am trying to work out some of the technical issues, but I’m hoping I can smooth out the kinks as I proceed. If all goes the way hoped, I should be able to share there the way I do on Instagram and Facebook with things thought and said and seen.

O brave new world(s)…

Going On the Account: Hell to Pay (For)…

This is a “Wai’, what?” moment here:

So, I’m doing research tied to an as yet unnamed (and for that matter, extremely nebulous for now) project, when I came across this.

Now, not everyone remembers that as World War I came to a close, the Allied powers sent troops to Russia to take a side in the Russian Revolution. The Allies wanted the Mensheviks to win, thinking that they’d be preferable to a Bolshevik victor taking over the Empire. (Spoilers: The Bolsheviks come out on top, and the U.S.S.R. came into existence, holding a grudge against the West for supporting the other side.)

Because it’s not something that’s in most American history syllabi, at any level, it’s easy to make some assumptions about what went on. You might think that we don’t talk about it because it was a small diversionary force that they tried to keep under the radar. Or maybe that the countries that won “the war to end all wars” were trying to aggressively get back to being at peace, and were ignoring this tiny war the same way they were ignoring the Spanish flu the global influenza outbreak.

Part of these mini-wars were deployments to Siberia as part of the bigger operation. Sure, it’s easy to ask why go somewhere that’s synonymous with empty unused land, if you forget that the Trans-Siberian Railway has to cut through there, linking Moscow to the Pacific. So it’s easy to assume if you’re in the mindset suggested above, that because this is an out-of-the-way place, it was just a few troops put in to try and nudge one side to victory over the other one.

The big discovery, though, was finding online a poster asking the folks back home to buy war stamps (small-scale war bonds for the individual to buy) to support the intervention:

This poster in the collection of the National World War I Museum and Memorial makes it harder to assume that. If this was a small op, an in-and-out intervention like way, way too many other American actions that come to mind, why would they be asking people to buy micro-war bonds to support them? How long did they intend to keep them there? Did they have plans that went beyond… Okay, what were they planning? That might be a better question, actually…

While what happened there doesn’t get as much attention as other American overseas actions, there are places to get more details about what took place. And learning about such actions may be helpful if you’re trying to make sense of it all, like where the beef between Americans and Russians started and why “Bolshevik” is considered an insult.

Which is part of the wider issue out there, about how little we think about history. With so much bad history being thrown around by so-called “Originalists” for the sake of their own ends, it can be hard enough to find perspective about the big historical events we’d learned (I hope) to help make sense of things. Which is why re-studying the history you know is not only a good way to keep you focused against all these distractions, it can lead you to find things you didn’t know before.

And to borrow an old set of sayings about bullets, it’s the stuff you didn’t know before that can kill you…

Going On the Account: The End of the Beginning, or What Needs to Come After This Day

Like Colonel Taylor once said: “You maniacs! You blew it all up…!

The worst part about all this is, the reasoning they used to overturn Roe can easily be used to remove all other rights…

By claiming that the guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment can be limited because such concepts as abortion were not on anyone’s mind when the Amendment was drafted, it’s opened the doors for other cases to be reconsidered.

In fact, Thomas’ concurrence cites three such cases that relied on the Fourteenth that the court “should reconsider” in light of this ruling: Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating sodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry.

Think about it: The logic used here to deny abortions can now be used to overturn gay marriage, same-sex relationships, and contraception. And considering what ELSE we didn’t have in 1868, when the Fourteenth was adopted, such as suffrage for anyone other than a male white property owner, this is a slope that’s not so much slippery as it is embedded with razor blades and shards of glass that has been greased , meaning that it’s a race between the hard fall and the loss of blood as to what kills you first.

It’s beyond time to trust the courts to uphold any self-evident truths that we think we have. We need a legislative solution, with statutes that explicitly grant us rights we just assumed we had. Leaving these areas settled based on implication was never good enough, and after today, we do need to literally spell it out.

It’s not enough to just vote the enablers out; we need to make sure the folks we send do what we want, explicitly demanding what we need. The threat of voting them out should this not happen needs to be not only on the table, but made the centerpiece thereof.

Don’t just vote like your life depends on it; make sure the ones you vote in know that giving them job isn’t enough anymore.

And while we’re looking for candidates we need to speak for us…

  • You can get any “necessities” you may need at this site;
  • You can get legal advice if you wish and need it from this site;
  • If you need directions, you can get them from this site;
  • If you’re looking for more resources, you should try this site; and
  • If you do need to use any of the above, but worry about someone tracking your moves, which is not an unreasonable fear, then you may want to go first to this site.

It’s going to get ugly before it gets better…

Going On the Account: Belaboring May the 4th

Happy May the 4th! I used to have a joke about this line, about someone who’s background made them respond in an odd way:

They say: “May the Force be with you.”

Respondent: “And also with you.”

And then, it gets used in an episode of Season 2 of The Mandalorian, so there that goes…

Elsewhere around the Internet, someone posted a question on a popular site. Which, yes, can be dangerous, but still, it’s an interesting thought experiment:

“What if Anakin never met Padme? Without that attachment, would he have still turned to the dark side?”

So far, some answers have ranged between “he stays a nobody on Tatooine” and “he still becomes Vader (even though now he’s just small fry…)” which seems a pretty reasonable range of possibilities.

There’s another way to look at an undiscovered Anakin alternative timeline, which may be unpopular…

Remember the final scene in The Last Jedi, when we have someone start using the Force without being part of the whole Jedi-Industrial-Complex? Yes, it’s a movie everyone hated, but stay with me here…

So: Anakin never meets Padme, et al., and doesn’t get taken off Tatooine. He’s stuck there like the last two Disney+ shows were, never getting off-world, but with so high a midi-chlorian count that he’s very likely going to go off like a forgotten World War II bomb.

Which comes when he’s an adult and Palpatine tries to January 6th the Galactic Republic. Now, whether having Anakin there makes a difference or not in the planning of the putsch can be argued, but let’s assume that Darth Maul isn’t cut in two and somehow Jar-Jar plays the useful idiot in the Senate (as opposed to being just an idiot elsewise), and we get the Empire established.

So, we have someone with a lot of power who’s grown up a slave, who watches as a bad situation gets worse around him, which builds up his well-established anger…

But this time, all he has as reference is his background, being one of the littlest of the little people. He doesn’t have any experience being a Padawan, able to roll into bars like a state trooper out in the woods like he did in Attack of the Clones. He’s got nothing to frame what’s happening around him other than being a pawn in a bigger game…

Okay, less of a pawn in a bigger game than he was in the films, granted. Maybe not even a checker.

But, he’s got abilities, and he feels he needs to use them. Anakin gets riled, and decides he wants to smash things (again, anger issues), and he leads his own rebellion. One that starts small, maybe just Mos Eisley, where he puts down all the bosses we got introduced to in The Book of Boba Fett and then promptly forgot, and decides that no one will ever be put down and made unimportant again.

And when he wins, the Mos Esiley Collective becomes an inspiration for the rest of the planet. Maybe Anakin takes a direct hand, or he finds good lieutenants to work on his behalf. Hells, he made C-3PO, so maybe he builds a few right-hand representatives to work on behalf of the people.

At which point, he succeeds, and then declares the People’s Republic of Tatooine.

And soon after, the worlds of the galaxy who might have problems with both the Empire (ruthless efficiency at the expense of everyone) and the Republic (not going back to that mess again, thank you) decide that this, the third way to go forward, is worth looking into. We get collectivist candidates rising up as followers of Anakinism, either with the help of advisors from Tatooine or on their own, and soon collectives and syndicates spring up and join together, making the wars to come a three-way battle with a lot of hard choices for who to side with and root for.

Making for a MUCH better story…

Hey, you want to build a Star Wars holiday that close to May Day, especially with the fight for unions being what it is at this moment, what did you expect…?

Going On the Account: If At First…

Memory can be a blessing and a curse. In this instance, maybe both…

For the last few years, my work was ending up more on Facebook than it was here. There were a number of reasons for that, such as ease of use on that platform, not a lot of time for cross-posting in the middle of things, hadn’t been able to give this site the update it needed before now. There were a number of things that got in the way of putting material here that contributed to my laziness my situation.

One of the things about Facebook that you can either love or hate is its “Memories” function, which allows you to see what you were doing on this date in the past. Have pictures taken of you of that party where you hooked up with someone you had to do the walk of shame from afterwards? Yep, there. Said something about a person or piece of work that didn’t age well? Uh-huh, here you go. Pictures with people you loved who are no longer in your life? Sadly, those too.

Thankfully, I don’t have many of those. There’s very little that I posted that I’d die of embarrassment of if it came back up. I’d still get maudlin if pics of those I miss came up, but presumably most people would.

One thing that surprised me, though, was a few opinion pieces I shared on this date, both of which for whatever reason are still relevant issues, even with all that’s gone on before then. Some matters never die, and are so continually active that something from a century ago can still qualify as a hot take.

For example, this statement about “cancel culture” from 2021, which managed to tie in with education practices today…

So, there’s a lot of talk about “cancel culture,” stating the horror that things are being taken away from folks.

Forget the idea that maybe some of these things being taken away have gone well beyond their shelf life, like that container of leftovers in the back of your fridge that you probably should have thrown out months ago; let’s assume that these “cancelled” items still have a place, beyond just being a “good bad idea.”

Notice who some of the folks are who seem especially anxious to claim that it’s an attack on what they believe is their heritage, a heritage they have supported through their champions at the top of the ticket every four years.

Champions such as the last one they had, who put into office a Secretary of Education who removed the protections of students the Obama Administration had implemented, while at the same time backing off on prosecuting fly-by-night “schools” that took student’s money yet left them uneducated.

Champions like George W. Bush, who during his administration championed the No Child Left Behind Act, which tied funding to schools that measured their performance based on basic skills tests, tests that were so important that most schools cut from the curricula everything but test prep.

Champions like Ronald Reagan, who wanted to eliminate the Department of Education and instead focused on such critical education issues as whether prayer was allowed in the classroom.

After about forty years of these “champions” having had a hand in American education policy, we were likely to end up where we are today, with a generation that could not bring nuance to an observation, capable only of binary reaction, such reactions serving the “cancelled” badly as their time on stage counts down to the end.

An outcome that some might appreciate more, had the education policies above not prevented them from learning about the law of unintended consequences…

Or, this piece from 2020, which discussed everyone being scarred of COVID-19, but still works about how we relate to it today, along with other things to be terrified of…

I wasn’t going to go into this, but the way things are going, it’s probably better to share:

Everyone is freaking out about our state of emergency right now. There’s been a lot of stress, a lot of panic, people losing their f’n’ minds over this. It’s making people go to a dark place that makes them say and even do things that would not have happened had there not been this stress. You’ve probably seen this the last time you went to the store, so examples would be superfluous.

I can fully relate. Years ago, as the Cold War entered into its last stages, I was making that trip down the dark spiral myself. If you don’t remember it, it was not a lot of fun: There were too many strategic weapons held on both sides, both of whose leaders were not anyone you’d put at the top of the list to trust with these toys. I kept abreast with the latest information, thinking that at least knowing what was driving me on would be better than being entirely in the dark. To this day, I can still give you throw weights for the SS-20 and Minuteman if asked.

(And keep in mind, this was trying to learn everything that was knowable at the time. If you get a chance, look up “Abel Archer 83” and ask, how comfortable would you be if at the time you’d known more about this…)

One of the side effects of dealing with this sense of dread, unfortunately, was that fear was being supplanted by depression. What was the point, I thought, of a life that either out of stupidity or carelessness would have ended in no more than 90 minutes? And if somehow I wasn’t a casualty of the first strike, what would be the point of fighting with the roaches for food? When Khrushchev’s quote about how in such a time the living would envy the dead kept playing in the background, it didn’t make me good company at what few parties would still invite me to attend.

It took years to get out of that. Well, that and the end of the Cold War itself; had we still had this going on, who knows if I would ever get out. But as I climbed out, I started to regret not having as many good associations with that time of my life as I should have. It took more time after that to make up for it, in terms of getting to a place where I felt I had actually lived.

The point of all this rambling is, yes, these times are scary, and keeping ahead of this by staying informed is recommended. But please, save a little piece of yourself. If too much of your attention and awareness gets overwhelmed, the damage can be crippling, long lasting, and take far too long to correct. Take some time to do something that allows you to relax; a good book, a decent album, a favorite game you can play (even a solo game, maybe especially one such considering the times), anything you can do to avoid burnout and being overwhelmed.

We should all watch for the immediate danger so as to keep ourselves safe, but what’s the damn point if we have nothing left to save afterwards…?

Maybe Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr had it right all along, which is a double-edged sword. We never really get out of or away from these troubles, though with enough exposure we could build up an immunity.

I’m not a big fan of the idea of history being able to repeat itself, but I do agree with whoever came up with it* that it can rhyme, or at least have the same beat. Maybe with that in mind, we can work on our dance to make it easier to do…


* Don’t start giving me notes about how it was Mark Twain who said that. Apparently he didn’t, despite what others have said.

Besides, I’d rather go with an attributable source that may have been a bit more hopeful as they used the term…

Going On the Account: I Don’t Like Knowing That I Know Nothing

He that would live in peace & at ease, must not speak all he knows or judge all he sees.

  • Benjamin Franklyn, Poor Richard’s Almanac

I should warn everyone here that there will be spoilers in the article.

Well, not specific spoilers; more spoilers in the aggregate as a general concept…

If you follow any fandoms, there will be times when you’re anticipating what comes next in a franchise. Who’s going to be the next Doctor when the show starts a new series; who is going to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; there are likely examples beyond these that follow through the following steps:

  1. A project is announced, generally a continuation of a favorite story and/or using beloved characters from the audience’s past
  2. The promotion of the project begins, with all kinds of hints as to what to expect to build up anticipation and desire to see the project
  3. The potential audience starts exchanging rumors and speculations as to what’s going to be in the project
  4. The project premiers and there are indeed surprises
  5. There’s a split in the potential audience between those who want to be surprised and those who need to know what the surprise is before going to see it themselves
  6. Finger-pointing and name-calling ensue between the two groups in 5, above
  7. The surprises become general knowledge in time for the cycle to begin again for the next project in the series, as described in 1, above

The whole “Spoilers” argument is almost as old as the first examples of our modern means of storytelling. There were people who would haunt the wharfs of New York, asking sailors from England if Dora had died yet. Years later, the film The Bat in 1926 asked patrons not to spoil the end of the film:

And these are just the ones we remember today; there were probably plenty of twists in stories forgotten long ago where revealing them had led to hurt feelings, arguments, fist-fights, divorce, manslaughter, international incidents, what-have-you…

And to be frank, there are times when a little foreknowledge can be a good thing.

Now, before I go on: Yes, there are good reasons to live by a version of omerta when it comes to what’s in a work. Mysteries where you know who did it can be hard to enjoy, unless Peter Falk is handling the case. Having something pop up you didn’t expect can be thrilling, if it’s something that doesn’t take you entirely out of it (i.e., the big surprise in Rise of the Planet of the Apes versus the sudden turn in Rat Pfink a Boo Boo).

Playing advocatus diaboli here is a much easier task than you’d assume. There’s of course the traditional argument in favor of keeping your mouth shut, that such works that depend on the surprise need to be funded somehow, which can easily be dispensed with: If it’s such a good piece, it should be able to withstand being revealed ahead of time. Anything that can’t stand on its own without the big surprise is like a jump scare video: If that’s all ya got, don’t bother me with this, because annoying me ain’t the way to win me over to be your audience.

Beyond that, there’s the whole access ecosystem issue: You like something enough to follow it, but you can’t see it for yourself. There’s the expectation that if you want to know what everyone is (refusing to) talk about (without chastisement), you just have to go see it yourself. There’s a whole cliquish division that spreads between fans as an “us” versus “them” delineation gets imposed on the group at large, which at a time when we’re trying to stop such behavior seems at best counter-productive.

Is paying the piper really worth it if in the process the paying audience turns on the rest of the crowd?

Beyond that, there’s also the issue of ability to join. Many of the arguments in favor of going to see the piece for yourself came about during times when whether you could do so was a simple, binary “yes-or-no” option. Does Dora die? Buy a copy at the bookstore, the 19th Century version of Kindle Vella. So what happens in The Bat? It only costs a nickel to see what takes place.

Since then, though, not everything is as accessible as that. The costs of going to a film or buying a first edition book have skyrocketed, comparable to then. With a nickel in 1923 worth eighty-two cents as I write this, compared to the average price of a movie ticket in the US being $9.16 (as of 2019), it’s easy to see how he division between the “seen its” and “want to knows” came about thanks to factors beyond the audience’s control.

The above doesn’t take into account some unexpected additional costs. This observation got prompted by more than a few folk talking about how they wish they didn’t have spoilers revealed ahead of time when they went to see Spider-Man: No Way Home. The spoiler situation was especially divisive between the folks who wanted to know everything without going versus the ones who went to the theaters to see it for themselves.

Right in the middle of the Omicron Variant flare-up.

Is it fair to blame the movie for a spike in infections that threw off efforts to return to (what passes for) normal? Can we blame it for contributing to 100,000 deaths in the US? At the very least, the optics ain’t good here.

Maybe it’s past time we stop using our having gotten to see it before others, as an excuse to claim being better than others. Maybe the person who wants to know without going to see it isn’t trying to ruin it for anyone, but is unable to enjoy it themselves otherwise. Claiming that your enjoyment of something depends on keeping information out of circulation needs to be re-thought, until such a time when we’re all healthier, both physically and economically.

With that in mind, I have a few revelations to share:

  1. He was home the whole time.
  2. They don’t prevent the mountain from blowing up and killing everyone.
  3. He was talking about something from his childhood.
  4. He was just pretending to be crippled.
  5. He slept with the villain responsible for the diabolical plot.
  6. Everyone thought it was the butler, but he proved them all wrong.
  7. The second of the three likely solutions works the best.

As for what these spoilers are for…

Well, okay, I’m holding a few cards close to my chest. Maybe you’re reading this and still haven’t been convinced that you can freely talk about what takes place in a work. Maybe you want these answers, but only for something you specifically want to know about, and don’t need the rest of them right off.

Otherwise, if you read the above revelations and have questions, which as I promised are not specific spoilers…

Well, to an extent, at least, somewhat…

In any event, I encourage you to get out there and look for where these came from. Which is one way to use spoilers for everyone’s benefit: Not as a conversation ender, but a starting point to discuss something that someone may not have seen yet, or maybe hadn’t thought about in while.

So, yes there are spoilers, but from where? Do you know…?

Going On the Account: Getting Played When You Should Just Stay Home

A farce or comedy is best played; a tragedy is best read at home.

  • Attributed to Abraham Lincoln (just because too many people repeat this doesn’t mean it can be accepted as his at face value…)

As I write this, the continuing tragedy Ukraine is suffering unfolds so fast, that anything I write about may be out-of-date moments after I hit the ‘Post’ button.

The tragedy of this armed conflict, rolling tanks into another country for petty reasons, is especially hard to bear when you consider our history with the victims over the last few years, and how much that enabled the current crisis to come about.

You could say quite clearly that we all saw this coming, even though most of the times we say it are after the fact. If we really did have faith in our predictions and acted on them, so much suffering would have been avoided.

Sometimes, though, the déjà vu takes on a form that can be disturbing, especially when tragedy gets an adaptation that gets a wide release…

Case in point: The first full day of the invasion, February 24th, I ended up watching the coverage of the war on CNN. We’d get a detail or three for a few minutes, and then take a commercial break. It was a great lesson in how little tragedy can stand up to the needs of sponsors.

And as it went on, the tagline from this film kept playing in my head: “In a moment World War III… But first a word from our sponsor…”

Wrong Is Right from 1982 was a comedy in name only about a major crisis that as it unfolds brings in a news journalist at an all-news outlet to try and get to the bottom of a complicated but forgettable plot. There’s a lot to dismiss in the film, save for the portrayal of an on-the-scene reporter who gets involved in much of the action. We get these scenes of a journalist who somehow has all of these first-hand encounters that feel unlikely, even if it is Sean Connery playing the character.

At least they did until Matthew Chance’s encounter with Spetsnaz.  Not quite as daring as anything in the film, and nearly comical as every time Chance relates the story after this report was aired, he seemed to imply that he couldn’t tell the difference between Ukrainian and Russian combatants. Still, it’s probably better to have a living idiot than a dead cautionary tale…

It’s probably one of the few funny not that tragic stories to come out of this crisis so far, one of a number of things that keep getting said over and over for the sake of avoiding dead air. Much like multiple references to Vladimir Putin’s having graduated from the KGB in 1975, and how by his behavior he seems to want to go back to those days as he goes on about why he’s doing this.

Which of course has to bring up another movie we wish we’d forgotten…

You can be forgiven for not remembering Boris And Natasha, even envied. The film was a straight-to-video release, despite the big cast and assumed important IP. Believe it or not, once upon a time a film skipping theaters for home screens was considered a bad thing; had this happened in 2020, the producers would have been honored for being considerate. At least, until people saw the film…

(The fact that this film came to mind within hours of reports of Sally Kellerman’s death adds a whole new aspect of tragedy to this.)

This one comes to mind thanks to its plot, where the title characters’ boss, Fearless Leader, sends his assets out to the US to get their hands on a microchip. This special piece of hardware is sought by him for his glorious plan: To bring back the Cold War!

Which… Oh, boy, is that being said a lot about this mess. It even found its way into President Biden’s press briefing on February 24th, yet one more observation that we’re going back to those days.

Which, if we had to choose going back to 1975 as opposed to, say, 1941, well…

What keeps these thoughts going before we get entirely Proustian are images on screen of how the Russians are going in. Perhaps we look at the hardware out of curiosity, or are shown it continuously to give us a sense of how potent the Russians are or want to appear to be:

And sure, you can say they look impressive. In fact, there’s been a lot of discussion about the T-72 tank

Since 1979, when the US Army first assessed its capabilities in detail.

Likewise, the Su-27 has also been discussed, as far back as 1989 when the USAF assessed the plane and its strengths and weaknesses.

We’re talking weapons that were certainly worth talking about when Ronald Reagan was president. Whether they’re still worth talking about now, though, that hasn’t been brought up as much. And such tanks and planes can be upgraded only so much over time, and thirty years is a long time to try and keep them operational, let alone cutting edge.

And sitting there watching the footage and saying, “Hey, that’s a-“ as I watch, is disorienting. There’s a moment of pride that I remembered these from all of those books by Tom Clancy and Larry Bond that I read back when there was a USSR.

Then there’s a moment of hope that somehow, the fact that this invasion is being carried out with hand-me-downs means that the Russians may not have it as together as they and Fox News would like to have you believe.

That no one else seems to be seeing this, though, and may be buying into the aggressor’s narrative, just becomes one more reason to be sad about the affair. Sad, angry, resilient, you name it; it sucks sometimes to remember things.

Let us at least remember the Ukrainians:

Going On the Account: I Only Give You My Situation…

(You can see what’s taken place before this section in this post from my Facebook page)

I was in my home rehearsing for the gig that I and the rest of the band have for tomorrow. We’re actually on the main stage this year, after years of practice under the staircase next to the lobby, showcasing our work. You should come by and hear us.

So, I’m at the keyboard, and suddenly this small yellow… something formed in the air and plopped on the keys, producing a sustained E-major chord. After I stopped being startled, I picked it up, and it started talking to me in my head:

“Hmmm,” I ‘heard’ it say, “you’ll do nicely,” and the next thing I knew, I felt my mind turn off and my body going limp, like I was floating downstream, like driftwood on green seas under a blue sky.

And when I woke up, there was me. Or more precisely, he was me as you see me done up now. I was he as he was he and he was me and I was all together confused.

“Excellent,” he said aloud, lips moving and all, as he looked me over. “You could pass for the original.”

I wanted to say, “But I am the original,” for, reasons.

To find out what happens to our hero, the British Invasion Fan, you should read the story “You Never Give Me Your Money,” which can be found in the book THE FANS ARE BURIED TALES.

Currently being funded on Kickstarter, the anthology will be published by Crazy 8 Press, and is edited by Peter David and Kathleen O’Shea David. In addition to the above story, there’s also works in the book from the likes of Keith DeCandido, Ian Randal Stock, Robert Greenberger, Jo Duffy, John Peel, Martin A. Perez, Michael Jan Friedman, Ben Vincent, Aaron Rosenberg, and Peter himself, amidst a cadre of talent.

Whatever fandom you follow, with your support of the Kickstarter campaign, a splendid time is guaranteed for all…

Going On the Account: If You Ever Want to Hear from Me Again…

So, if you visit this site regularly, then

(a) Thank you, and

(b) You probably wonder why I don’t have anything in the “Other Appearances” tag lately.

Part of that is because one of the anthologies I’m in needs a little help from you.

This is a collection I’ve been accepted in, but long story short, the publisher was unable to launch the book as planned thanks to COVID, and the editor (the talented Peter David) is currently in the hospital. In order for this book to go to press, they went to Kickstarter to get this to the printer.You know Peter David, right? Author of KNIGHT LIFE, ARTFUL, HOWLING MAD, and probably a bunch of other books you like? Surely you must have read some of the comic books he wrote, such as THE INCREDIBLE HULK and SPIDER-MAN, haven’t you?

And if you’re fans of some of the following, they all have a piece in the work that’s worth a read:

Aaron Rosenberg

Robert Greenberger

Michael Jan Friedman

Mary Fan

Jo Duffy

Rigel Ailur

Ian Randal Strock

Patrick Storck

Susan Hillwig

Brenda Huettner

Robert Jeschonek

C.J. Espinoza

Paige Daniels

D.M. Rasch

Eugene Ramos

Steve Nagy

Ian Harac

Rande Goodwin

Martin A. Perez

John Trumbull

Christopher J. Valin and Steve Beaulieu

John J. X. Cihon

“Uncle” Wes Nicholson

Raphael Sutton

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Susan Stanelow Olesen

R.P. Steeves

Keith R. A. DeCandido

Isaac Sher

Denise Sutton

Andy Allard

Glen Cadigan

John Peel

James Ryan (yeah, me!)

Josh Pritchett

Steven L. Rosenhaus

Bev Vincent

Surely for *their* sake to see this in print (and your own, as hey, more good stuff from them for your bookshelf), you owe it to click and chip in.

Yes, *you* can keep this book from an ignoble fate; this anthology has plenty of good stories in it that is worth your support.

Here is where you can go to the Kickstarter.

And if this gets off the ground and into your hands, there may well be more goodies to add to that page…

Going On the Account: Why You Might Not Do That (Even If You’d Otherwise Do Anything for Love…)

Composite image from individual shots via Getty

This morning, there was a death in the Culture Wars.

Okay, more like a death that got caught up in the Culture Wars: We heard Meat Loaf passed away the day before, which led to a lot of fond recollections about Bat Out of Hell and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Then, we find out Meat Loaf was an anti-vaxxer whose stands on vaccination contributed to his death, which made a lot of folks with fond recollections suddenly do a double-take. He’s quoted as saying about not taking precautions, “If I die, I die, but I’m not going to be controlled.” Which, well, mission accomplished, I guess…

His timing was certainly interesting. There’d been a bit of chatter of late about whether to support an artist you don’t agree with, whether someone who you can’t abide for their opinions or stands should ever be enjoyed by the audience. Just days before, Joss Whedon spoke up to try and get ahead of his own maleficence doing in his legacy, with… limited success, to put it mildly. (It didn’t help that Gita Jackson at Vice puts his career in perspective a few days earlier in a way that will allow the reader to cite other reasons for putting your Buffy and Firefly merch into a corner of the room you don’t go to that often…)

That these two came up in the same week is not really a quick hot take, just more the latest round of an ongoing issue: Art we like from people we can’t. There are way, way too many examples that can be cited, like Harvey Weinstein, Richard Wagner, Marion Zimmer Bradley, J. K. Rowling, et cetera. And the problem is, you start finding more than one radioactive apple in the cellar, suddenly there’s no good fruit left, as the questions as to what’s acceptable when asked will always lead to more such questions like that. Once you ask why this one’s issues make them persona non grata while that one’s don’t, getting into an endless IF-THEN loop, your ability to find something to enjoy is badly compromised.

Case in point: I’d been a fan of the Mamas and the Papas for years. Their harmonies were some of the best that came out of the Sixties scene, not quite the complex arrangements that Brian Wilson gave the Beach Boys, but definitely a few strata above their peers. Doing a deep dive into their catalog was always a pleasure, finding pieces that were a surprise if all you knew where the usual numbers in heavy rotation:

So imagine the hurt upon hearing Mackenzie Phillips’ account. Listening to the music after this, that was difficult. For me, the whole question of “cancelling” came up as far back as 2009. It’s something I’ve lived with it for some time, with each new revelation popping up yet one more step on a long jagged trail.

And after all this time, how to approach the next revelation still requires a moment to take a breath. It’s hard when you’ve been a fan and embraced a creator, and you have to consider their output in a whole new way, and it’s never going to get easier.

And after so long wrestling with the question, the best way forward I can find is to ask yourself a question that gets asked a lot among lawyers in all fields:

Cui bono?

The question in Latin, “Who benefits?” is worth considering as you look at what makes up your personal canon, your list of what you feel worth engaging with going forward. The whole ‘separating the artist from the art’ ideal obviously asks you if you benefit from having that work in your life still, but there’s another component, which is how we share and appreciate modern (boy-do-I-hate-the-term) “intellectual property.”

In such a setting, there’s usually a payment requested for the work. Buying a ticket at the movies or subscribing to an online service, paying a fee to download something, maybe buying a product from that artist’s sponsor as they’re hoping that because you love this work, that you can share some of that love with them. There is an economic component to such works, one where the creator may or may not be able to see some payment for what they do.

In a case like that, one question that may help is, “Will my enjoying this work give the person I don’t like any money for it?” That question tends to clarify a lot of internal conflict.

If you think your engaging with a work will reward someone for actions they shouldn’t be, then don’t spend the money on them. If on the other hand the artist won’t see any money from how you enjoy that work, it makes it a lot simpler to separate creator from creation.

If you’re not sure if your money will find that artist one way or another, I highly recommend getting a sense of the workings of the industry where that person’s work is. I’ve always asked that of anyone who reads or watches or listens, as you will always benefit from a sense of context. (One big caveat here: Don’t use this as an excuse to pirate someone’s work, please.)

And if you don’t like how mercenary it is to consider a price tag when you want art, well, that’s a discussion about a whole different set of bad behaviors that go to the core of this whole mess…