Thursday, June 29, 2006

A new roommate?

This handsome devil is Adicus, and, depending on how well he adapts to his new surroundings (he's really, really timid and shy right now) as well as — most importantly — how well he gets on with Midnight, my Springer, he may be moving in. He's just the kind of dog I dig: mellow, non-hyper, quiet, entirely willing to curl up at your feet and sleep the day away while you work. Of course, right now, he hasn't been bold enough to get much past the laundry room. But we'll see if he lightens up and gets more comfortable in the days ahead.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Wow. Check out this review from The Digital Bits.
The Fifth Element. The title was an amazing bit of reference work on standard DVD, and that Superbit version was awesome. Obvious choice, right? Should look amazing in HD. Yeah... it should. But it doesn't. In fact... I'm not going to come out and say it looks like crap, but it is easily the worst looking high-definition title I've seen yet, and I've seen 30+ titles now. The image is muddy looking, lacking in crisp, clean detail. The colors don't quite pop off the screen like they should. Just a mess. Okay... I will say it. It looks like crap. Sony should never have released this title like this.


Monday, June 19, 2006

My former industry is starting to look like Hollywood!

Some of you are aware that I was in the comics business in the 1990's, where I did an alt-comix series called Hepcats that got good reviews but never sold. Then as now, phrases like "sex scandal" aren't something you'd ordinarily associate with a business like comics, which customarily evokes images of spotty geeks wearing faded Star Wars T-shirts, whose closest contact with girls is in the porn they download and the Boris Vallejo posters on their walls.

But last fall (I'm so outside the loop I've only just heard about it, of course), an incident happened at a convention in Ohio that sounds right out of some Hollywood gossip/scandal rag. The accused is a guy I knew well.

A full-fledged news report on the incident is here. But it's long, so for those of you who don't want to click over and spend 45 minutes reading it, the gist is as follows: a fellow named Charles Brownstein, one of the industry's most respected figures, stands accused of getting blindingly drunk as a skunk and trying to rip the shirt off an upcoming female comics artist in a hot tub.

I knew Charles very well when I was in the biz. At the time, he was a plucky lad of only 15, but so self-possessed, intelligent, mature and driven in his goals that he immediately made a profound impression on me and several other artists and industry movers and shakers. He certainly had his shit together better than most folks I know twice or three times his age. And, unlike a lot of highly intelligent and driven teens (certainly unlike myself well into my 20's), he wasn't a smug egoist. He published a fanzine for which he interviewed me and every other creator of note. Now, at 27, he heads up the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which, in the 90's, mostly devoted its efforts to protecting retailers and publishers of adult comics from prosecution but now seems to have its net thrown a little wider.

If the accusation is true — and no one, even Charles, is debating it — then I'm very disappointed in him. It would certainly be an incident I'd have considered wildly out of character for him. However, he has made a public apology which sounds honestly contrite — unlike that you usually tend to hear from real celebrities caught in similar circumstances — and has by all accounts been doing all he can to atone for the incident and make sure everyone knows he is truly sorry for his undeniably appalling behavior.

Not surprisingly, there are folks simply not in a forgiving mood about an incident like this, and the sad thing is, they appear to be manipulating the victim (who went through something humiliating enough as it is). The main organization in the other corner is called Friends of Lulu, dedicating to helping women artists get a leg up in a highly male (let alone male-geek) dominated industry. According to the Comics Journal article...

Friends of Lulu Vice President (of Industry Issues) Ronée Garcia Bourgeois was responsible for bringing the incident to the public's attention Dec. 26.... The reactions provoked by the post among followers of Bourgeois' column were predominantly compassionate but further subdivided into two categories: 1) the avowed desire to wreak Batman-like vengeance against the perpetrator, and 2) perplexity as to where to direct that vengeance or even what exactly was to be avenged. Referring to the alleged perpetrator as a "pervert" and a "leech," Bourgeois said, "I think he should burn. And as soon as I can, I will [identify him and his organization]."

It's one thing to want to get to the bottom of things and find out the facts of an incident. It's another thing entirely to go into wild-eyed lynch-mob mode and pre-emptively convict the accused in the infamous Court of Public Opinion. The problem is further muddied by how the whole investigation has been handled...

Why would Soma call off police, then later express public frustration at the lack of official response to her molestation? Did she think that police procedure would have allowed for some satisfactory action short of criminal prosecution? Did she later find that the incident had done her more psychic damage than she had initially realized — that she needed resolution more than she had thought? Soma is again the only person who can answer those questions, and for the time being, she is not talking on the record.

Then, this observation from my former colleague Colleen Doran, who is absolutely not an apologist for sexual predators, having had her share of unwelcome male attention throughout her career, due in large part to her unusual status as a gorgeous redhead in a business overrun with sex-hungry young guys. (I spent many evenings sitting on the phone listening to Colleen relate disturbing stories about a certain publisher....)

In February of this year, the witness, Ken Lillie Paetz [either the "boyfriend" or "friend" of the alleged victim, depending on what report you read, who was present at the time of the groping and physically restrained Brownstein], and Charles Brownstein stood at my table at the New York Comic Con, and had a friendly, 20 minute conversation with me, talking comics and other inconsequentials in a perfectly normal manner in front of dozens of witnesses....

If Mr. Paetz believed Mr. Brownstein was a sexual predator who was a danger to his girlfriend or anyone else for that matter, I can’t imagine why on Earth he would have carried on this cordial discussion that ended in a warm handshake with Brownstein mere months after the alleged incident.

Moreover, since Ms. Soma’s primary intention is to “make sure (Brownstein) never works in this business again” I am afraid even the Supreme Court does not have the power to grant her wish to have him blacklisted.

Wow. What a sad, sordid affair, and I hope it finally resolves in a fair way to all involved, and that the people who appear to be using the victim for whatever political agenda they're after think twice before they cause her more damage. It just goes to show how rolling snowballs get bigger and bigger, until you can't see the pebble they initially formed around any more.

But boy...this is all so Hollywood, isn't it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Donald Wildmon puts the "fun" in fundie!

Here's something fun. It's always fun when the "Reverend" Donald Wildmon and his cronies at the American Family Association get their panties in a twist. But this one is sweet.

Wildmon sent out an "Action Alert" — which is an e-mail that goes out whenever they want their sheep to bombard some misbehaving, librul, faggot-enabling movie studio or TV network with a dose of fundamentalist righteousness — about the PG rating that the MPAA recently gave to the low-budget Christian indie film Facing the Giants. Yeah, they're freaking out over a teeny little PG!

What was the vile crime for which those nasty Jesus-hating Jews in the movie business are penalizing this innocent little film? Well, it's like this...

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is now warning parents of movies which contain a reference to the Christian faith, equating Christianity as being on the same level of sex, violence and profanity when it comes to objectionable material. [emphasis in original; Wildmon loves his boldface fonts]

A quick check of the rating reveals that the PG was assigned for "some thematic elements" — to wit, the open Christian proselytizing in the movie was something they felt non-Christian audiences might like to know about — which in Wildmon's paranoid mind equates to a full-scale assault on Christianity itself. As the good "reverend" notes...

The MPAA is controlled by Hollywood moguls known for their bitter opposition to Christianity.

Uh, yeah. This would be the same MPAA that gave the 2002 Jesus-in-small-town-America movie Joshua, as well as the $25 million-grossing animated Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie, a G. And the same MPAA that gave Mel Gibson's snuff-porn epic The Passion of the yeah yeah yeah... an R, when any other movie with a similar volume of sustained graphic violence would almost assuredly get an NC-17. But hey, this is right-wing fundie world, where facts aren't invited if they get in the way of the fear-mongering that brings in the donations. Right?

Now, with Wildmon being America's most high-profile pathological homophobe, it's at least refreshing that he found something to complain about other than the evil homos, right? ...Oh, wait a minute...

A new family film featuring miracles and a pro-God theme has earned the PG rating because it would offend non-believers. The MPAA refuses to give movies which promote the homosexual lifestyle a similar warning. In other words, MPAA warns parents if a movie has Christianity presented in a positive manner but refuses to warn them if homosexuality is presented in a positive manner.

Good grief, what planet does this cretin live on? I know that's a pointless question when dealing with a wackjob assmonkey like Wildmon, as the only obvious answer is "Not this one!" So consider it a rhetorical question. In any case, I can't think of a gay-themed film that's come out in the last few years that's gotten anything less than an R. Can you? Brokeback Mountain. Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Boys Don't Cry. Bound. Velvet Goldmine. Longtime Companion... R's for all, unless I missed one. I don't think homosexuality can be featured as a prominent theme in any film and not earn less than an R.

Now I'm no fan of the MPAA. Their guidelines are nebulous, arbitrary, and tend to penalize small movies for content that expensive studio movies are given a pass on. But that isn't the real issue with Wildmon.

Remember, Wildmon's mission is to convince affluent, conservative, white suburban SUV-driving Christians that they are America's most vilely oppressed minority, assailed from all sides by evil lefty long-haired freaks. And the only way to fight this horrible oppression — a PG rating? why, no one will be able to get in! — is to "send an email to the MPAA asking them to stop their anti-Christian bigotry." (After all, who knows more about being a victim of bigotry than a rich white Christian?)

Oh wait. There is one more way to fight...

If you think our efforts are worthy, would you please support us with a small gift?

No problem, Don. Just as soon as my dog gets through squatting.