Plots and Thoughts

Things You Are Missing: Gigante Art

Posted in Art by Captain Optimistic on December 29, 2009

This woman inspires me to become a weirder person and a better artist.  Her sublime works merit far more views than youtube currently reports.

For example, there are her cooking videos.  Murakami Sandwich now is brilliant (and easy to make, delicious to eat):

Her dramatic spots are oddly compelling (My Dinner Gigante):

And of course there is Prairie Dog Challenged:

Be wary though.  Some of her work creeps me the eff out (Teddy Bear Picnic):

You’ve been warned.  Now go watch.

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Things You Are Missing: Movie Mash!

Posted in Art by Captain Optimistic on December 29, 2009

Are you reading Movie Masher?  The answer is no, he gets no page views EVER.  Which is highly toxic to your art devouring needs.  Oh sure, there’s the polished hatred of Pajiba (their live reviews of straight to dvd releases are nourishing in a deep and secret place).  But the Masher of Movies has some epic up his sleeves coupled with the same sharpness of wit and observational acumen one might expect from a movie review website with readers.  (Hahaha OUCH).

Anyway, his review of Avatar provides a grand jumping in point.  Its more than just dances with smurfs.  But it offers a chance to note this about our current culture:

The same storytelling plots and archetypes have been used and expanded upon for thousands of years. But does it matter that every story has been told or written if the current generation has never bothered to hear or read them?

With that all the bellyaching about our “childhood icons” like transformers and my little pony being made into feature films crumble into dust.  (Why yes there are My Little Pony movies (that’s PLURAL bitches).  The latest is called Twinkle Wish Adventure.  Try peppering that into a first date conversation.  “Oh yeah, my favorite movies?  Amelie, Trainspotting, Evil Dead 2, Twinkle Wish Adventure, you?”).  As if anyone has the cultural awareness to delve that far into the past, nevermind into truly classic literature.  Like, AS IF.

James Cameron does not seem to have anything intentionally sophisticated to say. Most of Cameron’s directorial work amounts to family action-adventure, with 1-D caricature villains and cutting-edge high-budget visual effects. It worked best in Aliens, but became more obvious with each subsequent outing that he was the poor man’s Ridley Scott.

Hilarious, spot on, though I do have reservations about considering Aliens a family action-adventure.  Its more of a family dramedy.

Real-life 1-D people may find the movie and characters offensive (and so they are, if perceived as a literal reflection of real 3-D modern society)

If only Mr Masher, if only.  They enjoyed it!

Traditional science fiction, as I’ve said before, seems almost obsolete

That’s because traditional science fiction is crap.  How many times can we see the same message before it gets a bit odd?  (Though one might think of Avatar’s message as being radically in favor of social networking and file sharing so long as its done through nerve endings exposed in your hair-stalk).

Here Avatar’s social commentaries are so overt and blatant they honestly can do no more than charm the reasonably mature viewer.

In isolaton, yes.  But the whole package is exciting enough that even blatant commentary goes down smoothly.  As we acclimate to ever more expressive and impressive technology in entertainment, it will require more to get us to accept less.

For me it wasn’t so much how overt Avatar was, as how clumsily overt.  I’d say more but, you know, SPOILERS.

Anyway, do go have a read over at Movie Masher.

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Liberal Message Machines

Posted in Observations, Strategy by Captain Optimistic on December 28, 2009

A thought from thereisnospoon @ DailyKos:

Money, time, and credibility are all necessary components of this strategy, and there is no immediately obvious pathway to any of these.

Allow me to offer a hopeful observation.  First, let me say that thereisnospoon’s post is one of the most exciting and important things I’ve read in quite a while about modern liberal politics.  Go. Read. Now. Now onto the observation:

  • Money – We’ve built incredibly effective fundraising machines over the past 3 election cycles.  Starting with Howard Dean’s run in 2004, we’ve shown that we can raise serious cash when needed.  Why not employ this method to create a liberal think tank?  A liberal PR firm?
  • Time – Time will strengthen anything we create, but we need not wait to see results.  Additionally, one might consider the rise of liberal bloggers and the netroots as the beginning.  We are already heading into battle with some benefits of well invested time on our side.
  • Credibility – From whom?  The same people we are struggling against?  They will never give it.  Ourselves?  We already have it.  The general public?  Do you think the general public cares about who the Heritage Foundation is?  Its sounds impressive and they have experts say shiny things.  And for some that is enough, and others are skeptical.  We’ll see much the same mix.  The only way to be a novel kind of credibility, one based on results, is to get a real progressive majority.  Credibility of that sort is only attainable on the national level if we first win!  On the local level, we already have results to point to.  What we need is a way to publicize those positive results (AKA a liberal PR firm).

And in fact thereisnospoon goes on to note we do have the financial muscle to pull this off.  We also have a sick advantage when it comes to talent.  We combine those two with the sharp focus of corporate America and we win.  Let’s do it.  Let’s follow thereisnospoon’s rallying cry to make the politicians fear our power.  Let’s rise up and outmaneuver the regressives!

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Strategy – Letting Health Reform Fail

Posted in Analysis, Observations, Strategy by Captain Optimistic on December 22, 2009

We have three options going forward.  Agitate for meaningful change in the health care reform bill, allow it to fail in Congress and pin that failure firmly on right wingers in both parties, or allow it to pass as is.  If we allow this bill to pass, it will fail to contain costs, fail to reform industry practices, and serve only as a precedent for corporations using government to force a noncompetitive market on the public.  Such a failure will appear to validate conservatives and be disastrous for midterm elections.

The third option isn’t viable for liberals, Democrats and supporters of meaningful healthcare reform.  The first two options are both the fruit of the same essential strategy:  Pushing as hard as we can against the misogynist and corporatist forces aligned against reform.  It is a true win-win strategy.  If we succeed we will have decimated Stupak-Pitts and Nelson – attempts to use the urgency of the health care debate to force the abortion issue and religious inspired law into an unrelated bill.  If we succeed we’ll have created real competition for the private insurance industry, offered reforms that curtail abuses and protect consumers, and stood up against corporate lobbyist controlled legislation*.

If on the other hand we fail, we walk into the midterm elections strong and fierce.  Our campaign language is written for us.  Vote for reformers, vote against the Congress critters beholden to Bibles and corporate donations.

If we take the advice of our adversaries and shut the fuck up we will lose.  We will lose health care reform, and we will lose power in both bodies of Congress come midterms.  If we want power we must win this battle, and the only way to do so is to dig in and fight.  Anything less than a ferocious commitment to an authentic reform effort will end in our loss.

*All things our President promised fervently to do during the campaign.

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Obama’s Nobel Prize

Posted in Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 10, 2009

Despite his speech, I feel the prize was inappropriate, to say the least.

Linda Feldman leads off the media reaction with a misleadingly headlined story: Left and Right, Pundits Applaud Obama Nobel Peace Prize Speech.  From her own article:

Progressives upset by Obama’s decision to escalate US involvement in Afghanistan may not have given the president the A grades that some conservatives and others offered. But at the Nation.com, a reliable gauge of liberal thought, the reaction was not wholly negative — a sign, perhaps, that Obama still enjoys a reserve of goodwill among his base.

In what crazy world does “not wholly negative” equal “applause”?

It seems like conservatives like his acknowledgement of evil and the utility of killing people.  Liberals like that he sees the goal of not killing people as desirable.  Golly, sounds like he hit a home run.

Will WordPress.com Catch On to Social Networking?

Posted in Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 3, 2009

A ShareThis like functionality for all posts would be a simple, highly popular addition to wordpress.com.

So what’s holding this feature up?  Is WordPress.com waiting for social networking to go the way of aol.com?

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Experimenting With Ratings and Polls

Posted in Uncategorized by Captain Optimistic on December 3, 2009

Do you like?

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Sexual Identity and Language With a Purpose

Posted in Strategy by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

Bond takes note of confusion around identification with (and the use of) the word queer:

I just read a comment in which a trans guy explained that he identifies as queer, but only because he’s bi or gay, and that being transsexual in itself is not in any way queer. A bunch of other commenters piped up to agree, explaining that straight transsexuals are not queer, and even that butches are not necessarily queer (because apparently tough rural straight women can classified as butch, because they might read that way to urban eyes — a notion I’d guess would offend such women even more than it offends me). On the other hand, I’ve also heard gay, bi and straight trans people identify strongly as queer by virtue of being trans, and I’ve heard queers of all stripes make painstaking efforts to include queer-identified het transsexuals in our language.

The phrase “in our language” is especially apt.  The way we describe our sexuality encompasses everything from who we are attracted to (if at all) to how we express ourselves sexually, to what we consider acceptable conduct.  A large chunk of our social identity is represented.

Thus those interested in equal rights regardless of sexual identity and orientation might want to consider ways to expand our language to be more inclusive.  What we need is a word to describe anyone who believes that sexual identity and consensual expression never need be labeled or restricted.  True sexual liberty doesn’t need language to tie it down (unless you are into that of course).  But we could really use the power of shared identity to push the gay rights movement forward!  People fight harder and more effectively when their own rights are at stake.  From every possible strategic consideration of the rhetoric of the gay rights movement it is a clear win to find a way to be more inclusive and direct in making this about sexual liberty for all.

And we need that to counter some of the stinging defeats we’ve had (NY and ME), and continue the momentum from the equally ringing victories (WA and DC).

I think the word queer has a lot of lingual baggage, and further I don’t feel right appropriating it when there is such comfort for any group in having a word – a name – to call their own.  We need a completely new word.

Suggestions?

Here’s two off the top of my head to start us off:

The first one that came to mind was FreeSexual.  I love the ring of it!  And a quick trip to google turned up others with the same thought.

EqualSexual This one isn’t already used.  I’d define it as someone who refuses to be labeled, and supports sexual equality.

What do you think?

Why Be Tolerant? Fun With Religion!

Posted in Musings, Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

Pastor Dan advises us to beware of tolerance!

But tolerance means something completely different today.  Most of the time you hear the tolerance doctrine taught in the world today, whether in schools or in the media, it means that we are to accept all values, beliefs, lifestyles and truth-claims as equal.

I agree!  This of course, leaves the good Pastor’s own beliefs in a vulnerable position.  There is no non-circular reason to believe in the Bible, and plenty of reasons to reject the anti-gay anti-women bigotry it espouses. Especially, and above all else, there is reason to reject the notion of an arbitrary, jealous and violent micro-manager vision of God.

Here’s the catch:  when it comes to people, we are indeed to be loving and gracious toward others, bearing with things we don’t like.  But when it comes to truth and holiness, we dare not tolerate sin or compromise God’s holy standards.  God’s Word is our standard.  It is absolute truth!

Loving? – ALWAYS!   Tolerant of sin and unbiblical values? – NO!  It’s time for Christians today to stand up for truth and righteousness in America!

Let’s give Pastor Dan credit and join with him in committing ourselves to being loving and gracious towards others.  It is a wonderful sentiment and a powerful  act of social responsibility and compassion.  Yet this very call, to be loving and gracious, urges us to stand up to the Christians who are stamping their boots down on the throat of religious liberty in this country.  When a Christian cites biblical reasons for attacking women’s health care, gay rights we need not and should not worry about being tolerant.  We should be direct.  The problem is with their backwards religious text.

The Bible sanctions murder and rape.  It views women as second class citizens, and offers up the death sentence for a range of “infractions” that are decidedly non criminal.  Its barbaric and out of date.  So why be silent?  If Christians can calmly observe they have the truth and we are going to burn, let us just as calmly respond that they have nothing but lies and willful ignorance.

Sexual Choices and Leadership

Posted in Musings, Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

A 13 year old girl committed suicide when she was bullied by her peers and her school over a nude picture of herself.  Her journal had a very sage observation I’d like to share and contemplate:

Hope fretted that there would be further consequences over her actions in the spring. She especially worried that she might lose a chance to run again for FFA student adviser.

“Making mistakes &/or stupid choices doesn’t necessarily make it impossible for you to give advice and lead people in the right direction,” she wrote in her journal. “Do you think people ever told Elvis Presley he couldn’t lead people to be singers & give them advice because he had made some bad choices with drugs & alcohol? … I don’t think so!”

Imagine a world where we didn’t obsess over people’s individual sexual choices.

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