Archive for March, 2010

What a Doll

Ooh, so doll designers are getting in on the action figure market.  Seems like a really smart move to me.  I see action figures cropping up all over the place.  I saw a great YouTube video skit wherein action figures from Lost come across action figures from Pirates of the Caribbean.  At one point Kate shouts, “Jack!” and Jack Shephard and Jack Sparrow both turn around.  I read somewhere that the Japanese gaming industry is all over action figures and that Western game companies are behind the curve and missing a big source of revenue.  Action figs for the latest FF game, released last week, are up for sale now on Amazon.

This is Snow.

I noticed in the intro screen to Oblivion what a strong resemblance the warrior dude has to Sean Bean (whose voice you’ve assured me I’ll hear later on, Doc).  Now I could go for that action figure!

Hard to say what this Boromir’s like – the pic’s too small.

Some movies have had ’em for awhile of course – the Spiderman/Batman/GI Joe ilk.  And some movies/stars have had designer dolls for awhile too, come to think of it – Rhett and Scarlett and Gene.  I find I’m with you Doc, in liking these 3d renditions a lot if they’re well done, and being put off by them if they’re not.  The improvements in doll tech, as with just about every other kind of tech, are making for some amazing likenesses.  I wonder how much of a collectible field this will turn out to be?  Some of the high end figurines seem pretty high priced to begin with – as with the Sephiroth statuette I mentioned awhile back.  I think there are real possibilities for some future keepers.  How about political action-figures?  You can bet the RW’ers would snap up Reagan action-figures.  And I’d seriously consider an Obama action figure myself – say Obama playing basketball?  Or Obama on the beach in Hawaii?


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On Yahoo the other day I saw an article about yet another new poll  – this one headlined, “Quarter of Republicans Think Obama May be the Anti-Christ”.  After letting pass another of those “Is this a Misplaced Satire from The Onion?” moments, I read on.  Turns out Republicans think a lot of other unsavory things about him are true also.  Harris Poll’s representative said he was flabbergasted by the results.  He’d guessed the numbers would be a lot smaller than that.  He added, “It means that very large numbers of people are misninformed not only about President Obama but many things in modern life.”  He finds this surprising?

John Avlon, who’s written a new book called “Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America”, is not surprised.  He says, “This poll should be a wake-up call to all Americans about the real costs of using fear and hate to pump up hyper-partisanship.  We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing our country in the process.”  Josh Marshall says the same sort of thing with regard to the threats and acts of violence against Democrats since HCR was passed:

“I’m not sure John Boehner making a generic statement that violence, threats and vandalism aren’t legitimate parts of the Health Care Reform debate really cuts it. Especially when his own congressional campaign committee is actively downplaying the importance of violent incidents and even blaming them on the victims.
Thankfully, no one has been injured or killed. But this didn’t come from nowhere and it can’t be pawned off on a few cranks. Everything that’s happened over the last five days has grown from a pattern of incitement going back almost a year — wildly hyperbolic statements, coded appeals to menacing behavior, flippant jokes about bringing firearms to political events and all the rest. Now Eric Cantor (R-VA) is going on the attack, claiming that who’s really to blame here is the Democrats for making a big deal about these acts of violence against them.
No one who is even remotely honest can pretend that anything about this is bipartisan in character. The Right and yes the national Republican party has been stirring this pot for months. We all see this. Cantor’s behavior is shameful beyond imagining. It’s time for a truth moment for the national Republican party. Incitement matters. They have to take responsibility for what they’ve done: which is nothing less than a campaign of incitement for which they’re now unwilling to take any responsibility.”

But Republicans are just as nonplussed as the poor Harris Poll guy.  They just can’t figure it out either.  Maybe if it wasn’t for the danged media, misinterpreting and magnifying every casual, even humorously intended, right wing remark, this violence stuff wouldn’t be such an issue.  The media just likes to stir people up, and then Republicans get blamed.  That’s what it is.

That must be why these headline blurbs showed up this week (my italics, not that they’re needed for most anyone reading this blog):  AP WASHINGTON  – “Congressional Democrats sent the final piece of landmark health care legislation to President Barack Obama before heading home to face a skeptical — and sometimes even threatening — electorate.”  McClatchy Newspapers – “With Congress on break, Obama could jam appointees through.”  Clearly, the media is just trying to gin up public ire so that Republicans will be held accountable for any consequences.  It’s that deviously clever liberal press at work.

Hmm.  If the 1st page of comments in response to the Harris Poll article are any indication, they’re succeeding.

Djon:  Hell, 25% is a lot less than I’d have expected of the GOP.   33% of GOP don’t believe gravity exists and another 33% are opposed to it. The remainder call themselves “independents” and don’t want to commit.
Nicco:    The “party of no” should be renamed “the party of stupid”.
painkiller:    They’re still mad because a black president has been elected. GET OVER WITH IT , HILLBILLIES! IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON!
Jeff:    A quarter of Republicans are nuts.
Amir S:    haha a racist? that’s like calling the kettle black. but honestly, if you genuinely think he’s the anti-christ, you really need to seek some psychiatric help. if you want to call him a facist or a socialist, fine, but a racist and the anti-christ? that makes no sense whatsoever.
Lisa:    Wait a minute…..I thought Bill Clinton was the anti-christ
Easy Mac:  Considering there is no such thing as the anti-christ, the poll should have also asked if he was the Easter Bunny.

But of course the Republicans truly are horrified by the threats and violence and inflammatory way the news is being presented, as proven by their own past actions.  After all, they took this sort of thing very seriously during the Bush administration.  Why, they restricted demonstrators to isolated areas, even going to the trouble to label the spaces, with political correctness, as ‘free speech zones’, in order to reduce violence.  And they were quite clear and authoritative in labeling anti-Bush rhetoric as traitorous.  They even went so far as approving the arrests of individuals at presidential appearances wearing t-shirts bearing anti-government propaganda, so as to reduce the risk of hostile outbursts.  So you just know the current spate of ugly remarks, death threats and the like toward elected officials has to be troubling them immensely.

I suppose this is why, despite John Lewis having been recently in the news as a victim of such hatefulness as we’ve crossed the 55th anniversary of the march from Selma, there’s been such little reference to his historic encounter on the Edmund Pettus bridge.  Concerned media folks are just avoiding referring to that earlier violence against him for his own sake, not wanting to give anyone any ideas – that’s it.  (Thank you, Doc, for blogging about it.  I’ve not seen one other word about it.  I wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t written your post.)

Unfortunately, there might be some truth to the concern, imaginary though I suspect that concern to be.  John Lewis is a black man.  The level of nastiness and bile and falsehood being directed at our current president simply wouldn’t be occurring if the US had elected a white man for the job.  You notice, Doc, I don’t say ‘white person’.  Racism isn’t the only bias favored by wingnut USA.  I think the same sort of crapola would have been thrown at Hillary, had she been elected.  Different details, same intent.  She’s a lesbian.  She had her lawyer killed.  She’s a socialist communist pagan supporter of One World Order.  Etc. etc.  The political propaganda swiftboat arm of the right wing movement would have found plenty to rile their base with.  (That’s got to be  a great job, if you have no soul.  Their base is so easy to rile.  What is it with wingnuts?  I get the sincere impression that they’re just not happy unless they’re not happy.)

But hey, speaking of…!  How about Hillary?!  Major arms deal with the Russians?  No big deal.  All in a day’s or year’s work.  In the pics from Russia she looks awesome, competent and cool (and she’s not wearing a dress – yay Hillary!).

Fashion faux pas?  Nope.  Speaking gaffes?  Nope.  Never hear of any.  Hillary seems at the top of her form, and the best that the vast right wing conspiracy can come up with against her, busy as they are directing all their vitriol at Obama I suppose, is to ignore her.  You go, Madame Secretary!

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Tonner Blows One

I am a doll collector.  There, I admitted it in public.  I started this hobby way back in 1990, and you were with me when I bought my first dolls, Trep.  As I recall we stopped in at the food mart of some giganto-mall in Phoenix and we drank iced green tea while I fretted over making such extravagant purchases.

I’ve been collecting dolls ever since, although I’ve slowed down some in the past couple of years.  I have no idea what I’ll do with them eventually.  I keep threatening to sell them on E-bay, but the market is so bad right now that is not a good idea.  At the last doll show I attended, someone was selling a #1 Gene (that’s the first doll issued in a line that was VERY popular during the ’90’s) for 49 bucks.   She originally sold for $69.  But at the height of Gene’s popularity, this doll was worth as much as $1200.  Don’t we all wish we had sold our #1 Gene in those days.  And aren’t we all glad we weren’t silly enough to pay more than $69 for her in the first place.

But the point of this post, when I started writing it, was to say that Robert Tonner, one of the most successful contemporary doll artists, has gotten into the business of sculpting action-figure dolls.   As you know, action figures are very popular right now with the comic-book and pop culture crowds.  And some of these are quite good.  For example, here’s McFarlane’s action figure of Kate Austen, from Lost.  Pretty nice likeness, huh!  But the same company’s action figure of Sawyer leaves something to be desired:

Here’s a pic of the actual human Sawyer for comparison:

Well, yeah.  Any old excuse to post a photo of Josh Holloway as Sawyer is a good excuse.

Now some of Tonner’s doll-action-figures are pretty good.   Here’s Tonner’s sculpt of Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel, for instance:

And here is Tonner’s Lee Scoresby, who as you know was played by Sam Elliott in the movie made of The Golden Compass,  he of the drooping mustaches and luscious baritone:

Somewhat less good, but still passable.

So I was excited when I saw that Tonner had sculpted a series of dolls from Lord of the Rings, starting with Aragorn.  Alas, alas, the finished sculpt was an awful misfire IMHO.

A cleft chin does not a Viggo make, as is demonstrated by a photo–even a not-so-flattering  photo, of the actual human person.

Maybe Tonner will have better luck with Frodo or Gandalf.   I sure hope so.

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Eau de Desert

I went for a walk outside today–probably one of the last times I will be able to do so.  It’s getting warm here.

Thanks to all the rain, there are lots of wildflowers in bloom:

You can just see some blue flowers off to the upper right.  What are those, Trep?

This picture is for Desert Democrat.  She’s in California, tending to her ailing mother.  I expect she misses the desert, and Mr. Desert, too.  This here saguaro sort of gets it all done in one package, so to speak.

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While President Obama was in Iowa City, he visited Prairie Lights bookstore.

Yes, he is holding copies of books by Karl Rove and Mitt Romney.   But he didn’t buy them–instead he purchased books for his and Robert Gibbs’ children.

Prairie Lights looks just as warm and inviting in the photo as it always did back in the day when I lived in Iowa City.  I am very glad to learn that it is still in business, that it hasn’t been Barnes-and-Nobled out of existence.   Prairie Lights was my refuge from cold winters (Iowa winters are COLD!).  The store was always warmly lit, and hot coffee was available, or hot chocolate if you wanted that.

The best part, though, was the books.  Prairie Lights is the sort of independent bookstore that used to be a landmark in nearly every university town.  They sold everything from childrens’ books to poetry to potboiling best-sellers to the very latest most esoteric treatises in quantum physics.   While browsing in Prairie Lights, you might find yourself standing next to a very famous writer, in town to give a reading at the Writers’ Workshop, or maybe talking to a famous neurobiologist from the medical school at UI.

Norman Mailer once said that Iowa City is the only civilized place between New York and LA.   I like to think he said that at after giving a reading at Prairie Lights.

I am grateful for Amazon of course.  Their prices are lower than could ever be managed by small bookstores, and delivery is amazingly fast these days.  But I still miss independent bookstores where you never knew what sort of delight waited for you around the next corner, maybe over there in the environmental section, or down there with the music.

I guess I becoming a sentimental old fart, growing old, trousers rolled, and all that.

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Yesterday was the 55th anniversary of the third, finally successful, march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.  It was also the 55th anniversary of the murder of Viola Liuzzo, who was shot by the Klan as she ferried marchers between Montgomery and Selma.  A few days earlier James Reeb, a white minister from Boston, had died after someone hit him in the head with a baseball bat.   In late February, Jimmie Lee Jackson, an army veteran, was shot in the stomach by Alabama state troopers as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather from violence.   The cops left him lying in the street for a half hour, and he died of his wound many agonizing days later.

What started all this trouble?   Black people were trying to register to vote in Alabama.

On March 7 of that year, a young man named John Lewis joined a march from Selma to Montgomery.  This was the first March from Selma.  The people were marching to Montgomery hoping to talk with Governor Wallace about his refusal to countenance their voter registration drives.  Maybe they were also marching in memory of Jimmie Lee Jackson.

Characteristically, Lewis ended up leading the parade of people.  As they crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge, they were confronted by a phalanx of Alabama state troopers:

That’s Lewis in the light-colored trench coat.

Here’s what happened next:

I know these scenes are ugly and horrible.  But we cannot afford to forget them.  Not today, not when white people are once again succumbing to a hatred they barely understand.  For some reason, acting out this hatred makes them feel better.

That scares hell out of me.

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