Archive for September, 2010

Dere go da judge.

I try to pick Amazing Humans with whom I have things in common, so I can be Amazing vicariously. For instance Vaughn Walker and I were both born in 1944. Both of us will soon be retired. He has a few more months to go, and so do I. Both of us look good in black, his robes, my T-shirts.

For someone appointed by George W. Bush, he made strange history last August by striking down the voter-approved Prop. 8, which specified that the joys of marriage could only be experienced by a man and a woman, no other combinations of gender would be sanctified. VW thought differently and said we should use the Constitution for this decision instead of the Good Book. The Constitution doesn’t seem to deny this particular right to anyone because their equipment is the same or different.
Of course this decision has been appealed and  will have to be bandied about in the Halls of Justice before it is eventually confirmed, maybe years. Maybe never if the you-know-whos get elected. Anyway, he makes this momentous decision and now he’s moving on into the sunset and some cushy private practice.
It is refreshing to see that even a judge who is appointed by a Republican president can make a “fair and balanced” decision, even if he is gay.

Kids say the darndest things.

This all started with my routine daily scan of the news for Amazing Humans. First the upcoming Phelps vs. Snyder Supreme Court case caught my eye. The Rev. Fred W. Phelps Sr. is the pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church. He , along with several family members, were moved to come all the way from Kansas to attend the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, U.S.M.C., who was killed in Anbar Province, Iraq. They were not invited.

It seems that Phelps and family take extreme umbrage with homosexuality in the military (or anywhere else for that matter) and chose to attend the funeral brandishing signs that read, “You’re Going To Hell”, “Thank God For Dead Soldiers”, and “God Hates Fags”. Feeling that this did not quite finish the job, the Phelps Phamily posted an “epic poem” on the internet entitled “The Burden of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder”, which, in part, spoke to Snyder’s parents, “…you raised him for the devil.

Christians behaving badly.

Albert Snyder, Cpl. Snyder’s father sued (invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress) and initally won a large damage award. But this ruling was reversed on appeal and will be considered by the Supreme Court the first Monday in October.

This is some nasty, tricky stuff. So I went elsewhere for my random theme of courtroom controversy. Since I usually hang out more toward the whimsical end of the spectrum, I chose the “Opie”-looking young man depicted above, one Joseph Frederick, to be guest litigant and Those Amazing Humans, #90.

In 2002, the Olympic Torch made its way through Juneau, Alaska. Young Frederick, having been given time off from school for this momentous occasion, made the most of it by contributing to popular culture with a hand-crafted banner with the words, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” displayed prominently enough to attract the attention of the media and his high school principal, Deborah Morse, who suspended him for ten days.

Frederick sued, claiming his rights to free speech were violated. He was first dismissed by the federal district court, but on appeal the ninth district court reversed, saying his rights were violated. The Supremes saw fit to weigh in on this one saying that the school officials did not violate Frederick’s rights, because for one reason, the sign could be “reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use.”

I agree with the following quote by Mary Beth Tinker, student free speech activist from the 60’s:

“With this slogan, he’s proven once and for all that teens, with their creativity, curiosity and (to some) outrageous sense of humor, are naturals when it comes to holding the First Amendment to the test of time…”.

The slogan to me, defies any kind of “reasonable view”. I am curious how the Supremes will view the graphically outrageous slogans of the Phelps Phamily on Monday, October 4th.

Sublime, Ridiculous, Illegal or all of the above.

Is humor an instrument for positive social change?

An open letter to Jon and Stephen:

Republicans cannot be deterred by frivolity and acerbic witticisms, they must be decapitated or staked through the heart (metaphorically of course). Nothing less will stop them.

I do believe in the power of humor as a political force (Al Franken), but I don’t know if large scale ralleys, which aren’t really fuelled by fear and xenophobia, can be successful. Tea Party events are sponsored by interests who are really serious about their agenda and have a lot of money to see that things go their way. Money to bus in hordes of excitable pinheads with placards, if need be.

And what if people begin to equate Comedy Central with the Dems, just as they have with the Republicans and The Tea Party? The Harpies have already begun to howl, “The American people want security, jobs and strong leadership, not laughs!”

But if I had the means to do so, I would go to these ralleys. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are saner than the church ladies of the Tea Party fringe, and certainly a lot funnier. I want this to work out well for them and I hope you East Coasters turn out in droves. I hope sanity proves to be more potent than White Christian Fear. There’s always a first time. And I’d like to be there to see it. O’Reilly and his drones be damned! The only thing we have to fear is the fear mongers. Don’t forget the stakes and machetes though (metaphorical of course).

PS- You guys might want to check out “The Yes Men”  to see how it’s done. See TAH, #60 and #61.

Guess the Old Dude, Pick TAH, #100

Am I gettin’ jiggy widdit, or what? Here is TAH’s first ever contest and interactive feature, “Guess the Old Dude”! That’s right, the first person to email me with the name of the tilted gentleman to the left will earn the right to determine who will occupy the fabled “100th Amazing Human” spot on this blog.

Since my drawing ability is somewhat suspect, I will give a clue a day till Friday, October 1st, or when the correct answer is supplied by one of “The Secret Seven” (my term of endearment for my loyal readers).

Today’s clue: He had his 90th birthday in June 2010.

Next clue: He plays with “action” figures.

Clue #3: Jason and Sinbad were good for him.

Clue #4: This is embarrassing, but no one seems to be able to tell who this is. It has to be that my drawing is bad. He is a famous film maker who brought stop motion animation to new heights in his many fantasy films.

Thanks for the apathy. It’s Ray Harryhausen.

My email:

Not funny at all.

There is nothing funny about Jimi Hesenden (62), the businessman who bought the company that makes the two-wheeled Segway personal transport vehicle less than a year ago. He was a good businessman and a philanthropist who gave back generously to his community, Leeds, England.

There is nothing funny about the fact that he evidently rode a Segway off a thirty foot drop and into the River Wharfe near Boston Spa on Sunday, 9/26, 2010. Ironic, maybe, but not funny. So wipe that smile off your face. You should be ashamed of yourself. I’m serious.
The Segway has been the butt of jokes by comedians from Jay Leno to Jon Stewart. It even co-starred with actor, Kevin James, in the film comedy, “Paul Blart, Mall Cop”. George Bush falling off a Segway is funny. What happened to Mr. Hesenden is not. Got it?

As Fine As You Get For Free

In a big departure from TAH protocols , to shake things up a bit and call attention to my true sensibilities as a fine artist, I have placed a likeness of Arnold, within a delightfully naive composition I like to call, “The Shed: Still Life With Arnie Mask and Dartboard”

I’ll say one thing about Arnie, he married a conscience, and that helped some. Didn’t we get rid of Gray Davis for the exact same inability to complete a budget on time? I probably have more favorite Arnie movies than say, John Wayne favorites. He is one of the more entertaining folks hailing from his homeland as you are likely to encounter. I hope they don’t have to put an asterisk by his achievements and mention anything about his steroid-enhanced behavior. Hell, everyone was doing it then, if they weren’t too busy with their witchcraft activities.

“She leaves me breathless-a.”- Jerry Lee Lewis

I am currently someone pretending to be a writer who sometimes writes about a fictional “Writer” who can “write” reality, when the spirit(s) move him, but when I grow up I’d like to be a real writer who can make you move through a room, feel the humidity, smell the night-blooming jasmine, hear the rustle of insects in the thatch, and all that. It is so far out of my reach right now, I might as well be one of a thousand monkeys in a room with typewriters trying to make Shakespeare.

When I want to be reminded of my unworthiness and transported at the same time I read something by Isabel Allende. I quickly get over my bitter envy and get immersed in her skillfully realized worlds, wherever they may be:  in Old Mexico with Zorro, in the 18th century Carribbean with Zarite the slave girl, or any of the many wonderful climes and adventures she’s crafted for young adult readers, the Amazon, the Himalayas, the Congo.

When I saw a couple of months ago, that she had released a new novel, I immediately put it on my request list. I just got it last week and when not blogging I am reading voraciously from this new marvel, “The Island Beneath the Sea”.

Credit must be given to her translator, Margaret Sayers Peden. If the text is even more moving and beautiful in Allende’s native tongue, it must be something to behold.

Ms. Allende is currently living in nearby Marin County. If she reads this and wants to invite me over for tea, I’m available almost always.