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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
Home country: USA
Current location: San Francisco, CA
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 02:53 PM
Number of posts: 7,548

About Me

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

Journal Archives

Marvel's Black Panther Movie Confirmed By Stan Lee

Stan Lee was speaking at the Fan Expo Canada on Friday (via Comic Book Resources), and let it slip that the Black Panther movie indeed was happening (instead of being this juicy rumor that no one at Marvel will confirm just yet). When addressing the question of whether or not Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow character soon will get her own solo movie, Lee explained:
The chances are she will have her own movie because eventually all the superheroes are going to have their own movies. They are already working on Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and the Black Panther, and there are others I am not allowed to talk about."

Oh Stan, you tease. Let’s talk about his comments. Obviously, we know all about Ant-Man. After a director shuffle, that movie recently began filming in San Francisco with Peyton Reed at the helm, and a cast that includes Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly (to name just a few).

The other two titles that Stan Lee dropped, however, are eye-catching… if only because Marvel hasn’t solidified anything on its Cinematic Universe schedule beyond Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015), Captain America 3 (May 6, 2016) and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (July 28, 2017). There has been a lot of movement surrounding Doctor Strange. Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil) has been tapped to helm the movie, with Jon Spaihts hired to work on the screenplay. There have been rumors that Strange will land in the July 8, 2016 date circled by Marvel, but nothing has been announced… and likely won’t until Marvel locks up its leading man for Doctor Strange.


The minimum wage debate is proof that Republicans have ultimately won.

When I was a growing up, minimum wage jobs were occupied by high school and college-age kids for the purpose earning some spending money, saving up for the next semester or developing basic job skills like showing up on time. They weren't designed to live on as an adult much less support a family. Yet here we are with politicians pledging to spend weeks on a minimum wage budgets. But what no one in office or the m$m will point out is the very fact that we are having this discussion is proof of how throughly vulture capitalists and their friends in the Republican Party (along with a few Democratic friends) have thoroughly pillaged the American economy, leaving adults to fight with teenagers over jobs that were designed to fund a Saturday night out.

Gov. Perry withdraws 'unauthorized' Twitter post

A message on Gov. Rick Perry’s official Twitter feed was removed Sunday, with an announcement that the post was unauthorized.
Shortly after the tweet referring to Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s drunken-driving arrest last year was posted, it was withdrawn.

“A tweet just went out from my account that was unauthorized. I do not condone the tweet and I have taken it down,” the later tweet said.

The governor’s office could not be reached for further comment.

The original tweet included an image of Lehmberg and drew a connection between her and Perry’s recent indictment on charges that he had threatened her politically.

Perry’s indictment stems from his eliminating $7.5 million in state funding last year for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. The Republican governor did so after Lehmberg, a Democrat, rejected his calls to resign because of her DWI conviction.


The dark side of Snapchat: How the image-sharing app brought out the worst in humanity

When Snapchat launched three years ago, its destiny seemed clear-cut. The ephemeral nature of the image-sharing app — send an image, then watch it go poof! in 10 seconds or fewer — indicated that its main reason for being was as yet another advancement in the realm of boner pic dissemination. And God knows, it’s fulfilled its mission on that front. But along the way it’s become so much more. It’s become the greatest lie the online community ever told itself.

Internet culture thrives on its gotcha element. You can delete that regrettable tweet you sent out about a tragedy, claim that bulge shot was the work of a hacker, or reconsider whether you really ought to have told someone to go kill herself, but it’s generally understood that your actions will live forever via screenshots and archives. You screw up online, you can assume you may never, ever live it down. Snapchat co-founder and chief executive Evan Spiegel is certainly no stranger to that phenomenon himself, as his trail of observations about “sororisluts” and “fat chicks” will attest. You really thought this guy’s product was going to change that?

The illusion shattered almost from the beginning. Back in 2012, BuzzFeed revealed directions for saving Snapchat videos – along with a comment from Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel that “There will always be ways to reverse engineer technology products — but that spoils the fun!” And in a story for Forbes last year, writer Kashmir Hill further uncovered how inaccurate Snapchat’s tantalizing image of transience really is, and how easy it can be to pull supposedly deleted images from it. There are now a bazillion tutorials out there on how to take a screenshot of a Snap without the sender even knowing. Last spring, Snapchat settled with the FTC over charges it had “made multiple misrepresentations to consumers about its product that stood in stark contrast to how the app actually worked.” At the time, the company announced it would “continue to invest heavily in security and countermeasures to prevent abuse.”

And then earlier this month, the “nothing ever really disappears” reality came home when a University of Alabama student’s Snap of three females with the message “Chi O got NO n*ggas!!!!!” went viral – and got her booted from her sorority. What was going through that young woman’s head when she sent that message? Probably damn close to nothing. But the fact that she sent it out via Snapchat certainly implies a sense of invulnerability, a belief that she could express her sentiment and then have it vanish like a wisp of smoke. Behind that act there’s an implied arrogance that’s even more profound that your typical “just kidding” backwalk on offensive behavior. It’s pure self-absolution. That girl likely thought what she said wouldn’t haunt her. It wouldn’t hurt her. She could be a racist jerk and then just move on. But she was wrong. It takes remarkably little effort to uncover a whole wide world of alleged Snapchat grabs, many of which are unflattering.


US Trained Alaskans As 'Stay-Behind Agents' In Case Of Russian Invasion

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fearing a Russian invasion and occupation of Alaska, the U.S. government in the early Cold War years recruited and trained fishermen, bush pilots, trappers and other private citizens across Alaska for a covert network to feed wartime intelligence to the military, newly declassified Air Force and FBI documents show.

Invasion of Alaska? Yes. It seemed like a real possibility in 1950.

"The military believes that it would be an airborne invasion involving bombing and the dropping of paratroopers," one FBI memo said. The most likely targets were thought to be Nome, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Seward.

So FBI director J. Edgar Hoover teamed up on a highly classified project, code-named "Washtub," with the newly created Air Force Office of Special Investigations, headed by Hoover protege and former FBI official Joseph F. Carroll (pictured above).

The secret plan was to have citizen-agents in key locations in Alaska ready to hide from the invaders of what was then only a U.S. territory. The citizen-agents would find their way to survival caches of food, cold-weather gear, message-coding material and radios. In hiding they would transmit word of enemy movements.


“The Borgias” vs. “Borgia: Faith and Fear” (accuracy in historical fiction)

These are just two examples, but typify the two series. The Borgias toned it down: consistently throughout the series, everyone is simply less violent and corrupt than they actually historically, documentably were. Why would sex-&-violence Showtime tone things down? I think because they were afraid of alienating their audience with the sheer implausibility of what the Renaissance was actually like. Rome in 1492 was so corrupt, and so violent, that I think they don’t believe the audience will believe them if they go full-on. Almost all the Cardinals are taking bribes? Lots, possibly the majority of influential clerics in Rome overtly live with mistresses? Every single one of these people has committed homicide, or had goons do it? Wait, they all have goons? Even the monks have goons? It feels exaggerated. Showtime toned it down to a level that matches what the typical modern imagination might expect.

Borgia: Faith and Fear did not tone it down. A bar brawl doesn’t go from insult to heated words to slamming chairs to eventually drawing steel, it goes straight from insult to hacking off a body part. Rodrigo and Cesare don’t feel guilty about killing people, they feel guilty the first time they kill someone dishonorably. Rodrigo is not being seduced by Julia Farnese and trying to hide his shocking affair; Rodrigo and Julia live in the papal palace like a married couple, and she’s the head of his household and the partner of his political labors, and if the audience is squigged out that she’s 18 and he’s 61 then that’s a fact, not something to try to SHOCK the audience with because it’s so SHOCKING shock shock. Even in other details, Showtime kept letting modern sensibilities leak in. Showtime’s 14-year-old Lucrezia is shocked (as a modern girl would be) that her father wants her to have an arranged marriage, while B:F&F‘s 14-year-old Lucrezia is constantly demanding marriage and convinced she’s going to be an old maid if she doesn’t marry soon, but is simultaneously obviously totally not ready for adult decisions and utterly ignorant of what marriage will really mean for her. It communicates what was terrible about the Renaissance but doesn’t have anyone on-camera objecting to it, whereas Showtime seemed to feel that the modern audience needed someone to relate to who agreed with us. And, for a broad part of the modern TV-watching audience, they may well be correct. I wouldn’t be surprised if many viewers find The Borgias a lot more approachable and comfortable than its more period-feeling rival.

Borgia: Faith and Fear also didn’t tone down the complexity, or rather toned it down much less than The Borgias. This means that it is much harder to follow. There are many more characters, more members of every family, the complex family structures are there, the side-switching. I had to pause two or three times an episode to explain to those watching with me who Giodobaldo da Montefeltro was, or whatever. There’s so much going on that the Previously On recap gives up and just says: “The College of Cardinals is controlled by the sons of Rome’s powerful Italian families. They all hate each other. The most feared is the Borgias.” They wisely realized you couldn’t possibly follow everything that’s going on in Florence as well as Rome, so they just periodically have someone receive a letter summarizing wacky Florentine hijinx, as we watch adorable little Giovanni “Leo” de Medici (played by the actor who is Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones) get more and more overwhelmed and tired. Showtime’s series oversimplifies more, but that is both good and bad, in its way. The audience needs to follow the politics, after all, and we can only take so much summary. The Tudors got away with a lot by having lectures on what it means to be Holy Roman Emperor delivered by shirtless John Rhys Meyers as he stalked back and forth screaming in front of beautiful upholstery, and he’s a good enough actor that he could scream recipes for shepherd’s pie and we’d still sit through about a minute of it. The Borgia shows have even more complicated politics for us to choke down.


Guardians Of The Galaxy Takes Down Captain America 2 To Become 2014'S Biggest Domestic Hit

James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy has been, without question, the completely dominating force at the August 2014 box office. Debuting on the first of the month, the film opened with a record-setting $94 million, and has spent 19 of the last 31 days holding the number one spot in the domestic top 10. It was just last week that we learned that this unbelievable success had led the movie to become the biggest blockbuster of the summer, but now it has accomplished a feat even bigger than that: Guardians of the Galaxy is the biggest film of 2014 in the United States so far.

With an estimated $16 million taken in over the last three days, according to Box Office Mojo, the 10th film from Marvel Studios has now made over $274 million in the U.S., becoming the highest earner at the domestic box office going back to the start of January. In order to reach this position, Guardians of the Galaxy had to beat out some pretty big heavy-hitters, including Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction ($244 million since June), Phil Lord and Chris Miller's The LEGO Movie ($257 million since February) and Joe and Anthony Russo's Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($259 million since April).

Guardians of the Galaxy has undoubtedly been propelled her in the States by unending positive buzz from critics and audiences as well as the movie's rewatchability, but it hasn't caught fire quite the same way overseas. The film has been performing well aboard, having so far brought in $273 million, but that number pales in comparison to both Transformers 4 and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which have made $828 million and $512 million, respectively. Guardians of the Galaxy is still waiting to come out in big markets like Germany, Italy, Japan and China, which will certainly pad the numbers, but even while existing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the sci-fi blockbuster doesn't have the same kind of big solo brand names that the aforementioned titles do.

So what is the ceiling for Guardians of the Galaxy at this point? Looking at the next month and factoring the movie's performance over the last few weeks, prognostications suggest that the title could be first $300 million hit of the year - possibly making as much as $320 million. Kind of amazing, isn't it? At this point in time last year, nobody in the world could have predicted that Guardians of the Galaxy would end up beating out Captain America: The Winter Soldier (most were too busy worrying that it would be Marvel's first huge flop), and it's even more impressive when you consider the quality and and box office strength of the Cap sequel. This has once again been an absolutely huge year for Marvel Studios, and it will be fascinating to see which directions this success will take them going into the future.


Democracy Activists Vow to “Occupy” Hong Kong After China Rules Out Open Elections

Protesters have vowed to paralyze Hong Kong’s financial district after China denied the former British colony the right to elect its next leader in 2017. Protesters started gathering outside Hong Kong’s government headquarters on Sunday night and have said they won’t be leaving anytime soon. “This is the end of any dialogue. In the next few weeks, Occupy Central will start wave after wave of action,” a co-founder of the Occupy Central group said, according to the BBC. “We will organize a full-scale act of occupying Central.”

China on Sunday made it clear Beijing would remain firmly in control of Hong Kong’s political future when the legislature ruled there would be no open nominations for the next election, saying it would create a “chaotic society.” The guidelines now state that there can only be three candidates for the position of Hong Kong’s leader and each must be approved by more than half of a 1,200-member nominating committee that will likely be filled with Beijing loyalists, notes the Associated Press. With its decision, “Beijing has chosen a showdown with a protest movement unlike any it has ever faced on the mainland,” points out the New York Times.

“Today is not only the darkest day in the history of Hong Kong’s democratic development, today is also the darkest day of one country, two systems,” said Benny Tai, a law professor and a leader of the Occupy Central movement. A standoff with a large part of Hong Kong residents is precisely the kind of situation that Deng Xiaoping wanted to avoid when he came up with the “one country, two systems” formula for getting control of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997, notes the Wall Street Journal. Even though the Occupy movement has yet to gain broad support among Hong Kong’s middle class, “any strong measures by China or the Hong Kong police could change that,” notes Reuters.


California Legislature passes paid sick leave bill

In the waning hours of their session, California lawmakers passed a measure to provide workers with three paid sick days a year, capping tense negotiations that splintered supporters.

The top Democratic priority squeaked through both houses of the Legislature despite losing backing from major labor unions following amendments. The Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees abandoned the bill after it was rewritten to exempt home healthcare workers.

But it benefited from a late-session push by Gov. Jerry Brown and author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a San Diego Democrat and former labor leader who corralled enough votes to keep it moving. Brown’s office rarely weighs in publicly on pending legislation, typically doing so to help push prominent measures – like a recent water bond – across the finish line.

“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Brown said in a statement. “This bill guarantees that millions of workers – from Eureka to San Diego – won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”


Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Drax Helped An Autistic Kid Feel Like A Superhero

We all know that James Gunn‘s comic book romp Guardians of the Galaxy was a straight dose of humor, excitement, and flashy space travel, but the film’s more inspirational undertones may have been lost on many of those in the audience. It turns out one of the heroes here helped an autistic boy to understand that anyone under the sun can be a superhero if they want to. Relatively speaking, anyway.

Earlier today, Gunn posted an image-filled message from a fan who shared an inspirational story about his younger brother. The brother, who falls on the autistic spectrum, was extremely overjoyed when Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) first made it clear that he had no clue what metaphors were, expressing, “He’s like me! He can’t do metaphors!”

The elder sibling said his brother then “stared at Drax in a state of rapture” for the rest of the film and has been quoting Drax’s lines religiously in the week or so since they’d watched the film in theaters. It helps that one of the boy’s talents is memorization, which allows him to utter all of the big blue badasses lines without having to refer to the film’s IMDb quote page.

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