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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Items of Interest

Here's a few things I've been thinking about today.

1) NPR's The Connection is getting cancelled. Dick Gordon recorded his last show on July 15, and after Friday, the show's going off the air, to be replaced by Tom Ashbrook's "On Point," a show that I'm not familiar with, but which sounds suspiciously like the Connection.

I've been a fan of Dick Gordon for a while. The majority of my drive to work usually takes place during the Connection, and he made a good follow-up to the Tavis Smiley Show--which was also taken off the air after Tavis resigned in protest of a lack of ethnic diversity. He was replaced by News and Notes, which is almost exactly the same as the Tavis Smiley Show, but without Tavis's genial charm.

What impressed me the most about Dick Gordon was that he had a gift for moderating the call-in sessions of the show, which invariably attracted at least one total crackpot per episode. I've got fond memories of a guy calling up during the 2004 Democratic National Convention after Bill Clinton's famous "Send Me" speech, and talking about how Kerry and Bush were both members of the same conspiracy that started in their days as Skull & Bones members at Yale.

Now admittedly, I'm as much an advocate of the Bill Hicks theory as anyone else ("I think the puppet on the left shares my views!" "I think the puppet on the right shares my views!" "Hey, there's one guy behind both puppets!"), but this guy was on the edge of raving. So Dick listens patiently, hears him out, and boils it down to the essential nugget of truth that's in every crackpot theory: "So you're saying that you just don't feel like there's a real difference between two mainstream party candidates."

The man has skills.

Footnote 1: When I was researching the above earlier tonight, I also found out that before Dick Gordon, the Connection was originally hosted by Christopher Lydon, who was either dismissed or resigned rather abruptly when he tried to claim ownership of the program itself (although he later returned to radio with his show "Open Source," which by all accounts is very good). And since no particular reason has been given for Dick Gordon's abrupt end (on the Connection, anyway), it does make one wonder. Specifically, I wonder if Dick Gordon's going to get a song about him by the Dresden Dolls, like they did for Lydon.

Footnote 2: When I tried to find out why the Connection was getting the axe, I checked WBUR's forums. As it turns out, they're oddly similar to the other internet messageboards I've seen in my time, except that everyone was very polite, they could all type well, and they came off as being extremely erudite. Also, nobody threatened to punch me in the face for not liking New Avengers.

2) Liberality for All is fucking terrifying. I saw this one when I did my Previews order and just passed over it, since it didn't look like my kind of thing. Then I had a guy come into the shop Saturday and special order it, and I still didn't even take a good look at the ad when I looked it up. Then today, Tug and Matt P. finally told me what it was.

Holy crap.

For those of you who aren't in the know, in Liberality for All (which, rest assured, will be appearing on the ISB again, I'm sure), the year is 2021, and because of a liberal government--led, of course, by President Chelsea Clinton--that's soft on terrorism, the United States has come under the complete control of the evil United Nations. Now, on Sept. 11, they're sending Ambassador Osama Bin Laden to New York, and only the robotically enhanced bodies of G. Gordon Liddy, Sean Hannity, and Oliver North can stop him from blowing it up.

Wow. Any way you look at it, that takes some brass ones.

Now despite the fact that the Previews ad appears to be as serious as a heart attack, and they talk about how they've promoted it on Hannity & Colmes, I'm thoroughly convinced it's a joke. It's just too over the top not to be. I mean, I've read the preview: Sean Hannity has a robot arm and an eyepatch. There's just no way it's serious.


3) Here's a picture of my bookshelf. Not quite sure why I took this. It was originally going to be for a joke about birthday presents, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that it'd be interesting to take some pictures of the bookshelves around my house, so that those of you who don't know me that well could get a good idea of the things I read. This is the one by the door, where I leave my keys and (generally) my wallet.

Click to Book It! Posted by Picasa

Um, and for the record? I got those Spider-Man novels on the cheap. Just curious is all.


Blogger Phil Looney said...

I'm just curious as to why a guy who hates manga has two Anime girls on his bookshelf...

8/03/2005 9:52 AM

Blogger Mark W. Hale said...

You know, I'm not what you call an NPR person, despite my thirst for knowledge and lefty leanings. Last week one morning while the electricity was off, I popped on an old walkman to drown out the noisy toys my nephew has downstrais and came across John McCain on The Connection and it was pretty awesome. But McCain is pretty awesome. I guess I'm sad the show's going away; all the things you say seem to be true and I've only listened once.

8/03/2005 12:04 PM

Blogger Jim Shelley said...


It looks like a prop from the 40 Year Old Virgin movie!

Suddenly, the Tarot of the Black Rose fixation makes complete sense to me...

8/03/2005 3:48 PM

Blogger Greg said...

Liberality For All does look terrifying. On their web site they have a five-page preview that you must check out. I can't remember the link, but it should be easy to find.

8/03/2005 7:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the first I heard of The Connection's cancellation--that's too bad.

Christopher Lydon was very good on The Connection. He doesn't have the Canadian-inflected vowels that Dick Gordon has, and therefore I don't giggle every time he says "about."

One of my favorite Lydon moments was when he had Harlan Ellison on for a Halloween show. Prior to the show, Ellison had set his usual ground rules about not being called a science fiction writer, etc. During a return from a break, Lydon launched into the type of introduction that was his signature: beautifully constructed long sentences with exquisite parallel structure. Lydon said something like, "He writes stories that could be categorized as science fiction, but he doesn't want to be called a science fiction writer ... and he's walking out the door." Ellison, as he is known to do, left the interview because he felt that Lydon was dancing a little too close to the flame with his intro. Lydon went on to do the rest of the show on the fly, taking calls about Ellison and callers' recommendations for horror stories. The guy's a pro.

I'm going to miss The Connection, too. It's also a staple of my daily drive. I don't know anything about the show that's replacing it.

8/03/2005 7:55 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

To answer Phil's question:

1. I don't hate manga. I'm just not as enamored with it as I was in my younger days. And I hate the superiority of most manga readers that won't shut up about Dragonball Z and read some frigg'n comics.

I'm also not a fan of reading manga in that it takes seventeen volumes to realize that this story actually has no discernable ending. In a lot of the stuff I've read, the status quo doesn't change often enough to make it worthwhile. For example, I went through eight volumes of Love Hina before I realized that Naru was just going to be a hateful bitch for the forseeable future, and while I really enjoy what I've read of Blade of the Immortal, it's been going on for a hundred and some issues, and that's pretty intimidating if you think about it being structured as one complete story.

That's odd coming from someone who likes American comics that feature characters who have been around for, oh, sixty years or so, and who can recite key elements of their continuity off the top of their head, but at least (for example) Batman is broken down into manageable chunks.

I can read the Englehart/Rogers run and be satisfied. I can read Batman: Year One and get a complete story. I'm not sure if I can get that from, say, Akira without making an investment of six phone-book trades. It's the same kind of thing that keeps me off of Cerebus.

Also, I'm reactionary to manga's sudden popularity, especially in the teeming millions of people who want to draw "manga style." In my view, Akira Toriyama is not to be emulated, and yet there's so many people wasting their talents drawing Vegeta sneering.

But that said, I enjoy Jill Thompson's manga-inspired stuff, as well as Corey Lewis (The Rey)'s Sharknife and, of course, Scott Pilgrim (which again, rekindles memories of a time when I was more enamored with Japanese culture, specifically Street Fighter). And I'm picking up Samurai Champloo on DVD--I've got four DVDs worth and I've only watched the first two episodes; that's how good they were--and Tenjho Tenge from DC when it comes out in the trades and on DVD. Which leads us into reason #2

2. I really, really like breasts.

8/03/2005 9:21 PM


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