Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Saga of Wonder Woman

I’ve apparently had some visitors from the DC Comics discussion boards re female action pictures from a conversation about the saga of Wonder Woman in media. So, since Wonder Woman has made a few appearances in this blog, I thought I’d throw those up for them in case they’re interested.

Here are my commentaries:

And here are News items that covered the saga of Wonder Woman getting rebooted to the screen:


The saga of Wonder Woman does continue. The latest news is that Warner/DC Comics is still planning a Justice League movie some time in the next few years and that this movie should include Wonder Woman in it, with a potential spin-off film if it goes well. That probably, oddly enough, depends on how the Green Lantern sequel movie does in relation to the first, pretty flawed Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds. That movie, while basically considered a dud, still managed to barely break even on its big budget. Now that they’ve dispensed with their version of an origin story, they can re-structure, I would assume the thinking is. So Wonder Woman may have her day, some time. Marvel, which has successfully so far launched the sort of platform Warner really wants to have, has hinted that they will do female superhero features in the future, but so far, no announcements have been forthcoming. It’s unlikely that Scarlet Johansen’s Black Widow character in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers will get her own film. So help us, Wonder Woman, you’re our only hope! (Well that, and many graphic novels about women characters that seem to be now in the works.)




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Filed under Movies/TV, SFFH

No Really, I am So Lucky Upon This Earth

Oh and buy Harry Turtledove’s books please,  (he’s got like 80 of them, so you’ll have lots to choose from.) Plus, he’s quite good and the master of alternate history.

As for young Alice, she is ailing but still alive and has been steadily raising money for charities from the attention given to her blog:

As for me, when my kid gets home tonight, I’m going to hug her very tightly until she whines.

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A Little Train Music, Part 2

A number of articles have been popping up as links lately, passed around by people I know, about an “experiment” that took place actually all the way back in January 2007 in the D.C. Metro during commuter rush hour. (Before the Gilded Age financiers took down the economies of the world.) The experiment was not conducted by scientists, which is why it was a crappy social science experiment. It was put together by one of the Washington Post journalists, who talked Grammy-winning virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell into taking his incredibly valuable violin into the D.C. Metro at rush hour and playing classical music — a concert people pay hundreds for ordinarily — for about forty-five minutes. The “idea” of this venture was to see if the unwashed masses,  the little people, in a plain, pedestrian venue, at an inconvenient time, would be able to distinguish this master musician from your common street player and stop and perhaps give money or recognize his famous face, which would therefore somehow prove that they were able to understand art and appreciate beauty. In other words, the confirmation bias of the endeavor was as large as a horse.

The journalist wanted the people in the Metro, people already cast as peasants interested only in their labors, to fail so that it could be announced that the general public, unlike educated elites who could afford expensive concert tickets, were clearly mostly unable to appreciate real art and beauty. And fail they did. Only a few people stopped, some more threw money as they passed (which came to $32 dollars which isn’t bad for a subway performance in a 45 minute time period,) and most rushed on by.

The notion that only if people could tell Bell was a famous, master musician despite him playing in the subway as a way to determine people’s ability to appreciate beauty is of course fundamentally flawed.  The reality is that numerous street performers are professional musicians, technically skilled and highly artistic in their playing. There have been many cases of famous, praised musicians trying out a subway performance for the acoustics and to interact with the public in a unique experience. (Witness the music video by singer Aloe Blacc performing in the New York subway station with a supporting band that I put up a few months ago. ) As a consequence, the people who rushed by and did not stop were not necessarily ignoring Bell’s skill or even discounting the possibility that he was a famous professional musician just because they were in a subway.

Music is an auditory experience; it can be heard for quite a distance and does not require listeners enjoying the music to stand and watch the performer. So insisting that only if the commuters looked at Bell for more than a second and stopped to watch him were they appreciating the beauty of his music is not an accurate measurement either. (Noting whether people looked at a visual painting,  complete or being painted, as they passed would have yielded clearer results.) The notion that real appreciation of beauty occurred only if the commuters overcame the “inconvenience” of having to get to work on trains whose schedules they don’t control and the pressure of a large moving crowd shows a level of cluelessness about the reality of people’s lives that boggles the mind. Added to that is that the DC Metro has far less frequent trains that run for shorter hours than other larger urban centers like New York or Chicago, creating an “inconvenience” during commuting hours that is considerably more critical. Not only that, but unlike many older urban train systems, the Metro has strong anti-loitering policies that encourage traffic movement. By equating willingness to sacrifice for a chance concert with appreciation of beauty, the reporter created a completely spurious correlation.

I feel sorry for Joshua Bell that he was part of this game, not because people didn’t stop in listening to him, but because he and his historic violin were used to sneer and make fun of people in the press. It’s especially disturbing because Bell has gone on to be a strong participant in Music Unites, a charity dedicated to supporting disadvantaged emerging musical talents and bringing music of all different styles to people and students in under-served communities — a charity that believes in the exact opposite of what the Post was presenting about people.

The Washington Post was my newspaper growing up, one of the best in the world. It’s been sad for me to see how frequently it’s fallen into this sort of journalism in the last few years.  Regardless, as we can see from the videos in Part 1, people are often exposed to musical beauty on the train systems, they often appreciate it in its many forms and that appreciation is perhaps more honest than people who have ponied up hundreds for the status of saying they’d been at an exclusive concert. The relationship between humans and musical sound is long and complex and profound, as documented in the book This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin. To say that the people in the train systems are not touched by music is to truly ignore the beauty that occurs in those places every day.




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Filed under Life, Music

A Little Train Music, Part 1

One of the best things about cities is that when you gather large groups of people together in one locale, you get musicians playing. No one knows this better than the riders of the New York Subways. Dark, grimy, smelling of pee they may be, but there’s always a show. Here are some brief clips from some fun performers:

And here is a bit of serendipity that has gone viral:  Back in January, NYC Singer and musician Jessica Latshaw, coming home from a class on the train, was approached by a man on the train with Conga drums, Quoom “Q-Dot,” a musician and music teacher who frequently performs with his drums on the subways, because he’d seen her ukele case. He talked her into getting the ukele out and playing it. Another guy on the train, Matt Schwartz, recorded on his phone Latshaw playing and singing, with Quoom accompanying her on his drums and his drummer and DJ pal MC Boogie playing master of ceremonies. The performance was completely unrehearsed and spontaneous and the video took off once Schwartz put it up on YouTube:

Overwhelmed by the response to the video, a couple of weeks later, Latshaw, Quoom and MC Boogie all got together for another unrehearsed concert at a place called The Local. That version was a bit faster and funkier:

Thanks to Matt Schwartz for capturing the moment, and good luck to all of them and to the rest of the musicians who ply their trade or burst into song in the dim tunnels and stations where sometimes the lights go out, but a flame of beauty still keeps life alive.


Filed under Life, Music

“Ask A Goblin” Goes Live

Oh that Jim C. Hines! He’s been amusing me a lot lately.  First, the fantasy author showed how women are tortured on SFF book covers by trying to capture their poses himself:

And now on Tumblr, he’s set up a new advice blog: Ask A Goblin.

In this blog, Jig, the main character from Jim’s terrific Jig the Goblin trilogy:  Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero and Goblin War, (and the short story collection Goblin Tales,) and his fellow goblin friends attempt to answer your requests for help. If you haven’t tried the Jig books,  about a goblin press-ganged into a quest and his subsequent trials and tribulations, you really are missing out. At least go try to  get some good advice from Jig for your own trials and tribulations. You’ll be glad you did.

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Filed under Humor, SFFH, SFFH Novels to Check Out

I do not think that word means what you think it means

Excerpted from Suzanne Mettler’s “Reconstituting the Submerged State: The Challenge of Social Policy Reform in the Obama Era,” published in Perspectives on Politics, September 2010 (pdf)

And then there are the roads, bridges, public schools, public libraries, trash pick-up, subsidized public pools, subsidized community services, health services, subsidized emergency room services, police, firefighters, power and sewage, coroner’s office, work assistance, disability assistance, government services, and on and on that people avail themselves of, for free, in the U.S. without understanding that these are government social programs. I was aware of cognitive dissonance in this area, but had no idea it was that large.  So, it’s an interesting article.

Percentage of Program Beneficiaries Who Report They “Have Not Used a Government Social Program”
Program “No, Have Not Used a Government Social Program”
529 or Coverdell 64.3
Home Mortgage Interest Deduction 60.0
Hope or Lifetime Learning Tax Credit 59.6
Student Loans 53.3
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit 51.7
Earned Income Tax Credit 47.1
Social Security—Retirement & Survivors 44.1
Pell Grants 43.1
Unemployment Insurance 43.0
Veterans Benefits (other than G.I. Bill) 41.7
G.I. Bill 40.3
Medicare 39.8
Head Start 37.2
Social Security Disability 28.7
Supplemental Security Income 28.2
Medicaid 27.8
Welfare/Public Assistance 27.4
Government Subsidized Housing 27.4
Food Stamps 25.4


Filed under Life

The Most Special Valentine’s Day of All

A long time ago that doesn’t seem like very long at all, I spent a Valentine’s Day producing another life form. So I’m allowed to be sappy about it. Happy Birthday, daughter!

Credit The National Zoo, Washington, D.C.

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