Monday, October 31, 2005

Guess I'll belatedly join the chorus of folks who believe that Bush (or at least his advisors) was wise to reconnect with their base by announcing the nomination of Samuel Alito, Jr. This will sit well with the anti-abortion folks and religious conservatives who felt betrayed by the previous choice. Sadly, I really don't feel the Dems have the courage or the votes to block the Alito nomination. Unless something major comes out I think we are going to have a very conservative (if not reactionary) Supreme Court for the next decade.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

As I conjectured here last week, the death toll of American troops stationed in Iraq has surpassed two thousand.

Both today's New York Post and Daily News went with the story as front page news. At the Post, 2000 HEROES was the banner headline over a full page photo of empty helmets mounted on rifle barrels with an out of focus flag in the background. Nicely effective, but of course they use the event to push the "stay the course" message of Fightin' G.W. & His Howling Chicken Hawks. Meanwhile the Daily News used a black background and featured a photo of Staff Sgt. George Alexander, Jr. the soldier officially acknowledged as being the two thousandth. We can only hope that neither side of the debate will use this husband & father as a 'poster boy' in arguments on our continuing presence in that country.

On the other hand, the AP came out with an article which speaks about not only the U.S. soldiers, sailors & Marines who have been killed, but also an estimated 30,000 or more Iraqi casualties. According to the Brookings Institute an average of 60-70 American troops per month have been killed since the beginning of the war, while an approximate number of 1,500 to 2,000 civilians in the country have died each month. One military spokesman the AP quotes says that even he was not allowed to look at official U.S. military figures of how many Iraqi citizens may have perished.

As John Kerry said during his ill-fated campaign last year, echoing the Vietnam era slogan, "Who wants to be the last man to die for a mistake? ...."

We have brought little but more than suffering to the Iraqi people. Bring the troops back home!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Last night we were informed of the passing of one of our closest friends.

Bella had been hospitalized and was undergoing chemo for cancer. Sadly, she was also suffering from some other medical problems and recovering from serious infections following surgery. Apparently a blood clot traveled to her heart.

When Donna and I began dating in '99, Bella & her husband Pete were among the first of Donna's friends to take me into their circle. Since then we have enjoyed dinners, baseball games and trips down to Atlantic City. We are going to miss those times greatly.

Our heartfelt condolences and thoughts go to her husband Pete, two children and her new granddaughter, who shall not know how much Bella loved her. Also, to Bella's surviving sisters and other family & friends who mourn her.

Rest in peace, Bell. You will always be in our thoughts.

Monday, October 24, 2005

In all likelihood, either by tomorrow or the day after (or today, sadly) the total of American casualties in Iraq will surpass two thousand. It will be interesting to see who, besides the progressive media covers the matter. Although to be fair, today's DAILY NEWS has a cover showing G.W. headlined "Darkest Days." His Smugness is said to be 'frustrated' and angry.

Also, the GOP talking heads and loyalists appear to be circling the wagons should any type of indictments come along. Of course, much the same was done by many Dems during the Clinton trial, so it's not hard to understand. Still it's interesting to see many of the same folks who jumped on the bash Bill Clinton for anything bandwagon doing their damnedest to find excuses for the current administration.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I was saddened earlier today to read of the passing of veteran comic book and strip artist Tom Gill at the age of 92. If you go over to Mark Evanier’s site you’ll find a much better written and researched obit on Mr. Gill. What I have here was actually written for a recent mailing of the comics apa Capa-Alpha dealing with the western genre.

Tom Gill was one of the nicest gentlemen, in or out of the industry, that I’ve had the opportunity to meet and spend time with. He was genuinely happy to chat with fans, both old and young. When I met him he was already in his eighties, but was still capable of doing some very nice sketches of the Lone Ranger and associated characters. I’m lucky enough to own several and would never think of parting with them.

My deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and hundreds of fans.

Back when I was attending just about every NYC con (back in an other life) I often had the opportunity to chat with the Silver Age artist Tom Gill (best known as the artist on Dell’s LONE RANGER and other western titles, but also the artist for Gold Key’s short-lived attempt to bring back the super-hero THE OWL during the 1960s). Mr. Gill had retired from doing comics and was at the time teaching art at a New York college. He generally would set up his table at these conventions, doing sketches and signing prints of his Lone Ranger art for several dollars a piece. He’d also take requests for larger or personalized sketches which he would mail to you upon completion. As he became more comfortable around me, he would sometimes allow me to sit at his table while he took breaks or went to visit with other artists at the convention. The stories he had to tell about working for Dell/Gold Key and the different editors & writers with whom he worked were fascinating and I now regret not getting some of those tales on tape or video.

{Aside: I was able to buy copies of both issues of THE OWL to have Mr. Gill sign. He glanced through them and told me a theory he had about artists. He claimed that you could tell when an artist was getting too old to be interested in women by looking at how he would draw them during his career. When the heroine started to look matronly it was a clear sign that interest lagged. After noting how OWL GIRL looked, he remarked that he must have still been interested at the time he drew her.)

During one memorable convention Tom was able to share a table with the extremely prolific Paul S. Newman. Mr. Gill had drawn dozens of scripts written by Newman, but neither could remember ever actually meeting face to face until years later. Back then, as you all know, it was more typical of artists to come into the editorial office to drop off one assignment and pick up whatever was next scheduled. It was different from the collaboration that became standard at Marvel, or the way in which most creators work in today’s industry.

At the con, both men were selling & signing the item that I’ve reprinted here. I apologize for the faintness of the reproduction on the art, but I was trying to save a few bucks on copying. I’ve scanned the art (photocopies of the comic itself) and will send the individual pages as attachments to anybody interested. My goal was to show how Gill interpreted the script and to show the corrections and changes made to the script in Mr. Newman’s own hand.

Personally I think the script is a great example of the type of short tales that filled the back pages of hundreds of Silver Age westerns. There really isn’t anything extraordinary about the story, but you do get to see the Ranger & Tonto in action.

Gill and Newman did hundreds of pages of this type of thing for years, with both being the main artist & writer respectively on the main Lone Ranger feature and the various spin-off tales involving Silver or Tonto in solo adventures. I had to wonder if Newman would recycle his stories, changing the names of characters and placing them in similar situations months or years later, but didn’t feel I was comfortable asking him such a question. Given the thousands of scripts he must have cranked out it probably would not have been beyond the realm of possibility.

It’s unfortunate that the last few incarnations of the Ranger haven’t been what we fans would have liked. DC’s “Dark Ranger” was interesting, but I don’t consider it the real LR, rather an alternate reality version. The latest television film and doomed pilot took so many liberties with the legend that it too really wasn’t my idea of the real LR. Why, for instance was the family name changed from Reed? Surely this wouldn’t have anything to do another company having the rights to the Green Hornet, would it?
Maybe it's the stench of death beginning to emanate from the Bush Administration and the screech of vultures circling overhead. Whatever the reason I'm finding it more and more interesting to keep up with what is going on in the news. One of the best sites I have found is over at SLATE not only has some fine columnists on staff, but also cover the what is being said & reported in the major national newspapers. I personally recommend getting the daily e-mail newsletter which will link you to the major stories being reported in the NY TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, WALL STREET JOURNAL and other papers.

While SLATE itself seems to have a pretty "liberal' bent, the magazines & newspapers they'll link to often are not, so you can get a wide range of opinions. As Mark Evanier always reminds us, you really should know what those who don't agree with you are saying. It's great to hear what you want, but it isn't always what is correct.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I really don't expect much to come from Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's CIA-leak inquiry, which appears to be wrapping things up. I heard on the Al Franken show today that there are reports of a 'major figure' giving information to the Special Prosecutor on just what may have been going on behind White House doors.

If top officials are indicted, I don't believe that any of them will end up serving time. While Karl Rove may find himself out of a job, VP Dick Cheney is probably invulnerable and I can't see him resigning no matter what comes out of the grand jury. All types of 'executive privilege' or even pardons would possibly keep the Veep from doing hard time. You definitely won't see Congress looking into anything, at least not until after the '06 elections take place.

If either IS forced out they certainly both have enough influence & connections to simply walk away into the private sector for large paychecks. They will just be doing it a few years earlier then they had expected.

On the other hand, G.W. isn't quite as invincible as he was even a few months ago. The death toll in Iraq continues to approach the two thousand mark and the botched job after Hurricane Katrina hasn't helped matters. Some Republicans (at least in Congress, if not among the party loyalists according to some polls) appear to be trying to put a bit of distance between themselves and the Administration. Next year's Senate & House elections will be especially nasty from all accounts, but it will be interesting to see if His Smugness finds himself dis-invited from fund raisers as time goes by.

Friday, October 14, 2005

As tempting as it is to make jokes about needing an arc or the like, I'm not. Just wondering out loud how folks are dealing with all this. The subway (knock on wood!) hasn't been as bad as it could have been the past few days, but I'm not holding out much hope about tomorrow. The trains are generally messed up on Saturday to begin with and I'm certainly not expecting that to change.

The only problem we have had at the house is some leaks around the airconditioning unit in my mother-in-law's bedroom. When the wind is 'just right' water coming from the next door neighbor's drain sprays over and gets through the window guard. Towels seem to be keeping anything from being damaged.

Having lost one car myself due to stupidly trying to drive through three & a half feet of water, I have sympathy for those poor bastards you see on television in just that situation. Donna and the rest of the family always bring my 'accident' up whenever possible, so I've learned to find the humor in it after a few years. Just a word of warning to you drivers out there: "It really is deeper than you think!"

Friday, October 07, 2005

Okay, I'm not going to go so far as to say the word 'conspiracy' but it does strike one (well, at least me!) that the subway terror threat coincided with the 1st NYC Mayoral debate. The same debate in Harlem that Mayor Bloomberg refused to attend. Now, of course, the debate is shoved to the middle pages, while Mikey gets the headlines.

Also, I'd like to know exactly how many New Yorkers out there have seen these random bag searches after the first week or so they were announced. Personally, at my local stop in Brooklyn we have never had one and I have only seen one police officer in the past month at my stop.

Last night, returning home to Brooklyn I never saw a police officer on either the "R" or "N" trains I took. This included a train change at 34th St in Manhattan. What I did see was the first Guardian Angel I've seen on a subway train in over a year. Yeah, I feel safer already!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush rejected critics demanding a U.S. pullout from Iraq and warned on Thursday of more sacrifice ahead to stop Islamic militants from gaining a foothold for a sweeping radical empire.
When His Smugness says something like that you know damned well that he's not talking about any personal sacrifice in his part. Nor on the part of his cronies in industry, which is doing quite well thank you!

Sadly, the sacrifice is the life and future of the thousands of American men & women who are in uniform. As a click on link over on the Left will show you we all too rapidly coming up on the two thousandth American military death in Iraq. Counting those who have given their lives in Afghanistan it has already gone over that number.

Monday, October 03, 2005

According to what I've read this morning, President Bush has nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers for the position on the Supreme Court to be vacated by Justice Sandra O'Connor.

I'm sure that in the coming days and weeks we'll be hearing plenty of pro & con arguments about Ms. Miers. However, as I'm more then willing to pre-judge her (pardon the expression), I have a bad feeling about G.W. putting on the Court someone who at some point may have to hear a case involving him and his administration. As WH Counsel I think she knows where too many skeletons are buried for my taste.