The image you’re looking at is me in 2019 celebrating Pride month. In the eleven years I’ve been writing this blog I have continued to take the position that all humans should have the same rights. I’ve gotten older, fatter, and have had a couple of health scares but my opinion hasn’t changed. Seeing as how this country has barely survived the most bigoted (and that’s saying something in a country that had Andrew Jackson’s Trail-of-Tears), anti-science, regime in American history, I thought it might be time to look at a couple of examples of some of the positive highlights I’ve found while hanging out here. There are many more, and you can find them by using the lovely search engine located in the upper right hand side of every page. I won’t be linking to thesebogs in any chronological order. More like what showed up in my search engine first got used first. Without any further ado, and – yes – these are all true, let’s begin. [Read more…] about Happy Pride!
Falcon and the Winter Soldier just completed its debut season following on the heels of Wandavision. The two shows couldn’t have been more different. The latter was a deep dive into a disturbed, and powerful, mind that’s trying to come to grips with the loss of a loved one. The show used classic sitcoms as the frame for Wanda’s torment. Falcon and the Winter Soldier, on the other hand, decided to tackle racism and social inequities head on with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. These two shows deviated from the Marvel norm, happy movies with lots of laughs and over the top action sequences, in every possible way and the world is a better place for it. Don’t misunderstand, the Marvel Cinematic Universe a/k/a MCU, is a lot of fun. Even their darker fare, like Endgame, had upbeat moments and family friendly treacle. They made kazillions of dollars with this formula, so it’s not to be easily discounted.
Marvel TV has been a radically different animal since Daredevil exploded on the scene in 2015. The blind, brooding, Matt Murdoch stood up for the little people, confessed regularly to a priest, tried to reconcile his Catholic faith with his world of hyperviolence, all while trying to ruin the most powerful mobster in Hell’s Kitchen. The conflict was both personal and public. The fight scene in episode two is one of the most brutal, and realistic, fights ever filmed. It set a high bar and each following episode aimed for that level of realism in every scene. The fact they mostly achieved it, say ninety percent of he time, is why fans flocked to this show.
Later the same year they followed up with Jessica Jones. This happy story about an alcoholic superpowered hero who likes rough sex hewed tightly to many dark paths. The underlying plot of how she was raped by The Purple Man didn’t exactly make audiences want to by the toys. The interpersonal relationships she tries, sometimes in vain, to maintain show how even powerful people can be weak inside.
In 2016 the world was introduced to Luke Cage. By modernizing the Tuskegee experiments, and using those experiments to grant him his powers, all while displaying a racist prison system, made for gripping shows that, as a bonus, taught you something.
Then came Iron Fist. Well, they all can’t be winners. The original comic book was a racist jab at Bruce Lee and the TV show didn’t distance itself well at all. They managed to miss the “no ticky, no washy” trope. But not by much. Which is a shame since the character in the comics grew into a force for good, became best friends with Luke Cage, and was a fascinating read in his own right.
Then they tied all these shows together as The Defenders. This was a traditional superhero story and, as such, hit all your favorite tropes but not much else. That said, it had the advantage of being a joy to watch, as long as you ignored Iron Fist, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Marvel TV universe takes advantage of longer show lengths to delve into more personal aspects of each character. What does it mean that the Falcon’s sister owns a shrimp boat? In the movies, nothing, but in the show it allows them to point out how redlining works, how blacks get shivved by banks, all while still telling the story of a hero coming into his own.
in other words, go ahead and pound down the popcorn and enjoy the MCU. But if you want something a little more mentally nutritious, make sure to take in their TV universe.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG (FOX! Sports) every Friday around 9:10 AM.
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Diwali is one of the most popular holidays for Hindus. And for good reason. It is an unabashed celebration of good. It is not Hindu Hanukah as some have quipped. It is, instead, a five day celebration of the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The festival began in Southern India millennia ago. It’s mentioned in the earliest Sanskrit texts, which predate the birth of Jesus by over a thousand years. Simply put, it’s been around for a while. In the lead-up to Diwali, celebrants will prepare by cleaning, renovating, and decorating their homes and workplaces with diyas (oil lamps) and rangolis. During Diwali, people wear their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas and rangoli, perform worship ceremonies of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where mithai (sweets) and gifts are shared. Diwali is also a major cultural event for the Hindu and Jain diaspora from the Indian subcontinent. While primarily revolving around worshipping Lakshmi there are regions where Kali is substituted. While the goddess of death may seem an odd choice for a holiday such as this, it actually works quite well with the origin story.
“An ancient legend ascribes the occasion to an interesting story about the 16-year-old son of King Hima. His horoscope predicted his death by snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that particular day, his newly-wed wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid out all her ornaments and many gold and silver coins in a heap at the entrance of the sleeping chamber and lit many lamps. Then she narrated stories and sang songs to keep her husband from falling next day, when Yama, the god of Death arrived at the prince’s doorstep in the guise of a serpent, his eyes were dazzled and blinded by the brilliance of the lamps and the jewelry. Yama could not enter the Prince’s chamber, so he climbed on top of the heap of gold coins and sat there the entire night listening to the stories and songs. In the morning, he silently went away. Thus, the young prince was saved from the clutches of death by the cleverness of his new bride, and the day came to be celebrated as Dhanteras.
The following day came to be called Naraka Chaturdashi (‘Naraka’ means hell and Chaturdashi means 14th — think of it as the Vedic precursor to Dante). It is also known as ‘Yamadeepdaan’ as the ladies of the house light earthen lamps or ‘deep’ and these are kept burning throughout the night glorifying Yama, the God of Death. Since this is the night before Diwali, it is also called ‘Chhoti Diwali’ or Minor Diwali.”
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanteras and it carries its own litany of traditions and associations.
On Dhanteras, homes that have not yet been cleaned in preparation for Diwali are thoroughly cleansed and whitewashed, and Lord Dhanvantari, the god of health and Ayurveda (Hindu holistic medicine), is worshiped in the evening. The main entrance is decorated with colorful lanterns, holiday lights and traditional motifs of Rangoli designs are made to welcome the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. To indicate her long-awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder all over the house. On the night of Dhanteras, diyas (lamps) are ritually kept burning all through the night in honor of Lakshmi and Dhanvantari.
Dhanteras has come to be known as the most auspicious occasion for buying gold, silver, and other metals, especially kitchenware. The day also sees heavy purchases of appliances and automobiles. Well, Lakshmi is the goddess of prosperity, so that makes sense.
As our world grows ever closer, I think it’s important to celebrate its diversity. Knowing what makes people happy is a great way to get to know them and share in their joy.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG (FOX! Sports) every Friday around 9:10 AM.
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A lot of silly things had to happen for the Snyder cut become a reality, but it has, and we’re all here for it. After Joss Whedon’s vision for Justice League plopped through theaters it garnered little support from fans, but managed to earn almost $650 MIL. The problem is that, by the time he finished with the film, $300 MIL had been spent. While it made a profit, after everyone got their piece it wasn’t much. Another problem that haunts all Whedon movies is he likes “strong (preferably Caucasian) women” who stand in the shadows of white men. Buffy the Vampire Slayer seems to have been his only exception. But that was written before he cheated on his wife numerous times and discovered how power makes ugly men sexy. He, honest to God, calls himself a “woke bae” when it comes to women. That’s nearly as cringe worthy as “I’m not a racist, but …” With Justice League he was handed a character, Wonder Woman, who had shown the ability to stand on her own, in all aspects of the term.
To avoid sounding like I’m picking on the guy, this is an excerpt from his script for Wonder Woman, which was (thankfully) rejected.
“To say she is beautiful is almost to miss the point. She is elemental, as natural and wild as the luminous flora surrounding. Her dark hair waterfalls to her shoulders in soft arcs and curls. Her body is curvaceous, but taut as a drawn bow … She is barefoot.”
There’s a lot more about feet.
So, yeah, that just screamed “empowered.”
You can tell the scenes Whedon added for her pretty easily. She needs the Flash to save her after she drops her sword. She’s not a major factor in the fight with Steppenwolf, and so on. Where ever possible, she got relegated to a second tier character. Easy to excuse when you have Superman, but still troubling.
Somehow, despite all this, he was slated to write and direct Batgirl. Depending on who you talk to he either left to pursue different opportunities, or was shown the door. He claims the former, my contacts at the DCEU claim the latter. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that particular bullet got dodged.
Now, back to the Snyder cut.
Shortly after Whedon’s version was released there were rumors, started by crew members it seems, a Snyder cut existed, it was mostly complete, and it was, as the kids like to say, The Fo Schnizzle. Facebook groups, with tens of thousands of members, began forming.
The hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut would trend on Twitter multiple times a month. Not a common occurrence for a hashtag related to one specific entity.
Near the end of 2019 Warner Brothers studios had seen darker, offbeat, films like Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn and Joker make goo gobs of cash and maintain critical acclaim. A darker, more violent, Justice League no longer looked problematic.
Now it was simply a matter of justifying it, as it were. “Angry nerds” isn’t a good reason to throw millions of dollars at a movie that’s already out.
Nevertheless, behind the scenes talks began between Snyder and Warner Brothers.
Then, miracle of miracles, a pandemic hit the world in January and was headed towards America at terrifying speeds. Studios quickly shut down production on everything. Even before the death toll started to climb, people who listened to scientists knew we were in for a world of hurt. A quick check at who was in charge and their historical responses to anything that had a bad image was well known. America was going to suffer for a long time.
Suddenly, getting a blockbuster back on screens, for the cost of the catering budget for the first one, had its appeal. By the end of February a deal had been struck.
Warner Brothers is going to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.
On HBO Max to encourage social distancing.
Watch the video below to get a taste of things to come.
Thanks to some astute readers of this blog, and listeners to The Big Wakeup Call, I was introduced to a fascinating new app. Called NOVID, it’s way for you to assess your risk of catching the disease. While COVID-19 is not the most lethal virus known to man, that would be Ebola, it is, by far, the most pernicious. And, only now are scientists beginning to figure out how damaging it is. As of this writing approximately twenty percent of survivors suffer some degree of organ damage. I have a friend, who is all of twenty-five, who survived but with twenty percent less lung capacity. Since her old job required her to be active, she was forced to quit and find something new. It’s also possible that an additional ten percent may suffer permanent dementia, or related brain issues. [Read more…] about Say Yes to NOVID