The trailer for the documentary about Zappa's independent labels. You can get it on Amazon but I'm not convinced it's legit. Seeing as how it refers to itself as a DVD-ROM and is listed under Books. Not sure where you can find a legitimate copy; if anyone does, be sure to let me know and I'll update this post.
Cut the crap.
Democrats, news media: quit pretending that it is some kind of shock or revelation that a Republican candidate believes half the population is made up of lazy good-for-nothings who just want handouts.
Republicans: quit pretending that that hasn't been the core of your party platform since the Reagan Administration.
This is not new. Bring up welfare or the Affordable Care Act in absolutely any political discussion and see how long it takes for somebody to espouse the very beliefs that people are pretending to be surprised to hear coming from a Republican.
About the only guy who's not being utterly disingenuous here (for a change) is Romney. Because he's refusing to apologize for being an amoral mercenary with absolutely no sympathy for anybody with less money than himself.
You know, a Republican.
So today I got the old "Well, the project's almost over and we don't know what that means for you" talk.
As per usual, if it were up to the discretion of people I have actually met, I'd have the job. But, as per usual, I am at the mercy of west-coast bean counters.
The thing about that: when you complete a project weeks ahead of schedule, the people who have actually met you think, "Hey, maybe we should keep this guy around." But the bean counters tend to think, "Oh good, that means we can cut him loose that much sooner." Here's hoping the people who value me win the argument for a change.
Apparently I've got, at the very least, two weeks left. Which could mean I become unemployed just in time for my thirtieth birthday. I don't think it'll be that soon, but man that would be a fun little extra coincidence.
So it goes. I'm sanguine, I guess. I'd like to keep my job -- it's a good gig, it pays fairly, I'm settled and I like the people I'm working with -- but you know, if I'm forced into another change of scenery, I'll make the best of that too.
If nothing else, there are plenty of companies that could still use a guy who can handle a Windows 7 migration.
This one's a downer -- it's May 1993 and Zappa is dying.
The whole thing's on Wiki Jawaka -- just the text, no titties (though the language, as you would expect, is NSFW).
Some excerpts that I think fit the Democratic Convention theme:
Was it surprising that you had fans behind the iron curtain?
Yeah, and lots of people who didn't like me -- like the secret police.
What did the secret police have against you?
In Prague, I was told that the biggest enemies of the Communist Czech state were Jimmy Carter and me. A student I met said that he was arrested by the secret police and beaten. They said they were going to beat the Zappa music out of him.
Sometimes you sound like a political candidate. How serious was your plan to run for president?
I wanted to do it. It's a bit hard to mount a campaign if you have cancer and don't feel well.
If you hadn't been ill, would you have run?
Yeah. And it's a shame. We got calls and mail throughout the election. Squadrons of volunteers called.
If you had run and won, what would President Zappa have done?
I would have started by dismantling the government. At least I would have presented the idea to the voters.
Nothing too revolutionary?
In the Beltway and places that have large federal payrolls, the idea wouldn't be too popular, but in other places people would think it's great. One strong selling point is that you could do away with federal income taxes, or at least reduce them to a point that people would have something left at the end of the week. In the end, I think people, in their enlightened self-interest, would consider voting for that.
If you dismantled the government, you'd put yourself out of a job.
No, because most reasonable people would agree that we need roads, for instance, and water you can drink and breathable air. Most people realize that there has to be some coordinated infrastructure and a national offense that is commensurate with whatever threat you feel from other countries.
I mean -- well, what we have now is national offense. We should have national defense.
You've said that you're not a peacenik.
Human nature and human stupidity often breed violence. When violence escalates to an international confrontation, you should be able to protect yourself. On the other hand, to plan for it -- like we did throughout the Cold War -- based on badly handled intelligence estimates of the threat to our national security is just stupid. Most intelligence estimates indicated that the Soviet couldn't do shit to us, but they were ignored order to maintain the level of employment and financial activity in the defense industry.
Do you think that our recent election was irrelevant?
Yes, because America has to be completely restructured. We have to question every institution in terms of efficiency. I'm serious about abandoning the federal system.
Is there any way that it's likely to happen?
Not this week, but I wish people would at least consider it. They think, There it is, we're stuck with it, it will go on forever. It doesn't have to. The Soviet Union didn't go on forever. If you want reform, the people who've been doing a bad job have to get fired. They have to go back to the used-car lot from where they came.
Yet you've always pushed people to vote. Why bother?
Even if you don't like the candidates, there are issues that affect your life. Bond issues affect your pocketbook. That's the only real reason for voting. As far as the rest of government is concerned, forget it. The amount of overstaffing, overlapping, wasted energy and pompous pseudograndeur is science fiction. All of it is supported by this universe of political talk shows. CNN is one of the worst offenders on the planet. It maintains the fiction of the theoretical value of the thoughts and words of these inferior human specimens who manage to become Beltway insiders.
Do you want to name names?
Do we need to see John Sununu as a talk-show guy? Or, on CNBC, Gordon Liddy or Oliver North? Let's face it: Some of these people are criminals. Why do we need to be presented with them as voices of authority whose opinions are something we should even waste our time with? Why?
What do you think is behind it?
It's a whole program designed to modify behavior and modify thinking on a national level. They're happy to take the slings and arrows of the outraged minority in order to keep these voices of stupidity in your face all the time. It's all propaganda.
How planned is it?
Completely. It is the residue of the domestic-diplomacy department that Reagan established during the Irancontra days. The idea was to control the news. From that office, a guy would make phone calls and certain journalists would get fired and news stories would get changed. Then it was the obvious control of the media we saw during the Gulf war.
So you maintain that the media are no more than pawns?
The media are part of the package. You think really liberal people own those outlets? I don't. Even if they were Democrats, it wouldn't mean anything, because who can tell the difference between those two criminal classes?
it sounds as if you are as cynical as ever.
It's hard not to be.
Yet you feel it's worthwhile to raise some hell?
Pessimism and the natural instinct to raise hell are not mutually exclusive. Raising hell comes naturally to me. Still, I am not optimistic about what will happen to this country unless some radical change is made. It's going to take more than just firing a few bad guys.
It must have been strange for you when Al Gore was nominated as vice president.
They felt it was a good way to counteract the Dan Quayle-family values nonsense. But why would anybody need to counteract Dan Quayle?
They obviously didn't care about your vote -- or the vote of the people concerned about Tipper's ratings campaign.
Not necessarily. Deep in their hearts, those politicos think they're really cagey strategists. They figured they'd get a certain amount of column inches because of Tipper. It was advertising they didn't have to buy.
Downer of an ending for a downer of a theme week and a downer of an election. So it goes.
Tomorrow I'll see if I can't find a funny song to post.
So last Thursday I mailed a package. New hire; needed to be there next-day. But it was in Phoenix, so I chose express shipping. Because, you know, it takes less than a day to drive a package 9 miles.
Today I find out it hasn't arrived yet, so I pull up tracking. And I see this goddamn fucking bullshit:
The package is sitting in a fucking warehouse for three days, because I did not pay extra for next-day delivery. This is a thing that FedEx does now.
They've got the package. They've got it all set to put it on a truck and take it to its destination. But if you don't pay for next-day delivery, they won't deliver it next-day, no matter how short a distance it's going.
I guess what I'm saying is, support your local post office.
To: NPR's All Things Considered
On this afternoon's All Things Considered, you referred to the computer-illiterate, failed copyright bills SOPA and PIPA, and spoke with economist Steve Siwek. You noted, "Although both bills seem to be on permanent hold, Siwek says their critics have offered no real alternatives." You did not challenge this assertion.
A Google search for the phrase "alternative to sopa" produces 41,100 results. A Google search for the phrase "real alternative to sopa" produces 4,930.
These proposed alternatives range from simple -- focus on the biggest infringers -- to the more radical -- completely overhaul copyright law to provide shorter copyright terms and broader exceptions for fair use.
Indeed, there is a proposed alternative to SOPA and PIPA working its way through Congress right now; it's called the OPEN Act.
To put it bluntly, it is impossible that Siwek is unaware of these proposals. When he says no one has offered any alternative to SOPA and PIPA, he is lying.
Since everybody loves my Creators' Rights posts: per 20th Century Danny Boy, Gary Friedrich is making good on his plan to appeal the ruling on the Ghost Rider rights.
Quick recap: Friedrich sued Marvel for the rights to Ghost Rider, claiming he had never signed over his ownership stake in the character. (He co-created Ghost Rider with Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog, though he claims he created the character in 1968 and that Marvel failed to register the copyright for the published story in 1972.)
Marvel countersued, on the grounds that Friedrich was selling signed Ghost Rider prints -- and Friedrich is a writer, not an artist, keep in mind, so the art wasn't his work.
The suit ended in a Marvel victory, with Marvel agreeing to drop the countersuit in exchange for $17,000 as payment for the prints and Friedrich agreeing not to refer to himself as "the creator of Ghost Rider" for financial gain.
Friedrich is penniless and in poor health and, as you might expect, regardless of its legal merits this rankled a whole lot of fans and pros.
Speaking of which, you can buy a Generic, Non-Infringing Flaming Skull T-Shirt for $12 at World of Strange, with the proceeds going to Friedrich; the art is by Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch, Bob Burden, Billy Tackett, Nathan Thomas Milliner, Sam Flegal, and Denis St. John.
So now Friedrich is appealing the ruling.
The most interesting piece of new evidence he's introduced: a creator-owned Lee/Kirby Silver Surfer book from 1978. Why this is important, quoting Daniel Best:
At one point during Friedrich's deposition he was asked the following question: "Q. Are you aware of whether any other freelance writer of Marvel comic books owned the rights in any of the characters or stories created by that writer," in relation to the period of 1971 to 1978. The answer was no, and Marvel's lawyers accepted that, for the understanding in this case is that everything produced by Marvel in the 1970s at least, belonged to Marvel and was duly copyrighted. This isn't the case. In 1978 Marvel published The Silver Surfer, a graphic novel which contained a copyright legend naming not Marvel, but the books authors - Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Importantly it falls on the cusp of the work-for-hire contracts, but a savvy lawyer might well be able to argue that Marvel did indeed produce work that was owned not by the company, but by the authors from the time period of 1971 to . Unfortunately this news might have come a bit late to be of any use to Gary Friedrich, but the battle isn't over yet.
The book seems like a pretty serious outlier; it was a case of Kirby, already unhappy with his work-for-hire situation with Marvel, pushing for a different arrangement (and indeed a different publisher, as the book was published by Simon and Schuster). I find it hard to believe that a court will rule that Friedrich's work on Ghost Rider was not necessarily for-hire just because Kirby and Lee put out a creator-owned book with a Marvel character six years later.
The previous ruling did hinge on Friedrich signing back-of-the-check contracts, and that sticks in my craw. Back-of-the-check contracts are coercive (you already did the work expecting to be paid for it, and the company only shows you an agreement to sign after the work is already done?) and I would very much like it if an appelate court determined that they are not legally binding.
But I still don't think that's going to help Friedrich. The judge in Marvel v Kirby determined that Kirby's work was for-hire based on the instance-and-expense test and stated outright that it was irrelevant whether he signed a back-of-the-check contract or not. Similarly, precedent doesn't necessarily favor Friedrich's "I created the character 4 years earlier" argument; even if he can prove it, the judge in Wolfman v Marvel ruled that the Blade character who appeared in Tomb of Dracula was so substantially different from Wolfman's original pitch as to constitute a distinct, work-for-hire creation.
In short: I don't think Marvel's in the right here ethically, but I don't think Friedrich's prospects look good legally. I hope I'm wrong and I hope he gets something out of this, but I'm concerned that he's doubling down on a losing hand.
Ideally, this would be settled out of court. Ideally, Marvel would open itself to renegotiation with its pre-1980 creators and allow them to get the same equity deals that current creators do (something that DC has done -- DC's not perfect but it's better than Marvel on this subject at this time). Ideally, Friedrich would get some small share of Ghost Rider comics and movies, and be satisfied and not feel the need to sue to get that piece.
But unfortunately I don't see any of that happening. I'm worried that Friedrich is going to be pounded into the concrete once again -- but if he does win, it'll be a great thing not just for him but for creators everywhere.
So now uTorrent is bundling a bunch of obnoxious, unnecessary crap with its installer?
Man, that is a brilliantly subtle way of discouraging people from using BitTorrent right as the Six Strikes rules are kicking in.
Thank you so much for putting an obnoxious-ass banner ad for The Dark Knight Rises across the top of all my fucking comic books. Everybody loves banner ads, and I was just wondering how you could make comic book covers as distracting as television shows!
Kudos on targeting the completely fucking imaginary demographic of people who buy DC comics but are not aware that there is a Batman movie coming out! Four dollars is far too small a price to pay for this bold and completely redundant innovation!
It's a little weird to see things like, say, Ian Flynn doing a Sonic/Mega Man crossover for Archie Comics.
Because I wrote that story when I was 11.
(Okay, co-wrote it -- though I expect my collaborative partner would be happy for me to take all the "credit" for myself -- and it was Mega Man X, not the original Mega Man. But still and all...)
Ian Flynn and I were involved in Sonic fandom around the same time -- he went by Ian Potto in those days. I didn't really know him; we posted on different forums, but I remember seeing his name around. But, y'know, now and again it makes me wonder what would have happened if I'd stuck with it.
Per Wikipedia, Ian's about my age, give or take a few months -- but I skipped a grade. I expect I was starting college and Putting Aside Childish Things around the time he was submitting samples to Archie. Now I image laptops and he gets paid to do the shit I used to do for fun.
Which isn't to say I'd really consider writing Sonic comics for Archie to fit my personal definition of "livin' the dream", mind. You know the shit I go on about here, the way DC and Marvel treat their freelancers? Well, they're generous compared to Archie. Archie is like DC and Marvel used to be, before royalties, before creator credits, even, in most cases, before "house style" gave way to letting artists develop their own styles. Archie finally got around to crediting its writers and artists a couple of decades ago -- but if you piss 'em off they still might take your name out of the reprints.
And then there's Sega.
Ken Penders, one of Flynn's predecessors in the Sonic writer's chair, and an artist besides, was always pretty candid with the fans on the restrictions he had to work under. The book was marketed to 8-to-12-year-old boys (as he would constantly remind us), and so its content was inline with some dumb-ass Sega marketing guy's idea of a dopey eight-year-old's idea of a cool fifteen-year-old. Penders drew Sonic looking too depressed? Sega would send Pat Spaziante in to redraw his face to look more generally bored. Penders wrote a bit where Sonic, finding out that Sally wasn't dead after all, kissed her on the mouth? Sega made him change it to a peck on the cheek. Sonic was barely allowed to show an emotion north or south of 'Tude, barely allowed to like girls, and slept in a fucking race car bed.
(Let me stress that these are all real examples.)
So, y'know, it ain't exactly The Prince and the Pauper. I'm not crazy about my "career", and I grant that getting paid to write fan fiction about my favorite video game characters sounds like a pretty sweet deal. But in practice? Well, I wish Potto the best and I'm glad he seems a lot happier doing it than I probably would.