Apr 302014

Disney unveiled the cast for Star Wars: Episode VII yesterday, confirming rumors that many of the original stars (Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker) will reunite as everyone’s favorite former rebel scum. The cast also features a number of actors with lower profiles, keeping with the spirit of the first movie. Other bloggers have noted that the cast is heavily tilted towards men and it’s a fair point, although Disney has responded that at least one more female role has yet to be cast. I’m pretty sure that the Star Wars galaxy is populated with plenty of interesting women with stories to tell, no matter how far away it is.

I’m also taking bets on how long it will take the Internet to produce hybrid Star Wars-Girls slash fic featuring Adam Driver’s character in really uncomfortable sex scenes.

Apr 252014

Joel Hodgson, creator of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000, revealed that he may revive the series online sometime in the not-so-distant future. For us long-suffering MSTies, this is promising news. MST3K could find great success as a streaming series and I would gladly contribute to a related Kickstarter. I get a little giddy just thinking about all the riffing possibilities that our hyperactive 21st century pop culture would provide for a series reboot. And the movies! If Hodgson could get the rights to something truly awful like The Happening, we may witness true brilliance unfold before us.

Apr 242014

Conservatives really need to come up with a better process for vetting their potential folk heroes. Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy received plenty of media attention (much of it adulating) when he and a bunch of sympathetic militia members chased off federal officials who were trying to repossess his cattle. Bundy didn’t see a problem with not paying fees for grazing his cattle and plenty of people took up his cause as a means to protest everything they disliked about Obama’s America. Fair enough. But then Bundy decided to opine on topics unrelated to cattle or grazing:

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro…They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

Am I surprised that some geriatric self-styled “patriot” and country bumpkin has an abiding fondness for the bygone days of slavery? Not really. Most of Bundy’s militia pals and a sizable number of Fox News viewers would nod in agreement with this statement. But the next few days will see plenty of leading conservative politicians putting as much distance as possible between Bundy and themselves. It’s becoming something of a ritual in conservative circles. They rally around a Joe or Jane Sixpack of the Week—someone who represents all that is good and true about the Real America. Then Jane or Joe says something stupid, usually about people of color or women. And the rally is over and Jane or Joe find themselves friendless and alone.


Apr 172014

I don’t know if I’ll make it to Coachella next year, but I do have tickets to this summer’s Rock the Garden music festival here in Minneapolis. This is the first year of the festival’s 2-day format and I’m excited to see Best Coast, Spoon, and local sensation Dessa. This will also be my first year attending RTG, which is only a couple miles from my home. Let’s hope the weather cooperates and that I can find a decent sightline to the stage.

Apr 142014

I was a bit surprised to learn that Amazon has purchased digital comics purveyor Comixology. I now purchase most of my comics via Comixology and I hope this takeover leads to some much-needed improvements for the site, such as a more refined search function and a more intuitive way to organize the comics I have already purchased. Amazon has a reputation for not mucking up the companies it purchases (see Audible and Zappos), which could be good news for Comixology and its customers.

I’d like to see more competitors enter the market, but few companies will be eager to contend with a behemoth like Amazon. Publisher Dark Horse has its own digital storefront, but it’s a bit of a mess and I think I would prefer that they simply make their titles available through Comixology.

Apr 132014

Watching the live YouTube stream of Coachella during the weekend has once again stirred my interest in attending the much-hyped music festival. I seem to do this every year; I watch the concert video and think how much fun it would be to be there in person. But after more thought, I decide that the heat and crowds are more trouble than they’re worth. That may be the wrong mindset. If I have flirted with the idea for this long, I should just find a way to do it and not worry about the obstacles. That approach seemed to work well for my trip to Europe and I’m overdue for another adventure.

Stay tuned to see if I can actually make this happen. Coachella tickets aren’t exactly easy to come by.

Apr 102014

Well, that was fast. Only a week after David Letterman announced that he was retiring from the Late Show, CBS announced that Stephen Colbert would be the show’s new host. The Colbert Report has been such a consistently well-crafted piece of satire and I’ll be sorry to see it go at the end of the year. Colbert has already stated that he won’t bring his current persona to CBS, which is understandable. His schtick would only confuse the older viewers that CBS attracts, but I do hope he finds a way to deviate from the standard late-night construct of monologue, interview, and music. Colbert will probably the smartest person working on late-night network TV and his new show should reflect that.

Apr 032014

I’m currently debating whether to purchase a new van. My 1999 Dodge Caravan still runs well, but 15 years is a long time to hold onto a vehicle. I worry that it could suddenly fail without warning, forcing me to scramble to find a replacement. A new van would be a significant expense ($45,000-$60,000), but I might qualify for some assistance via a Medical Assistance waiver. I’m also fairly certain that my next van will be a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey. The Dodge has been generally reliable, but its hunger for new parts began rather early in its lifespan.

Of course, I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can reasonably afford a new vehicle. For most people with disabilities, an accessible vehicle is a luxury item that is too expensive to even contemplate.

Apr 012014

Six months ago, most observers would have bet that Obamacare would fail miserably at enrolling seven million people by March 31st. Hell, I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic. But as the President announced today, that’s exactly what happened. This news will do little to deter opponents of health care reform from proclaiming yet again that the whole endeavor is either a misguided failure, a socialist plot, or both.  Fact on the ground matter, though. Obamacare now has a constituency; real people who will suffer if the law is repealed or scaled back. It’s a constituency that may not be the most politically well-connected, but they have a real stake in ensuring Obamacare’s success and longevity. Republicans will probably continue to pretend that this constituency doesn’t exist, even it makes them seem increasingly oblivious to reality.

I expect the law to be tweaked and revised in coming years, as it should be. But Obamacare is now a permanent fixture of America’s policy landscape, a fact worthy of a little celebration.

Mar 282014

Switzerland is planning to host the first “Cybathlon”, an athletic competition for people using prosthetics or other augmentive aids. It will include a wheelchair race, an exoskeleton race, and a (gasp!) brain-computer interface race. A better name for this event might be “Meet Your Future Gimp Overlords”. I’m curious to see what kind competition this attracts and whether it will be broadcast on-line. The organizers don’t seem interested in placing any restrictions on the kinds of technology that can be used, so the Cybathlon could be a showcase for the truly cutting-edge.

Attention corporate sponsors: I will gladly wear a sensor cap emblazoned with your product logo as I compete in the BCI races. All I require is a well-appointed training facility and a personal masseuse (whom I interview and hire, of course).