Paul Ryan Should Call Donald Trump Before Congress




Given everything we know about Paul Ryan, I think it is safe to say that there will be no House Armed Services or Intelligence Committee hearings into what Donald Trump wants Russia to do on behalf of the Republican Party:

In an interview that aired Thursday morning on "Fox and Friends," Donald Trump said he was not being serious when he called on Russia to find and release emails deleted by Hillary Clinton.

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade told Trump that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said that Trump's comments hoping Russia would hack into Clinton's server were a national security issue.

"You have to be kidding," Trump responded. "His client, his person deleted 33,000 emails illegally. You look at that. And when I'm being sarcastic with something..."

Kilmeade jumped in to ask, "Are you being sarcastic?"

"Of course I'm being sarcastic," Trump replied. "But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take look at what was said on those emails, it's disgraceful."

Everything that Donald Trump said in public would trigger House hearings, investigations, special committees, and joint sessions of Congress if a Democrat had said them out loud to the working press. So far, I don't see any stories in the press where Ryan has asked the people who work for him to investigate open entreaties for espionage against the Democratic Party. This is because he really has no idea what kind of a man he endorsed and how big the tiger is after he grabbed onto the tail. 

Only Democrats get investigated under Paul Ryan's watch. Who doesn't already know that?

Wonder Woman




Something tells me that DC made a massive mistake by not making the stand-alone Wonder Woman movie before that horrible mess of a Batman against Superman movie:

She’s finally here. After years of false starts, a live-action Wonder Woman movie is coming next summer. Warner Bros. just revealed the first trailer at San Diego Comic-Con to the uproarious excitement of the Hall H crowd, and it. is. perfect.

I would add that movie trailers are really nothing to get excited about, but still. Patty Jenkins has created something that is probably going to blow the genre away. This film has a visual style that will make people wonder why Zack Snyder still gets work. It takes enormous courage for a film to use World War I as a setting, especially since we're more conditioned to other periods in history.

Satellite TV is Dying Faster Than Expected




I was a one-and-done customer of satellite television. We had to switch to satellite in order to get out from under the horrible service being delivered by Comcast and, as soon as we could, we cancelled our service because, as many Americans now know, satellite television sucks:

"Satellite TV technology is losing its currency faster than anyone would have predicted," says one analyst, while another Wall Street observer says: "This seems to be Charlie (Ergen)'s strategy."

Charlie Ergen's Dish Network on Thursday surprised Wall Street with its biggest quarterly pay TV subscriber decline ever, posting a drop of 281,000 for the April-June period, marking 200,000 more losses than in the year-ago period.

The company's previous high for a quarterly sub loss had been 156,000 in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Leichtman Research Group founder Bruce Leichtman. Wall Street had on average expected a subscriber decline of around 91,000. In addition, Dish posted its first quarter of broadband subscriber losses. The company's stock was down 3 percent in early Thursday trading, but my mid-day was up more than 1 percent, showing investors weren't too concerned.

Did they come up with a way to make it a two-way form of communication? No, of course not. They followed the Blockbuster Video business model--lock people into contracts, shit on them whenever possible, charge them as much as the market will bear, and act surprised when someone offers a better, cheaper alternative that isn't as nasty.

Oh, and broadband for rural customers is the way to go. If you can deliver high-speed Internet to everyone, you can kill off Satellite TV and everyone else.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 at San Diego Comic-Con




Well, I won't be in San Diego this weekend, but I will be Earth-bound and dreaming of what's to come from the reboot of MST3K.

This Saturday! Join @JoelGHodgson & the new cast of @MST3K in San Diego for panels, signings & more @Comic_Con! http://mst3k.com/sdcc2016

The wait is driving me a little crazy, but I'm super psyched to have the show back.

Lou Holtz and a Bottle of Crown Royal




Someone gave retired football coach Lou Holtz a bottle of Crown Royal. Or he brought it with him. Who knows?

This is really a thing that happened. In the midst of one of the greatest shit shows in all of recorded history, someone had a spare bottle to give away, and they gave it to Holtz because why not? Holtz endorsed Trump back in May because he once played golf at a resort that Trump has bankrupted yet.

Lou Holtz walking around the GOP convention with a bottle of Crown Royal is now breaking the Internet. Yay!

Wyatt at the Coyote Palace




Kristin Hersh continues to move the world in her direction. Not content with a mere album, she's releasing a book to coincide with the music she's written and she's going to tour the British Isles in November:

Kristin Hersh returns again to Ireland and the UK for a rare solo tour in support of her highly anticipated new double CD and book, “Wyatt At The Coyote Palace” (Omnibus Press) due out October 4th, a 24 track collection of brand new songs. Pre-orders for “Wyatt” will be available very soon on this site. “Wyatt” is the third release in the groundbreaking book/CD format that Kristin began with her most recent solo album “Crooked” and the Throwing Muses 2013 release “Purgatory/Paradise”. “An Evening with Kristin Hersh” includes readings and songs from her works spanning her entire career.

1 November 2016 – Dundalk, Ireland – Spirit Store – tickets
2 November 2016 – Dublin, Ireland – Pavillion Theatre – tickets
3 November 2016 – Cork, Ireland – Triskel Christchurch – tickets
4 November 2016 – Galway, Ireland – Roisin Dubh – tickets
5 November 2016 – Limerick, Ireland – Dolans Warehouse
7 November 2016 – Portsmouth, UK – Wedgewood Room – tickets
8 November 2016 – Bristol, UK – Lantern Theatre – tickets
9 November 2016 – Exeter, UK – Phoenix – tickets
10 November 2016 – Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach – tickets
11 November 2016 – Aldershot, UK – West End Centre
13 November 2016 – Manchester, UK – Gorilla – tickets
16 November 2016 – York, UK – Crescent – tickets
17 November 2016 – Edinburgh, UK – Summerhall
18 November 2016 – Glasgow, UK – Mono – tickets
19 November 2016 – Liverpool, UK – Philharmonic Music Room – tickets
20 November 2016 – Hebden Bridge, UK – Trades Club
21 November 2016 – Norwich, UK – Norwich Arts Center
22 November 2016 – Brighton, UK – Komedia – tickets
24 November 2016 – London, UK – St John in Bethnal Green – tickets
25 November 2016 – Folkestone – Literary Festival – info






Who else has the range and the ability to do something like this? 

Stephen Colbert Humiliates the Republican Party




I would like to see more of this, please:

The Republican National Convention has barely begun, but Stephen Colbert is already getting kicked offstage.

The impish late-night host — mimicking blue-coiffed “Hunger Games” MC Caesar Flickerman — crashed the Cleveland convention stage Sunday to mock soon-to-be GOP nominee Donald Trump ahead of his coronation.

“He has formed an alliance with Indiana Governor Mike Pence,” Colbert said in his lilting impression, bowing his head in apparent boredom. “Sorry, I blacked out there for a moment. So it is my honor to hereby launch and begin the 2016 Republican National Hungry for Power Games!”

Colbert might end up being the only actual famous person with influence to appear at the GOP convention, and that says more about the D-list celebrities that have agreed to appear than it does about anything else.

Disney's Cinderella Castle in Legos




This is pretty neat:

After news leaked yesterday, Lego Group today confirmed a huge 4,000 piece Lego replica of its iconic Disney Resort Cinderella Castle: set 71040 Disney Castle.

Having been impressed by the Lego Nexo KnightsLego Ninjago and Lego Minecraft at New York Toy Fair I had thought I was all up to date with what Lego had in store for us this year. Then today they reveal this huge replica set of the Walt Disney DIS +0.34% World Resort Cinderella Castle. Standing at over 29” high and 17” wide this is a monster build, but the size means it can do much more than reproduce the original’s architecture and silhouette. 

I prefer the original, photographed in 2011 at Legoland Ulm:






The image above does not do the display justice. It is the Neuschwanstein Castle rendered in Legos, and it looks amazing in person. This was the standard Lego village display (everything glued down, don't touch, etc.). 

Now, if they were to release a version of THAT thing, it would likely top 10,000 pieces and cost quite a bit of money.

By the Way, Republicans Are Still Assholes




There are Republican Members of Congress who don't want President Obama to create any more national monuments. Apparently, they're not assholes--they just care more about the land than anyone else:

Cliven Bundy may be in jail, but he still has friends in Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives next week is expected to vote on a proposal that would exempt 48 counties, primarily in the West, from the law that has been used for more than 100 years to protect archaeologically, culturally, and naturally significant resources in the United States, including the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.

The counties that would be exempted from the Antiquities Act of 1906 cover more than 250,000 square miles — an area nearly the size of Texas. The amendment, which was authored by Rep. Stewart (R-UT) and Rep. Gosar (R-AZ), appears to have two main purposes.

First, it would block the efforts of local communities in Maine, Utah, Arizona, and elsewhere which have been asking President Obama to establish new national monuments in their states.

In southern Utah, for example, the president would not be able to respond to the requests of tribal nations that he protect the Bears Ears area, which is a hotbed of grave robbing, looting, and desecration of sacred sites. It would also prevent the president from protecting Gold Butte in Nevada, where Cliven Bundy illegally grazed his cows for decades, as a national monument.

[...]

Second, the Stewart-Gosar amendment would make a major concession to the demands of scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy and his followers who argue that the U.S. government should have no authority over national public lands in the West. Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan were arrested and indicted in February for their involvement in armed standoffs with federal law enforcement officials in Nevada and Oregon.

Now, I don't want to make any unfair generalizations, but if one of the outcomes of your amendment is to make things better for Cliven Bundy and his family, you might want to consider whether or not to self-identify as an asshole going forward.

You Cannot Call it Alien 5




Sigourney Weaver made a weird cameo in the film Finding Dory and she confirms that one of her next projects will essentially ignore the third and fourth sequels to Alien:

The 30th anniversary celebrations of James Cameron’s Aliens are getting underway, and as part of that, Sigourney Weaver has been speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the film. And, somewhat inevitably, the conversation shifted to Neill Blomkamp’s delayed Alien 5 movie, which is set to be a direct follow-on from Aliens. 

Blomkamp’s project has had to get in line as Ridley Scott makes Alien: Covenant and perhaps further Alien prequels (at least two more are planned, but it’s unclear if they have to be made before Alien 5 can get going), and per the original plan, it would have been shooting by now. Instead, it's in a little bit of limbo right now.

Blomkamp’s film is still an active project, though, and Weaver has revealed a few more details about the film. “It’s just as if, you know, the path forks and one direction goes off to three and four and another direction goes off to Neill’s movie,” she said, seemingly confirming that the idea is to overlook the third and fourth Alien films.

If you're going to ignore the 3rd and 4th movies, why the hell are you calling it Alien 5? I am hoping that's the working title. Shouldn't you just called it Aliens 2.5 or Alien Three: Huge Mistakes Have Been Rectified in This Series? Or am I being simplistic?

I do recall the Alien3 movie as being unnecessarily dark and dreary. It was innovative in that it used a camera angle seen from the aliens point-of-view as it scurried through corridors, but, beyond that, it was a huge, unimaginative let down. I have no working memory of a fourth Alien movie, as I'm sure many people do as well. It sort of reminds me of the Julianne Moore version of Jurassic Park that no one saw.

Is There Anything Crazier Than Pokémon?




I am old and out of touch:

Police in Australia have issued a statement following the release of new video game Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go - out now in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - is an augmented-reality edition of the popular game franchise and sees the fictional creatures superimposed into real life settings.

Following the game's release down under, the Darwin Police Station in Australia's North Territory issued a statement telling fans to not visit their station looking for Pokémon and to be aware of their surroundings while playing the game.

The statement reads: "For those budding Pokemon Trainers out there using Pokémon Go - whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don't actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs."

"It's also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn't going anywhere fast."

And stay off my lawn! GRR!

Guccifer Lied

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900.0"] Marcel Lehel Lazar, aka, "Guccifer" [/caption]


In what has to be one of the craziest detours in an insane political season, we now have this bit of news:

Comey says FBI interviewed hacker Guccifer (1) and he did not hack Clinton’s server.

“He did not, he admitted that was a lie.”

And, as many of you may or may not know, Guccifer is still alive:

Marcel Lehel Lazar, a federal inmate also known as Guccifer, is at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Va. He is alive and has never been missing from this facility.

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne
July 6, 2016

I am so glad that I get to be the one to post about Guccifer today. I was afraid that this would get past me and I would be caught as flat-footed as the House Republicans were today when James Comey ended up being a credible witness before their committee.

Abstract 141




Abstract 141 is 9x12" on canvas board.













Abstract 140




I have a fairly large number of abstracts to publish in the weeks ahead. I have a number of them on canvas board but most of them are on watercolor paper that I'm trying to use up because it has been sitting here for years.

Abstract 140 is 9x12" on canvas board.













Protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area




Here's to the people trying to stop the wholesale poisoning of an American treasure:

MINNESOTA’S Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is one of America’s most popular wild destinations. Water is its lifeblood. Over 1,200 miles of streams wend their way through 1.1 million acres thick with fir, pine and spruce and stippled by lakes left behind by glaciers. Moose, bears, wolves, loons, ospreys, eagles and northern pike make their home there and in the surrounding Superior National Forest.

All of this is now threatened by a proposal for a huge mine to extract copper, nickel and other metals from sulfide ores. The mine would lie within the national forest along the South Kawishiwi River, which flows directly into the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

The prospect of any major industrial activity in the watershed of such a place would be deeply troubling. But this kind of heavy-metal mining is in a destructive class all its own. Enormous amounts of unusable waste rock containing sulfides are left behind on the surface. A byproduct of this kind of mining is sulfuric acid, which often finds its way into nearby waterways. Similar mines around the country have already poisoned lakes and thousands of miles of streams.

To me, the area is synonymous with the life's work of Sigurd Olson, one of the great unsung characters of the 20th Century. He nagged and lobbied and wrote endlessly about the area we now know as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Can you imagine what that place would look like if the mines and the businessmen had been able to get there first?

Olson has been dead for 34 years, but there are still people who carry on in his memory. If you were going to make a movie or write a book, you could do a lot worse than choosing to tell the story of the man who saved over a million acres of pristine wilderness from the kind of people who would poison a river and walk away rich.












Rolling Back the De-Militarization of the Police




Someone should tell Senator Pat Toomey to go pound sand:

During his time in the Senate, Pat Toomey has rarely made an issue of police militarization and law enforcement responses to terrorism.

Which is what makes his current push to arm the police so puzzling.

In a letter to the White House last week, Toomey urged the president to rescind an executive order that blocked transfers of surplus high-caliber military equipment to local law enforcement.

“You have continued to restrict local police access to armored vehicles, explosives, protective helmets, and other lifesaving, federal equipment,” Toomeywrote to Obama. “Specifically, you have restricted local police departments from using federal funds for these items.”

Toomey cited the BearCat vehicle that saved lives while the Orlando attacker was taking hostages inside the nightclub in order to bolster his argument that police departments need access to this type of equipment.

Yeah, about that thing. The Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck (BearCat) is fine for a SWAT team, but not if they're being called out for routine bullshit. It is not appropriate for the Deputy Sheriff of Shit Holler, Kentucky to have as his personal vehicle, which is what happens when local law enforcement begins amassing military-grade weapons and equipment. Despite the fact that these agencies weren't supposed to get this gear, they got it anyway. So much for the rule of law.

Oh, and this happens, too.

The police have too much of this stuff. They are fully militarized and this prevents them from serving and protecting their citizens. Haven't we figured this out yet? 

How about we talk about the lives of the people who are saved when the police aren't using military weapons to kill them during traffic stops and the like? Senator Toomey is not exactly concerned about their body count, is he?