Landscape Watercolor December 2020


Slightly retouched for color:

Not much else turned out. I guess I wasn't feeling it. The watercolor pens are a great idea, and that's mainly what went into this attempt.

John le Carré 1931-2020


What's all this about spies? John le Carré wrote about human rights, plain and simple.

John le Carré, whose given name was David Cornwell, died on Saturday, December 12, at the age of 89. The cause was pneumonia, his publisher, Penguin Random House, announced in a statement on Sunday.

The best-selling author and onetime actual British spy is widely known as perhaps the world’s greatest spy novelist, and his most famous creation, George Smiley, the best loved literary spy (save perhaps for James Bond). He has been remarkably productive and consistently good since the 60s, writing iconic works like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which Graham Greene called “the best spy story I have ever read,” Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager, and The Constant Gardener; his most recent novel, Agent Running in the Field, was published just last year.

His agent Jonny Geller described le Carré as “an undisputed giant of English literature. He defined the cold war era and fearlessly spoke truth to power in the decades that followed . . . I have lost a mentor, an inspiration and most importantly, a friend. We will not see his like again.”

Earlier this year, he was awarded the Olof Palme Prize, an award given for “an outstanding achievement in any of the areas of anti-racism, human rights, international understanding, peace and common security.” He donated the $100,000 prize to international humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières.

Watercolor by Shibasaki


If this leads to a renaissance of watercolor painting, then I'm all for it:

A 73-year-old grandfather may seem like an unlikely social media sensation, but Japan's Harumichi Shibasaki is defying stereotypes. 

The painter's YouTube channel, Watercolor by Shibasaki, features a series of how-to art videos and has amassed more than 700,000 subscribers. His most popular video, a tree painting tutorial, has been watched more than five million times.

"When it comes to drawing a tree, people generally focus on the fact that there are many leaves. But I advise them to observe not individual leaves but the bigger silhouette of the tree," Shibasaki tells CNN.

Shibasaki is building up quite a following, and with good reason. 

He creates videos to show how his techniques can be used and, by making them with state of the art social media tools, he can bring in followers and viewers who might not otherwise pick up a brush. And you don't have to paint to be entertained.

One of my favorite watercolor artists is Iain Welch. You should follow his work here.

David Chase Has Another Opportunity to Ruin the Sopranos Ending


Every time I turn around, someone is giving David Chase another chance to ruin the way that he ended the Sopranos by killing Tony Soprano.

The streaming premiere, set for a one-night-only event on December 27 at 7pm GMT, will include two bonus features: the first being a reunion of key cast members at Il Cortile, a Little Italy restaurant the actors would go after their characters had been killed off. 
The second bonus will offer fans a rare interview with creator David Chase, reminiscing on his childhood memories of Newark and his plans to take The Sopranos to the big screen next year.

Here's to a whole new round of Sopranos related interviews and documentaries where Chase inadvertently tells people what he really meant when he had those hitmen shoot Tony in the face in front of his family, which maybe didn't happen now that we know that Chase changed his mind about that years ago. 

Everything Should be Virtual Until COVID-19 is Eliminated


Why is this even up for a debate? We should be making plans, right now, to hold virtual gatherings and keep people safe for as long as it takes to get to a point where everyone is safely vaccinated. 

There will be no “virtual” Oscars.

“The Oscars in-person telecast will happen,” a rep from the Academy and ABC tells Variety exclusively.

This year, the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences moved their annual telecast back two months to April 25, 2021, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sources inside the Oscars say that by pushing the awards ceremony back, the Academy hoped that theaters would be open again in the spring, thus allowing for more movies to compete in the annual celebration of the year’s best films.

But even if movie theaters stay closed, by holding the Oscars later in spring, organizers are now focusing to make sure that the event continues as it always has live. That may still create some questions as to exactly how many people are allowed inside the 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where the ceremony traditionally takes place.

There is no reason to risk anyone's life. The Academy Awards, and everything else like it, should be held virtually.

Books in Jail


UPDATE - the assholes relented. The world churns a little more towards sanity.

I realize that I am conflating jail and prison here, but bear with me:

On November 16th, Allegheny County Jail’s incarcerated population got a memo from ACJ warden Orlando Harper letting them know that, due to the security issue of potential contraband, they are no longer allowed to receive books from the outside. Instead, said Harper, incarcerated individuals now “have the ability to read over 214 free books and 49 free religious books through our tablet program.” 
Yes—where incarcerated individuals were previously able to receive books through Barnes and Noble and the Christian Bookstore, now they can only access a set library of 263 books via entertainment tablets. The prison charges by the minute for tablet use. 
This is self-evidently cruel. Restricting book access restricts access to knowledge, restricts access to transportive experiences, and hinders mental health, which ACJ has already come under fire for neglecting during the pandemic.

Richard Lauffer, currently incarcerated at ACJ, says that books were “brain food” for himself and others at ACJ. “My only pastime is these books. And now that I don’t have them, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Lauffer said. “I’m going to be lost now.” 
“I love to read . . . but now I’m being limited to only certain titles and if I want to read longer than my free credits allow, then I have to pay,” says Christopher West a.k.a. Brother Hush, a musical artist and activist currently incarcerated in ACJ. (A county spokeswoman has now gone on record saying that all tablet reading is free, unlike other tablet usage.) “What makes this situation worse is that because of coronavirus, we spend 23 hours a day in our cell. Books at least made that somewhat bearable and they’ve taken that away.”

 It would be considered "reasonable discourse" to sit here and say, "it serves them right, those damned prisoners." But that's what we should reject outright.

There is a tendency to think that everyone in jail is there for the right reason--to keep other people safe. Plenty of people are in jail who end up never being charged or convicted of anything. We know that the police lie. We know that prosecutors are corrupt. Innocent people going to jail or prison is a feature of our legal system that has never really been solved. There are far too many people sent to prison for multi-decade sentences who end up being exonerated. There are way too many who end up being put to death as well. Innocent people should not be executed let alone left in custody.

One of the most influential articles that I read this year was about how everything has been revealed to be a sham. I prefer to substitute the word bullshit for sham, but that's me. The rules for our society are based on what reactionary, imperfect people have decided should be in place to maintain their idea of order. This has always been based around keeping minorities in a position of subservience and, to do that, you have to keep them broke. If you come up with enough non-violent offenses that you can slap onto people, you can confiscate what little money they have and then turn around and cut property taxes so that wealthy white people don't have to pay as much. They get richer, everyone else gets poorer, and the cops go from maintaining the peace to making sure there is a flood of revenue into the coffers of the people who make the laws. It's utter bullshit.

These practices are bullshit:

Police helping landlords evict tenants in times of financial trouble? Due to the coronavirus, not anymore in New YorkMiami, and New Orleans. But—and you see where this is going—why do the police aid evictions when tenants are stricken with other, noncoronavirus illnesses?


The city shutting off your water, or your power, as punishment for hardship? During this public health emergency, plenty of cities and companies have suddenly found a way to keep service turned on. “As long as COVID-19 remains a health concern,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, “no Detroit resident should have concerns about whether their water service will be interrupted.” Why in the hell should any Detroit resident have concerns about their water service being interrupted, ever? Shouldn’t clean water be the absolute base level of service delivered by a city to its residents?


Sick employees forced to take unpaid leave or work while sick if they want to keep their jobs? Walmart recently announced it would provide up to two weeks of paid leave for any employee who contracts the coronavirus. And the House just passed a bill to address the problem, though as the New York Times editorial board notes, the House’s failure to make the bill universal “is an embarrassment that endangers the health of workers, consumers and the broader American public.” But why should any sick worker fear losing their pay or their job at any time? And why are the most vulnerable to punitive sick leave practices the workers making the lowest wages?

In every single one of these cases, it’s not just that most of these practices are accepted as “standard.”

It’s that they are a way to punish people, to make lives more difficult, or to make sure that money keeps flowing upward. Up until now, activists and customers have been meant to believe that the powers that be could never change these policies—it would be too expensive, or too unwieldy, or would simply upset the way things are done. But now, faced suddenly with an environment in which we’re all supposed to at least appear to be focused on the common good, the rule-makers have decided it’s OK to suspend them.

The rules for who gets thrown in jail, particularly for non-violent offenses, is bullshit. Cash bail requirements, that's bullshit as well. The punitive, small-minded nature of our society is an absolute expression of bullshit on a wide scale. We do not need to treat people like this. If you're in jail for using marijuana, for example, then that's bullshit. The dam has broken and states are beginning to legalize the use of this drug. The entire war on drugs is a failure anyway. 

Now think of what it means to be in jail in Allegheny County and not be able to read a book because of someone's idea of an enforceable rule. Books are absolutely plentiful and cheap right now. If you really wanted to, you could build a massive library of books for any jail in the country simply by asking for donations. Use bulk purchase options to add titles to a simple library designed to maximize the ability of the prisoners to read what's there. In no time, you could assemble a reading library of several thousand books for a rotating jail population of 500 or 600 prisoners. Better yet, let all of the non-violent offenders out and reduce that number.

As to that enforceable rule about how many books are available to prisoners. Why even have a limit or a rule? Who set that rule and why did they do it? How did you come up with that number? Was it another budget cut designed to ensure nobody in power would have to pay a little more in taxes? Come on.

If we scale that out to digital copies and devices, the sky is the limit in terms of what's available. I don't get why they charge by the minute for tablet use. That seems like bullshit to me as well. Our society has to address who really needs to be locked up and who doesn't. It needs to reform the jail system and the prison system and eliminate the idea that these can be for-profit businesses. That's a whole other animal entirely, of course. But the act of denying people books is draconian and ridiculous. If you're going to lock people up, let them read.

What's the harm that could come of it? None. There is no valid reason, none that registers with any understanding of how to treat human beings. It's just a reflection of outdated rules and a punitive, shit-headed mentality that thinks that you have to be "tough on crime" and make prisoners suffer needlessly. Let them have some books, let the quality of life for prisoners be something that we can estimate as bearable. 

This is not the 19th Century anymore but you wouldn't know it from how we act.

Okay, You Can Let Her Go Now, Jeez


Lori Loughlin is a guest of the gray bar hotel:

Lori Loughlin is adjusting to her life behind bars.

The Full House star, 56, reported to prison on October 30 to serve a two-month sentence for her role in last year's high-profile college admissions scandal. She is housed at FCI-Dublin in northern California.

Almost three weeks into her sentence, a source who has spoken with her tells PEOPLE that she is adjusting to the daily prison routine.

"She has not had any specific problems," the source tells PEOPLE. "No one has tried any s--- with her. No one is bullying her. The guards aren’t treating her any differently than other inmates."

Still, the source says, there has been an adjustment period.

“She was a little weepy on her first night there," the source says. "But she pulled herself together quickly. Now she’s resolved to finish her sentence with her head held high.

Loughlin's "pal" with connections to the entertainment press is likely a publicist who is shopping her "back from scandal" post-prison career resurgence, and good for all of them. I hope they make a mint.

There is no reason for anyone who is not a violent offender to be in prison right now. They should declare a jubilee and let the non-violent offenders go. I think the point has been made. Don't bribe people to get your kids into college. 

Phony Nostalgia and Right Wing Bullshit


I feel like we're looking at poverty porn here, watching two of the most distinguished actors in cinematic history face off against one another with only a thin veneer of right wing bullshit to prop up the material. I don't fault Glenn Close or Amy Adams for wanting to have a job or make a movie. 

I get that there's a much larger issue here, which is the fact that nobody makes movies with adults in them for adults anymore, let alone movies that have women in them who don't talk about men. What I'm concerned about is the fact that J.D. Vance is going to get away with resurrecting the good old boy aspects of American literature and our share cultural history as a nation founded on white supremacy. His connections to the conservative movement would normally make him suspect anyway. 

The fact that this has all gone down the memory hole is troubling, and a much better writer named Kayla Rae Whitaker has taken note of this:

As the year wore on and the book maintained its float at the top of bestsellers lists, my amusement turned to anger, then sadness, and then, finally, exhaustion. The old story of America’s weird, craven Son of the Soil, was taking hold yet again, baggage and all, and within a demographic supposedly too discerning to fall for it.

It’s fitting, then, that Ron Howard’s film adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy was released in theaters just after the 2020 election, with a Netflix release slated for later this month. As in 2016, it is poised to serve as an explanation, of sorts, for the stubborn blush of Trumpist red evident across Appalachia, and the rest of the southeast. The story it offers is one of people who cannot help or save themselves—from laziness, from addiction, from a failure to develop the self-respect necessary to “pull themselves up” within an economy and social system that prevents them at every turn. The film is just another addition to a narrative that is managing to dig a trench between this region and the rest of the country, a divide that will continue to snarl elections and deal further damage to a population that has taken more than its fair share of abuse. And in a year that saw the Biden-Harris ticket win by thinner than anticipated margins, we need to take this opportunity to understand the region as more nuanced than the blighted backcountry that popular media pushes—and that liberal readers and viewers, amazingly, tend to believe.
Vance’s “hillbilly” is not a person so much as a cultural emblem used to sell things, from products to political and social ideologies. Understanding this distinction calls for a dissection of the emblem and its origins. Large corporate interests seized control of the Appalachian region’s natural resources just after the Civil War, generating huge profits from coal and timber while workers toiled in dangerous conditions for shoddy wages. These corporate forces fought unionization at every turn, with brutality and out-and-out murder. The area’s real history is defined by locals fighting these forces in organized, principled fashion, from the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921 to late-20th century worker efforts to unionize against large interests like the Duke Power Company, detailed in the 1976 documentary Harlan County, USA. One of my fondest memories of growing up in east Kentucky is going to a punk show at an American Legion and hearing a band from New Jersey play songs about union life that made the audience, filled with rural kids, homemade mohawks, and unnervingly large ear gauges, go wild: never cross a fuckin’ picket line!

I come from a similar tradition, which was centered around the meatpacking plant in my town. It was the site of labor unrest and a false promise of a middle-class lifestyle. It crushed people, literally and figuratively, working them until they were disabled or worse. The town is full of small houses, built for the workers who left. The only people living in them now are fading away. The houses are falling down and the city is struggling to find a way to condemn them and remove them, sometimes with squatters and forgotten people inside.

The meatpacking plant they put up there was world famous for a while and then it wasn't. It was sold, and sold again, and jobs came and went. You could make eleven dollars an hour processing hogs slaughtered elsewhere into ham and bacon if your wrists could take the trauma of relentless movement. And then the plant unceremoniously burned to the ground at the turn of the century, never to be rebuilt. You can still see where it was because they can't put anything there. The ground is that polluted.

Vance's work is another form of cultural pollution. I am not buying his snake oil and I am not interested in the film. I can spot a fake from a long way off, and you can, too.

Tom Toles Retires


The 50 year career of Tom Toles is worthy of taking note of precisely because of how rare it is for someone to last that long in the world of political cartoons. 

He retires with one simple wish--vote out that maniac Donald Trump. Amen to that.

I will not reproduce his last panel here. You can click this link and, hopefully, have a look. Toles was more reliable than the Internet, that's for sure. He did a better job than most and his insights were always spot on with regards to the absolute ridiculousness of our political leaders.



I feel like if we tried to do this in America, people would go crazy:

Literally translating to platform cedar, daisugi is a 14th- or 15th-century technique that offers an efficient, sustainable, and visually stunning approach to forestry. The method originated in Kyoto and involves pruning the branches of Kitayama cedar so that the remaining shoots grow straight upward from a platform. Rather than harvesting the entire tree for lumber, loggers can fell just the upper portions, leaving the base and root structure intact.

Although daisugi mostly is used in gardens or bonsai today, it originally was developed to combat a seedling shortage when the demand for taruki, a type of impeccably straight and knot-free lumber, was high. Because the upper shoots of Kitayama cedar can be felled every 20 years, which is far sooner than with other methods, the technique grew in popularity.

This has all the trappings of something that would cause people to lose their mud. It requires patience and careful cultivation. It requires the use of precise methods for rendering our natural environment into a sustainable, useful thing that doesn't look like anything we have ever seen before. It comes from a different culture and therefore must be SMASHED because we don't want to take the time to understand it. And it is successful and we can't have nice things.

I'm probably being over-dramatic, but something like this would probably end up before our newly ridiculous Supreme Court and go down in flames.

Scenes From the Collapse of Western Civilization


It would never occur to these people that they should display themselves and their privilege in such a ways as to avoid being humiliated and mocked in public. You see, peasants, the mocking they undergo does not reach through their veil of ignorance. They are not self-aware enough to realize that they are being mocked. If there are people "talking" about them, it means they are important. This is the end game, to remain in a state of being discussed (no matter how poorly) above all other considerations.

We eliminated shame from our culture and look what it got us. Collapse, ruin, and well-dressed people posing for photos while the world burns down around them.

This is the Stupid Season


This is the kind of thing that makes people want to shut off their social media presence and just ignore how stupid the world has gotten under Trump. I'm sure that things were stupid when Bush was president because I actually remember how it was to live through two full presidential terms of insanity and ruin.

The stupid is so amped up now I can't even begin to describe it. Faking photos of people is one level of stupid. Thinking that you can score points by sharing something that can be easily fact checked and disproven is another level of stupid. Believing that you, as a failson spawn of Trump can just get away with this shit without ten million eyes all over it immediately is a level of stupid that runs way out in front of all the other kinds that there are.

Who the fuck are these people after the four years we've lived through. How is it that Eric Trump still has a presence on social media? What the hell, people? There are no standards anymore, I guess.

Inner Harbor Patrol


Spend some time in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, see a police boat. What could possibly go wrong?

The Dance Class


The Smithsonian put a treasure trove of paintings by Edgar Degas on display recently and so, with masks on, we went and had a look.

The series of paintings that were done as part of his studies on the schools for ballet are incredible masterpieces of detail. Degas maintained a highly organized series of sketchbooks which were on display along with his masterful paintings.

Jules Perrot is immortalized in this paining, The Dance Class. There is a whole way of life that is now remote and lost to us. The way he commands the room is without equal.

Abstract Number One, September 2020


The first in a series of abstract paintings is presented here, a swirling mass of color. Tempera paint on watercolor paper, gently color balanced for the Internet and shrunk down a bit. These original scans are running 300MB or more as files, so this one is considerably smaller. The resolution is set at 1200 dpi so no corners are being cut. I could easily make these larger.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Everybody Struggles


You never really know what other people are struggling with:

Reformed ’90s “diva” Shannen Doherty is sharing how she’s living her life — or what she thinks remains of it — in the wake of her Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis.


In February, the “Beverly Hills, 90210" and “Charmed” alum revealed that her breast cancer had returned and metastasized, meaning it had spread beyond her breast and lymph nodes. Now, in an interview with Elle magazine, she opened up about how she shared the news with her family and friends, and said that she expected to be in treatment for the rest of her life.



The 49-year-old, who revived her image with the “BH90210" reunion last summer, is developing several projects, including a new television show, and hopes to advocate on behalf of other people with metastatic breast cancer. “Others want to put you out to pasture,” she said. “I’m not ready for pasture. I’ve got a lot of life in me.”


But she also imagines a future without her in it, she said, mentally cataloging her possessions and whom they would go to, thinking about writing letters to loved ones and making video messages for her mom and husband to watch after she dies.

I can tell you from experience that these kinds of articles don't just suddenly appear because everything is going great for a person in the spotlight who is suffering. Very sad.

Henry Golding is Actually British


You can be one of the most accomplished and talented actors in the world and some people will still judge you by your looks and make generalizations about your race:

Everyone thinks they know who Henry Golding is: handsome, plummy Home Counties accent, clean-cut star of Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas and Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen. But ask the Malaysian-British actor how he sees himself, and you’ll get a foggier image.

“Being half Malaysian and half British, it’s like, what really are you classified as?” he says via Zoom from his lockdown home in Los Angeles. “People don’t see you as fully British for sure; but when I go back to Malaysia, I can’t speak the language and nobody over there feels as though I’m Malaysian, so we’re kind of in this limbo.”

There are so many levels of racism at work in the world that it would be impossible to list all of them here. I think what Golding has done is redefine who you can be and what you can do in terms of acting and choosing roles in films. It would be a shame if we didn't appreciate his ability to expand our definition of what it takes to be a movie star.

Idris Elba is Allergic to Horses

I had no idea people could be allergic to horses:

Idris Elba trained to ride horses to get into character as an estranged father in Concrete Cowboys — despite being allergic to the animals.

 "In defense, I'm allergic to horses, OK. I couldn't see what I was doing, I couldn't breathe," Elba said as fellow cast members ribbed him about his horseback skills during a press conference at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday.

Elba and Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin star in writer-director Ricky Staub's drama Concrete Cowboy, which has its world premiere on Sunday night in Toronto and is produced by Lee Daniels.

The father and son drama, set in North Philadelphia, portrays a troubled teen, played by McLaughlin, torn between a life of crime and the urban-cowboy lifestyle of his estranged father (Elba).

While hardly a horse whisperer, The Suicide Squad star said he learned to ride horseback to ensure realism for his role as an urban cowboy. "It goes beyond just learning how to ride a horse. Very quickly, you have to have a bond with the horse," Elba recalled.

I mean, it makes sense because of the hair and all that, but I didn't know people could be allergic to larger animals like horses. I've never heard of having a horse allergy, so many that's what surprised me about this.

Idris Elba is one of those artists who is going to work his way through a problem, whether it's the accent, the dialogue, or whatever gets thrown in his way. There's a reason why he's so good at what he does and it comes down to a work ethic that is second to none.

Waiting For All Those Letters

There is something fundamentally indecent about attacking the United States Postal Service. That's a thing that should be off limits, part of that third rail of American politics where Social Security resides. It should result in automatic disqualification for higher office when a politician messes with the constant and reliable flow of the mail.

Stories like this are helpful as far as understanding why this matters:
My favorite activity, my only faithful daily ritual, is to check the mail. My husband pokes fun, but whenever I’m not traveling he lovingly leaves the task to me. These days, it goes without saying, I’m always home. And while time has become a confounding concept of late (What day is it? How many weeks have gone by? How many months? How often have I cooked this exact same meal?), one reliable marker of pandemic time passing is that once a day the mail arrives, and once a day I go outside to lift the mailbox’s creeky lid. Some days something interesting comes, most days it does not. But every day there’s the possibility of arrival.
What is it that I’m waiting for? Some days I’m expecting a check from one of the various, and inevitably delayed, writing commissions I’m owed. Some days I’m expecting a package—a book, my new toothbrush head, one of the several floral onesies I’ve purchased on Etsy in the past few months in order to brighten my mood and rid my mornings of the burden of too much choice (a jumpsuit is the energy bar of clothing: efficient, a complete outfit unto itself.) But most of all, I’m hoping for a letter, that old fashioned language of love.

My correspondence with loved ones, and particularly fellow artists, is what has kept me aloft in recent months in this era of devastating loss. Their letters, postcards and care packages have reminded me that there is still real, thrumming life out there, on the other side of my door, through the toxic smoke of the California wildfires and the haze of so much uncertainty, and that there is a reason to keep writing.
Veterans are waiting for prescriptions. Kids are waiting for learning materials. A million things that we never imagined we'd ever buy through the Internet and get through the mail are now flowing into our homes in a never ending river of brown boxes with the Amazon smile on the side. How the hell could anyone survive tearing out sorting machines and slowing down the damned mail?

I will never understand it.

Susan Sarandon is Voting for Joe Biden

Here's all you need to know:

The energy used to shame people should be put into phone banking & whatever else will build enthusiasm for Biden’s presidency. I will be voting for Biden as a vote against fascism

There you have it. Susan Sarandon is finally going to do the right thing and vote like an adult. Good for her. Now, we can all safely go back to ignoring everything she has to say.

Don't Wear This to Go Hiking

This is everything that is wrong with celebrity endorsements and all that.

If you go hiking, carry water, carry supplies, wear loose clothing that can protect you, and don't wear a spandex onesie.

That is all.

Keep Your Kids Away From Jerry and Becki Falwell

These people are freaky and should not be around anyone's kids:
A former Liberty University student says Becki Falwell, the wife of the university’s then-President Jerry Falwell Jr., jumped into bed with him and performed oral sex on him while he stayed over at the Falwell home after a band practice with her eldest son in 2008.
The student was 22 at the time of the encounter, near the start of Liberty’s fall semester. He said she initiated the act, and he went along with it. But despite his rejection of further advances, he said, Falwell continued pursuing him, offering him gifts and engaging in banter through Facebook messages.
“She was the aggressor,” he said.
The messages, screenshots of which were provided by the former student to POLITICO, suggest a flirtatious relationship that went beyond what might be expected of a mother communicating with her son’s bandmate.

Life in the Falwell household seems like one of the bad sequels to American Pie but with worse hair, more sex and fewer ethical quandaries. How is it that these people are still able to hold onto all of the money they took from the university that Jerry Falwell senior founded as a way of indoctrinating the youth of America into his bizarre version of a religious and righteous America?

I have to admit that I've always been immune to being shamed by someone else's grasp of "family values." I remember when that was a thing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was as if hypocrites were running things and it turns out they were.

Nobody should let the Falwells hang around with their adult children. This is something out of a bad novel full of horny cougars and shame-based men.

Chadwick Boseman 1976-2020

Chadwick Boseman will be remembered as an actor, and he has passed away at the age of 43. He held a degree in fine arts for directing from Howard University. It would have been really something to see what he had planned to do as a director. What a tremendous loss.

Dick the Dog

Apparently, it's a furniture store. This was taken by that damned Google car, Penzance, down by Land's End in Cornwall, England.

Not my photograph, entirely my discovery.

This Week in Out of Control Penises

Why the hangdog face, sport?
Late last year, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy wrote President Donald Trump asking for a favor on behalf of his appointed attorney general, Kevin Clarkson.
In a Dec. 2 letter, the governor asked Trump to help Clarkson’s wife and stepson overcome immigration obstacles in order to leave Colombia and join him in Alaska.
“Over the past year, I have found Attorney General Clarkson to be a wise and trusted legal advisor, a man of exceptional character, and a devoted husband and father,” the governor told Trump. Before being appointed in late 2018, Clarkson had been a champion of Christian conservative views on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion.
Forget all that bullshit about Jerry Falwell Jr. Our man in Alaska is the horniest dude in practically all of Republican state politics that we know about right this very moment:
Over a 27-day span, the attorney general asked the woman to come to his house at least 18 times, often punctuating the messages with kiss emoji and comments about the much-younger woman’s beauty.
The attorney general texted the woman at all hours of the day and evening, sometimes from his state office, until she sent him a message in early April asking him to respect professional boundaries and saying she doesn’t accept late-night calls on her personal phone.
On March 16, Clarkson wrote to the state employee: “You’re beautiful ... sweet dreams. 😘 Sorry to bother you.” The day after that he texted, “So what are you doing sweet lady?” And the day after that: “Always nice to see you beautiful lady ... You have to find a way to say yes and come over and let me cook for you.”

Damn, that's horny. And pathetic. Oh, and hypocritical as well because no one should condemn others for their "lack of family values" when they're trying to screw around on the side.

Mr. Clarkson probably lives in that version of our society where the magical communications that go into and out of that little black mirror on his lap are not saved, recorded, archived and databased according to who sent them and when they were sent. He probably felt like the young woman to whom he was not married to would "be cool" about all of this and "give in eventually."

Well, instead of that fantasy, she sought assistance with her problem and now the State of Alaska is probably going to need a new horny Republican to run things in the AG office. They're probably lining up right now as they frantically delete everything on their phone.

Three Butterflies

The enduring irony of all of this is that, when I was taking photos on a regular basis, I had a camera that wasn't very good. Now that I have a pretty nice camera (with a brand new battery!) I almost never take photos.

She Drives Republicans Crazy

Chances are, you live in a part of the country where Alyssa Milano has brought her efforts to find social justice. She is a celebrity activist of the highest order, and she makes Republicans absolutely batshit crazy:
The real reason the right-wing activists seemingly have a case of Milano-derangement syndrome is because she does what they fear the most. She learns about issues, hugs and wrestles with ideas until she forms her own opinions that are untethered to dogma, and then she confidently speaks her mind. She doesn’t shy away from her power, but she does not avoid being vulnerable. Most of all, Milano grounds her arguments in facts and insight rather than conspiracy theories and innuendo. Alyssa Milano is the kind of citizen-activist who embraces the complexity of not only the “what” part of our political debates, but also the “why” behind them.
The fact is, Milano frustrates her critics because, despite her celebrity status, she is real. Like much of America, she is sometimes angry. Other times she is optimistic. She is on a quest to learn how to change the world for the better, and then she takes her best shot at making it happen. Her detractors might lament the so called “fake news,” but as hard as they try to paint her as a fraud, there is nothing fake about Alysa Milano. She is real, she is ready, and she is relentless. And to those who constantly attack her, that’s not a lie.
I think there is more to this than simply being real. To have a substantive impact on issues, you have to advocate for them in a relentless manner in this day and age. It's not enough to Tweet a few times at a problem and Milano usually does more than just parachute in and adopt a cause. She will put her feet on the ground.

It was a shock, not too long ago, to have her in San Antonio, for example. There was no real compelling reason for her to be at the Greyhound bus station and no celebrity project to promote. She showed up there in order to take up the plight of the thousands of people being dumped at the bus station by the Trump regime. They were handing detained immigrants a ticket and they were unloading them onto the kindness and generosity of the people of San Antonio. This, in turn, overwhelmed the social services and charities that were trying to assist immigrants on their journey to legal status.
"Just went to St. Mary's Greyhound Station in San Antonio," she shared with her fans and followers on Dec. 11. "This is where ICE drops off asylum seekers when they're released from detention. @RAICESTEXAS volunteers help 60 families a day to make sure they have the ability to get to their destination."
Milano showed up and did what she could to help. That lack of hypocrisy is what animates the right wing. They know they are the real hypocrites and when they see a high profile person who does not have that same level of conflict of interest, they know they have to tear them down.

Good luck with that.

Dolly Parton For the Win

It's always refreshing to see someone act like an informed adult in public:
On the topic of BLM, the 74-year-old proved that she’s definitely aligned with the times and fully onboard with the protests that have carried on since George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” said Parton. “And of course, Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!” The Queen of Nashville has officially spoken.
Parton also engaged in a discussion about how racist monuments and other antiquated Confederacy statues have been taken down in the last few months. The iconic artist actually did something similar in 2018, when she renamed her “Dixie Stampede” Civil War-themed attraction to “Dolly Parton’s Stampede”. Although she was clearly ahead of her time — The Dixie Chicks only changed their name this past June — Parton admitted that she was guilty of “innocent ignorance” back then.
She spoke further on her decision to rename the attraction:
"When they said ‘Dixie’ was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it The Stampede.’ As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”
Elsewhere in the sprawling profile, Parton makes it clear she has no plans to slow down or exit the entertainment industry anytime soon. (In fact, earlier today she announced a new Christmas album featuring contributions from Miley Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Michael Bublé, Jimmy Fallon, and more.) Even so, Parton said she still wants to get her estate and her will in order just in case tragedy strikes — mostly to ease the burden on her family.
“I would not want to leave that mess to somebody else,” commented Parton. “A word to all the other artists out there: If you haven’t made those provisions, do that. You don’t want to leave that mess to your family for people to have to fight over. You need to take care of that yourself, even if it’s a pain in the ass — and it is.” As anyone that’s followed the music industry knows, an artist’s death can often lead to plenty of squabbles over ownership and rights.
There is no compelling reason for her to stick her neck out like this. The Dollywood amusement park  relies on a clientele that is mostly Southern and probably sympathetic to Trump and to right wing politics. Where it sits makes it a destination for a significant number of visitors and it employs a vast number of people who would be hard pressed to find comparable work. These people are being taken care of because of Dolly's generosity and entrepreneurial spirit.

For her to go out and speak her mind against her own business interests is brave, in and of itself. But here's the thing--Dolly is such an icon, she may be able to change a few hearts and minds over to the idea that we really do need to be decent and understanding of the feelings of others.

In this whole entire country right now, she might be one of a handful of people who could get people to moderate their views and come over to her way of thinking.


This is the fox that came in through the window and hid in the library.

Is it wrong of me to be jealous? Is it wrong of me to think that the fox who lives in the wooded buffer zone between all of these townhomes would be a reader, too?

Wildlife, man. Gotta love it.

Sir Patrick Stewart

Listening to Sir Patrick Stewart read Shakespeare's sonnets is enough to put you into a better frame of mind, believe me.

Kanye the Ratfucker


Kanye West is allowing himself to be used for the ratfucking of Joe Biden's campaign to restore democracy in America. We have normalized this sort of thing in the Trump era. Every dirty trick, every attempt to suppress the vote, and every possible tactic is being employed to steal the election. West is letting himself be dragged into this, although there have been indications that he is mentally ill and is being used as a pawn.

If he is being taken advantage of, then where is his family?

If he is serious about running for president, why now and why only in states that Trump needs to win in order to remain in office?

Does anyone think it will even work? 

This is what's happening with the paperwork being filed to get West on the ballot in Wisconsin:

Clearly, they're just making things up. This is Ratfucking 101 - falsify everything, get the spoiler on the ballot.

I mean, this is what appears to be happening. We need to acknowledge that if it wasn't West then it would be someone else. What a disgrace.

Ellen's Brand is Dead

Ellen DeGeneres is not going to get away with being mean to people anymore:
Actors Brad Garrett and Lea Thompson have joined the chorus of critics taking aim at Ellen DeGeneres and her show. Dozens of ex-staffers have come forward with allegations that the show was a hostile workplace—and now celebrities are chiming in. Garrett, best known for his role as brother Robert Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, tweeted out a Variety story about the scandal with the comment: “Sorry but it comes from the top ⁦@TheEllenShow. Know more than one who were treated horribly by her.⁩ Common knowledge.” Then Thompson, of Back to the Future and Caroline in the City, replied to a People magazine tweet about Garrett’s jab. “True story. It is,” she wrote. DeGeneres has apologized for the atmosphere behind the scenes of her show.
What used to keep people in line was fear, and celebrities are now being released from the possibility of being blacklisted from Ellen's show. This is a huge development because maintaining the viability of promoting various projects is the lifeblood of being an actor in Hollywood. If you can't appear on the crap shows that publicize As that fear subsides, you'll see a rush of stories from people who saw, firsthand, the abject cruelty of the environment around Ellen's long running "feel good" talk show.

It sounds like it was a shitshow of epic proportions. If these stories are true, then the toxic environment that surrounded Ellen is going to be one for the ages. We're talking law suits, career-ending legal settlements, and a cancellation that will send shockwaves through the industry. If anyone else is running their show like this, then they're next. Once you take out someone as big as Ellen, everyone else can be taken down as well.

The idea that DeGeneres is going to "salvage" something here is laughable. She could make a comeback. That's hard to do when you're sued by dozens of people who were horribly mistreated.

Rooting For Ashley Judd

A career in the arts should never lead to this sort of nightmare:
California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Ashley Judd can pursue a sexual harassment claim against convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein. Per The Hollywood Reporterthe court stated that the nature of Judd and Weinstein’s relationship was “sufficient” enough to give the actress grounds to sue. 
In Judd’s complaint, which included stories that she first revealed to the public in October 2017, the actress alleges that Weinstein propositioned her for sex in a hotel room about 20 years ago. Judd declined, saying that she was only able to escape by telling Weinstein that she’d sleep with him if she wins an Academy Award. 
Weinstein would go on to blacklist Judd from Hollywood film roles, particularly within his company, Miramax. 
“As in the enumerated relationships, their relationship consisted of an inherent power imbalance wherein Weinstein was uniquely situated to exercise coercion or leverage over Judd by virtue of his professional position and influence as a top producer in Hollywood,” a judge wrote. “We have no difficulty concluding that the California Supreme Court would reach the same conclusion, obviating the need to certify the question.”
They should grant people immunity and allow them to come forward and admit that Weinstein was able to convince them not to cast Judd in their projects. I mean, it's not a case where she wasn't qualified or capable of being in the movies all of a sudden, right after telling Weinstein that she wouldn't have sex with him. It's more a case where her career was derailed shortly thereafter.

Numerous actresses can probably make the case that their refusal to submit to Weinstein's predations hindered their careers. We need to make this right and correct what was done. No one should have this kind of power. Ever.

Remembering Carrie Fisher

Byron Lane used to be Carrie Fisher's assistant. This is what she taught him:
You once worked as Carrie Fisher’s assistant, and that job shaped this book. Why did you want to use that experience in your novel?Working for Carrie Fisher saved my life in so many ways. I was in a funk when I got the job and her energy and zest for life lifted me up. She taught me so much about friendship and family and writing and life. We had so much fun and so many adventures. When she died, I wanted to capture the spirit of our time together. She always used to say, “Take your broken heart and make art.” And, so, that’s what I did. I think she’d be proud of me.
What are the characteristics you need most to be a personal assistant in Hollywood?Being a celebrity assistant can be a tough job and an amazing experience. If you’re intuitive and naturally inclined to be a helper, you’ll do great. The vibe of your boss will color the experience and make it more or less pleasant, but at the end of the day, it’s about service. If you find the right fit, you can have a life-changing and brilliant time. I wish everyone was a lucky as me to work for someone as amazing and cool as Carrie Fisher.
I have always believed that she should be remembered for her writing and for her acting because she was equally good at both. She was an outstanding performer, and that extended to her one-woman shows that were based on her books. No one was more complex than Fisher in terms of how she succeeded in two vastly different industries. It is rare, but not unheard of, for someone to be wildly successful in one field and then to be an absolute giant in something different, but there it is.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Hollywood is probably going to make three or four movies out of this debacle:
A lawyer for British tabloid The Sun said Monday that Johnny Depp abused Amber Heard during their relationship, committing acts of violence fueled by misogyny and unleashed by addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Attorney Sasha Wass was summing up at Depp’s libel case against the newspaper over an article alleging he physically abused ex-wife Heard — a high-stakes celebrity trial in which the reputations of both former spouses are at stake.
Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the newspaper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, at the High Court in London over an April 2018 article, which called him a “wife-beater.” He strongly denies being violent to Heard.
The case is due to end Tuesday, but judge Andrew Nicol is not expected to deliver his ruling for several weeks.
In closing arguments, Wass said the newspaper’s defense “is one of truth -- namely that Mr. Depp did indeed beat his wife.” Wass said there was “overwhelming evidence of domestic violence or wife-beating behavior, cataloged over a three-year period.”
This is one of those tragedies where you just don't want to spend any time dealing with any of the people involved. It's off putting, to say the least.

How does Depp still have a career after this? Well, he's been very successful in making Heard look bad. And how does she keep working? Well, she's managed to elevate her profile and has shared extensive evidence of abuse. Depending on who you're biased in favor of, she's either a demon or a saint.

I will I hadn't heard of either of them.

Lake Street

I took this entirely by accident just after Memorial Day 2020 on Lake Street in South Minneapolis. This is the view looking east towards St. Paul.

The Fake Balcony

This architectural abomination hangs off the side of a Popeye's restaurant, and extends out over the drive through lane.

What the hell is it? Why is it there?

Clearly, it's designed to invoke the balconies one would find in New Orleans. But, can anyone go stand on this thing and hoot and holler and throw things? No, because that would mean they would have to get on the roof of the Popeye's and then jump off said roof and stand on a rickety balcony that has no function. This is just sad.

I can imagine a scenario where someone shows up at Popeye's drunk, and climbs up onto the roof where they actually do have a ladder. Then that person shimmies over to the balcony and falls down onto it. They stand up, dazed, and the whole thing collapses onto a Ford Escort parked at the drive through window. Everyone is injured, but not severely. Just enough to be a nuisance, you see.

That's the Popeye's drive through balcony. Just enough of a mistake to be annoying.

The Legacy of John Wayne

Adjusting the legacy of John Wayne is probably overdue. I don't think we can remove him completely from the history of film, but I do think we need to take steps to put him and his controversial views in their proper context:
"Conversations about systemic racism in our cultural institutions along with the recent global, civil uprising by the Black Lives Matter Movement require that we consider the role our School can play as a change maker in promoting antiracist cultural values and experiences," Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Evan Hughes said in a Friday announcement to the film school community.

"Therefore, it has been decided that the Wayne Exhibit will be removed."

The exhibit will instead be moved to the Cinematic Arts Library, Hughes wrote, where it can be placed "within the proper archival and research context" for continued education on Wayne's role in film history.
While the statement did not directly address the controversy surrounding Wayne, his legacy has recently been re-examined, especially after a 1971 interview with Playboy resurfaced and went viral last year. In it, Wayne espoused derogatory views of African Americans, Native Americans and films with gay characters.
"I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility," the actor said. "I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people."
You could add his comments and his views to the exhibit as a way to put Wayne in the proper historical context as it relates to his place in American history. I think you have to include the fact that this was common to the entertainment industry. To me, that would help explain that he wasn't the only person who had these horrible views and opinions. There is ample evidence that he was no different than Ronald Reagan in terms of how he viewed minorities.

And while Wayne and Reagan had vastly different careers, they were part of a generation that had an enormous impact on the cultural history of the country. Providing context is probably the most helpful way of explaining who Wayne was and why it's important that we understand his contributions.

I don't have a problem changing the name of the airport, either. We could rename that and we could definitely rename Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C.