For the past few years and if you know me personally, the subject of electric vehicles has come up.
Around these parts I’ve made my feeling known about the so-called “ICE” vehicles -those which have “internal combustion engines”- and my feelings they are a technology society should have done away with many years ago.
ICE vehicles pollute the air and are incredibly inefficient. There are those that argue electric vehicles and the batteries they use are also “dirty”, but few argue they are dirtier than the use of gasoline. Regardless, to my mind still using ICE vehicles is akin to buying a computer and settling for some 1980’s/90’s tech instead of the latest tech.
Over the past few years I’ve been reading up with great curiosity about the rise of Elon Musk’s Tesla. The reviews of their vehicles, in general, have been incredibly positive and, its fair to say, this has gotten the attention of the big car companies. Today and as I write this, almost all of major car manufacturers are now working on or have released their versions of an electric vehicle.
As fascinated as I was about electric vehicles, as much as I salivated for the opportunity to drive one, it wasn’t until just shy of two weeks ago I finally did.
That’s when things really changed.
Intrigued as I was about EV vehicles and Tesla in particular, I was unsure when/if I’d get it. That test drive, along with the fact that Tesla was having a sorta/kinda end of the quarter sale, sealed the proverbial deal.
Now I know there are those who are suspicious/weary of Tesla and, especially, CEO Elon Musk. He’s gone off the wall at times with some oddball tweets. And yeah it is scary to spend a bunch of money on a car that uses a whole new technology versus the tried and true gasoline.
But I’ll tell you this: If the driving population of not only the United States but the world itself goes to a Tesla dealership and asks to test drive the car, I suspect a good 80+ percent of them that give it a fair shot will come away sold on the idea that the Tesla vehicles are very much worthy of all the attention they’ve gotten.
So impressed was I with the test drive -along with the previous research I did on the vehicle- that I took the plunge. I paid the $2500 deposit and ordered my Tesla 3. Yesterday, I got her…
Driving home was my first extended trip in the Model 3 and it was as delightful as the test drive. When we got there, my wife had her first drive and she was every bit as impressed with it as I was.
Again, I do not intend to brag. I am extremely fortunate to have the means to pick up this vehicle, though in all fairness the version I bought was hardly the most expensive model I could have gotten (I wouldn’t have been able to afford the very top end options, anyway!). Having said that, I strongly urge everyone out there to give the Tesla a try.
Perhaps you won’t come away from the experience as impressed as I. Perhaps you won’t feel it is truly the next generation vehicle I believe it is.
But if you do give it a shot, it might clear much of the haze surrounding Musk and Tesla and the fanboy mentality of many out there while allowing you to focus on the vehicle itself.
A vehicle which deserves, IMHO, many of its kudos.
In what is sure to create further controversy, director Zack Snyder, when asked about the fact that he had Batman kill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, made some rather strong statements concerning this topic.
As written by Charles Pullman-Moore and presented on i09.com, the article’s title will give you an idea of Mr. Snyder’s thoughts on that subject:
Part of what made BvS so controversial was its generally grim tone and, yes, the fact that Batman sure does seem to murder a bunch of bad guys in the film.
To be fair, he does so because they are very actively trying to murder him, so its not like he’s simply shooting them in the back when they’re, say, loading up some questionable merchandise inside a van or something.
But it does bring up an issue I personally have wrestled with concerning heroes: Should they kill?
James Bond, famously, had a “license to kill”. As presented, one would think that he would have no qualms doing what I proposed above, ie killing a badguy no matter what they were currently up to. If they’re loading a van or taking a walk on the beach, if British Intelligence views the person as a major danger to England/the World, and he has a “license to kill”, one could theoretically understand that if it is imperative to kill the badguy, you do so, no questions asked.
Clint Eastwood’s many “heroes” were often darker as well. Starting with the so-called “spaghetti” westerns of the 1960’s and going on to Dirty Harry in the 1970’s and 80’s, you had a darker variation of the “good guy” who might well shoot a badguy, whether while confronting said individual or offing them when they weren’t necessarily a threat to you at that moment.
But what about superheroes? What about heroes that aren’t supposed to be so damn dark, character-wise? Batman, while indeed a “dark” character, has been portrayed very often as not wanting to use a gun, though in his very earliest comic book appearances did indeed do so, and did indeed kill badguys…
The above opening page of a story shows Batman with a weapon. Here, he uses it… albeit to kill a vampire:
Here he uses not just a gun, but a machine gun, to off some badguys…
Note what Batman says in the above panel: “Much as I hate to take human life, I’m afraid this time its necessary!”
So, yeah, early, very early Batman could be as merciless in killing badguys just as his primary inspiration, the pulp hero The Shadow, did as well…
But very soon after Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939 and in issue #38 of Detective Comics, Batman was given a partner, the dashing Robin…
I think its arguable that the introduction of this character put Batman over the top and sealed his transition from a superhero version of The Shadow into something new and exciting to audiences. Suddenly readers had an avatar, a young daredevil they could grasp and, vicariously, have their adventures through.
The tone of the Batman stories from that point on grew lighter and lighter, and Batman no longer mercilessly killed the badguys (though there were some “accidental” deaths still to come) until, soon enough, it was established that Batman DID NOT KILL, period.
In the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s, darkness crept back into the Batman character. The fine work of writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams redefined the Batman character and brought us a version closer to what came early on, though the character still did not use weapons and still did not murder the badguys…
And so it was, roughly, a short time time later I first became familiar with these various characters.
In my very young mind, I felt that superheroes did NOT kill. If anyone perished in the course of a story, the hero tried their best to not kill anyone, even if they were despicable in their actions and very much deserved that fate. Heroes were, IMHO, people who found ways around such actions.
Then came Population Zero, the first episode of The Six Million Dollar Man’s regular series, first aired on January 18, 1974, and this terrific, and confusing to my very young mind, ending…
The plot of the episode, to be frank, was something of a rip off of Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. In that novel (and subsequent film adaptation), an entire small town is suddenly found dead with two exceptions, and it turns out some intergalactic virus is to blame… and this bug needs to be neutralized or it might spell the doom of the human race.
In Population Zero, the villain uses a sound machine (as you can see from the video) and it turns out the scientist behind it lost funds for his project because of the Bionic Man project. He obviously harbors deep anger and is determined to show that his weapon should have been given the proper funds. In the meantime, he tries to kill off the Bionic Man and then Oscar Goldman and the entire army base outside the town he initially attacked.
Steve Austin, the Bionic Man, gets away from his deathtrap and runs to where you see him. He realizes the mad scientist will kill a lot of innocent people and pulls up the metal fence post and, using it as a javelin, spears their truck, killing the scientist and his henchmen.
This really messed with my mind back then.
For it seemed to me Steve Austin could have run over to the truck and, I dunno, turned it over or something. He could have thrown the javelin at the electrical cables the bad guy was using to charge up his weapon and therefore rendered the sonic weapon inoperative.
No, he deliberately targeted the truck and by spearing it caused it to explode and kill everyone.
I’ve defended Batman v Superman more times than I care to and still believe this film will experience a re-evaluation in time and come to be viewed as far better than the early critics and fans felt it was.
And I have little problem accepting that Batman kills the bad guys both when he chases them in his Batmobile and later on when he’s trying to save Martha Kent.
Because if you truly, truly think through both scenarios, he’s quite literally fighting for his life. In the first scenario he’s being shot at with heavy weaponry. A lucky shot and his vehicle -and himself- is toast. It’s a high speed chase and very dangerous to not only Batman, but to anyone else who might be around that dock area.
Should Batman aim for the tires? Sure, but realistically, that a damn hard shot to make.
In the warehouse fight, the same applies. It’s one guy against a large number. In “real life” you need to take these dudes out and quick because if you don’t, you may die. So Batman can’t play nice while the bad guys here are using guns, knives, and whatever else they have to take him out. He has to fight back.
Still, the little boy I was does feel a certain apprehension about the idea of a good guy, especially a superhero, resorting to killing and, at least in my stories, I’ve tried to show the consequences of killing (particularly in Mechanic) while also trying not to have my characters depicted as favoring killing first to deal with bad guys.
There truly is no answer, I suppose, and your opinions on this matter will certainly be guided by the literature/stories/TV shows/movies you’ve grown up with.
A while back, lawyer Michael Avenatti made something of a splash as one of President Donald Trump’s most visible antagonists.
The above photograph shows Mr. Avenatti with his most famous client, porn star Stormy Daniels. For a while last year he worked very hard to get Trump to admit having made payments to keep her quiet about an affair and the non-disclosure agreement made by her at the behest of her previous lawyer, who may well have colluded with Mr. Trump’s team to get her out of the way while the election was going on.
Even now I find it difficult to believe all those shenanigans happened and this man is President!
Anyway, the situation was sordid to say the least yet I had to give Mr. Avenatti credit: During his TV appearances he looked sharp and was a witty talker who seemed at times to strike blood.
Welp, things started to go bad for Mr. Avenatti. A while back Stormy Daniels let him go and he no longer is her lawyer, though to be fair it seems he helped the case along and got her freed up to say everything about the affair (I think!). Further, there were odd rumblings of things amiss with his career and personal life.
Then the following incredible news broke. Written by Hayley Miller and presented on Huffingtonpost.com, it appears Mr. Avenatti’s world is coming crashing down:
The full saying is: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”. What it means, according to phrases.org is:
Don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift.
Why do I mention this?
Because of the release of the Muller report and the subsequent “exoneration” claimed by those in the Trump White House of his very questionable actions leading up to the election and beyond.
Yeah, Muller found he couldn’t quite pin “collaboration” between Russia and the Trump team during the election, though I suspect this was a very near call in the end. Yet he didn’t exactly clear Mr. Trump of obstruction, even if he ultimately didn’t charge Trump or more of his bizarro friends/family in the process.
So in that respect, things look like they’re done on this front and, you know what?
I’m fine with that.
I think Trump has been sufficiently burned that he’ll probably try not to fuck up any more than he has to date. Whatever he did or didn’t do up to the election, I strongly suspect there will be a lot more eyes very wide open for any signs of any suspicious activities.
Further, I’m kinda glad we don’t have, at least for the rest of this year (perhaps) the prospect of an impeachment.
Because I’m old enough to remember the impeachment of Bill Clinton. In the end it was a stupid, pointless exercise and all it did was turn people off of Republicans and their excesses. I feel Nancy Pelosi is operating very cleverly here and remembers what happened then like I do. So she’s playing it cool. She doesn’t accept the findings until she sees the full report but neither does she jump up and down pronouncing crimes under every rock while making herself -and the party- look silly.
Leave that to the experts as Trump does that well enough on his own.
With impeachment off the table, if indeed it remains that way until the next election, Trump will have to run on his record and I suspect there won’t be all that much to be proud off, despite all his grand pronouncements.
Yeah, it sucks that a stronger case wasn’t made against him. I still suspect he’s guilty of collusion and obstruction, at the very least and that’s without mentioning all the questionable financial issues dogging him.
So take this down this very hard pill to swallow (another nice little cliche!) and when election time rolls around, there is no excuse for those who share my opinion to do what they should: Vote the man out and rid ourselves once and for all of him and his clown show.
I’m not surprised by these developments. Disney has been on a roll of late, making buckets of money on their parks, their movies, and their TV shows. When Disney bought up Marvel Comics, they went on a further roll with the various Marvel Universe films featuring Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.
Though Disney owned the characters published through Marvel Comics, it was Fox which had the rights to making movies featuring what were arguably the most prominent Marvel Comics characters: Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Fantastic Four.
Now, I’m not suggesting the only reason Disney targeted buying up Fox was to get all the Marvel characters’ movie rights under one umbrella, but given some of the loads o’ cash these films make, it had to be a consideration.
So, for those who long to see an Avengers vs. X-Men film, it looks like it could well be on the horizon.
On various boards, people who are fans of Disney’s Marvel films are happy for this possibility, but I’m rather disturbed by the whole thing.
Because we seem to be reaching a point these days where there exist one or two or three companies that control virtually all the entertainment being fed to us.
Heard of him? His name is William Connolly and he achieved a level of internet/cultural super-stardom because he cracked an egg on the back of Australian Senator Fraser Anning’s head.
Why did he do this to this to Mr. Anning? Because Mr. Anning, a self-avowed White Supremacist, stated the horrific massacre of 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand a couple of days ago was somehow their own fault.
Don’t believe me? Check out this article by Andy Campbell and found on Huffingtonpost.com:
So, Mr. Connolly, a 16 year old boy, cracked an egg on the back of Mr. Anning’s head and the resulting reaction by Mr. Anning and his people, as detailed in this article by Briana Ellison and found on Washingtonpost.com:
I thinks its fair to say no one likes the idea of assaulting people. I certainly don’t like the idea of someone hitting another person with a fist, an egg, a tomato, or whatever.
But you know what I hate even more?
Fifty people killed by a maniac with a semi-automatic weapon -and some 50 more in critical condition- and then hearing some loudmouth ignorant politician justify the actions of this homicidal maniac as the victims getting what they deserved.
An egging seems pretty tame in comparison.
But to some, the egging was a deadly sin. James Woods, no stranger to right wing frothing, denounced egg boy’s actions. So too did actor Dean Cain, who stated on twitter: I would have knocked that kid cold.
This led to plenty of criticism, much of which you can find in this article by Ed Mazza and found on (again) Huffingtonpost.com:
The pile on against Mr. Cain was swift and at times brutal.
I want to move away from Mr. Cain, Woods, and Anning and state: What the hell is going on with the world these days?
I worry the influence on current political figures and their at times subtle and at times in your face statements are having a negative effect on people. It seems like we’re unleashing people’s collective ids and, yes, it seems to coincide with the election of one Donald J. Trump.
I’m not saying he’s to blame for all this. The hatreds were clearly there, mostly under the surface, perhaps held back. But nowadays hearing people excuse the actions of terrible people, as Anning did, then somehow fault a relatively harmless action by a teenager as deserving a whipping, seems odd at best and scary at worst.
Mr. Cain, Mr. Woods, Mr. Anning: How in the world can you on the one hand seem relatively un-bothered by the cold-blooded murder of fifty innocent people in a house of worship (I don’t recall seeing any mention of them tweeting about that to any degree… if they did, my apologies) and then they get riled up with the mischievous and certainly non-lethal actions of a teenager?
…but it’s Spring Break and that means I get to work even harder than usual while simultaneously dealing with more family members (the later being not an unpleasant task at all!).
Still, it does rob me of time I might otherwise use to fill up this page.
A couple of random thoughts:
In light of the news from New Zealand, I wonder how much more evidence is needed to show that White Nationalism is a plague which very much needs to be addressed. I don’t hold Donald Trump to blame for feelings many of these people have, he sure does bear responsibility for being so damn passive to the point of giving them a *wink* *wink* attitude.
Captain Marvel is flying high (pun intended) at the box office though its second week box office falloff was quite steep. It wasn’t catastrophically steep, far from it, and it will most certainly prove to be another big hit for Marvel, yet I still get the impression -and I may be super-wrong here- that this is a “lesser” Marvel feature, one that’s perhaps on the level of a Dr. Strange or Thor 2. Currently over at Rottentomatoes.com, the critical reaction stands at an OK 79% positive while the audience reaction is a slightly cooler 62% positive. Good, certainly, but not too terribly higher than average.
James Gunn was re-hired by Disney to direct/write Guardians of the Galaxy 3. I’ve noted before I really, really hated the original Guardians of the Galaxy and realize I’m in a small minority as it seems almost everyone went head over heels for that film. While the reaction to Guardians of the Galaxy 2 wasn’t quite as positive, I absolutely want people who liked the two films -and there are many of you!- to see a third film delivered by Mr. Gunn and felt it was a shame when Disney -too hurriedly IMHO- fired him.
You see, while I may not like the first GOTG film and skipped the second (and doubt I’ll see it), I absolutely felt Mr. Gunn was screwed by the alt-right (them again) people who dug up his admittedly stupid old twitter posts and weaponized them to get him fired.
Some on the right have noted that Mr. Gunn is getting better treatment than, say, Roseanne Barr, but the fact of the matter is that Mr. Gunn wrote those stupid tweets a while back -quite a while before he directed the first GOTG- and has bent over backwards to apologize for them and acknowledge they were attempts at humor that now look like nothing more than the poorest of poor taste. Roseanne Barr, on the other hand, has been writing questionable tweets, including tweets that are borderline -or right across the line- into racism and she hasn’t, to my knowledge, offered a sincere acknowledgement of sorrow.
I suppose if you feel the two situations are comparable I’d be the last person to convince you otherwise.
Finally, I have to once again thank everyone out there reading my books. The pace of reading them hasn’t slowed and I’m delighted to see there is an interest in those books.
I’m writing the next novel and of late I’ve been delighted with the direction the book is going in.
The book in question is Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, and the cover to the book looks like this:
Which is, of course, a parody of…
So the judge felt the Star Trek book was “fair use” and didn’t harm the Dr. Suess estate.
I… I don’t agree. Yes, Mad magazine exists for many years doing “fair use” parodies of pop culture icons…
…and I totally get that being “fair use”. Mad magazine essentially exits (in large part) of parodying A LOT of cultural icons.
But the Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! is not part of some series. It is a one off book that clearly makes use of Star TrekAND Dr. Suess to make its point of sale and I strongly suspect what’s inside the book also takes its point from Dr. Suess’ works (though, having not seen the whole thing, I don’t know).
I also strongly, STRONGLY suspect Paramount Pictures, the company that has the copyright to the Star Trek property, approved of/holds the copyright to this particular work and therefore “OK’ed” it for release.
Why, if that is the case, is the Dr. Suess estate considered not as important on OKing this?
I have to say, if someone used my stories/properties and created a one-off book that very clearly used my concepts to sell their work, I’d be plenty pissed at the judge who made that ruling.
Yesterday it was reported that actor Jan-Michael Vincent had passed away on February 10th, almost a month ago, at the age of 73.
There are those who may know nothing about Jan-Michael Vincent. Here’s a trailer from The Mechanic, one of the movies he co-starred in with Charles Bronson back in 1972 and which I remember him best for…
The movie would be re-made later with Jason Statham in the Bronson role but , IMHO, it didn’t hold a candle to the original film and completely wiffed on what made the original so good: The ending.
Jan-Michael Vincent would appear in several movies, many of which may be classified as B films but were enjoyable nonetheless, throughout the 1970’s. He nonetheless established himself well enough that when he made the move to TV and the series Airwolf in 1984, he reportedly earned $200,000 per episode, an amount that made him one of the highest paid actors on TV at the time.
Alas, he was simultaneously spiraling out of control in a vicious cycle of drugs and alcohol which ultimately led to him becoming an undesirable in the field he worked in, as well as endangering his life.
Many of the details (and they are quite sad) can be read in this article about Mr. Vincent’s passing as written by David Moye and presented on Huffingtonpost.com:
At the risk of paraphrasing the article, Mr. Vincent was in a major car accident in 1996 which resulted in him breaking his neck and injuring his vocal cords. In 2000 he was ordered to pay over $350,000 to a girlfriend he assaulted and who subsequently miscarried. He also spent 60 days in jail at that time due to violating his probation regarding alcohol related convictions. In 2008 he had another car accident and developed a leg infection. The lower right leg had to be amputated.
Mr. Vincent, who once looked like this…
Was photographed later in life and after all that hard living looking like this…
I don’t mean to put these images there to shock you. Again, it saddens me tremendously to see Mr. Vincent in these later in life pictures.
While he may not have been one of the greatest actors out there, as a child of the 1970’s and 80’s, he was a near constant in theaters and on TV.
I lovedThe Mechanic. So much so that when I wrote this novel, which was released before the Jason Statham remake of the movie, I used that title. Yeah, I suppose I stole it, though to be fair the term “mechanic” was well known as slang for a hitman/mercenary. Still, when I used the title I didn’t think many would remember that old film…
I also loved Mr. Vincent in Damnation Alley, a post-apocalyptic thriller that also featured George Peppard…
And, yeah, I really enjoyed him on Airwolf…
Seeing him in that photo above, broken down, old, missing the lower half of his right leg, makes me incredibly sad.
I suppose in the end its one of those cautionary tales. You can have everything in life, success, money, looks… and yet still throw them away.
Rest in peace, Mr. Vincent. Despite it all, I’ll remember the joy you brought me in your roles.
Way, waaaaaay back when I was very young, one of the things that thrilled me to death was DC comic’s 100 Page Super-Spectacular books.
Here are some of them, which I do not have:
These books, in general, had one or two “new” stories and a bunch of reprints from either the golden or silver age of comics. My understanding, well after the fact, was that the line of comics released were something of a dud, sales-wise, and this is the reason they were discontinued. Perhaps young people like myself had difficulty shelling out the 0.50-0.60 cents versus a “regular” comic which cost 0.20 cents at that time. Perhaps, unlike me, people weren’t as into getting all those extra pages of reprints.
Of the ones 100 page Super-Spectaculars released, my absolute favorites were the Detective Comics issues. They ran for a total of 8 issues from 438 through 445 and featured the bulk of the wonderful Archie Goodwin/Walt Simonson Manhunter stories (they started in the issue 437 and finished in issue 443). But also featured were such classic “new” Batman stories like issue 439’s The Night of the Stalker…
Or the wonderful Archie Goodwin/Alex Toth Death Flies the Haunted Sky in issue 442…
And, of course, the wonderful conclusion to the Manhunter story-line, which featured Batman, in issue 443…
Finally, the Detective Comic Super-Spectaculars ended with the first two chapters of the Len Wein written and, for the most part Jim Aparo drawn multi-part Bat-Murderer! storyline, issues 444 and 445…
As well as the Bat-Murderer story line began, it petered out in its last three or so issues and concluded in the regular sized Detective Comics #448…
Why am I going into such details about these particular issues of this particular book?
Because Detective Comics is about to reach its 1000th issue and, over on ComiXology.com individual Detective Comics issues are available, including the entire 100 page Super-Spectaculars, for sale. Please note, these are the DIGITAL editions of the books and they are currently going for a mere 0.99 cents each (normally each digital edition goes for $1.99, so you’re getting it for half-price).
So, yeah, I’m pitching something I’m not going to make a red-penny on but if you’re a fan of some of these books, or any Detective Comics available on the ComiXology website (they have issues going back to the first Batman appearance through the wonderful silver age works, the many Neal Adams-drawn issues, to the present) you may want to give it a look-see. Here’s the link: