Tag: Brainiac on Banjo

Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence

Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence

“And now you dare to look me in the eye. Those crocodile tears are what you cry. It’s a genuine problem, you won’t try to work it out at all, you just pass it by.” Substitute, written by Pete Townshend

Image created by Jay Vollmar for The Washington Post

I’m about to ask a serious question that should, and eventually will, become central to the artificial intelligence story. It has to do with the conflation of reality and the effluvia of computer-created content.

First, I need to report the backstory that generated my concerns. It’s a tough story revolving around one of the societal taboos that most certainly should be taboo — but it’s not the actions of the perpetrator with which I take issue. This is a closed case: the criminal pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

This is a discussion topic, not an analysis of disgusting acts that the defendant says he committed. I’m discussing a point that rests at a legal and a moral juncture, at least in my mind. Here’s the news story, as reported in The Guardian last Friday.

CONTENT WARNING –  A text version of a news report concerning images of child abuse follows.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence”

Brainiac On Banjo: How Does Tom Brevoort Relax?

Brainiac On Banjo: How Does Tom Brevoort Relax?

No place to hide… no place to run. The mutant age has now begun! Magneto’s hordes are on their way to pillage, burn and plunder, but there’s one team that will not yield, the team that strikes like thunder! — Theme song for Pryde of the X-Men (unsold 1989 television pilot) written by Robert J. Walsh.

It just so happens I have a lot of respect for Tom Brevoort. He’s been editing over at Marvel Comics since they were published on papyrus scrolls, and he’s been doing a damn good job.

That says a lot — looking at the history of our beloved medium, comics have had a tendency to eat up editors and spit them out due to our incessant squirming. The job takes knowledge, skill, and perseverance to keep straight all those characters, and Tom’s job for the past quarter-century has been to oversee the surfeit of Avengers titles.

The last time I counted, that means Brevoort had to keep track of enough costumed characters to squeeze out the population of Chongqing. Yeah, look it up.

I can understand why he’d be interested in doing something new. Sure, I’ve got a short attention span, but what the hell, he’s earned the right to kick back and try a few “new” characters on for size.

You know, like taking oversight over the X-Men titles. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: How Does Tom Brevoort Relax?”

Brainiac On Banjo #073: Weed Thrills, Part One

Brainiac On Banjo #073: Weed Thrills, Part One

So, what’s it like to wake up one morning after a decade-long nap only to discover that you have to take your shoes off at the airport, same-sex marriage is legal and you can buy the demon weed marijuana over-the-counter in 17 states and counting?

I dunno. Go ask a Trumper.

Marijuana has been a major part of our popular culture for over a half-century and was a significant background aspect for at least another 30 years. It has ruined many lives: hundreds of thousands of largely young people have been arrested and imprisoned for using the stuff, particularly in America’s communities of color. Once imprisoned you are forever a convict and life after incarceration has been pretty well laid out for you: minimum wage jobs if you’re lucky, restrictions on your movements locally and internationally at least while you’re on parole, and ostracization by the masses of hypocritical assholes who think your private behavior is any of their business. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #073: Weed Thrills, Part One”

Brainiac on Banjo #017: Post-Reality Credits

Brainiac on Banjo #017: Post-Reality Credits

This might sound kind of bitchy, but then again regular readers of Brainiac On Banjo will note that my default writing style is set to “bitchy.” Hey, it’s a living.

If you watch superhero movies, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the plethora of post-credits teaser scenes. Don’t get me wrong: I love these post-credits teaser scenes. They were pioneered by Marvel Studios over a decade ago. I enjoy the fact that, recently, Marvel added a mid-credits sequence to most of their releases as well. I understand why those Marvel character movies that aren’t produced by Marvel Studios now have them as well – most of the current Spider-Man movies, the ever-widening X-Men cluster and, brilliantly, the Deadpool movies.

I like how Warner Bros imitates this in many of their DC movies, as have other franchises. To be fair, Marvel Studios “borrowed” the stunt from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, released 22 years prior to Iron Man I.I think there should be a law passed that each and every movie produced today and in the future – including documentaries – be compelled to have a post-credits sequence, preferably featuring Samuel L. Jackson and/or Robert Downey Jr. To lighten the budget, Sam can push a few credit cards if he so desires. But the last episode if the first season of DC’s Titans, lawfully available only on DC’s DC Universe streaming site, has an end-credits teaser that will most definitely screw you up.  Continue reading “Brainiac on Banjo #017: Post-Reality Credits”

Brainiac On Banjo #012: Streaming The Universe

Brainiac On Banjo #012: Streaming The Universe

The streaming service called DC Universe is up and running. Sort of. If you’re looking to discover why Robin angrily said “Fuck Batman!” you’re going to have to wait about a month, or fly to New York City, sneak into the New York Comic-Con (by all means, do not give those bastards your money), stand at the back of a cramped overstuffed under-air conditioned room and watch Titans about a week early.

Wow. I actually digressed in the lead paragraph. I’ll get back to my intended rant now.

The world of “television” changes every day, and where it’s heading right now seems to be an environment where you are getting a lot more entertainment and a lot more choice of where you want to get it. You also have a lot more hassle, signing up for Crom-knows how many streaming services. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Sling, HBO Now, DirecTV Now, Showtime When, Playstation Vue, Acorn, WatchTV, CBS All Access, ESPN+, Cinephiles, YouTube TV, NuMedia, Mubi, Fandor, Sundance, and now DC Universe… I’m sure I missed a few. Hell, before I did my research I hadn’t even heard of six of them. But even if you have, do not relax: there are plenty more coming your way, including Disney, which may or may not include Marvel and/or Star Wars and/or Pixar and/or Fox.

Each of these services run between about $5 to $50 a month and while there is some overlap, you’ve got to join – and pay for – each one separately. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that we’ll see mergers and washouts and aggregating services to lighten the load. But it’s unlikely there will be a service that lets you triple your available viewing time.

OK. “It’s a brave new world, yadda yadda yadda.” Every day it’s a goddamned brave new world. No wonder our attention spans have been reduced to that of kittens.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #012: Streaming The Universe”

Brainiac On Banjo #011: Death of A Super-Hero?

Brainiac On Banjo #011: Death of A Super-Hero?

He rides through the jungle, tearin’ limbs off of trees Knockin’ great big monsters dead on their knees The cats don’t bug him ’cause they know better ‘Cause he’s a mean motor scooter and a bad go-getter He’s the toughest man there is alive Wears clothes from a wildcat’s hide He’s the king of the jungle jive Look at that cave man go!

Way back in May 1960, the ABC network purchased a Chicago-based rural-oriented radio station from the Prairie Farmer magazine, not because they wanted to aid corn-growers but because it was a 50,000 watt “class A” radio station. That meant it was received by listeners in about 33 states, much of Canada, and, if you lived next to their transmission towers, probably your dental fillings as well.

In other words, they wanted a money machine. Pursuant to this, WLS changed format from “music to milk cows by” to that nasty-ol’ rock’n’roll. ABC thought the farmers wouldn’t appreciate the musical musings of Chuck Berry, Brenda Lee, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and the ever-frightening Elvis Presley. So, in order to clear the field, they chose one song to play over and over and over for a few days. Their disc jockeys were a talented group of kids including the legendary Dick Biondi and Bob Hale, who a year previous had emceed the Iowa concert where Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens performed their last. Those jocks were the heart and soul of the station. They announced that song under various contrived titles. The farmers quickly found something else to listen to, and the kids were brought in through word-of-mouth generated by their redundancy programming.

That song was Alley Oop, performed by The Hollywood Argyles and written by Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus, two of rock’s most important writers. For the record, it debuted on WLS a month before official release. The song was based upon the brilliant newspaper comic strip of the same name – which, unless I’m mistaken (it happens), was not published in any of the five major Chicago newspapers at the time.

Oh, wait. This isn’t about rock’n’roll radio. It’s about an obituary. Well, maybe not. Hopefully not.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #011: Death of A Super-Hero?”

Brainiac On Banjo #010: The Defenders Drop Five

Brainiac On Banjo #010: The Defenders Drop Five

My favorite Marvel characters, thank you for asking, are a bunch of characters that have a tough time holding onto their own titles. They started out their solo adventures in the 1960s split-books Strange Tales, Tales To Astonish, and Tales of Suspense. No, I do not count Journey Into Mystery because when the other titles dropped their mystery stories JIM actually became a Thor title.

So there. I’m a fanboy. I get to be anal retentive. It’s in the job description.

To narrow it down, those favorite characters of mine are, in no particular order, Nick Fury, Sub-Mariner, and Doctor Strange. In other words, two-thirds of the original Defenders, plus Nick Fury – who now disappears from my rant. When Marvel wanted to launch a new super-team book, they reached to the Sub-Mariner and to Doctor Strange, adding the Hulk to the group to provide necessary muscle and humor.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #010: The Defenders Drop Five”

Brainiac On Banjo #009: The Four Million Dollar Fan

Brainiac On Banjo #009: The Four Million Dollar Fan

I’m going to start with two facts.

Fact #1 – The first big-ass comic book convention that attracted lots of people from beyond its immediate environs was the 1964 New York Comicon. It, in turn, led to thousands of comic book conventions, many called “comicons,” “comic-cons,” and similar-sounding derivatives.

Fact #2 – There is a difference between law and ethics. Our laws usually try to be precise. Ethics tend to vary a bit from person to person and, certainly, from time to time. One person easily could steal from another – particularly in the area of intellectual property – and be cool with our laws.

All of this comes to mind because there was a verdict last Thursday in the case of the San Diego Comic Con versus the Salt Lake Comic Con. San Diego said they trademarked the term, and this is so. They didn’t create it, they weren’t even among the first to employ it, but they did trademark it. And so, last winter, San Diego won a $20,000 judgment against Salt Lake for trademark infringement.

I’m thinking of trademarking “U.S. District Court…” but I digress.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #009: The Four Million Dollar Fan”

Brainiac on Banjo #006: To Boldly Return… Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah

Brainiac on Banjo #006: To Boldly Return… Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah

Saturday, August 4, 2018. A momentous day for many, but an Earth-shattering day for Star Trek fans. You see, in Las Vegas this past Saturday Patrick Stewart announced he was returning to the role that made him famous and Paramount very wealthy, Jean-Luc Picard.

Okay. First, the news part. The new show, evidently untitled and certainly unwritten, is set 20 years in Captain Picard’s future. Therefore, he’s older in body and in attitude. He’s seen a lot of stuff he can never unsee. So… how does this relic (I’m referring to Picard and not to Stewart) adjust to his environment? Does he charge out into the universe, sword in hand, screaming for Cardassian blood? I know I would. Hell, I might even do so yet.   Continue reading “Brainiac on Banjo #006: To Boldly Return… Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah”

Brainiac On Banjo #005: Nostalgia Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Read

Brainiac On Banjo #005: Nostalgia Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Read

I see by the internet that the print version of The Comics Journal will be returning to our friendly neighborhood comics shops this coming January. That’s cool. I appreciate their work in expanding the purview of the medium while establishing a language for criticism and education. That’s grown-up stuff for a medium that used to be perceived, and often continues to be perceived, as sophomoric clap-trap.

But I come here today not to praise intellectualism in comics journalism. I find myself thinking back to the days when comics fans were fraught with nostalgia, reminded by the fact that The Comics Journal originally was called The Nostalgia Journal. 

Ah, good times. But my mind’s unstoppable WABAC Machine is stuck in reverse.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #005: Nostalgia Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Read”