Tag: Washington Post

Brainiac On Banjo: He’ll Save Every One Of Us!

Just a man with a man’s courage. You know he’s nothing but a man, and he can never fail. No one but the pure at heart may find the Golden Grail! – “Flash” written by Brian May.

He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!!!

No, I’m not talking about the return of Chickenman, although that would be welcome. Lucky for us, Rich Koz went on to bigger things. I’m taking about the man who was not comics’ first great space hero, but he was by far the best. Certainly the best drawn, with the best villain ever, anywhere. Born 90 years ago next January 7th, he was the creation of master comics artist Alex Raymond, and for over three decades, he ruled the worlds of heroic fantasy.

Flash Gordon was created as a newspaper comic strip. I assume you’ve read about newspapers online somewhere; comic strips were a feature in most of them except for the New York Times, who were too cheap to buy color presses back in the 1890s so they got all snooty about it and made it a thing. These comics told their stories on a daily basis. We still have newspaper comic strips but only four still tell continued stories, five if you count the brilliant Prince Valiant weekly. The rest are all about the tiresome adventures of misanthropomorphized two-dimensional talking animals. All newspaper extant have pretty much the same selection of funnies, as they were once known back in the days of newspaper competition. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: He’ll Save Every One Of Us!”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #048: History Gets Into Your Lunch

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #048: History Gets Into Your Lunch

Klan Rally, Portland Oregon, circa 1920s

Yesterday afternoon, my pal The Professor told me all she’s been seeing a bunch of Trump 2020 bumper stickers on cars driving about her community of a sudden, which, by the way, is about a 50-minute drive from Baltimore. If I sussed that one out correctly, she was a bit surprised. This emotion was somewhat buried in her obvious disgust.

I, of course, replied in my typical witty, charming and ironic fashion. “Well, good for them. That’s exactly what I would do in the event I was on the Trump campaign payroll.” The Professor’s response was quite logical.

“What? Really? Why?” she asked. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #048: History Gets Into Your Lunch”

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #042: The New York Times: Toonless, Clueless Cowards

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #042: The New York Times: Toonless, Clueless Cowards

About a month ago, the international edition of The New York Times launched a shitstorm when they published an editorial cartoon depicting Donald Trump as Benji Netanyahu’s blind toady. In response, the Gray Lady was loudly condemned by the rabid right for anti-Semitism.

In response to these foolish attacks, the New York Times took a courageous stand. They decided to drop their editorial cartoons across the board. All of them, in both their international edition and their regular American daily. This disappearing act, unless repealed, goes into effect July 1st. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #042: The New York Times: Toonless, Clueless Cowards”

Brainiac On Banjo #014: Should We Ban Banned Books Week?

Brainiac On Banjo #014: Should We Ban Banned Books Week?

Do you remember all the way back to last Tuesday, when the Washington Post still was referred to as a “liberal” newspaper? Many people believe that. The following day, Wednesday September 26th, was the day the Post just might have turned the corner.

Ron Charles, the Post’s book critic, opined we might not need Banned Books Week any longer. “I just wish Banned Books Week didn’t appear to exaggerate a problem that’s largely confined to our repressive past… Are we winning any converts with this annual orgy of self-righteousness?”

He contradicted his point when he reported how many books were, indeed, banned last year. The label of self-righteousness rarely is self-imposed.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that, over the years, I have edited or contributed to a decent number of “banned books” and have been railing against banning books for, damn, a very long time. When it comes to the Pop Culture Squad, well, suffice it to say I am not alone.

Mr. Charles states, among other things (and I urge you to read his piece, to which I conveniently posted the link in my second paragraph), “Doesn’t Banned Books Week carelessly lump together the interested mother with the book-burning Nazi?” Well, part of the parenting process is the unfortunate imposition of mommy and daddy’s more disgusting values onto their children. Such is life, and many kids challenge those “values” as part of their maturation process. But my blanket response to this sort of challenge is “If you don’t want to be conflated with book-burning Nazis, stop acting like a book-burning Nazi!”

I am opposed to removing any book from any library or any bookstore. The librarian and the bookseller have no right to impose their self-indulgent mores upon an unsuspecting audience. By removing that which they find objectionable, they believe they have the right to transplant their views and politics onto everybody else. They most certainly do not.

For the record, I would not even ban Mein Kampf. Indeed, I encourage teenagers to read this book and to discuss it from both the moral and the historical perspectives. As I often do, I once again quote George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Arguably, that is the most important aphorism of all time.

You may ask “OK, smart-ass. Would you edit a graphic novel adaptation of Mein Kampf?” I’m hardly your go-to-guy for far-right-wing subject matter, although I have proudly worked with many conservative and right-wing talent and I never interfered with their points of view. Adolf Hitler… well, my own backstory just might get in the way of that.

In the hands of the right creative team, a Mein Kampf adaptation might work. But it most certainly would not get racked in libraries or placed on Apple Books.

Librarians are teachers and… well… teachers teach. That means discuss, exchange points of view, and listen. Point out the problems with allowing a person with a small gaggle of follows to shove his or her will down everybody else’s throats. That’s particularly important these days, no matter what your worldview might be. If we don’t keep these discussions going, the next thing we’ll see is these same librarians and teachers cart away all the copies of the greatest American novel, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Actually, we’ve been seeing this for a while now, but most of these culture vultures seem content to merely censor the hell out of the book – thereby voiding the author’s point.

I understand his concerns and I think Mr. Charles’ piece was well-written and rather clever. But when it comes to bringing attention to censorship and the imposition of limits to the acquisition of knowledge, his heart is in the right place but his head’s up his ass.

I say that with respect.

Seriously.