STAN LEE: WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY? – BY TOM CURLEY

Stan Lee died. He was 95. He was an American icon.

He didn’t just create an American mythology, he didn’t just create a world.  Tolkien created a mythology.

J.K. Roland created a wizarding world.

Stan Lee created a Universe.

When the news came out many people, especially old, old friends emailed me. They all know I was, and still am a huge comic book nerd. Every week when I was old enough to walk to the store, I would buy the latest comic books. They cost 10 cents. Then they went up to 12 cents. I didn’t own a copy of Spiderman#1.

Or the Fantastic Four #1.

But I did own the first copy of every other Marvel character that debuted after that. Iron Man, The Hulk,  The X-Men, etc.

Every single one. I wasn’t a collector. They were just there and new, so I bought them. Years later I was in a bookstore and I found a book of comic collectibles and what they were worth. I started to tally up all the issues I remembered I owned. I stopped at 17-THOUSAND DOLLARS! So, you say, why didn’t you just sell them all?  Because when I was about 17 my mother put all of them into three grocery bags and GAVE THEM AWAY TO OUR BARBER!!!

That was over 50-years ago, and I still haven’t gotten over it.

I loved comic books. I loved all the Marvel and DC characters. When I was ten, I had a tiny desk in my bedroom where I would trace pages of Spiderman comics and make my own stories.

I still have that little desk. Spiderman was my favorite. He still is. Spiderman appealed to all the kids who got picked on, who were scrawny, who were nerds. Suddenly they had superpowers.

They were superheroes. I always hoped that someday, somehow, I would get bitten by a radioactive spider and become Spiderman. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I still do. I always have.

When I read about Stan Lee’s death, I got to thinking about this again. But this time, for some reason, my fantasy about becoming Spiderman changed a little. The fantasy is, you wake up one morning and you’re Spiderman. But for the first time, I started to think about what happens next.

First, I realize, I’m Spiderman! Awesome! I can climb on the walls! I can pick up a  car!

I rush to tell my wife, Ellin.

ME: Ellin! I’m Spiderman! I can climb on walls! I can pick up a car!”

ELLIN: That’s nice. Can you climb up the walls and change all the light bulbs that are out in the Kitchen?

ME: You don’t understand. I’m Spiderman now. I have to use my powers to for good! I have to fight crime! I have to use my webs to swing from building to building and save people from being mugged!

ELLIN: We live in Easton CT. There is no crime here. And we live in the woods. There are no buildings to swing from. Just a lot of trees.

ME: Well, yeah. OK, I could go to New York City.

ELLIN: Really? You’re going to start commuting to the city, again? You did that for 40-years. That’s why you retired. To stop having to spend four hours a day in a car commuting.

ME: Yeah, well yes, but with great power comes great responsibility!

ELLIN: And even if you do start commuting to the city again how are you going to swing from building to building with your webs? Don’t you need a web shooter thingy to shoot all those webs? You’d have to invent it. You’re a retired TV Director, not a genius 16-year-old biochemist.

ME: I never thought of that.  But still, with great power comes great responsibility!

ELLIN: I agree. You now have great powers and you have great responsibilities. First, you have the responsibility to take out the garbage. It’s overflowing. And there are light bulbs out in the bedroom.

ME: But, but…

ELLIN: No buts, garbage, light bulbs.

So, there you have it. At least I don’t have to hire anybody to clean the gutters on the roof anymore.

And I can still bench press a car.


RIP Stan Lee


Nuff said.

Excelsior!

AN AWFUL TERRIBLE HORRIBLE DAY AT WORDPRESS – Marilyn Armstrong

I went to take a look at the brand spanking new format for WordPress.


WARNING: If you do that, you will NOT be able to go back to your old format. I think what they have done is eliminate all the old versions of the editor we used, so you can use the new one, or hope they don’t delete the old ones entirely and leave you with this mess.

Which is what I think is really going to happen. 


Now, there are things about the “new new new new editor” that may — eventually, when they get the bugs fixed — be useful. But right now? You can’t even get a set of standard editing functions across the top of your page. 

They also (apparently, unless it’s a bug) have a limited number of categories — AND they no longer offer you the option of picking up an old post so you can rewrite it.

I’ve got nearly 8,000 posts, so yes, I go back and rewrite material. After you’ve been doing this for a long time, why not?

In this new format, I opened categories and it dies after the letter “C.” What happened to “D” through “Z”? You can’t even find the missing pieces by typing the category name in the search list. Nothing comes up. This will effectively lose thousands of posts and pictures.

I went through and deleted all the one I used very rarely. That got me all the way to “D.” When I eventually found my way back to the “classic editor,” all the deletes were not made.


NOTHING IN THAT SOFTWARE IS WORKING. NO ONE BETA TESTED IT. NO ONE.


I don’t object to change. I object to untested changes and buggy software. I pay to use WordPress.  I object to being forced to do stuff the way they decree. If this is such a great interface (it might be POTENTIALLY, but it definitely isn’t there yet), then people will use it. You don’t have to club us over the head.

Also, they are no longer offering help to anyone but business users … so they’ve forced me to use this very buggy interface and there’s no one to talk to. Maybe this will finally push me over the edge.

You know that whole thing about this being a free country? Well … this kind reminds me that anyone who doesn’t follow orders is not free. What is wrong with having more than one interface? How does it hurt anyone?


A thing that happens as we age is we lose contact with pop culture. We retire. We don’t feel impelled to learn to do it differently unless there’s a really good reason to do it. Unless you’re paying me to do it your way, try not to get too bent out of shape if I prefer to do it my way. It may be different, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

We are happy with the way we do things. They are comfortable and trust me, retirement and comfortable go together like guitar and bass. It starts early, as early as ones 30s when you realize you don’t like the music. By your 40s, you don’t care who knows it and by fifty, you drop any pretense of caring any of “the latest things.”

It doesn’t mean that nothing new makes the cut, but I’ve been a writer my whole life and any product that requires me to access multiple pages to accomplish the same task that previously could be done on a single page is NOT an improvement. This is poorly designed software.

That’s right: it’s BAD SOFTWARE. 
That’s not how the pros do it, kids. 
was one of them.


I’ve been reading about this upcoming new interface for a while. I really had my fingers crossed that just this once, WordPress would have the grace to fully test it and make sure it worked. It is not an UPGRADE if it’s harder to use than the old one — especially if the task is identical.

Drop down lists for everything? Dumping most of my categories? Completely changing how media is handled without so much as an introduction? Discovering that we no longer have access to help?


So, they did it again, but this is the worst yet. I’m wondering if it’s worth it. WordPress doesn’t want writers and photographers. They want business accounts.

I’m not a business. I am not selling anything. I’m trying to just enjoy life. 

This isn’t going to be fun. It’s going to be a major league headache. They’ve been cutting down on what they offer “premium” users for years and at this point, nothing seems to be what they are offering. Platform, templates, and good luck. What they are clearly saying is simple.


WORDPRESS DOES NOT CARE ABOUT USERS. 


You know how Sears is going out of business? Well … guess what? I’m pretty sure driving away all the people who do creative stuff which brings in new people is not going to help WordPress get richer (they are already making plenty of money) than they already are. But not to worry.

There’s always bankruptcy. 

FLOWING WATER – CEE’S BLACK & WHITE CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

The Stream in Ellin and Tom’s Backyard

We are in Connecticut and it is snowing. We knew it was going to snow, but it was only a maybe. Meanwhile, the white stuff is falling, but before the snow began, I saw the title for this and said “Oh, hey, I’ll take a few pictures of the stream.”

Then I bumped into WordPress’s new — and incredibly buggy — format. It is currently not usable and I’ve been trying to get back to the old format since this morning. It’s seriously full of bugs and you should wait before you even consider trying it out. I’m not kidding. It may eventually be okay, but right now, it is what I call “unfinished software.” There are actually good ideas in it, but it has clearly NOT been beta tested and there are so many missing elements, it should never have been released until they made it suitable for customers to use. Shame on their software department for putting out a product that is so full of bugs it is functionally useless.

Don’t go there. It’s really not ready to use. They are going to need months to get it to work properly, so stay with whatever already works for you.

And finally, here I am again.

Wider view

With a hint of color

And this next one is definitely NOT the stream, but Roaring Dam in Blackstone. But it’s a great picture of water in motion.

Blackstone Gorge

WON’T YOU EASE MY WORRIED MIND – Rich Paschall

Layla, Rich Paschall

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?

Eric Clapton was a member of several groups before he joined with others to form Derek and the Dominos in 1970.  No, no one was actually named Derek.  Clapton, along with band mate Jim Gordon, penned the famous song and recorded it in 1970 with their new band.  It was released in 1971 without great success.  It’s length was a problem for radio play.  Thus, an edited version at 2:43 was released and hit the Top Ten in 1972.

Derek and the Dominos

The long version was released again in 1972 and appeared on albums by Clapton and Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers fame.  Allman had played guitar on the original studio version of the song.  The long version then found success as a single.

In 1982 the long version was re-released and charted again.  This time it was critically acclaimed as one of the great rock songs of all time.

In January 1992 Clapton recorded an acoustic album which included a new arrangement of the song.  The slower version with a different opening was seen that year on MTV Unplugged.  Clapton was reluctant to release the acoustic recordings, but finally relented and the song was released in September of that year.  The B-side of the vinyl recording was “Tears in Heaven” which also became a hit.

The top video is from a 1986 concert and yes, that is Phil Collins on the drums.  The lower one is from that 1992 MTV Unplugged performance.

HEY HO – THE DUKE – Marilyn Armstrong

THE GRAND DUKE OF OUR ACRES

Weekly Photo Challenge: 4-Legged Friends


We got him by accident. We kept him because he needed a home. We thought eventually, he’d calm down.

He has not calmed down.

He has not become mellow.

He has not recognized that he is home and it safe to relax. Mostly, he wants to be attached to Garry all the time. Physically joined if possible.

He has calm periods, but mostly, he’s like a giant, over-wound spring and if the hour strikes just right, he goes into hyper action and zooms madly around the house, knocking over fences and making the two, relatively quiet little Scotties looking lost and confused.

Resting … however briefly

What’s going on out there!

Portrait of the beast

Exploring the outdoors

Roaming

“I think I smell a squirrel”

Trump and America’s Xenophobic Soul: Reblog – SHINBONE STAR

It started before the Revolution and despite the Civil War and Constitutional amendments, racism has never gone away. Those of us who are the targets of America’s hatefulness –all dark-skinned people, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, Hispanic — basically, anyone whose ancestry was not white European– we all knew. Or should have known.

My mother tried to warn me, but I thought the bad old days were over and she was just being cynical.

I’m glad she isn’t alive. She would hate — and recognize — this “new” world. Because it’s not new. It’s creaking with age and cruelty.


 

THE SHINBONE STAR

In the 1956 movie “Forbidden Planet” the characters come to the realization the monster that’s been steadily kicking their ass is a projection of the id from the subconscious of the ridiculously pompous Dr. Morbius.

Since Donald Trump broke out with his bullshit about former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, professional and academic credentials and then still was elected president, I considered Trump to be a monstrous projection of white America’s id.

Nope. It’s way worse.

I think Trump is the embodiment of the Krell machines — (do yourself a favor and watch this film, it’s worth your time) channeling America’s id into a racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ 30 percent core of electoral malevolence called the GOP.

After these weeks of rolling outrage, it is obvious that everyone now blaming the president for this hostile environment is missing the point: Trump isn’t the disease, he is the symptom.

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