That time Harvey Pekar got banned from Letterman

Categories: Comic Books
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Published on: May 20, 2015

Salon has a piece this morning on Harvey Pekar’s last appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. The headline’s emphasis is on Letterman, which makes sense given it is his last week on the air.

Never saw it? Not to worry, there is a grainy YouTube video:

I never got the impression that Letterman was angry at Pekar so much for the anti-GE talk as much as that Pekar was being an asshole. Oh course, the fact that Pekar was an asshole is a lot of why we liked him, and the reason he got on the show in the first place.

American SplendorSomething I found funny back when the American Splendor movie was released ten years ago was how often Pekar would be referred to as a “David Letterman guest.” I guess being on TV a few times give you more cred that a mere comic book writer.

Pekar made sure he got the last word. The exchange was portrayed in American Splendor #14 (“The David Letterman Exploitation Issue”).

Interestingly, despite the vitriol that Pekar seemed to display in the interview, the portrayal in the comic (a story called “The Grand Finale”) of David Letterman is relatively respectful. Mostly, this is that Pekar’s “voice” in the story is that of a detached observer. He is only reporting on what happened. Also, as Two Geeks Talking notes, Pekar’s telling is also an admission that, much like his portrayal of himself in his comics, he may have ramped up his own irascibility to make for better TV.

Despite his honest telling of the exchange, he censored it a wee bit.

AS Image 9

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Geek Question of the Day

Categories: Snarky Complaints
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Published on: May 13, 2015

Okay, everyone (well, nearly everyone) knows the error in Star Wars where Han Solo brags about completing the Kessal Run in 12 parsecs. Parsecs measure distance and not time, and no one buys George Lucas’s explanation that he knew that all along and meant that Solo knew a short cut or some such nonsense.

Pointing out the error has become one of those ways to show that you are “in the know” as a Star Wars fan. But, here’s the thing that gets me: why would Solo or anyone in a “Galaxy far, far away” be using parsecs to measure anything?

A parsec is approximately three and a quarter light years and has been in use for about a century. It is based on the distance from which the Earth and the Sun would appear one second of arc away from each other. Given the difference in sizes, it is doubtful that the Earth would appear at all if it is that far in apparent distance from the Sun. Never mind that though; it is in common use in astronomy.

Here’s the trouble: how would some guy from Alderaan establish what a parsec is? Is there some definition like, “Hey, you know that star? If there was a planet 93 million miles from it, how far away would you have to be for them to be an arcsecond apart? That’s my new measurement!”

Obviously, someone didn’t think this through.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Not quite incognito

Categories: Old Pueblo
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Published on: May 5, 2015

A van with the KVOA logo pulls up and the window rolls down. A woman wearing sunglasses who is clearly Lupita Murrillo pokes her head out.

“Excuse me. I’m a reporter with channel 4.”

I had that figured.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Jury Duty

Categories: Rumination
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Published on: April 23, 2015

On jury duty today, so yes, I am typing this from one of those computers they have in case we get bored.

So, I show up promptly at 7:25 and I’m asked to put my bag in the plastic box and empty my pockets of all metal objects. I manage to get through the metal detector without a beep (I set it off at the board of supervisors the other day), and I watch my bag go through the metal detector.

“Sir, could you take out your harmonica?”

My what? I had forgotten it was even in there.

“Are you kidding?”

“You need to take it out and claim it later.”

Who knew?

I didn’t have my melodica, which would have been harder to squirrel away in a bag. I know from personal experience that it’s contraband at both RFK Stadium and the StubHub Center.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Leroy Dyson

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Published on: April 2, 2015

One of my earliest friendships I made in the Democratic Party was Leroy Dyson. I’d say I knew him since I was sixteen or so. He passed away last week, and his funeral mass was on Friday.

One of the readers at the mass was former state legislator Larry Bahill, who was a long time friend of Leroy from both of their times at Pima County. He read a passage from the Book of Wisdom. If you haven’t heard of the Book of Wisdom, it might be because it is part of the Catholic version of the Old Testament, but not the Jewish or Protestant ones. It all came down to a dispute between Jerome and Augustine that boiled over again a dozen centuries later.

I asked St. Pius X Church for a copy of the passage. It was from chapter 4:

The just man, though he die early,
shall be at rest.
For the age that is honorable comes not
with the passing of time,
nor can it be measured in terms of years.
Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age.
He who pleased God was loved;
he who lived among sinners was transported—
Snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind
or deceit beguile his soul;
For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right
and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind. Having become perfect in a short while,
he reached the fullness of a long career;
for his soul was pleasing to the LORD,
therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand,
nor did they take this into account.

I checked my own Bible, and in that translation “hoary crown” is “gray hair.” Anyone that knew Leroy remembers that perfect white halo of hair he had, and that near permanent smile. I’ll miss saying hi to him at party events.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Storms

Categories: Old Pueblo
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Published on: March 19, 2015

I hadn’t been paying attention to the weather reports, so when it was cold and cloudy yesterday I was kind of shocked. It’s almost like March weather or something.

My favorite part about a storm coming in is what the clouds do to the Catalina Mountains. From most parts of town, they look like a painting. I can perceive some texture there, but it can be hard to tell where one particular ridge line separates one mountain from the one behind it. Then the clouds move in. I can see the misty separation between the ridges. When the storm hasn’t quite moved over the entire range, I can see the southernmost ridges stand out all alone on a hazy gray and white background.

You can tell the natives from the noobs by who actually appreciates the storms around here.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

More blurry

Categories: Not So Local Music
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Published on: March 12, 2015

I hated Blurred Lines when it came out a couple of years ago. The one redeeming feature of it is the hook that was lifted from Marvin Gaye, which as we know has been found by a court to be plagiarism.

Thicke did himself no favors with his testimony, which showed him to be as much of a jackass as a song that all-but endorses date rape would indicate him to be. It’s kinda fun seeing him hoisted on his own douchey petard.

Rock ‘n’ Roll, and all the forms of pop music that have sprung from it in one way or another, has been organized theft for generations. Where is that line between being influenced by what came previously and ripping it off? Are you just using a riff that has become a common part of musical language or are you lifting a song? Blurred lines, indeed.

I suppose one way you can do it is by avoiding ripping off a song that you famously covered:

Or, at least don’t use the title of the song you are ripping off:

Yeah, well.

As much as I like to see the smug Thick slapped around for his smuggest song, there might be a problem here. Back in 1991, Biz Markie lifted an entire Gilbert O’Sullivan song and threw new lyrics on top of it. It was not a “sample,” it was theft. When the court ruled against him, record companies got nervous. Hip Hop acts who were constructing music out of pastiches of found sounds were lumped in with Biz Markie even though they were doing something far different. No one wanted to get sued, so even someone like Terminator X was caught up in the prop wash. It made Hip Hop into much more of a producer’s medium and sidelined the talented DJ’s.

LA Weekly points out that much the same thing could happen out of this case. At least it might keep people from bragging about who they are ripping off, I guess.

And they say marijuana hampers judgement…

Categories: Old Pueblo
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Published on: March 6, 2015

I haven’t read the police report yet, but I imagine the dialogue to sound like this:

“I know that the police are watching me and half of this town is waiting for me to trip up, but yes, stranger that I just met, I would love to sell you some weed.”

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Ash Wednesday

Categories: Blatant Romanism
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Published on: February 18, 2015

Today is Ash Wednesday, which means we get to hear a reading from Matthew chapter 6 that warns about outward expressions of piety. I know that the reason why it is read today is that the chapter gives advice on fasting, which is important to hear before Lent. Still, I find it ironic that it gets read just moments before a priest marks your forehead so everyone knows that you’ve been to church.

Years ago, I wrote something similar and got a reply from a Lutheran (unsure of the synod, but by his tone, unlikely ELCA) who decided it was a good opportunity to school a Catholic on what the ashes really mean. I would have appreciated the dialogue, but the smugness bothered me and showed that he really didn’t get what I was writing about.

When I worked at Tork’s, my Muslim boss gave me a break to run off and get ashes. Scratch that, he insisted on it. I’ve had a lot of bosses who claim all sorts of flavors of Christianity, but the first one I had that gave me room to get ashes was a very devout Muslim.

I take this seriously enough that I know the ashes are not a crass marketing gimmick, but if it were, it would seem to work well. Priests have told me that attendance at masses on Ash Wednesday is only outdone by Easter and Christmas Eve. The funny part about it is that it is not a day of obligation.

Since it isn’t a day of obligation, many churches offer, for lack of a better word, “quickie” ashes. Our local Episcopal diocese is offering “Ashes To Go” at Ronstadt Center and Starbucks.

I am not a member of St. Pius X, but I make a point of heading over there to get ashes because it is only a few blocks from work. They have a “to go” offered in the parking lot, but you are obliged to write a sin or intention on a piece of paper and put it in a fire they have going.

Usually, it is a lay minister that gives the ashes. This time, I got them from Fr. Harry Ledwith. Ledwith gave a rosary at the service for Ruben Nuñez years ago that still sticks with me. He gave ashes to a group of four of us. He knew the other three but did not know me.

He made a point of asking my name. I anticipated him asking why he never sees me at mass, so I told him that I go to the Benedictine Monastery, but his church was near my work. He saw a woman approaching with a cane and said, “I am going to need to go to her.”

I saw he was busy so I walked back to the car.

“I hope we see more of you Ted,” he said as I opened my door.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Self Reflection

Categories: Rumination
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Published on: February 17, 2015

I was waiting to exit a parking lot, and a kid, probably 18 or 19, crosses in front of me. He had black boots, tight worn out jeans and a denim jacket with a half dozen patches for punk bands. Oh, and a big cloth emblem safety pinned on the back. One must have that. I didn’t recognize what group that was for.

He also had a mohawk. Looking at the whole ensemble, my first thought was, “Dude, 1982 happened. Get over it.”

Moments later, a Clash song came on the radio. I turned it up.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

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