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Showing posts from August, 2018

This Week In Vexillology #267

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After a week off (we were in Minnesota for a wedding), This Week In Vexillology is back with a double shot from the Lost Archives of the Unfortunate Wordpress Experiment...  we're heading down to South America this week with the flag of Venezuela:
(True story: I actually have this flag...  it's just buried somewhere, thanks to our move.)

Venezuela's flag is the one designed by Francisco de Miranda for his attempt to liberate the country in 1806 from the Spanish. Venezuela at the time was part of the Viceroyalty of Gran Colombia, which is why you see similar colors/configurations in the flags of Colombia and Ecuador. But the fascinating genesis for these colors specifically apparently came out of a conversation he had with the philosopher Goethe at a party in 1785.

Goethe told Miranda that his "density is to create in your land a place where primary colors are not distorted" He expounded further:
First he explained to me the way the iris transform light into three …

"The Executioner's Daughter"

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It's #ShortFictionFriday, so I'm awfully pleased to present "The Executioner's Daughter."

The germ of this story came out of a recent episode of Hardcore History that I listened to (specifically 'Painfotainment') which mentioned that the job of executioner was traditionally seen as 'unclean' and people weren't usually allowed to touch them and they had to wear special robes when they were out and about in public. They were sort of a profession apart and had a tendency to marry into other families of executioner's. For some reason, that part just sort of stuck in my head and my brain went back to Venus and the world of the floating cities and colonies that I had thought up with "That's Venus, Baby" and so, Lo Shen City came into being and it all sort of fell out of my brain from there.

It feels like there's more to the story than this and as I was writing it, I began to wonder if Ruthie and her story were somehow connecte…

Can We Stop Being Quite So Gleeful About This

Look, I don't like Alex Jones. He's the human embodiment of that feeling you get when you reach up and realize that a bird just took a particularly vile shit on your head. I don't like his websites. I don't like his particularly vile brand of insanity. I didn't cry when he was booted off of Facebook, Twitter and every other social media platform out there.

No one has a right to be on a social media platform. You voluntarily sign up, click the little box to agree to the term of service and there you go. If you violate the terms of service, then you get booted off. It's a pretty simple formula. It's also why you don't rely on one social media platform to promote whatever it is you do- whether it's double scoops of crackpot conspiracy theories with a drizzle of lunacy on the top or just you photography business or writing. It makes you too vulnerable- if you build a business on Facebook and Facebook alone, you're one tweak of a line of code away fr…

Netflix & Chill #48: The Death of Stalin

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Watched On: DVD (Redbox)
Released: 2017
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Paul Chahidi, Dermot Crowley, Adrian McLoughlin, Paul Whitehouse, Jeffrey Tambor
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Pick: Mine

The words 'directed by Armando Iannucci' got my immediate attention when the trailers for The Death of Stalin started making their way around the internet late last year and early this year. The guy behind Veep, The Thick of It and the excellent movie, In The Loop has an excellent track record of producing razor sharp satire, dark comedy and raising profanity to a beautiful artform. (Seriously: when Malcolm Tucker uses the words 'marzipan dildo' in an insult, it's a strangely beautiful thing.) So I was already on board just with Iannucci alone.

But then there was the cast: Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale? You'll recognize a lot…

So, We Moved

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It probably ranks as one of the craziest things we've ever done, but in the space of about two weeks flat we went from exploring the possibilities with the bank to actually emptying out our house and moving in the space of about three days.

What made us move? Well, my parents have been building a house and trying to sell their current house- but the market just hasn't been sending them any offers. Like, no offers at all. They tried reducing the price with no luck and finally they made us an offer we couldn't really refuse and we went ahead and did it. That's right. We're buying my parents' house.

I was more ambivalent than I expected at first. Our current house is beautiful and it's been a great home for us for over two years now- and my parents' house, well... it's their house. Both the Missus and I have sort of wondered aloud during this process whether it's ever going to feel like ours- and I think it will, eventually- especially since we…

Sportsyball!

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Adopt-A-Team: Well, it's that time of year again. Time to pick a new team to follow around for a season to see what happens to them. I shuffled around my league choices (this year I went with Liga MX, Ghana's Football League, The Turkish Superliga and the Chinese Super League) and the winner turned out to be the Turkish SuperLig. So I went to the website, looked at the list of teams and immediately realized that there was really only one choice: Trabzonspor.

Before we get to my soccer reasoning, we have to detour back to my youth when I spent many days and many hours pouring through the Times Atlas of European History where I developed a weird obsession with the Empire of Trebizond. It was there on the map for a few centuries and grew longer and shorter and took little bits of what is now Crimea now and again, but to me, it was the fact that it served as the last historical post-script the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople fell in 1453, Trebizond persisted until 1461.

So, Trabz…

This Week In Vexillology #266

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If there's one thing that just about everyone in the world of vexillology can agree on, it's that there are an awful lot of somewhat woeful and just plain boring state flags out there. One of my favorite podcasts, 99% Invisible did an episode focusing on just that topic- mainly with eye toward skewering municipal flags out there that are just as bad, if not worse. A lot of cities spent the last few years working on addressing the problem: Tulsa, Pocatello and although it's not quite official yet, Milwaukee are all trying to up their flag game.

So why not states?

It's talked about now and again. Both Nebraska and South Dakota have toyed with the idea, but it never seems to go anywhere. Minnesota has an unofficial flag out there in the world. But there's never been a widespread movement to get away from the infamous 'Seals On A Bedsheet.'

There have, however, been some noteworthy attempts redesigning all 50 states. The United We Stand Project from the Bressle…

My Favorite Character To Write

So, someone asked me recently: "Who was your favorite character to write?" That sort of threw me for a loop for a second, because I had never really sat down and thought about it. Here's the thing: both The Prisoner and The Assassin and The Arrows of Defiance (coming to Draft2Digital soon, I swear) represent one end of the story of these characters. For some reason, everything sort of started in the middle of their overall story. I have the entire story of all of these characters in my head somewhere- so when I sat down to think about the answer to that question, it was with the full arc of these characters in mind. So keep in mind, my answer is probably somewhat colored by events in my head that are going to be in the two books I'm going to have to sit down and write at some point to complete the story of all these people I've come to know so well.

But all that being said: Who was my favorite character to write?

Melinda.

Here's the origin story: Melinda is j…

Earhole: What I'm Listening To

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Editor's Note: I wrapped up Albums2010 a couple of months back and I've been pondering on what, if anything was going to succeed it. The problem is that what I listen to isn't just music anymore and sometimes it isn't just an album. It might be a playlist or a song or a podcast or hell, just the plain old fashioned radio.  'What I listen to' is a definition that's constantly changing these days, as such, expect the unexpected with these posts.
So, what's going in my earhole this month?
Somehow, I've taken a left turn and ended up hip deep in the podcasts of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web and I'm fascinated, intrigued and oddly, for the first time in awhile when looking out at the barren cesspool of our discourse, ever so slightly hopeful. 
I suppose we should start at the beginning: what is the Intellectual Dark Web? Well, it emerged after this New York Times article late last year, which profiled a loose and diverse collection of intellect…

Netflix & Chill #47: Black Panther

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Watched On: DVD (Redbox)
Released: 2018
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Pick: Mine

There was so much hype surrounding this film that you would have to believe it almost impossible for the finished product to live up to the hype, but at this point, it would be foolish to bet against Marvel. They've hit far more than they've missed and with Black Panther they might have produced not just their best film ever, but the film of the 'superhero' era that we're currently going through.

The movie opens with the story of Wakanda itself. Five tribes are warring over a meteorite that contains vibranium. One warrior ingests a 'heart shaped herb' and gains superhuman abilities, becoming the first 'Black Panther.' He unites all the tribes save one, the Jabari, who retreat into the mountains int…

This Week In Vexillology #265

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Before I plunge into our regularly scheduled programming, I've gotta give a shout out to The Quiet Man, who mentioned in passing that Milwaukee was attempting to get a new flag and that there was an unofficial 'People's Flag' that they were trying to get adopted as the city's official flag. I was going to maybe use it for this week's entry, however, it turns out that there's an entire beautiful (and I do mean beautiful) website that break it all down in far more detail and with far more love and attention than I could ever do.

So, if you're in Milwaukee, love Milwaukee or just love flags (like I do), get yourself over to https://milwaukeeflag.com and learn all about it- and if you're so inclined, purchase one of these good lookin' flags for yourself. Also: Milwaukee, what the heck are you waiting for? Adopt this bad boy.)

TANGENT'S DONE...

Let's talk about the flags I wanted to talk about it this year. We're jumping back into the Los…

Squawk Box: The Vietnam War

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I had wrapped up a couple of other shows that I was going to include in this post for this month, but after some reflection, I decided that Ken Burns' ten part epic documentary The Vietnam War was worthy of standing alone. There was just too much I took away from it to justify throwing in a couple of other shows to make one long super post. It wouldn't have done it the justice it deserves.

So, right off the bat. If you're into history, military history or just really good documentaries, you need to start watching this. Burns- being the mind behind Baseball and The Civil War and other epic documentaries is a master of the art and his look at America's most divisive war is a powerful story of the mistakes that were made that got us bogged down in a horrible quagmire, as well as a warning to future generations to avoid those mistakes- but I think it was probably this melancholy truth that stuck with me the most: we think we've changed a lot as a nation in the decades…

Bookshot #110: A Wrinkle In Time

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Okay, true confession time: I had never read A Wrinkle In Time before. It's always been kicking around the bookshelves of the Parentals, but for whatever reason I never actually picked it up and read it as a kid. (Which is kind of unusual, because I read just about everything else I could get my hands on as a kid.) But with the release of the movie (which I didn't see when it was in the theaters, but I will probably get around to- at some point) made me get the itch to read the book before I watched the movie.

Meg Murry is smart, but she's always getting into trouble in school. Her little brother, Charles, is spooky smart. Her twin brothers Sandy and Dennys are probably are the most normal of the bunch. Her father has been missing for a couple of years now, vanished in some kind of secret government project and just as the family is beginning to think they're never going to see him again, in the middle of a dark and stormy night, Meg comes downstairs to find her little…