In Remembrance of the Dead

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. I would like to take a moment to remember our fallen soldiers.

When I say “our” fallen soldiers, I don’t just mean U.S. soldiers, I mean all of our fallen soldiers, on all sides of past conflicts around the world. Memorial Day began to honor and mourn both Union and Confederate dead after the Civil War, and in that spirit, I think we should honor and mourn all who have fallen in war, regardless of what side they fought on.

And if a war doesn’t push us to work harder for peaceful, diplomatic solutions to conflicts and differences, what a horrible and pointless waste of life that is.

My Show Would Be a Critical Hit

I have an idea for a TV show. Like Glee, it would be about a group of geeky, outsider kids at a small town high school. But instead of being members of a glee club performing musical numbers, the kids would all play a Dungeons & Dragons-type role-playing game together. The “real world” scenes would be intercut with scenes of the player characters adventuring in a fantasy world. The kids would have to deal with school bullies, disapproving parents, teen angst and game group drama.

Well…I’d watch a show like that, at least. Would anyone else?

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

I beat myself up a lot (both privately and in public) for not being more creative on a regular basis. But I just posted my 141st self-portrait of the year. 141 days in a row of photographs. I haven’t missed a single day.

Ease up on yourself, boyo. You’re doing better than you think you are. And all of you out there who think you’re not doing well? I bet you’re doing better than you think you are. You just need to look at the positives at least as much as the negatives. Give yourself credit where credit is due.

War and Peace, Blood and Justice

I’ve had a lot of thoughts in my head since the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden. I’ve posted a few things on Twitter and voiced my thoughts to a few close people, but for the most part, I’ve kept fairly quiet. After reading Michael Moore’s “Some Final Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden,” I feel like I have something to say that I want to post here.

I’m glad and relieved that Osama bin Laden’s been neutralized. I hope the people who were hurt the most by the attacks on September 11, 2001 will now feel some closure. I certainly won’t mourn him or miss him. But I don’t think his death–or anyone’s death–is something to celebrate. And I would have liked for him to have faced a trial for his crimes rather than being assassinated. As Moore says,

In a perfect world (yes, I would like to reside there someday, or at least next door to it, in Slightly Imperfect World), I would like the evildoers to be forced to stand trial in front of that world. I know a lot of people see no need for a trial for these bad guys (just hang ’em from the nearest tree!), and think trials are for sissies. “They’re guilty, off with their heads!” Well, you see, that is the exact description of the Taliban/al Qaeda/Nazi justice system. I don’t like their system. I like ours. And I don’t want to be like them. In fact, the reason I like a good trial is that I like to show these bastards this is how it’s done in a free country that believes in civilized justice. It’s good for the rest of the world to see that, too. Sets a good example.

I don’t believe in totalitarianism, thuggery, brutality or revenge. I believe in democracy, honor, justice and the rule of law. I don’t think invading countries and assassinating your enemies shows strength. I don’t think pursuing justice and peace shows weakness. This is a messy, complicated world, and sometimes it becomes necessary to do violent things, but that should be a last resort, not something we gleefully jump into. It should be done with regret, not celebration. The ends don’t justify the means. If we act just like our enemies, what makes us better than them?

Osama bin Laden’s dead. Good riddance to a horrible criminal, a murderer of thousands. Now let’s work harder to make the US and the world the kind of place bin Laden didn’t want, a place of peace, justice, civility, tolerance and trust. That’s something I will celebrate.

Tomorrow

i’ll see you in hell
or maybe in heaven
or maybe there’s no afterlife at all

but it makes no difference to me
because
I have too much to do today
to worry about tomorrow

have i shown enough love?
have i shared enough joy?
have i danced with my friends?
have i sung songs with strangers?
have i given out food?
have i set fire to money?
have i painted my face?
have i written on walls?
have i walked across seas?
have i raced across deserts?
have i discovered new worlds?
have i raised the dead?

& when tomorrow comes
well…

…we’ll just see what happens then

Blackbeard’s Ghost

It’s been almost two months since Bill Blackbeard died, but most people–including me–only found out the other day. Honestly, I didn’t even know he was still alive, but when I read of his death, my eyes filled with tears. Bill Blackbeard had a huge impact on my life, almost incalculable. That impact was caused mostly by his asteroid-sized book, The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics.The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics

I was 7 years old when the collection came out, and I must have first discovered it soon after its release. It was very much one of the defining moments of my life. I was already fairly obsessed with comics and was becoming interested in both the history of comics and in the pop culture of the 1920s-40s. But Blackbeard’s massive collection cranked my love of comics and the Golden Age up to 11. Thanks to Blackbeard’s archiving of old comics, I learned to love Thimble Theatre, Dick Tracy, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Alley Oop, Gasoline Alley, Mutt & Jeff, Moon Mullins, Barney Google, Wash Tubbs, Little Nemo in Slumberland and especially Krazy Kat. So many of my dreams, so many of the stories in my head, so many of the words I put down on paper are directly and indirectly influenced by the strips I first discovered because of Bill Blackbeard. My love of old movies and animated cartoons, my love of old radio shows, my love of Art Deco design are in large part due to Bill Blackbeard. If I’d never read The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, my knowledge of the history of comics and my appreciation of the art form would be much poorer.

Rest in peace, Bill Blackbeard. Thank you for making my life and my dreams so much richer, so much more colorful.