It’s been a while since I did a post using a bunch of the memes, cartoons, and similar graphics that have been accumulating on my hard disk without finding their way into a blog post.
I also have a few stories that I don’t want to wait until Friday to comment on.
Ed Buck Guilty of All Charges Against Him, Will Likely Die in Prison This guy got away with preying on homeless men for far too long. The short version: rich white bastard who donated lots of money to local elected officials over the years, had a fetish about watching black men take a lot of drugs until they passed out, then he fucked them. Two that we know of died in his apartment, and based on the videos he took (and assuming that he was doing it for years before recording it became so easy), he’s probably responsible for a lot more. Anyway, yeah, I hope he rots in prison.
Metro Atlanta spa shooter agrees to guilty plea deal in Cherokee County shooting, gets life without the possibility of parole This is only the first case. He faces more charges in another county. If you don’t recall, this is the idiot who shot up some day spas because looking at asian women made his dick hard, and he’d been taught by his fundamentalist evangelical church that being horny was a sin worse than murder. So he murdered a bunch of strangers. Again, I hope he rots in prison and dies behind bars.
"Trump Man" Guilty In Serial Pooping Spree – Ohioan, 70, targeted gay neighbors for ten years Besides the fact that he was only sentenced toe 20 days and to write a letter of apology, his letter is obviously a big lie. Why is that? Well, he insists in the letter that he didn’t target these neighbors for harassment because they were gay. No, it was because they were Biden supporters and he’s a "Trump Man." Other than the little fact that Biden only became the Democratic nominee a year ago, and Trump wasn’t running president until a bit over five years ago — but this guy has been doing this to his neighbors for at least 10 years. Long before he could have become a Trump man. He’s a liar and a homophobe, and I wish the judge would hold him in contempt for the letter…
That’s enough for those sorts. Let’s close with:
Miss Piggy was aggressively straight, yet it took decades to acknowledge the existence of Muppets who aren’t straight
I first began following Matt Baum when he was posting regular video news reports on what was then the fight over civil unions vs full marriage equality for queer people. A few years later he branched out into other topics, and over the course of those years I came to realize that we had a bunch of mutual acquaintances. And yet I still have never met him.
One of his projects is producing videos where he analyses ways the queer people and queer issues were handled in popular media, such as situation comedies of the ’70s, ’80s, and beyond. This week, he tackles one of the pivotal people behind the Muppets, who happened to be a gay man, and how that influenced and eventually changed the Muppets.
This isn’t the first I have hear of Richard Hunt and his contribution to one of my favorite media properties, but Matt weaves in video clips and quotes from people who worked with Hunt that I have never heard before. So give it a watch.
I probably should mention that a couple parts of the story made me cry. But I am a really big softie who is very easily moved to tears:
Assuming you’ve watched it, I want to expound a little bit on the topic that I put into the headline. It isn’t just that for many years the corporations controlling the Muppets as well as important performers from the troupe would insist emphatically that, for instance, Bert and Ernie were absolutely not gay. They would (Sometimes angrily) insist that because the Muppets were puppets, they could not possiblye *have a sexual orientation.
Despite the fact the Miss Piggy wasn’t just obviously heterosexual, but she was aggressively so from the nearly her very first appearance. A Piggy wasn’t the only one. Lots of female Muppets had (usually off-screen) husbands and boyfriends. A smaller number of male Muppets had wives and girlfriends.
Yes, technically, puppets don’t have a sexual orientation. But it is exactly equally true that they don’t technically have voices, either–those are provided by the humans operating them. Just as the personalities are provided by the operators and the script writers.
I’m glad that the people currently running the Muppets have finally begun embracing the truth the queer people are everywhere and that we’ve always been here. A lot of the world still doesn’t understand that when someone identifies they are gay, it is not about sex. Just as when a conservative businessman introduces people to his wife, we aren’t "shoving out sexuality down your thoart" — we’re just telling you about ourselves and at least one of the people we love.
I will be working on the next Friday Five tonight, and skimming through my news bookmarks I realized that there has been several of these stories in the news lately, and I’d rather not make a whole category for them tomorrow.
I suppose giving them their own post isn’t much better, but since I’m putting the topic of pastors committing sexual abuse in the title, I hope people who don’t feel like getting any of this imagery in their heads can skip this post and tomorrow read more general news and such.
Former Maryland Youth Pastor Don Martin Charged In 30-Year-Old Rape, Police Search For Other Victims He was a youth pastor at the time of the assault, and the victim was underage. They bury that in the story. I’m leaving the "former" in the headline here, but want to note that at the time of his arrest while he was no longer a youth pastor, he was still an active pastor.
New Albany assistant youth pastor arrested on child pornography charges I took the word "former" out of this headline because he wasn’t fired from his position as a youth pastor until after he was arrested. I really wish that news outlets would stop putting the word "former" in the headline in those situations. I will say that I’m happy the church at least acted this quickly. It is more often the case that the church refuses to believe the pastor is guilty and don’t fire him until the legal case moves forward past arresting and charging.
National Guard chaplain, youth pastor among 18 arrested on human trafficking charges I didn’t have to remove any words from this headline. This was actually a sting. Law enforcement placed an ad about having sex with a 16-year-old, and these 18 men answered the ad, got directions to the location, and arrived each expecting to have sex with a minor. I suspect that more charges may be applied if any victims of molestation come forward.
Florida youth pastor arrested for 3rd time; accused of hiding camera in church bathroom Hidden cameras in church bathrooms. One of them specifically in the boys’ bathroom of the youth hall.
Vernon minister arrested for sexual assault of 15-year-old – Cops Say TX Pastor Charged Church For Motel Room Where He Smoked Meth, Had Sex With Underage Girl I’m not sure how to respond to this tidbit: "The girl told police they continued to meet at the church for counseling and he continued to offer her methamphetamine." That’s a very unusual counseling method…
Florida Megachurch Pastor Charged With Molestation- SBC megachurch ‘shocked’ ex-pastor arrested, accused of grooming, molesting 12-y-o girl Note that this is a different Florida pastor than the one arrested for planting cameras and recording people using the restroom. Anyone, this guy started sexually abusing the girl when she was twelve, and continue to do so for five years.
The next story is from March, but it illustrates a point I made above and have mentioned many times before: Catholic Church Opposes Colorado Bill That Lifts Time Limit On Lawsuits Against Accused Child Molesters
Lots of states have a statute of limitations on child sexual assault (many also have statutes of limitations on rape of adults), which just makes no sense. Adult sexual assault victims are reluctant to come forward in part because statistically they are very unlikely to be believed when they do, but also because society conditions us to blame the victim in such situation. Multiply that by at least 1000 for children. The kids are often groomed by the abuser to believe that they deserve what has happened to them, and to believe they will be punished by family, their church, and so forth if anyone finds out.
So most of these cases wouldn’t come to light until years later. For example, when we learned that former Republican Congressman Dennis Hastert had molested numerous teen-age boys back in the days he was a high school wrestling coach, he couldn’t be charged with any of those crimes. What he was charged with was violating financial laws as he sought to pay-off some of his former victims to keep them from talking.
One of the main reasons we have statutes of limitation of child sex abuse is that organizations such as the Catholic Church have lobbied for them. And then they lobby against appealing them. Gee, I wonder why?
In late April Apple announced (along with other products) a new remote for its Apple TV set top box. I was so impressed with the redesign, and pleased with the fact that it was compatible with my older Apple TV, that I ordered the remote as soon as it came out.
That last sentence could just as truthfully been written as, "I was so tired of the inadequencies of the 3rd general Apple Remote…"
I’ve been using the 4th generation remote for about a month and a half now, and the short version of my review is: this is so much better than the previous remote!
For some background, pictured above are all four generations of Apple Remote, and yes those are all mine. The first one (the white plastic one on the left in the picture) was introduced back in 2005 and looks an awful lot like the iPad Shuffle of that time. I did not own an Apple TV back when the first generation remote came out–no one did, because the first Apple TV was introduced until two years later. This original remote was meant to control media playback on an iMac and other Mac computers the at the time. When the first Apple TV came out, this remote also worked with it.
The second generation remote was released in 2009. The aluminum body of the remote resembles the iPod Nano of the same year. The most obvious functional difference is the Pause/Resume button was moved out of the click wheel, and the center button of the click wheel became a Select button that you could click or double-click like a mouse or touchpad.
The third generation was released in 2015 and doesn’t look like it belongs in the same product line at all. Take a moment to look at all four in the picture. Three of them have as the largest control a circle control with several functions, and some other buttons below. Not the third generation. The entire area about the buttons in a single touch surface. You can swipe with a finger or thumb and you can click. And while that gives you generally speaking most of the functions of the click wheel (moving the cursor of selection indicator on the screen of the device you are control up, down, left, or right and selecting things), it’s actually a not nearly as convenient.
I admit, watching the device being demoed on screen, I thought the touch surface as a brilliant choice. In practice at home, it wasn’t. With the previous remote, if you had a long list to scroll through on your screen, you could just hold down the part of the click wheel and the list would start moving on the screen. With the third generation you had to swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
But the real annoying thing for both myself and my husband was that it is extremely easy to pick up the remote wrong. You can not tell be feel the difference between the touch surface above the buttons, and the non-touch surface below. You don’t know how many times one of us was swiping on the control and nothing was happening. And yes, it could be argued that if you just looked at the buttons you could tell which was the right direction, it just didn’t work out.
This latter might be about the way my husband and I both process information, but even glancing at it always took me a few seconds before I noticed that the word "Menu" was upside down when I was holding it wrong.
A few years after releasing the third generation remote, Apple released a very slightly modified version that added the raised right ring you can see on the menu button above which they thought would solve the problem. I didn’t get around to upgrading my old Apple TV to one that came with the third generation remote until after they introduced the white ring, and so I can say from experience that the white ring was not enough.
A lot of reviews I read of the third generation also complained about how easy it is, since half the surface of the remote is a touch pad, to accidentally click or swipe while you are watching something, can be annoying. I never experienced that because I only pick up the any remote when I want to change something, and I always immediately set it down again. Some people keep the remote in their hand the entire time they are watching something, and those or the folks I assume kept doing the accidental swipes and such.
The fourth generation brought back the circular control. The center bit of the control is a touch surface. You can swipe and click with it just like the larger touch surface of the third generation, but it’s a lot harder to do it inadvertently while you’re casually holding the device. The outer rim is a clever combination of touch surface and the four directional buttons of the second generation. You can click, or you can run your thumb around it to control movement of the onscreen cursor.
They added a Mute button, which is quite handy, and they replaces the Menu button’s name with a back arrow, which I think is a more intuitive representation of what the Menu button does. It doesn’t make a menu appear, it takes you back to whatever you were looking at before. They also added the little Power/Wake-up button, and they moved the Sire button off the main surface of the remote to the edge.
I should mention at this point that when Apple released the third generation remote, they renamed it Siri Remote. And I understand why they did that. The previous two generations didn’t have a microphone built in that you could use for voice controls. But it’s really just the next two generations of the Apple Remote.
The controls on the fourth generation are much easier to use. It is noticeably larger and feels much more solid in the hand. If I do happen to grab it with the end that ought to be pointing at the TV pointing back and myself, I can immediately tell because the round click wheel/touch surface feel nothing at all like the smooth aluminum of the wrong end. It is in every way a superior design.
I learned an interesting thing about myself while reading other people’s reviews of the remote. Many of those reviews mentioned that the placement of the Siri button on the right edge of the remote meant it was less convenient for lefties, since if you are holding the remote in your right hand, it is easy to press the Siri button with your thumb, but if holding it in your left hand it’s a slightly more awkward reach with the index finger.
I’m a left-handed remoter!
I always hold any TV-type remote in my left hand, and have never thought twice about it. Technically I’m ambidextrous, and my usually joke about that is, "Which means my handwriting is equally illegible no matter which hand I’m writing with." When I draw or paint I switch the drawing instrument from one hand to the other. Sometimes it’s because the angle is better in one hand or the other, but I’ve also learned over the years the sides of the brain that control each hand are better at different art tasks.
On the other hand, I was very strongly a left-footed soccer player back in the day, while much better as a right-handed basketball player than left.
Anyway, I had never noticed that I always use remotes left-handed before this. I even experiments after realizing, and it just feels completely wrong to put the remote in the right hand. It wants to transfer the remote to the other hand right away every time!
But, back to the review: it is a nice redesign. I’m really glad I upgraded. And I just have to say to the person I read online who claimed that it’s a "$79 remote that feels like a $39 remote" — have you actually bought any remotes that sell for ~40 bucks? Because I have, and they are cheap pieces of plastic that FEEL cheap and the have a tendency to peel and crack on the underside.
This solid aluminum remote feels nothing like that.
Short review for now. I hope to post a longer one later.
The season finale of Loki, entitled "For All Times. Always." is… well, what I texted a couple of friends who are also fans was, "That… that actually worked."
Does the ending answer the questions raised at the beginning of the first episode (specifically, What is the Time Variant Authority, Who are the Time Keepers, and Why are they preventing alternate timelines?): Yes, yes it does.
Is there a fun fight scene near the end: Yes, yes there is.
Do we see bad guys get what’s coming to them: Yes. Not everyone, but yes.
Did I feel that the time spent watching the series was worth it: Oh, my f-ing goodness, YES, YES, YES!
I’ve been failing to finish blog posts for a couple of weeks now, not just my Loki reviews. There are reasons that might turn into another blog post as I try to do a bit of catch-up.
This is going to be a combination review, then, of the third, fourth, and fifth episodes of Loki: "Lamentis", "The Nexus Event", and "Journey into Mystery".
We have seen five of the six episodes of the series so far, and I think the most important observation I can make is that all five have been fun. They’ve been entertaining. We’ve had fights and hijinks. All of the actors seem to be perfectly cast for the roles. The interaction between the characters is engaging and witty.
Thus far it differs greatly from the previous two Disney+ Marvel TV shows. WandaVision was a complex and layered mysterious that was full of charm and a lot of meta. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was more straightforward and many portions were deeply flawed.
Loki has a mystery at its heart, and there is even more charm than WandaVision but the mystery is almost secondary to the emotional journey of the central characters. Yes, I do want to know what is behind the Time Variant Authority, but I’m really more concerned with what is going to happen, individually, to the characters.
I realized when I reached the end of "Journey Into Mystery" (which is a great title for several reason, not the least of which is that Marvel’s versions of Thor and Loki were first told in a comic book called "Journey Into Mystery" long before Thor got his one book), that the one story this series reminds me of are the two Douglas Adams books about Dirk Gently. The series has a similar dream-like feel. At least to me.
There are a few specific things I want to comment on, but to do that involves spoilers.
If you don’t want to be spoiled, turn back now.
Seriously! Spoilers ahead!
Okay, here we go.
Episode three involved Loki and the female variant Loki (called henceforth Sylvie) arriving at the TVA, where Sylvie tries to get to the Time Keepers themselves, but it’s not as simple as she hoped, and Loki uses the stolen TempPad to jump them to another apocalypse. The new apocalypse is a colonized planet called "Lamentis" which is able to be impacted by a moon.
They sneak onto a train taking wealthy people to an escape ark, but things go awry (because Loki can’t resist partying and having a good time on the train), and they get thrown off the train (literally).
The emotional center of the episode was Loki and Sylvie getting to know each other. It unfortunately ends with them apparently trapped on the doomed planet with no way to escape.
The next episode, "The Nexus Event" picks up right where episode three ended. The two of them realize they are trapped, and Sylvie finally tells our Loki that she had been a child playing with some toys in Asgard when the TVA agents had taken her away. The hunter who captured her was Renslayer, who is now one of the TVA judges. They form an emotional bound, and it appears that the two Lokis are falling in love.
Back at the TVA Mobius is trying to figure out where the Lokis went, and all seems lost until suddenly a new nexus event happens, bigger than any TVA agents have seen. Mobius guesses that the event is caused by the Lokis, and the TVA agents show up to arrest them. Thus rescuing them from death.
This episode had some poignant moments. Loki (thanks to being stuck in a time loop reliving one of his painful memories over and over) seems to have an epiphany about himself. One of the TVA agents has a memory of her life before being mindwiped.
Even with Mobius and the other TVA agent deciding that Sylvie and Loki are correct, and even though Sylvie gets to behead one of the Time Keepers, nothing really goes well for any of the characters the audience is rooting for by the end of this episode. Two of them appear to get killed rather permanently, in fact.
Episode four was the first time that we got an after credits scene, and it’s a doozy.
Episode five, "Journey into Mystery" opens with our Loki, believing he was just killed, finding himself on a nightmarish planet being met by four other Loki variants. The four are Classic Loki, Kid Loki, Boastful Loki, and Alligator Loki.
Classic Loki is based on Jack Kirby’s original drawing of the character Marvel’s Journey Into Mystery comics, and is played by Richard E. Grant. In the series, Classic Loki managed to survive the confrontation with Thanos instead of dying like he is supposed to, and eventually was arrested by the TVA, tried, and prunes. Kid Loki is based on a more recent Marvel comic series. In the comics Kid Loki is a clone of Loki that eventually gets possessed by the soul of the original Loki. In this series Kid Loki managed to kill his brother, Thor, while they were both young, and was promptly arrested by the TVA, tried, and pruned.
We never get a full explanation of either Alligator Loki or Boastful Loki.
They are all trapped on the Void, which is supposedly the end of time. Everything that the TVA prunes from the time line winds up here and is eventually devoured by this smoke monster called Alioth.
We meet one other alternate Loki from the comics: President Loki, who in the comics ran for President of the U.S. and caused various troubles.
While our Loki is learning about the Void (which is populated by a lot of Loki because in addition to frequently causing new timelines Lokis are extremely good at surviving), Sylvie is also learning about the Void.
Sylvie becomes convinced that the real creators of the TVA are hiding in a spot beyond the end of time, and prunes herself to get there. She almost immediately teams up the Mobius, who she convinces to help her try to confront Alioth to try to get to the place beyond the Void.
Out Loki, meanwhile, has convinced Classic Loki, Kid Loki, and Alligator Loki that Alioth can be destroyed and they also go off to confront it.
Which means all our principals get together again, and a plan is hatched.
I really want to know what happens in the finale!
I mentioned above that I’m not as invested in exactly what the answer that Loki and Sylvie find. And that’s mostly true. I’m less invested in what the specific answer is than whether the answer we get feels like a fitting ending to the journey.
I’m going to go out on a limb here… there are two main possibilities I’ve been able to imagine.
First theory: it turns out that the being who set up the TVA and is trying to control reality to preserve the Sacred Timeline is Kang the Conqueror (or one of his incarnations). From the point of view of the comics, this makes sense, because Kang is a villain in the comics who runs up and down the timeline trying to keep history on track for his future where he’s emperor of the universe. Kang has already been announced as a character appearing in the third Ant Man movie, and in the comics he has had multiple connections to the TVA. The character of Rennslayer in this series is named after one of Kang’s lovers.
The problem with this ending is that it only makes sense to dyed in wool comic nerds such as myself. There has been no mention of Kang in any previous MCU property that I can recall, and certainly none in this series. I’m not sure how the writers could make him the answer to the mystery and at the same time give us a satisfying ending.
Second theory: it turns out the being who set up the TVA and is trying to control reality to preserve the Sacred Timeline is another Loki variant. Exactly why a Loki variant would be so intent on preserving a timeline in which he dies without ever achieving his glorious purpose, but that ending does have an emotional resonance with the rest of the series. In the first episode Mobius told Loki that the TVA has had to arrest a lot of Lokis, so you could say it was foreshadowed.
What I’m hoping is that the writers have something completely different than either of my theories up their sleeves.
We’ll know in just six days!
Edited to add:
You might find these reviews informative:
Cora Buhlert: Loki goes on a “Journey Into Mystery” Cora’s review made me realize I was remiss in my own review. I really should have mentioned what a stupendous job Richard E. Grant did in the role of Classic Loki. I’ll quote her review:
"Richard E. Grant’s Loki is awesome. Not only does Grant wander around in one of the most ridiculous costumes Jack Kirby ever designed and manages to look dignified, he also brilliantly portrays an aged Loki who’s disgusted both with himself and the universe. Honestly, give Richard E. Grant an Emmy/Bafta/Golden Globe/whatever."
Grant is incredibly funny when called on in this episode, and yet he also has the most poignant scene in the episode near the end. Just an all-around fantastic choice for the character.