Sunday, April 20, 2008

On a spring Saturday...

What should you do when you’re nine months-plus pregnant and planning a move in the near future?

a. Indulge in the nesting instinct by decorating the baby’s room.
b. Pack.
c. Nap as much as you can.
d. Clean the apartment.

They are all good choices, but we spent Saturday at New York’s Comicon wandering around the exhibit hall, watching panels and marveling (and sometimes cringing) at the costumes.

We were there to see Doc Hammer, Jackson Publick, James Urbaniak and Michael Sinterniklaas talk about the Venture Brothers, one of our favorite shows. The third season starts June 1, so we saw a preview and listened to some occasionally very dumb audience questions. The panelists were quick to mock dumb questions.

We met some nice people involved with a fan site called the People’s Republic of Venture (they gave us stickers). I was surprised at the hundreds of people who showed up to see the discussion, but that’s good, because it helps assure a long life for the show.

The Venture Brothers are two teenagers, Hank and Dean. Their father Rusty grew up in the shadow of a super-scientist and adventurer, and he has spent his life trying to follow in his father’s footsteps (as one character described it, “20 years of amphetamines and failure”). The family also has a government-issued bodyguard with a license to kill, Brock Sampson. He’s on a mission is called “Operation Rusty’s Blanket,” and he likes to make grilled cheese sandwiches and perform monthly lice checks on the boys when he’s not killing henchmen.

They often clash with villains from the Guild of Calamitous Intent, and Venture’s arch nemesis is the Monarch, a man who dresses like a butterfly, has dozens of henchmen and a trust fund.

It’s a show that’s funny and wrong all at the same time. It’s also well-written, smart, outlandish, and you get the sense there’s a huge back story that will eventually be revealed, though that may not be the case. I’m willing to wait and see, though.

The comicon also had a panel of actors from Battlestar Galactica, another great show, (yes, we watch too much television) so we saw that, too. Though the program had listed a couple of actors who were supposed to appear, there were three others who showed up, which was a nice surprise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A little compassion never hurt anyone

Today I’ll share something I actually wrote with you, about blind people who are concerned about hybrid cars. Why? The cars are so quiet that they can’t hear them. Blind pedestrians use car engines as cues when walking around their towns.

The video in the piece illustrates the matter pretty well, but what has kept me thinking about it all day are the comments responding to blog posts about the issue.

Apparently some people can be compassionate for the atmosphere but not their fellow man. People actually asked whether any blind person had been run over by a hybrid car yet. I guess that’s the only way for anyone to know there’s a problem, when someone loses their life. Other people suggested the whole thing is part of a conspiracy by car companies, the government and others to keep the hybrid down and gas-guzzling cars thriving.

Those reactions reminded me of my time working in a county whose most vocal residents were unabashedly left-wing. They equated their left-wing status with being progressive, tolerant, and compassionate, and spent a great deal of time patting each other on the back about it.

For the most part they were compassionate, until it came to something they didn’t like, such as homeless people who had the nerve to panhandle in the shopping district or the idea of merging their glowing schools with another district that didn’t teach students Mandarin Chinese.

I've always been careful with my political leanings, given my past career, but I'll say now that I empathized with the left more than the right. The hypocrisy I witnessed in this liberal bastion, though, was stunning and it routinely drove up my blood pressure. When we moved, I was relieved I didn't have to deal with that anymore. Until today, that was the case.