Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Cool Place to Live

So this week a bus tour group from Ohio and West Virginia stopped in Pawhuska and used our church Family Life Center for dinner, a Native American traditional dress style show and a presentation by top fancy dancer Mike Pahsetopah. Afterwards, while people were waiting to talk with Mike, one of the tour participants asked how we were able to get him to present for the group. I deferred to the tour people, since I hadn’t done anything but unlocked the door.
But it made me reflect, because this man — who was probably about 10 years my senior — was astounded by something I’ve seen more times than I can count, and I’m whiter than flour. Mike was great, and (to my limited knowledge) a very skillful dancer. The thing is how many people I have to compare him too. Heck, I remember when Woolaroc first built their cultural building and the “Arrows Skyward” presentation featured live dancers. We get cross-cultural encounters every day here, and we can explore a dozen nations without leaving the state. Maybe it takes getting old to do it, but I’m sure glad I grew up here.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Get the Title Right, And...?

I'm not sure if I'll see the new Marvel movie, Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.  I eventually did catch the most recent Spider-Man movie but other than that, I've taken a pass on a lot of the screen product originating in the Mighty Marvel Bullpen.

I read a synopsis of the movie and it doesn't sound all that interesting. Yes, there were spoilers, but trust me, if it had sounded worth it I would have seen it anyway. Apparently Wanda Maximoff drives a lot of the action and one episode of Wandavision was enough to convince me I liked nothing about where that character was going and how she was being used. Still a maybe, though. If some afternoon there's nothing going on and a showtime happens to coincide with the open schedule, who knows?

But I have to say kudos to whoever dreamed up the title. That's a great big beautiful piece of pulp-era wordage right there. Alliteration, a little high-sounding language, a protagonist's name that sounds mysterious and promises a shrouded journey, phrasing that gives the impression that it's one of a series of adventure, sci-fi or mystery thriller novels...someone did some excellent work there.

Now if the excellent work extends to the script, well, we'll see.

Sunday, May 1, 2022


One of the things the young Friar appreciated in his comic-book consumption -- which, despite claims from certain authority figures, was not indiscriminate -- was a well-done realist style of art. Yeah, you're reading a story about a guy who was born on another world or one who dresses up like a bat to fight bad guys, but they had to look plausible.

His favorite artists of that time leaned heavily in that direction -- Mike Grell, Jim Aparo, Dick Giordano and, king of them all, Neal Adams. It was only later I realized how important Adams' art was to some of the medium-changing ideas circulating at the time. Denny O'Neil's far more grounded Batman stories would not have worked if they'd been drawn by Dick Sprang. Sprang's cartoony style matched for the sometimes goofy adventures of the 1950's and '60's Dynamic Duo, but the decision to emphasize the "detective" aspect of the hero left little room for giant exploding jack-in-the-boxes.

Adams also help maximize the new trend of characters' facial expressions resembling those of real people. His classic cover to Green Lantern #85, in which the Lantern confronts fellow super-hero Green Arrow with undeniable evidence that Arrow's ward Speedy was using heroin, shows the expected gritted-teeth judgment of GL, the wide-eyed horror of Arrow and the haunted shame of Speedy. Though there are dialog balloons, they really aren't needed to read even deeper into the three and see GL's confrontation with Arrow's self-righteousness, Arrow's own lament that he missed the entire situation and Speedy's self-disgust and loathing at being exposed by men he had grown up respecting.

As I aged I saw how creative the supposed "cartoony" art could be -- Jack Kirby's blunt, forceful action, Steve Ditko's trippy visions and non-standard heroic characters and Darwyn Cooke's clean retro style. But a Neal Adams cover, inked by frequent collaborator Giordano, could always draw my eye (heh), even if the book featured not one single character I would ever read.

Neal Adams laid down his pencil for good on Thursday, at the age of 80. Comic-book-wise, he leaves behind several who draw in the style he pioneered and who built well with the excellent example they were given. Fans of the medium are certainly better for his choice to enter the field.

Friday, April 22, 2022

At the Appointed Hour

A friend posted pictures of her daughter at the prom, resplendent in a lovely red gown and dancing with her handsome date.

One of the pictures keyed the memory of what I always considered the best time of any dance, especially one where you had to start out in a jacket and tie. Maybe an hour or so in, maybe a little more, when the jacket is somewhere draped over a chair that you might remember, you've perspired your way through the starch in the shirt so it's noticeably more flexible than when you started, your sleeves are up at least a turn and your tie is at half mast. Girls have traded heels and pumps for Chucks or running shoes or maybe just bare feet. The frequency of slow dances has increased but some top 40 jive still remains and you'll have a few more chances to rip it up.

I didn't know dances worked that way anymore -- seems like lots of prom pics show girls in dresses they can't really walk in, let alone dance, and guys eschewing ties or even tuxes for blazers and jeans. It's nice to get an inkling that the important things are still the same.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

An Overlooked but Essential Point

Many online pundits and commenters today have kicked around what it might mean were billionaire Elon Musk to purchase Twitter outright, as he has made an offer to do. Musk says he will take the company private and make many changes.

On the one hand, this is a fun fracas to watch. Musk's commitment to free speech bothers folks who are less happy with it, and their reactions have ranged from disapproval to angry denunciation to weapons-grade tantrums. These are amusing because the number of people who use Twitter regularly is still a small percentage of the world's population and there's a certain glee in watching people get bent out of shape over something you don't care about. Folks appreciative of irony can note that among those shapes most bent out are persons who claim the title of journalist -- people whose right to work and say what they think is protected by the First Amendment's guarantees of free speech and a free press.

On the other hand, even if Musk does buy the company and spends a glorious several weeks making a bunch of its employees get jobs, the end product will still suck. Because the end product of a drive to make a better Twitter is, unfortunately, still Twitter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

General Relativity Works...Change My Mind

A popular meme has comedian Steven Crowder sitting behind a table with some statement on a piece of poster board in front of him. Underneath the statement is the phrase "Change my mind." It comes from a segment Crowder does on his Louder with Crowder program. The meme offers users the chance to insert their own opinion phrase and some clever folks will Photoshop new faces onto Crowder's body or just an entirely new person behind the table.

In a recent Back ReAction blog entry, physics professor Sabine Hossenfelder notes that Albert Einstein's what seem to be absolutely correct formulations of special and general relativity have been proven correct with many experiments -- dating back to just after he published the papers containing them through today. But, Dr. Hossenfelder notes, many physicists spend a great deal of time and energy trying to prove both theories wrong. Why?

Well, she notes, both theories deal with what is called classical or Newtonian physics. Such a study rests on Isaac Newton's famous laws of motion which describe the behavior of moving and stationary objects we might encounter in daily life. But when the objects of study are incredibly small or incredibly fast, Newtonian physics do not apply and researchers turn to the fields of quantum physics and quantum mechanics. Not unexpectedly, theories based on Newtonian physics also do not work well when applied to quantum studies, and that includes both theories of relativity.

Hossenfelder sums up several different areas of inquiry that have proving Einstein wrong as their ultimate goal. The problem is that he was indeed brilliant and his theories have a way of showing true during experiment after experiment -- we lack the ability to make the kind of observations and measurements of quantum phenomena that would show where he erred.

It is as though Einstein himself responds to the efforts to show him wrong with a frequently repeated, "I may not be right, but I'm still closer to it than you are."

This kind of thing interests me because it shows that self-examination is always a part of science and the idea of "settled science" is not a particularly serious one. And it highlights a very important aspect of my day job as a clergy person. Questions designed to investigate and uncover the truth ought never be unwelcome, especially when one claims to be following a God who claims to be in all things exactly that: True.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Ain't A-Gonna Pay No Toll

From the days when our country still had enough of a common culture that a single novelty song could send a mid-level fad into a national craze. Even my aunt bought a CB radio. Let them truckers roll, C.W.