Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Smithsonian Images on Flickr

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion.
A non-profit group has posted 6,288 images from the Smithsonian's archives to Flickr in an act of protest. According to Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org, the Smithsonian has been taking money and applying copyright for images that are fair-use and open to the public.

From an AP story:

"I don't care if they sell the photos, but then once they sell it, they can't say you can't reuse this photo," said Carl Malamud, co-founder of the group Public.Resource.Org, advocates for posting more government information online.

"You're not allowed to chill debate by telling people they can't use something because it's under copyright when that's not true."

Most images the Smithsonian is selling, including photos of artifacts and historic figures, are not protected by copyright, Malamud said. But the Smithsonian site carries copyright notices and other warnings that would discourage most people from using historic images that should be publicly available, he said.

Malamud testified last year in Congress against the Smithsonian's long-term television deal with Showtime Networks because he said it could restrict public access to the national museums' archives. He is also critical of other Smithsonian business deals, calling them "privatizing of the archives."

In an open letter to the entire Internet, linked off of Public.Resource.Org's photostream, the group explains:

To understand why the Smithsonian is over-reaching when it comes to photographs, one must remember that works of the U.S. government have no copyright protection whatsoever. Works of the United States Government are in the public domain. 17 U.S.C. § 105 While there are subtle exceptions, such as work prepared by private contractors exempted under special exemptions established in the Federal Acquisition Regulations ( FAR 52.227-14), the general principle is quite clear and applies just as much to the Smithsonian Institution as to any other part of our federal government. As Rachell V. Browne, Assistant General Counsel of the Smithsonian Institution said in a statement submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office:

“The Smithsonian cannot own copyright in works prepared by Smithsonian employees paid from federal funds.”

This link will take you to the Smithsonian collection on Flickr.

The upshot is this: this is an AMAZING batch of photos on Flickr right now that you should definitely see and use while you still can -- there' photos of coal mines, aircraft, dinosaurs, all this incredible, beautiful historic stuff -- see it while you can, because I doubt this will be up for long.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Me And Cindy Sheehan Couldn't Stop a Teen Girl Fight

Cindy Sheehan
Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion.
o I'm sitting here in Busboys and Poets (a coffee shop in D.C) just hammering away at the freelance work when the phone rings. Its an unavailable number, which, to me, is a good sign. A lot of corporate phone numbers read "unavailable" on my cell. I've spent a fair bit of time these past few weeks trying to get that word to appear on my telephone. I jumped up and outside onto the street.

it was indeed a company interested in my writing/web content services. And man, it feels good to be wanted. Even when you don't want the thing that wants you, it just feels good, like the universe is giving you a wink and a nod.

So I'm standing out there on the street, cell on my head and thumb in my ear going on and on about my services when this pack of teenage girls comes hollering on by. I could hear them down the street, hence the thumb in the ear. Then the gaggle stopped right in front of me, right as I as talking to this recruiter. And it wasn't just boisterous anymore.

Shit got HOT and onlookers circled up and went "OOOooOOoo daaaamn I wouldn't take that if I was you!" There was about to be a girl fight right in front of me, during my phone interview, right in front of Busboys and Poets. Looked like it was gonna be a real weave-ripper, too.

I moved down the street and hands started flying. It got UGLY. "I'm so sorry, I'll have to call you back, there's a fight happening on the street," I said, hanging up abruptly.

Then I didn't know WHAT to do. I didn't feel like I could break it up exactly, and the crowd was growing. I just stood there anxiously, an official grownup who is supposed to DO SOMETHING, just watching and fretting and hoping it didn't roll into the street.

The fight went into the street. Traffic stopped. The crowd on the sidewalk grew, a bunch of nervous grown white people standing around, saying to each other "somebody should really do SOMETHING," but none of us knew what.

The fight rolled across 14th and sort of evaporated like a dust devil that just quits all of a sudden and then it was just us nervous citizens on the sidewalk. One of those nervous citizens was Cindy Sheehan and a lot of the other citizens were part of her peacemaking brigade.

I know that her thing is more stopping the war in Iraq instead of breaking up teenage girlfights, but I thought she could have tried SOMETHING. Sort of like how on an island full of castaways a veterinarian delivers babies and takes out swollen appendixes every month or so. But you know, she's another nervous grownup just like me too and neither one of us really had a clue.

It was just me and Cindy and this big weird girlfight on the street this afternoon and there wasn't any point to anything at all.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day 2007

I've written about my mother on here before -- and words are really failing me here. But this is my mother on her wedding day. I think she is younger than I am now:

Mom On Her Wedding Day

In this photo, my mom is actively teaching me how to love the way she does: the right way. She hasn't stopped. And in return, I haven't stopped being grateful.

Mom & Me, 1976

I went home this weekend to visit my mom and grandma ... my mom's mom. We took my grandparents out for ice cream, which holds special significance for me. It was perfect. The day was sunny and warm and my grandpa was feeling good, which had my grandma feeling great. Daro's a bit of a pistol, and she's not afraid to just touch somebody's motorcycle when she's in a good mood:

Daro Touching a Motorcycle That Is Definitely Not Hers - 2

The ice cream parlor had sugar-free butter pecan ice cream, which thrilled my grandpa no end. My grandma tore up her sundae, too. Here's my mom and grandmother enjoying their ice cream:

Mom, Daro, ice cream -- 5/12/07

It's more or less impossible to shop for my grandma. She's got her husband and kids that happily take care of them both -- no replacing that. But there's a million reason her kids and grandkids want to take care of her, and I thought I'd share one of mine.

In 1984, I made the severe mistake of reading the Creepshow comic book, written by Stephen King and illustrated by horror master Bernie Wrightson -- to my fragile little mind, the most compelling and terrifying stack of paper and staples ever created. Now I love that stuff, but at that time, bedtime was freaking CANCELLED until further notice. My grandmother, in her wisdom, slept in my room every night for a week until I could settle down, even though she knew I knew I had brought that terror on myself.

Love, real love, is made of a million tiny kindnesses that the giver forgets immediately and the recipient always remembers. I wrote down my memory of that event for my grandma and gave it to her for Mothers' Day -- you can see it here if you want:

Daro's Mothers' Day Letter 2007

There's no real conclusion, no big thought to wrap this up. Just love and gratitude, which anyone know are way too big for a tight closing sentence.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Worst Graffiti Ever/Best Graffiti Ever

Graffiti art takes a LOT of practice. We can't all be the next Dalek overnight, and there's a lot of clumsy property damage between that first can on paint and gallery shows worldwide. It takes tags to make murals and murals validate Krylon krapmeisters -- that' s the yin and yang of it.

Sometimes graffiti's just some prick with a spray-can. And every now and then, that spray-can lameness is so incredibly lame that it collapses in on itself and becomes a white dwarf of sheer wackness that blazes so brilliantly that it's a form of retarded genius. It achieves artistic singularity, simultaneously shitty and incredible.

My friend Phil snapped this from a bike trail in Chapel Hill, N.C. Hey man, even Banksy had to start somewhere ...

Lamest Graffiti EVER

The only way this graffiti could be improved is if there were never a band called "Grateful Dead."

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Spider-Man 3: Hope it Delivers

It was incredibly important to me to see Spider-Man 3 this weekend, and not just because I'm into Spider-Man. For me, sci-fi, comic book and other monkey-ass flicks are cinematic grilled cheese: comforting, and they don't have to be but so well done. As long as a few key elements are in place, everyone's happy. But there's more than that afoot with the Spider-Man franchise.

I'm taking a terrific risk by telling you this. The forces of the world work in mysterious ways, and they hate to have their movements broadcasted. But time is short and the need for content is constant , so:

Spider-Man films tend to wreak tremendous, much-needed changes on my life. They are the harbingers of change, the engine that pulls my stalled situation up the next hill one chink-chink-chink at a time. If the past two films are any indication, I'm in for a ride. Take a look:


I live in Richmond, VA in a small, crumbling townhouse. A homeless, mentally disabled Vietnam vet frequents our front porch, demanding to hear Rick James' Ghetto Life several times a week. A stray cat named Brad climbs into my screenless bedroom window and onto my sleeping face several nights a week, stopping in the music room to urinate on some guitar cords before investigating our garbage.

I work in the basement of a shoe store for a struggling multimedia startup. My boss compulsively scratches his crotch, sometimes rubbing it on the back of my chair -- while I am sitting in it. My coworker and I discover his secret cache of teen porn on the office network, Photoshop moustaches onto some of the "models", then prepare our resumes.

Shortly after seeing Spider-Man, I am inspired to sell all my stuff and go to Australia. The experience melts my personality down and recasts it into a more adult form, teaching me painful and true things about love, work, and adventure.

Spider-Man 2

I am back from Australia, penniless and living with my parents. I have recently completed a stint pouring concrete. My boss, though generous and fair to his employees, keeps a loaded Glock tucked into the back of his shorts at all times. The foreman has a braided mullet that gently dusts his the tanned top of his exposed ass and uses the term "doo-doo hole" with a straight face. A LOT. When I politely decline to smoke pot at 7:30 a.m. with my co-workers, saying "I'm about to operate a jackhammer, guys, I probably shouldn't," I get a lot of funny looks.

I take a temp job at a real-estate firm in a Virginia Beach strip mall, training one of the accountants to use Photoshop. We share a desk, phone, and computer. When my chair breaks, we share a chair, too. Somebody brings fresh doughnuts from Krispy Kreme to leave in the break room every day.

The high point of my day is entering the empty break room and biting into a fresh doughnut, still hot from its grease bath and glaze shower. The day's low point occurs immediately afterwards, when I realize exactly why it is that everyone in the office is overweight apart from me: I'm the new guy and the doughnuts are everyone's high point. Given enough time, I'll fit right in. I begin chewing the doughnuts in the empty break room for flavor and spitting them into the trash can when nobody is around. Eventually this feels normal.

I see Spider-Man 2 with a good friend who is going through a divorce at the age of 25. By the end of the summer, she is engaged and I am moving to start my first office job. Although I have technically held a salaried position before, it was in 1999 at a dot-com art gallery. Our trash can was a milk crate with a plastic bag in it. This job in DC has an unmistakable air of validity and I am thrilled.

Spider-Man 3

Although visually devastating, the story was a little disappointing. I like emotion and high drama as much as the next guy, having engineered more than my fair share in real life, but seeing heroes, villains and love interests all weeping in the same shot is hardly what I want from a summer blockbuster. That whole part in the middle where Peter Parker looked like Jared Leto and acted like something four very tired guys cooked up to move the plot along was for the freaking birds, and no Spider-Man film should have a single dance sequence in it. Spider-Man 3 had two. Cool fight scenes, though.

I could be wrong -- probably am (he says, in a nod to the all-powerful forces that have bound Spider-Man films to career development) -- but I don't think the Universe cares if the Spider-Man movies are any good or not. They just have to happen in order to pull the plunger on life's pinball machine way back and send the ball careening forward. At least I hope so. I'm not looking to sink a skill shot here, but man, I need that table to light up a little again. Something tells me it will -- I just hope my patience holds out.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ten Spider-Man Appearances That Will Never Hit Hollywood

Long after humans succumb to self-induced extinction, alien anthropologists are going to visit Earth and come to an obvious conclusion: Spider-Man was our God. Even if you discount the unholy rotten truckloads of Slurpee cups and action figures used to market the films, Spider-Man's so much a part of our collective consciousness that he may as well be a God -- we use the story to tell moral fables and ... forget it. Just forget it.

I was trying to put an intellectual spin on everything here, but the fact is that I'm a nerd and way more stoked about Spider-Man 3 than an adult should be. The whole point of life is to be excited about stuff, as excited as you can be, and I'm trying my damnedest to access the passion I felt for Spider-Man as a kid. It's working pretty well, too. So instead of inflating this post with a bunch of pseudo-intellectual nonsense, I'll get to the nerdy fun.

Here's ten incarnations of Spider-Man that will never, ever make it into a movie:

Japanese Spider Man

The Japanese Spider-Man TV show aired in the late 70's and did what Japanese culture does best: took a pre-existing idea and made it completely insane. Check out the opening credits:

In the following clip, several samurai led by a man with a beer can for a face have captured Spider-man and are menacing him with their swords. A Japanese mariachi appears on the hillside, strums a few chords and hoses the bad guys down with a stream of bullets emanating from his guitar, which naturally doubles as a machine gun. Spider-man escapes to thrilling music, using his spider-like abilities to strike some poses and rapidly climb a large dirt pile. Our hero bests several bad guys with a few well-timed kicks and calls for his sports car over his wrist radio. The man with the beer can face grows to Godzilla size and since this is 70's Japan, low-budget Voltron shows up to save the day.

Check it out.

Spider-Man in the Bible


It's not really Christianity that's so bad, it's just that Pat Robertson and Ned Flanders have pretty much given it a bad rap. I found a couple folks on Flickr that are using Spider-Man to tell Bible stories. One of them's definitely making fun of Ned Flanders Christians ... the other guy isn't.

Spider-Man Ganesh

Why is it weak when Christians co-opt Spider-Man to tell Bible stories, but when Hindu folks make a Spider-Man Ganesh it's cool? I'm not 100 percent on this, but I think it's because white people are just kinda lame.

Spiderman Ganesh

Bollywood Spider-Woman, Superman

In this clip from a Bollywood classic, Superman and a woman in a Spider-Man costume fly over the city kissing, pausing to break funky dance moves in a city park, fight bad guys and celebrate their victory with more funky dance moves and in-flight smooching.

Spider-Man Latte

First the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, now it's Spider-Man on a latte.

The Electric Company - Spidey Meets the Yeti

Man, I used to LOVE the Electric Company, especially the Spider-Man segments. Turns out they're still great -- this one features a young Morgan Freeman as a grape soda-loving cop, Spidey jogging, and a misguided villain who self-medicates his homesick heartbreak by sitting on cold foods. The kid narrating has the thickest New York accent I've heard in all my life.

Spider-Man Tag Teams With Lou Albano

Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Lou Albano

Spider-Man's fought alongside some pretty colorful people in his day, but none quite so colorful as WWE Superstar Lou Albano. In this Indian comic, Spidey teams up with Lou Albano, Superman, Batman and large wizard who looks like Moses to save the day. Unfortunately, an evil wizard turns Lou Albano into an violent giant and an Indian superhero is forced to kill him by force-feeding him some deadly snakes.

My Son Sean, on his 7th Birthday, with "Spiderman"

I found this story really touching:

I met up with lady who use to work in the costume department at whichever movie studio did Spiderman stuff. She was able to get hold of some Spiderman films and made a costume for her son to wear. It was pretty good, except his glasses showed underneath the eye cut outs ... As a single mom at the time, a spiderman Birthday Party for that many kids was a big deal for my wallet, and I was so hoping Sean would like it.

Jay Pinkerton's Spider-Man Comic Remix
Pinkerton Spiderman Comics

Pinkerton writes for Cracked Magazine, among other publications. His remixed Spider-Man newspaper strips are really funny .. or funny enough for fifteen minutes or so, anyway.

3 Dev Adam

Loosely translated to "3 Mighty Men," this Turkish film delivers the stange, alright. El Santo and Captain America team up against a villainous Spider-man with glasses and giant fluffy eyebrows. He instructs some gangsters to bury a woman up to her neck in sand, puts rodents into a tube aimed at some guy's face (a la 1984) and has a neglected physique that makes your IT guy look like Hercules.

This review from I-Mockery sums it up best.

That about wraps it up ... if you have anything else, leave it in the comments.

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