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9/20/17: IT’S BIG, BAD, AND BACK
Sep 19th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In our midweek missive: Republicans just won’t stop trying to kill affordable health care (and thus several million Americans); a local social-justice activist vs. useless “purity” obsessions; tentative victories in eco-lawsuits; the end of the CD’s indie supermarket; and helping the homeless feel “at home,” if just for a moment.

9/6/17: ASHES TO ASHES
Sep 5th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The sky all day Tuesday was, among other colors a sickening shade of orange (how “of our time”). The other huge story today: Folk in all walks-O-life (even a couple of Republicans) bash the trashing of “Dreamers.” Plus, the UW wants to build employee housing.

8/24/17: A TIME OF THE SIGNS
Aug 23rd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

A local artist’s putting up realistic-looking street signs, to gently remind folks of their worth. Today’s other subjects include a reminder of what real “national unity” will look like; stats on Amazon’s near-complete takeover of Seattle; a major Euro automaker potentially opening a US HQ here; and a lot of apartments on a really small lot.

8/22/17: THERE WENT THE SUN
Aug 21st, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The temperature cooled significantly. The outdoor light looked like a movie “day for night” shot. And people glimpsed the realms beyond our own world. Now it’s back to the dog daze o’ summer, when MISCmedia MAIL mentions a call for a “centrist” political movement (as if we don’t already have one); a national media article claiming some Seattleites like to live in their cars (?); prison time for a local Ponzi-schemer; and a big trans convention coming to town.

8/17/17: DOWN THE PIKE
Aug 16th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Let us recall another Seattle progressive triumph, in an age of another not-all-there Republican president. It’s the late John Stamets’ 1987 pix of the restored Pike Place Market, now on display again. Among our other topics this day: wildfires rage in Grant County; concrete-truck drivers go on strike; a walking trail’s set to reopen; and more local folk have more reaction to the ongoing sociopolitical meltdown.

7/28/17: A BILLION HERE, A BILLION THERE…
Jul 28th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

For a few hours Thursday, due to fluctuating stock prices, Jeff Bezos was briefly the richest person in the world. MISCmedia MAIL ponders what he, or we, could have done with just a piece of that loot, and also ponders the prospect of bullet trains in the NW; more legal actions against Mayor Murray and Sheriff Urquhart; the death of a terrific local photojournalist; and the “AstroTurf PR” dude cheerleading against higher minimum wages.

6/5/17: THIS AIN’T NO PORTLANDIA
Jun 5th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The alt-right rally scheduled for Portland before last week’s slayings took place, as did several counter-protests, as did arrests and seized weapons and pepper spray. Also in Monday’s MISCmedia MAIL: Anschutz doesn’t want to rebuild KeyArena after all; Dale Chihuly admits to emotional issues but denies cheating an associate; a legendary local bar will be reborn; and a proposed high-rise with a rooftop dome.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 120/17: (MORE) NEWS ON THE MARCH
Jan 29th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Our Monday e-missive is, natch, mostly about the weekend’s “emergency marches” against the immigrant ban and the Sleaze Machine that devised it. But we also find space to remember a local TV legend and nationally renowned Scandahoovian-dialect comedy singer.

A DISNEY VILLAIN FOR OUR TIME
Jan 26th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The total-control regime in Washington DC, and its egomaniacal central figure, are existentially frightening in their threat to every aspect of the American Republic and its people (and, by extension, all the peoples of the globe).

I’ve been thinking of how to portray this character in the context of the great villains of fiction and lore.

I’ve compared certain past politicians to everyone from Lord Farquahr in the original Shrek to a one-shot Get Smart! villain, Simon the Likeable.

This past summer, I began to call the then GOP presidential nominee “He Who Cannot Be Named” (from Harry Potter). But that became cumbersome.

So I went in search of the perfect pre-existing fictionalization for this man-child, a figure with an insatiable lust for attention and a craving to cause suffering just to maniacally laugh at his victims.

A villain this insanely sure of his own omnipotence would never show panic, so that leaves out the Master from Doctor Who.

The pantheon of Disney villains (even if you only count the studio’s “core universe” of animated features and shorts) is vast. But even these characters usually have a relatable core motivation for their various crimes (greed, power, vanity, revenge, even fashion). They largely don’t encompass the pure “evil just for the sake of ego” that I’m talking about here.

With one recent exception.

It’s a character described in a fan-written “wiki” as: “Insane, twisted, crass, mischievous, deceptive, manipulative, sly, vague, witty, lively, whimsical, hammy, confident, spiteful, temperamental, choleric, evil, chaotic, greedy, sadomasochistic.”

The character’s “likes,” as described on the same web page, include: “Chaos, the suffering of others, destroying things, partying, manipulation.”

bill cipher

I’m talking about Bill Cipher.

He’s the main antagonist on Gravity Falls, a Disney Channel cartoon show that ended last February, after airing 41 half-hours over three and a half years (the last two as a one-hour finale).

The show’s set in Central Oregon, in one of those fictional towns where assorted weird things show up every day. In various episodes, the show’s brother-and-sister heroes encounter such anomalies as gnomes, unicorns, ghosts, zombies, dinosaurs, a crashed UFO, and video-game characters come to life.

And, like several other sagas of its type (Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Lost, et al.), there’s a “meta-mystery” on Gravity Falls.

It involves Bill, who’s initially introduced as a “dream demon” from another dimension. He sees all, knows all, and can invade people’s minds, especially as they sleep.

Bill can take any visual form, but his default appearance is as a triangle with a single eye near its center. But even though he resembles the “eye in the pyramid” on the $1 bill, Bill’s motive is not material wealth.

Rather, he wants to “cross over” from the “nightmare realm” and become a physical presence in our world—not to merely rule it but to destroy it, just for kicks.

Bill Cipher’s depicted as both a homicidal maniac and as a brilliant schemer; a good of chaos and and a master manipulator.

In the series’ climactic story arc, Bill successfully cons two characters and obtains the materials to make a “dimensional rift” between his world and ours. He summons a hooligan gang of monsters to ransack the town, turn people into statues, and otherwise spread “weirdness” (pure destructive chaos).

From there, he aims to expand the “weirdness” across the Earth: “Anything will be possible! I’ll remake a fun world, a better world! A party that never ends with a host that never dies. No more restrictions, no more laws!” As he says this, the screen shows images of a giant-sized Bill in a potential future, etching a “smiley face” on the North American continent (destroying whole cities in the process), then taking a bite out of the Earth as if it were an apple.

I believe this sadistic madness, not any mere material avarice, is the type of villainy that fits our age.

You can hear Bill Cipher’s sneering laugh among goons who laugh too hard at their own racist/sexist “jokes.”

You can see his smug taunting among the online “trolls” who belittle and insult everyone deemed different from them.

You can hear Bill’s line about how “there’s no room for heroes in MY world” echoed in the voices of conservatives who want the rest of us to shut up and fall into line.

You can sense Bill’s lust for destruction among certain “religious right” figures who not only oppose all efforts to save the environment, but who sometimes vocally wish for the “End Times” of Fundamentalist prophecy.

To prevent Bill from spreading his “weirdness” to the rest of the Earth, the surviving townspeople have to hold hands in a rite that will send Bill away. They include characters that had been mortal enemies in previous episodes, but who now must work together against a common foe.

It doesn’t work at first, because two of them refuse to cooperate with one another. In the final episode (titled “Take Back the Falls”), those two have to finally cooperate (and one of them risks losing his mind) to trap and remove Bill, revive the frozen townspeople, and bring the town back to a semblance of “normal.”

Similarly, to stop the threats to America’s civil society, we’ve got to forge alliances across lines of race, gender, region, religion, and social class.

(As an aside, someone put up a “Bill Cipher for President” Facebook page late last summer. One smarky commenter wrote: “You’re seriously making me choose between a horrible demon bent on destroying everything he touches, and Bill Cipher?”)

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 1/26/17: HE SELLS SANCTUARY
Jan 25th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Mayor Murray (and Sheriff Urquhart) proclaim they, and we, will not be bowed by the DC dictatorship’s anti-immigrant scare tactics. In lighter topics, we comment upon the latest fashion in space suits; how dense Seattle’s really gotten; a perky protest song name-dropping scientists and free thinkers; and the end of the deli-mart with the plastic cow on its roof (the cow’s staying).

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 1/18/17: THE LAST LEGGINGS
Jan 17th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

As American Apparel shuts down here and elsewhere, we look fashion-forward to discuss more attempts by GOP legislators to make the laws for (or rather, against) Seattle; a dispute among anti-inauguration marchers; diversifying Bellevue and its challenges; and a beloved local bar closes two years after it first said it would.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 1/13/17: A SONG OF ICE
Jan 12th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Besides our big book announcement (see below), we’ve got word about the Snoqualmie River “ice circle”; local pols defending health care; an opioid near-death seen up close; the death of a transit advocate; and lots of MLK Weekend activities.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 1/9/17: JAYAPAL’S FIRST STAND
Jan 8th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Pramila Jayapal did her best to derail the Electoral College vote’s certification after it was already too late, alas. But it’s never too late to join the Resistance. Or to read today’s e-missive about the next stages in police reform; how and why white liberals should learn to “talk about race;” some “dangerously pure” street drugs; and treating depression with a video game.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 1/3/17: GOP-ACOLYPSE NOW?
Jan 2nd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

As a safety-net-hostile, ethics-hostile Congress prepares to convene, we continue to focus on local stuff, including another dead orca; state Sen. Baumgartner’s latest power-grab attempt; Amazon bashed for, well, just about everything; and fire trucks crashing into each other.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 12/14/16: UP ALL NIGHT?
Dec 13th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Some business interests want to turn downtown Seattle into “a 24-hour city.” People walking and shopping and being entertained and high-fiving one another in the streets when the only people who should normally be awake (aside from insomniacs like me) are hungry newborns and their parents. Can this be accomplished; and if so, would we even like it? We also ponder Bill Gates’s strange comparison between the next president and JFK; a temporary win for homeowners who don’t like back-yard cottages; Boeing management proving as indifferent to St. Louis as it is to Seattle; and why Sounders fans don’t watch a parade, they march in it.

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© Copyright 2015 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).