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MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/24/17: MAKING MERRY AS AN ACT OF DEFIANCE
Feb 23rd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The big Carnival-celebratin’ places have faced horrible times, but always found some good times to let roll. So should we. Also in our biggest-yet e-missive: Rep. Reichert hides from his constituents; renters will get a voice at City Hall; divers keep searching for long-sunken ships; and the remains of Apollo 11 coming to town.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/23/17: OWNING IT
Feb 22nd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

I’m sure Ed Murray’s new speechwriter knew what he was doing when he wrote that we in Seattle are “on our own” these days. And I like to think I know what I’m doing when I talk about the state’s decaying bridges; Daniel Ramirez Medina’s latest legal tactic; a lost opportunity for affordable housing on east Capitol Hill; and Stephen Colbert’s fun with KCPQ’s “exposé” of teen emoji use.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/21/17: AS YE SOW…
Feb 20th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

It’s a post-Monday-holiday day but we’ve still got a full e-missive, with stuff about a local author’s dystopia novel rediscovered; the least-“Made in USA” plane Boeing’s ever made; employers who really didn’t like “A Day Without Immigrants”; and the Seattle rock roots of a late jazz legend.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/20/17: FARM-FRESH JUSTICE
Feb 19th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Another weekend of protests included a rally by the extended family that is the Pike Place Market, along with a commemoration of the WWII internments. Our Monday e-missive also delves into a plan to save part of the Ramps to Nowhere; small towns suffering under Tim Eyman’s tax limits; a tragedy in my ol’ hometown; and the snarky heroism of Mark Cuban.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/17/17: I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE
Feb 16th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Mudslides knocked roads out of commission all over the area. Some might not be fully reopened until later today. Which might not matter if you’re participating in that general strike thang. We’re also observing a WA gay-rights victory; a black cop with words for black youth; the first court date for “dreamer” Daniel Ramirez Medina; and a credit union for the “financially abused.” And we’ve got dozens of weekend event choices as usual.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/14/17: WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT
Feb 13th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In my approaching dotage, I approach at least a slightly less snarky attitude toward Valentine’s Day. And I today discuss the economic clout of “sanctuary cities;” a victory for family-leave advocates; a potential new anti-fossil-fuel initiative; and Mercer Islanders’ sense of transportation privilege.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/13/17: MAKING PRESIDENTS’ DAY MEAN SOMETHING
Feb 12th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

We try to figure out how to mark an upcoming day for honoring the predecessors to someone who’s proven completely dishonorable. And, as well, we explore a still-extant fallout shelter; UW political scientists making a united stand; the sneaky details behind the state Republicans’ school-funding plan; and something called “gaze-assisted object recognition.”

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/10/17: IT’S SO APPEALING!
Feb 9th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

What’s it like to live in the unofficial capital of the Resistance? Today, great. Between the state attorney general and Nordstrom, we’ve got the DC goons on the proverbial ropes. Other subjects include St.Mark’s Cathedral getting “finished” at last; downtown car traffic not growing as much as it could have; an attempt to save a classic funeral building from the Grim Redeveloper; and the usual thousands of weekend activities.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/9/17: GENERALLY STRIKING?
Feb 8th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

A hundred and two years back, Seattle had the nation’s first citywide general strike. Now some folks want to stage another one as the next big national protest. We speak as well of Chris Hansen’s latest arena-scheme revival; legal action against Five-Hour Energy; weird eyeglasses with built-in video cams; and Seattle’s last full-time newspaper art critic leaving.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/8/17: KEEPING UP THE FIGHT
Feb 7th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

We couldn’t stop the Amway heiress from becoming Secretary of Education, but locals made strides and/or statements against the Attorney General nominee, Wells Fargo’s Dakota Access Pipeline stake, and (again) the immigration ban. We’ve also got stuff about the Tommy Bahama-branded travel trailer; the local Gold’s Gym franchisee going fully indie; and developer Martin Selig’s daughter making it big in Hollywood.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/2/17: A WORLD DISAPPEARED
Feb 1st, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

As a new exhibit about local Japanese-American life (before and during the WWII internments) shows, we’ve been down the path of ethnic demonizing before, with tragic results. We’ve also got the now-usual roundup of resistance news, plus a real police-reform bill at last; how the state Senate could get re-tied; and the death of a ceaseless advocate for urban trees and plants.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 1/31/17: THIS WASHINGTON STRIKES BACK
Jan 30th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Gov. Inslee and Attorney General Ferguson are becoming national heroes for speaking truth to cruelty. A lot of other folk are also speaking out, ranging from Jeff Bezos to Amanda Knox. We’ve also got Tim Eyman vs. the Olympia GOP; memories of Tacoma’s anti-Chinese expulsion; Gonzaga reaching #1 in men’s basketball; and a once-prestigious candy brand sold off.

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 1/25/17: A TIE FOR THE WIN?
Jan 24th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The first quasi-sorta-positive thing out of the new DC regime has happened. By poaching two WA State Senators, that body now has a temporary tie. We make further glances at instant pipeline protests; more looks back at the Womxn’s March; Seattle’s not-that-purely-progressive past; and one beloved bar surviving by kicking out another.

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