Friday, March 30, 2007

I vote for "Old" Vader

Before I was a comics, Star Trek and beer geek, I was a stamp collector. So I still keep up with new issues and buy cool ones to address my mail. And I know some of the rules about who can be honored on a stamp.

The primary rule has been that no living person is honored on a US stamp. Traditionally, they waited until someone had been dead for ten years before putting out a stamp, except for U.S. Presidents. There have been exceptions: Walt Disney's portrait was postified in 1968, two years after he died. Gemini astronaut Ed White's 1965 space walk was commemorated in 1967, a few months after he died in the Apollo 1 fire. And there've been several stamps showing the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon, despite Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin still being very much with us.

In some cases, the 10-year rule was more strictly enforced, leading to interesting omissions. In 1989, a block was issued honoring four of the five Best Picture nominees for 1939. They showed John Wayne from "Stagecoach," Gary Cooper from "Beau Geste," Judy Garland from "The Wizard of Oz," and Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh from "Gone With the Wind." All of these actors passed the "10 years gone" test, but the fifth nominee, "The Philadelphia Story," was not honored since their stars, Kathryn Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart, were still around. There's a lot more excruciating minutiae I could go into, but I'll just note that recently the official window was reduced to five years.

Now that whole rule seems to fly out the window in 2007 with the issuance of a sheet commemorating "Star Wars'" 30th anniversary, It's a good profit maker for the Postal Service after all: every stamp sold to collectors and not used to mail something is a 39¢ profit. But let's take a look: over a dozen characters from the six movies, most of them portrayed by actors who are very much among us.

I suppose we're seeing a new rule at work here. The stamp design is actually paintings of the characters, not photographs of the actors. That just might open the door to a whole new range of subjects for future issues.
Meantime, the post office is also taking votes on which of the ten stamps from the sheet will be issued later as an individual stamp. Absent one Jar Jar Binks on this sheet, we must throw our support to "old" Darth Vader. Emperor Palpatine will get his due with the passing of his acolyte, Darth W. Bush.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Creepiest Johnny Cash soundtrack

Click here, while the link is active, for the raw footage of the overserved Chicago cop beating up a bartender:

(c) 2007, WMAQ. All rights reserved.

Without the voiceover of a news reader narrating the story, we find out that the beating ends just as the jukebox finishes playing Johnny Cash' "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

Somehow eerily appropriate.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Strange Dreams

If I have dreams all the time, like some say, I don't remember 99% of them. But last night was the exception.

I dreamed I was surfing the Web and I stumbled upon a new web site. It started installing software that kept asking me for personal information. My address, my Soc., my phone number, passwords, names of my family, all that. Somehow I realized this was the Devil's personal web address, and he was using data mining to make it easier to tempt souls. The more I tried to ditch the malware (how aptly named!) and restart, reboot or reinstall, the more each file or web page I tried to open creating pop-ups nagging me for personal information.

I was losing the battle to save my online soul.

And then I woke up, wondering what that was all about. A manifestation of our general paranoia about privacy on the internet? A warning to stop surfing the net at work?

I remembered the alleged evil web address, so I checked it out. Seems like a harmless personal site. I won't put up the name here, since in real life they had nothing to do with my dream.

But does anyone has apocalyptic visions about the internet?