Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

Archive for the month “September, 2019”

What I am thinking about today: 9/16

What I am thinking about today:

I got a comment today that I loved: “Kindness and wisdom on social media? You are brave, Cory.”

My answer is simple: Social Media is what we make it. I listen to pundits and observers saying that it is the bane of our existence, filled with hate and fake stories.

I’m sorry, but social media, by itself, is neutral. If we fill it with hate, it’ll be hate filled. If we fill it with what we want it to be, don’t follow or give in to the anger and division, it won’t be like that. I follow friends, follow comics fans, artists, writers, and other creative folks whose works I buy and enjoy.

I read about Bronze age creators who are travelling to far off places for people to express the love of their work, comics artist showing off their latest stuff, publishers discussing the projects they are proud of, endless cat pictures, sports fans living and dying by their teams and so on. So, given a choice of making things worse, or making things better, I will try to make things better.

I didn’t always do it, and I can dive into snark from time to time, but I really feel that all we have is each other, and I want to learn from people all around the world who I may share an interest or connection with.  

Ric Ocasek passed this weekend. I loved The Cars, as did just about everyone my age. They were band that appealed to a wide group of people in the late 90’s/early 80’s with elements of pop, new wave, and power rock. They had 4 great albums, 1 good one and two stinkers, and gave the worst concert I ever attended. He was a wonderfully quirky artist, who brought art to his music and videos, and I dare say the first two albums are still eminently listenable.

Boris Johnson said he is like The Hulk in a recent statement, and immediately a petition was started to shoot him into space, as was done to the Hulk in the comics. I love that.

Much love to friends old and new.

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9/12

On 9/12, I was freaked out.

We had Salman Rushdie in the Twin Cities and we also have the Mall of America, the biggest Mall in the US. So, as such, here in Minnesota, we were concerned we were on a hit list of some kind, and I would imagine that everyone had some sort of reason we were a target. I grew up outside of a town of 350 people, and was told my whole life that we were a nuclear bomb target because there was a huge railroad interchange just 20 some miles away.

Gas had gone from $1.49 to anywhere from $7 to $9 a gallon until the Governor announced he would go after anyone who engaged in price gouging. I still won’t buy gas from the stations that hiked their prices that day.

Friends of mine who were of Middle Eastern decent were scared, and had to deal with people yelling threats toward them when they were in public. We had grounded every plane, and were looking at more security measures we could put in place immediately.

There was a feeling that we might be hit again, and the President was flying around the country from place to place, and no one could tell us where he would be next or why he was being moved around the country every couple of hours. There was a pervasive feeling that our security apparatus was flailing, trying to figure out what to do.

I slept poorly, and by this time, I couldn’t turn on the TV or radio without being bombarded with horrifying images of death. He usual media suspects were looking for who to blame, and it was their political enemies. TV Religious leaders who met weekly with the President of the United States got together on their TV shows and radio networks to announce that people were killed because we allowed gay people to exist. They still say it, and Billy Graham’s daughter said it yesterday, still looking to conflate the people they hate to the worst attack in US history.

In the days following, there became a huge divide in Us vs Them, and you’d best hope you weren’t one of Them. And They had brown skin. They spoke with accents. They didn’t worship the right God or a God at all. They voted wrong in the last election. The political advisors of the President said they would be using this event to go after their political enemies. He didn’t say this in a smoke filled room away from prying eyes, he said it on national TV the same week that we were attacked.

A massive bill was rushed through Congress within days that curtailed rights and opened up surveillance of US citizens, and it has come out that the PATRIOT Act was written and ready to go long before the attacks, just waiting for an excuse to clamp down on the new tech being introduced. It was voted on without people reading it because we were all so freaked out, we demanded action, and NO ONE would vote against something with Patriot in the name.

We were told the countries we were going to attack the next day, and the news was leaking that we would attack Iraq and make up the reasons later. OK, the US news didn’t report it, because they were being Patriotically Correct, but news sources outside the US were, and it turned out there were correct.

If you felt more connected to your fellow citizens on 9/12, I’m happy for you, and I don’t want to rain on your parade, but…a lot of people were freaked out, a lot of people saw themselves in crosshairs. 9/12 was the day after a national trauma, and I was shell shocked and scared. I was concerned that my friends, family, and people who were supposed to keep us safe were all in danger, and it was a feeling worse that the pervasive fear we had during the Cold War.

We now have a President who makes up stories about people whose skin color is different from his celebrating the attacks on 9/11 with no evidence to support him, and he used that to create legislation and rules around who can come and go inside our borders. The mayor of New York just used 9/11 to put out an ad that anyone who questions the government was the same as terrorists. We are still fighting the wars started after 9/11, and there is no good solution to complete them. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in those wars, and we will be dealing with the blowback of that for the rest of our lives.

I don’t ever want to feel as scared, worried and vulnerable as I did on 9/12. Ever.

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What I am thinking about today 9/12/2019

What I am thinking about today:

There is a news story releasing the e-mail of Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. showing him insulting students and staff, bragging about how he fleeces his followers, brags about his political power and sex life and on and on and on. I won’t be making the usual comments when a religious leader is found out to be a dirtbag. I WILL, however, point out that when people ask “Why are people turning away from religion,” I’ll point directly at this.

For most of my life, religious leaders have backed a specific political party AND conflated that party with piety and a belief in God. As more and more people see the hypocrisy of that, the more they just give up on religion all together. When you say God has chosen Donald Trump, and people all know him to be a liar who cheats on his wife with porn stars, runs charities that takes money meant for kids with cancer and spends it on himself and his kids, and much more; it makes people question why they should listen to religious figures. And ALL of the religious people in the media do the same thing.

They stand up for Trump on his cruelest things, family separation, threating to kill people, telling his follows to beat up those who disagree with them, allegation of sexual assault, and on and on. Is it any wonder why people look at that and say “Religion? Nah, it ain’t for me. They are a bunch of greedy bullies who mistreat women.”

My next comics shipment will have the Alter Ego issue that spotlights Steve Ditko, the first volume in the (hopefully) complete reprinting of the Ms. Tree series that introduced me to noir/crime/hard boiled fiction, and the Marvel Horror omnibus which reprints most of the short run Marvel Horror-based series of the 70’s. That’s right, It, The Living Colossus, Mordred the Mystic, and Marvel’s Scarecrow will be reprinted in their most deluxe format. The mind boggles.

One of my co-workers left a message that they would be “more than happy to help.” That phrase means nothing to me. What is More than happy? Happier is just a higher intensity of happy, but it is still on the happy continuum. I am not More Than Happy To Help. I am just happy to help, or, on a bad day, contractually obligated to help.

The company that owns Impact Wrestling has purchased a major stake in the AXS TV, which currently shows New Japan Pro Wrestling, which is BY FAR my favorite wrestling promotion. The contract for the show goes through January of 2020, but after that is anyone’s guess if they renew the deal. I don’t’ watch a lot of non-streaming stuff anymore, and I’ll be bummed if I have to start subscribing to New Japan via streaming as they don’t have a Roku app, and I think I have enough streaming channels I pay for.

Much love to friends old and new, and I don’t believe in anything but me, and the idea that we can all do better at taking care of each other.

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What I am thinking about today – 9/11/2019

What I am thinking about today:

The one thing that seems in short supply as I watch the news and listen to people is hope. We are inundated with so much information, assaulted by attacks on people, and anger at anyone who is different, it feels like we are moving backward as a race. All we can do is be a bulwark against the forces of anger by being open to our fellow humans and treating them like people. To look for what we have in common, connecting over those things, and using that to understand the differences. It’s easy to give up and lock ourselves away, but that just means that the people wanting to drive us apart have the last word. You exist. You matter. And you are enough.

Not all of my thoughts are this uplifting. I have two examples below, so I guess I have more work to do.

Once again, a sick co-worker was unhappy that I called them a festering bag of disease. In my defense, they were sick, therefore a festering bag of disease.

I have a new co-worker who constantly turns to me for information. I have no problem with this normally, but the new people are supposed to ask for help from their trainers. So, I have had to direct him to his trainers for the last few weeks, even stating that I am not to help him if a trainer is available because they will tell me not to. In fact, I have had trainers come to my desk to tell me to redirect him to one of them. And yet, he still asks me. It is incredibly frustrating, in that he now says that I don’t want to help him and won’t talk to him. To be blunt, I am starting to resent that he keeps putting me in this position.

Much love to friends old and new, and I hope you aren’t put in a position where you have to be the jerk…and if you are, you can at least be kind about it.

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The Greatest Breakfast Cereals

Before we begin, I want to remind you that all rice based cereals are terrible. Don’t come at me with your excuses, you know that they have a half life of about 26 second before they are too soggy to eat and are a bowl of mushy sadness. Also, there are about a bajillion cereals that are just Captain Crunch with a different shape and mascot. Quisp, King Vitamin, Batman, Pac-Man, Mr. T, Pokemon, Urkel – Os, C-3PO’s, and so on. They will all be listed as Captain Crunch. Finally, there are no Malt-o-Meal cereals on this list because screw them.

1. Honey-Comb Cereal – The GOAT. Great in a bowl with milk, in a coffee mug while watching TV, or in one of those cereal holders that fit in your car’s cup holder. I also like the knockoffs such as Waffle Crisp Cereal

2. Nerds Cereal – The fact that these no longer exist is a crime against humanity. SUPER over flavored cereal with one flavor on one side and another flavor on the other. I ate endless boxes of these in college, and I did not smoke weed. That’s how good they were. I mourn their loss.

3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989) Cereal – The greatest tie-in cereal of all time. They took Corn Chex, frosted them and added cereal marshmallows. They also did it for the Spider-Man cereal a few years later. Best. Innovation of the latter 20th century.

4. Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Frute Brute, and Yummy Mummy. – Marshmallows, overly sugar coated Alpha Bits, turns the milk colors, tastes like chemicals and has a monster on the box. The ONLY reason it’s not number 1 is because it’s only available for two months every year.

5. Count Chocula – One step below because I like fruit chemical flavors more than chocolate.

6. Cocoa Puffs Cereal – I am not a huge fan of chocolate flavored cereals, but this one is different. A mentally ill spokesman, keeps its crunch for a week and a half in milk, and tastes like what a chemical engineer would think chocolate tastes like, this cereal tastes like nothing healthy was ever even shown to this cereal.

7. Honey Nut Cheerios Cereal – Cheerios themselves kinda suck, but this is one of the best variations. Not just because it’ll keep your kid quiet during car rides (which is good enough) but it’s perfectly fine without milk. Yes, tell me it’s good for me, I don’t care, it tastes good as do all of the sugared variations.

8. Trix Cereal – For YEARS they screwed up Trix by having it as fruit shapes. It shouldn’t be. The flavors are not real, so the fact that they are colored balls of corn with unnatural colors and sugar is what they should be. Plus, the hollow ones float. The best of the Fruit cereals. I KNOW Fruit Loops is the one loved by most people as well as cats in memes, but Trix wins because the Trix Rabbit is psychologically damaged and the Fruit Loops Toucan has given up on his ability to find Fruit Loops that are hidden away.

9. Cookie-Crisp: Chocolate Chip Cereal – All cookie based cereals are awesome. Cookie Crisp was the first, but the kings of this mountain are the Chips Ahoy cereal and the Nutter Butter cereal, followed closely behind by Nilla Wafer with Banana and so on.

10. Crunch Berries (Cap’n Crunch) Cereal – Captain Crunch with Trix in it. Which means Oops All Berries is just Trix.

11. Apple Jacks – These are just Fruit Loops with bumps and only two colors. I know they are SUPPOSED to be apple flavored, but they aren’t. They are sugar flavored. They’d be right next to Trix and Fruit Loops if they weren’t lying about the flavor involved. Apple my ass.

12. Smorz Cereal – In MY day, this was Rocky Road cereal, and mom wouldn’t let us have it. This is chocolate covered Golden Crisp with marshmallows, which just seems like it’s trying too hard. Back it off a little, buddy, no one likes a cereal this damn needy.

13. Cap’n Crunch Cereal – Corn gets turned into different shapes and is then coated with sugar. That’s what I want in the morning. These stay crunchy in milk, have enough sugar to wake you up and actually taste awesome. Why aren’t they number 1? First, they attack the roof of your mouth with vigor, trying to survive. Second, they have gotten rid of many of the best spin offs like Vanilly. Lastly, they don’t use the wonderful character like Smedly the Peanut Butter elephant, the 3 kids who hung out with the Captain, Pierre LeFeet and so on. Shame for forgetting your roots, Captain!

14. Frosted Flakes Cereal – Everyone has a version of this and they are all good. How can you go wrong by coating corn with sugar? You can’t.

15. Lucky Charms Cereal – It’s Alpha Bits with Marshmallows. Marshmallows make every cereal better, even if they aren’t really marshmallows, but instead little sugar and corn starch cubes.

16. Alpha Bits – Sugar coated oats cereal, it does not matter if the shape is Any good. With marshmallows is better, but this is a good, middle of the road cereal, as well as the different variations. And, it’s oats, so it’s heart healthy, right?

17. Corn Pops Cereal – Corn Pops are kinda bland, kinda boring. It’s corn, but not in an fun shape. It’s sugar glazed, but not special flavor. It never had a mascot that lasted long enough for anyone to care. I remember a cowboy being the mascot, and the history shows it’s usually a character owned by someone else, like Wild Bill Hickcock, Woody Woodpecker, Jack Sparrow and I don’t know who else. If your cereal is just kinda there, give it a bunch of cartoon characters to make me want to eat it. As it is, it’s a cereal you get when you don’t know what your kid likes.

18. Golden Grahams Cereal – A much better version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The coating stays on the flake and it actually keeps the flake crisp longer. So there.

19. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal – This was listed as number one, and I have to disagree. The sugar comes off the cereal and puddles at the bottom of the bowl, making a hard sludge and the cereal itself gives up to sogginess way too soon. It’s good, but not GREAT and not even in my top ten. And there are a bunch of variations. I know the French Toast version is beloved, but it doesn’t taste a damn thing like eggs, so how can it be French Toast flavored?

20. Frosted Mini Chex Cereal – Chex is a cereal that is good as a snack, but as a cereal, only Corn Chex is tolerable. Frosted Chex is awesome (and they just use Corn Chex because, duh) and Wheat and Rice Chex are just bad ideas unless mixed with soy sauce, peanuts, pretzels, and salt. And, Chex Mix is not a good cereal with milk. Trust me on this one.

21. Corn Flakes & Peaches Cereal – Only available for all to brief a time. Freeze dried peaches mixed with corn flakes makes you feel like you’re about to spend the day in a Mark Twain novel. Both for good AND ill.

22. Reese’s Puffs Cereal – I shouldn’t like this because I am not a fan of Reese’s peanut butter cups. SHUT UP, I CAN’T LIKE EVERYTHING. However, this mix of peanut butter and downplayed chocolate works and I’ll buy it if there’s nothing about it available or someone who is coming to visit likes it. Since no one ever comes to visit, I don’t have to worry about it.

23. Blueberry Muffin Tops Cereal – OK, I lied, there is a Malt o Meal cereal here. However, this one isn’t a knockoff of something better. This looks like Cinnamon Toast Crunch with extra sugar, no cinnamon and blue chicken pox. However, Muffin Top Cereal? That’s either the best name ever or a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen. I don’t bring it to work simply because I don’t want to be called into HR and told to cover up the name.

24. Corn Flakes and Cheerios – The generic cereals. Tolerable on their own, but need sugar sprinkled on them. Just buy the frosted versions so that you save time and don’t get the hard island of sugar at the bottom of the bowl when you are done. Geez.

25. Kaboom Cereal – I remember nothing about how this tasted. I just know that the next day, after going to the bathroom, the color of the cereal had not been broken down by my body and it scared me. I didn’t report it at the time, I just quit eating it. Now, I don’t trust any food connected to clowns or circuses. That means YOU Circus Fun Cereal, which no one liked anyway.

26. Super Sugar Crisp, Sugar Crisp, Super Golden Crisp, Golden Crisp, Honey-Toasted Sugar Puffs Cereal – These are all the same cereal. They keep renaming it, and if they wouldn’t do that, it would have been ranked higher. Not much higher, but still.

27. Freakies Cereal – There are people who claim this cereal from the 70’s was great. These people also remember Air Supply, Debbie Boone, and black light posters were great. It’s the cereal equivalent of animal crackers. Yeah, technically, it’s good, but after half a bowl you wish you’d just not eaten anything.

28. Grape-Nuts Cereal – I know what you are going to say. However, if you mix this in with yogurt, they get soft enough to give your yogurt a crunch, so that it has different textures. That’s why it is on the list. But notice how low it is.

29. – Grape-Nuts Flakes Cereal “Look! It’s Grape Nuts as flakes so the only thing you like about them is negated. But, it’s got bran, so….

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