Sunday, June 28, 2015


I'm beginning to think we've all been punked by this "Wayman Gresham" individual. 

In case you haven't heard of him - and if you haven't, you're in the minority - Wayman Gresham is the most recent multi-million-hit, viral video phenomenon to appear all over the media, from breakfast TV to late-nite talk, to international newspapers and broadcast network news, celebrity Twitter accounts, and all over your own personal Facebook timeline. 

And it's all thanks to a single video, which he posted on Facebook less than a month ago, and which ends with an uplifting switcheroo twist. 

Here is the video in question, via Youtube. I'll explain why I wasn't able to link to the Facebook original deeper into this post:

So what we seem to have, here, is a somewhat overweight but otherwise perfectly normal family man, who is pretty much prime-time ready with his "Family Matters" mien and his adorably huggable "Christian love" ethics in practice, who apparently has a good, strong relationship with his son. And that's fine. Better than fine, even. It's great.

And then there's the video, in which he pretends like he's going to humiliate his son by shaving his hair on social media (something shitty parents have been doing lately, apparently leading to at least one teen suicide). only to pull a switcheroo and shame those who would shame their children publicly in such an awful way. Once again, I applauded. Very good message. I appreciated it. 

I even went so far as to find Mr Gresham on Facebook and ask to befriend him, and he hooked me up within minutes. And I was very pleased.

Then, I started getting his updates in my Facebook timeline. They were very Christian, which is not a problem for me. I have religious friends. I have a few religious beliefs of my own. He kept it light, you know, saying how he felt "God blessed" and shooting out little mini-prayers throughout the day. No biggie. It was not only unoffensive, I actually started asking myself "May we finally have found a great spokesman for modern American Christianity?"

And then his posts started getting political. He started bad-mouthing liberals, and getting just a bit fire and brimstone, making thinly-veiled allusions to various "non-Christians" and their "lifestyles"... if you know what I mean. 

It was when Gresham began signaling out President Obama with particularly nasty rhetoric - and defending the preznitcy of George Dubya Bush! - that I started to wonder if Mr Gresham had played a little "switcheroo" of his own on his new legion of fans. 

I started thinking to myself, how does some unknown entity post a video on Facebook, where only one's friends can see it - and NOT on Youtube, where anyone can see it - and somehow immediately manage to "go viral"? And I'm talking seriously viral, here, folks. Just do a search for "Wayman Gresham" on and check out the hundreds of results from every media platform imaginable to see how far this virus has spread. 

How, in the span of less than a single month, can one man's private video reach not hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, but MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of people, without a little... outside intervention? A little help? A little boost of some sort?

Something about this stinks to me. It stinks to high heaven. In fact, it stank so bad, I decided to ask Mr Gresham about it in response to one of his most recent anti-Obama Facebook postings. 

He initially replied with a good natured, "Well, I receive your comment with respect and love, but you're wrong! Have a blessed day!" When I attempted to reply to his reply, I found that he had de-friended me. When I attempted to see if he'd removed my comments, I found that he'd also actively BLOCKED me. So now I can't see his account anymore, which is why I wasn't able to link to his original video, or to any of his comments that caused me to question his motives and/or provenance. 

And so we are left to ask ourselves... who might these "helpers", these "boosters", these "interveners" be? 

Let's think about this one for a bit. Might there anybody out there in the Big Bad World with a vested interest in having a nice, respectable, allegedly "Christian" Everyman, who also just happens to be black, with millions of followers on social media of all sorts, publicly attacking President Obama? 

I can see them all now, sitting in leather armchairs around a big redwood table, in a dimly-lit think tank meeting room, the air thick with cigar smoke, reasoning: "They won't be able to call him a racist, because he'll be a BLACK GUY!" And they all burst into cackling laughter that eventually devolves into uncontrollable phlegmatic hacking coughs. 

And now I ask you, Mr Gresham... who is pulling your strings? Who is behind the multi-million viral success of your video? Who are they, and at what point did they step in? Did they approach and buy your soul AFTER you had achieved some measure of success? Or have you been a bogus, manufactured propaganda product from the moment we first laid eyes upon you?

I have one last question for you, Mr Gresham, in case you're reading this AND you're a real person, and not just some kind of right-wing think tank propaganda regurgitating Manchurian program puppet. When Christ fasted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, and Satan approached and offered Him dominion over all the world, and Christ refused... was He wrong to do so?

Thank you all for your time and attention.

Monday, June 22, 2015


1. At first glance, the above image - dubbed "the mystery photo haunting Reddit - doesn't seem especially horrific. But look again... deeper this time. Peep the details... all those eyes and snouts and... stalks. Well, according to this article, the above image (as well as a whole bunch more at the link) is how Google's "image recognition neural network" sees the world... like a Lovecraftian fever-dream. Personally, I am reminded of some of the more intense and extreme visualizations sparked by the use of various psychedelic substances, such as DMT, Salvia Divinorum, LSD and Magic Mushrooms. For another think-piece on this peculiar visual oddity, here's The Guardian's take.

2. Have you ever wondered to yourself what books could be used to rebuild civilization after its inevitable and swiftly approaching collapse? No? Well, no problem, because a bunch of other people have, and they're generously choosing to share their lists with the rest of us. Everyone from musical wizard Brian Eno to cyber-guru Stewart Brand. Personally, I'm not 100 percent convinced by the lists presented here, but they do make for interesting reading... the lists, and most of the books on the lists.

3. And, finally, in keeping with the "lists" theme, here's The Guardian's list of 1000 novels that you should read before you die. That's 1000... three zeroes. And they're all novels... no biographies, or true crime, or works of history, or anything like that. The criteria:
Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time in a single list.
And so, here it is, broken down into a bunch of categories. Get cracking!


Ah... Youtube. Strip away all the copyright-busting "shares" of music, movies and TV shows, remove the infinitely recursive, neverending reposts of Charlie-bit-my-pants-fell-down "viral" videos (and has a phenomenon ever been so aptly baptised?) and we're left with what the site's creators hilariously claim was its raison d'etre, all along... people communicating directly with other people, via the medium of their desktop video cameras. 

After all, everybody's got something to say, right? Millions upon millions of teachers, all in search of a pupil or two. The science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon famously opined that 95% of everything is crap. Had he lived to experience the exquisite folly that is Youtube, I'm fairly certain he would have had to revise his estimate upwards by a few full percentiles, at least. 

But lurk long enough in some of Youtube's dark, neglected corners - creeping carefully past the idiot bastard stepchildren of conspiracy theorists long dead, hours-long videogame "walk-throughs" and loving close-ups of pimples and blackheads being popped in slow-motion - and you'll occasionally stumble across a nugget of purest gold. 

Youtube user MoviesAndGhosties' review of the 1986 classic "Crocodile Dundee" is one such nugget, which I hereby present to you, complete with my own complete transcription, because it's just... that... good. I hope watching and/or reading this review gives you a fraction of the pleasure I got from transcribing it for you. Of particular value here is M&G's insightful and heartfelt remembrance of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, near the end of her review. 

Enjoy! - YOPJ

Okay folks! Now for another movie that, well, it's older than the last movie I reviewed. It's almost ten years older than... uh... the last movie I just reviewed. This is one of my husband's favorite movies... one of two of his favorite movies. 

Uh, this is, um... you know, it has a sequel, which I have one of the two sequels for this movie. The other one I don't have. I would love to be able to find it on DVD. This is actually a cute movie, and I recently discovered that the star of this movie is basically being held hostage in one of the countries he shot this movie in, for back taxes, uh... and, you know, I haven't heard if they've resolved it or yet, or not. I'm assuming not, because I haven't heard different. 

Anyway, this is actually one of those movies, I mean, it's adorable. Um, and it's got, uh... Paul Hogan, who is the one that's being basically held hostage, in his... (GLURMP) ...excuse me... in his.. in Australia, at this time, to my knowledge, um... I can't say of course if he ever got let go, and Linda Kowal-Zasky, who plays Sue. It's, of course, Crocodile Dundee. It's the, you know, original one. 

This is... I've seen this in the theater, um, and of course I obviously own it here on DVD. This is an adorable movie. I mean, it's so funny, because it's a comedy, and you... (MINI-QUAKE!) can watch this with your friends, or your kids, because I mean it's funny enough to where, you know, you can... you can so tell it's, like, set in the 80's... the 1980's? 

This was released, of course, like I said, in 1986. It came out on September 26 of 86... so 1986. Um... and, I mean, it's just... it's so cute. I mean, it starts off with Sue Carlton, who is, of course, played by Linda Kowal-Zasky, like I mentioned, um, you know, talking on the phone to her editor, who is played by Mark Bloom. Um... Sue Cook is telling Richard that, you know, hey, look, I'm gonna go meet this Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee, who is played by Paul Hogan, um... and... see... about... him... who... you know... see Dundee, because he supposedly had lost a leg, you know, in a crocodile attack, um... in outback... in an OUT BACK settlement. 

Um... you know, when Sue arrives... to... uh... you know, the... town... where... uh.... Dundee lives, um… it's called Walkabout Creek. You know, it's a fake town in Australia. Um… but, when Sue gets there, you know, she finds out that the crocodile story is exaggerated, that Dundee’s leg is still attached to his person, and he’s got a bite scar where the crocodile actually bit him! And of course Sue meets Dundee and Walter, who is Dundee’s aide, um… and the three of them go out in the wilderness, and… you know, Sue watches, uh, Mick – as Dundee is called – using a vo – a version of horse-whispering to subdue a wild buffalo, and then, you know, Dundee kills a crocodile that attacks Sue. (HEAVY SIGH) 

And, of course, one night Mick and Sue are sitting around the fire and an Aboriginese person named Noho Bell, played by David Goddopoli, who is the son of a tribal elder, have to leave to go to this meeting, and um… you know, Mick and Nav then go to this tribal band ceremony, um, where it’s, you know, the object is to pay respect to the father and to the land. Sue, of course, being a woman, can’t participate in this ritual, but she follows behind and hides in the bushes to observe it. And, you know, while she’s hiding there, she spots Mick through her camera’s telescopic lens. And… you know, um… Mick… notices… or, Mick lets Sue know that he spotted her. And… you know, it kind of drives him the fact that he’s, like, in touch with nature. 

And, you know… um, you know… and Mick tells her, you know, tells Sue later that, you know he, you know, knew she’d follow, because, you know, that she was naturally curios- CURIOUS! Because Sue is a woman and a reporter. Um… of course, as they’re going, and they show, Mick shows Sue where he was hurt and everything, and they, you know, they talk about… all that. 

And, you know, one of my favorite parts is when Sue convinces Mick to go to America with her in New York. Of course, you can, you know, you can tell this is definitely pre… what I call a pre-9/11 movie, because you actually see the World Trade Centers in the movie. It’s like, I don’t know why, but it’s like… ever since 9/11 happened – 9/11 2001 happened – it’s like, you can definitely, like, if you’ve, you know, watched the mov- the shows and ever- or, shows on television and everything, or you lived there, like, if you were to watch, like, movies like this, actually show, like, the Trade Towers, you know, you think “Those ain’t there anymore!” Well, you have to kind of, you know, put it in perspective, and, like I have to remind myself that, like, hello, this film was shot, you know, a good… 15 years maybe before 9/11 2001 happened. You have to like, you know, wait a minute, time out! Back it up! 

Um… but this movie, actually, it’s, like I said, it’s adorable. And it’s cute to watch even with your kids and stuff, um… it kind of makes us want to go pay Australia a visit, like, during the American… North American winter, you know, because it’s summer down there? Um… I do highly recommend this movie to watch. I mean, it is, yes, very cute. Now, hang on, I’m going to do another movie review, and I’ll get right back with you, alright? Hang on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


1. This Rolling Stone Magazine cover story about legendary Canadian prog-rock power trio RUSH - the band I've seen live the most often in my own life (3 times) - is just excellent. Even those of you who aren't fans of Rush's particular brand(s) of musical mayhem should find the story of comrades in arms and decades-long best-friendships inspiring and uplifting. Cue up a playlist of "Moving Pictures", or "2112", or "Grace Under Pressure", and read this sucker from top to bottom in one sitting, like I just did. You won't be disappointed!

2. Another lengthy must-read story for today is Paul Ford's absolutely fascinating What Is Code? for Bloomberg. It's a beautiful bit of writing, exploring a poorly understood but incredibly important facet of our contemporary culture. Check out, for instance, what Ford has to say about "involuntary" coding...
When you “batch” process a thousand images in Photoshop or sum numbers in Excel, you’re programming, at least a little. When you use computers too much—which is to say a typical amount—they start to change you. I’ve had Photoshop dreams, Visio dreams, spreadsheet dreams, and Web browser dreams. The dreamscape becomes fluid and can be sorted and restructured. I’ve had programming dreams where I move text around the screen.
You can make computers do wonderful things, but you need to understand their limits. They’re not all-powerful, not conscious in the least. They’re fast, but some parts—the processor, the RAM—are faster than others—like the hard drive or the network connection. Making them seem infinite takes a great deal of work from a lot of programmers and a lot of marketers. 
The turn-of-last-century British artist William Morris once said you can’t have art without resistance in the materials. The computer and its multifarious peripherals are the materials. The code is the art.

 3. This excellent review of English Professor of Philosophy John Gray's thought-provoking new book - "The Soul of the Marionette" - serves as "a short enquiry into human freedom" that "exposes the follies, delusions and prevailing Gnosticism of our smugly arrogant times." It begins:
In these times the west, or what we used quaintly to call the civilised world, is threatened by two opposing perils, one actual and near, the other notional though becoming a reality at an ever-increasing pace. At one pole, there is the outright, unrelenting and often violent rejection of western modernity by fundamentalist movements, Islamic, Christian, Jewish; at the other is the seemingly limitless development of computer technology, which, as some highly intelligent people,Stephen Hawking among them, have been warning of late, may well end in producing machines much cleverer and even more destructive than we are. The future will be another country. John Gray, in his bleak yet bracing new book, once again addresses himself to the follies, delusions and willed blindness of our smugly arrogant times, in which, despite our arrogance, we cower before the twin menaces of old and new barbarisms.
 Delicious and filling food for thought. I look forward to reading Dr Gray's book.

Monday, June 15, 2015


1. Tom Chatfield has penned a stimulating meditation on the role of technology in society and on the messianic concept of "the Singularity", in particular. It begins:
Lecturing in late 1968, the American sociologist Harvey Sacks addressed one of the central failures of technocratic dreams. We have always hoped, Sacks argued, that “if only we introduced some fantastic new communication machine the world will be transformed.” Instead, though, even our best and brightest devices must be accommodated within existing practices and assumptions in a “world that has whatever organisation it already has.” 
As an example, Sacks considered the telephone. Introduced into American homes during the last quarter of the 19th Century, instantaneous conversation across hundreds or even thousands of miles seemed close to a miracle. For Scientific American, editorializing in 1880, this heralded “nothing less than a new organization of society – a state of things in which every individual, however secluded, will have at call every other individual in the community, to the saving of no end of social and business complications…” 
Yet the story that unfolded was not so much “a new organization of society” as the pouring of existing human behaviour into fresh moulds: our goodness, hope and charity; our greed, pride and lust. New technology didn’t bring an overnight revolution. Instead, there was strenuous effort to fit novelty into existing norms.
It's a fascinating and thoughtful piece of writing that should give even the most dedicated techno-utopian pause. I urge one and all to read it and deal with it.

2. Discovering the comedy of Patrice O'Neal only after his death from a diabetes-complicated stroke in late 2011 has been a paradoxical experience. It's wonderful, because he's amazing to listen to, even when surrounded by the likes of Opie, Anthony, Bill Burr and Jimmy Norton. And, of course, it's depressing, because now that I've listened to all his O&A appearances as well as his concerts... that's it. There won't be any more new material from this man. Like the man says in First Blood: "It's over, Johnny." So when I ran across this beautiful New York Magazine tribute/feature on his life and times, I was glad to see that that the author of the piece, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, had done him justice. If you want to see why Patrice meant so much to those who knew and worked with him, check out the archive of his O&A appearances on Youtube (just search his name). There's like 100 hours of material. Unfortunately... that's it.

3. The Rialto Report, a website dedicated to exploring the early, "golden age" of adult cinema, answers the intriguing question: Whatever happened to Pat Barrington? Fans of the cinema of Ed Wood and Russ Meyer will instantly recognize this statuesque beauty, but the truth of her fascinating life is more astonishing than anything cooked up by the half-baked auteurs who made such mercenary use of her prodigious natural talents. I think my good friend Matt Pollack, the documentarian behind Run Run It's Him, will find this to be a particularly compelling narrative.