Jeebus, will I ever have a normal life? I hope not. Right now it’s 10:43 PM. I just finished the Halo 3 launch party vidcast, which is very small and very slight, but it only took me 37 minutes to do, start to finish. If all goes well I’ll be able to upload it to right at 12:01, which might well make it the first images of the game available IN THE WORLD. Granted, you can’t see a damn thing. But still.

I’m at the kitchen table, with all the paraphernalia of the job scattered around – the camera, the microphone, the headphones. I want to watch TV (the second episode of “Curb” was so very much better; my faith is renewed) and I’m working on five and a half hours of sleep. Gnat had a nightmare last night and wanted to crawl into bed at 5:30 AM, which meant I was up for 45 minutes dealing with bad dreams and a stuffed-up nose . . . and then the planes started. Made it through the day fine, but it’s been wall to wall. At 5:50 I dropped her off at her cousin’s and headed to the Halo 3 launch party. It began to rain, and it was mean stern rain that reduced visibility down to Zero; I stopped to get some drive-through but the rain poured in the window when I rolled it down to place my order, so I said to heck with it and went on, hungry. The launch party was fun, but I couldn’t blog from the room where the gaming was happening, drat the luck. The Microsoft office turned off the wifi after business hours. They were very helpful, though; got me set up with an Ethernet cable in the corner of the lobby, right beneath a big poster advertising a Microsoft service that promised wifi anywhere anytime, next to a kiosk that had a screen and a keyboard and a sign indicating the passwords you should use if asked. (The passwords were “password.”) The MS people, start to finish, were a hoot, and happy to be involved with this Big Thing. It’s bigger than Spider-Man 3! Bigger than Harry Potter! In dollar terms, they’re going to be correct.

I saw the game: sweet. The MS guy asked when I’d get my copy, and I said “Eleven years. When my daughter goes to college.”

I mentioned yesterday that I’d post something about a 1970s spat between an astronaut’s daughter and some cartoonists. Well, here we go. Briefly. It’s an interesting period piece; has to do with an eco-comic put out in 1970 called “Slow Death.” Got a copy of some old issues the other day. Like most underground comics of the era, they’re profane, illiterate, intolerant of anyone who isn’t a member of the Freak-American community, gleefully despoiling anything that happened in the world the day before they graduated from high school, overinked and saturated with profanity, drugs, and a heavy-lidded nod towards sex, which they might have been interested in one day before they graduated to the better drugs. 
Humorless, self-righteous tripe for the most part, complete with dystopian fantasies about life in 1975: no air, no resources, no oceans. As the Mary Tyler Moore song might have said: Death is all around no need to worry / Have another joint it’ll be a slurry / of CHUDs and oil-soaked ptarmigans. This illustration sums up the angry bitter comic quite well:


The idea that the West has something to offer besides rapacious  planet-killing OmniCancer – things like freedom, individualism, and the technology that makes for cleaner industry while providing jobs for people so they can eat – would not appeal to the authors of this book. One tendentious story detailed the means by which Nixon would co-opt the ecology movement with the help of Big Business. Shills would be send out to lie and confuse:

The solution, of course, was to turn it all over to enlightened, hot, white-looking Native Americans:

Yes, graphic fans, that's the Gary Grimshaw. Reading through the letters page, I saw this:

Eh? So the additive spokesman was supposed to be Scott Carpenter? I guess that must have made sense in 1970; everyone must have seen the commercial. Here’s the editor’s reply. Remember, proper hyphenation is a TOOL OF THE MAN:


Watch out for those phosagenes, man.

Yes, the additive was spewing mustard gas, and they had the parenthetically cited references to back it up. Googling around, I find that this was actually a controversy in some quarters. A big deal. A rallying point. A sign of corporate perfidy. Chevron still stands by the stuff; here’s a page with nice happy cars designed by the Wallace and Gromit people. The controvery is completely forgotten today, but it’s a nice reminder. Granted,: grass-roots concern over the environment in the early 70s was one of the reasons that the problem was addressed in earnest; I’m not disputing that there was a problem, or that the activists weren’t essential to combating it. But the comic is full of the same strains we see today: collapse is imminent, dark forces are lying to you and paying off spokesmen, Western Civ is inherently evil, and you’re right because you know everyone else is wrong. That was 37 years ago. Somehow we’re not all dead of mustard-gas Gas.

Yet. There’s always tomorrow. Despair springs eternal.

Oh, the daughter? She wrote a book with her dad about his life. Here they are, together. Here's astronaut Carpenter in his Mercury days. He also served in Korea, and was "active in the design of the Apollo Lunar Landing Module."

Mr. Crapenter. Hey, it's not like he played the Fillmore with the Troggs, or anything.


New Funnies up; it’s a small but redolent offering. Busy day, and it’s not done yet. See you at!