Friday, December 8, 2017

You Had Your Chance

I'm slowly becoming an avid reader of Frederik Pohl as I get his paperbacks little by little. I don't have the biggest budget for recreational things and internet comes first until that too gets to high and I'll just ghost everyone and update sporadically through libraries and wifi spots. It could be sooner if net neutrality is repealed.

The question of why read Pohl when I can read more current science fiction is because accuracy and miring in current troubles is not what I'm here for when reading sci-fi. It's why I'll never be a true fan of the form. I want the fantasy of it, the parallel world that doesn't exist and has it's own rules, not the forecast of cold, hard facts you read in this weeks science journals, or the mere parody of today's social trends turning into tomorrow's exaggerated post-apocolyptic dystopias. That ain't me. Though all these old stories were written with those two mentalities and methods in mind, they long since been outmoded and I don't have a lot of interest in forecasters current predictions unless the book is that good. I read science fiction of the past like a parallel reality and as a context for the times it was written more than anything.

Recently I finished reading Age of The Pussyfoot by Pohl. It was about a fireman who died in 1968 and was cryo-freezed and wakes up in the 25th century where there's a the possibility of a Sirian invasion and people carry around controller like things on their belts that mine as well be smart phones. Also because people with insurance plans can get cyro-freezed, people can also put hits on people. Sexual norms are looser, nuclear families aren't the norm. Couples pick a name to refer to themselves, family members also have special names for each other in the context of their relation. I might steal this idea, honestly. It was a short book the way I liked that gave a glimpse of a place to get my mind running. That's what I'm here for. People wanting more detail and painstaking development will be disappointed. For one I liked the subplot of the main character going homeless and hanging out with the forgotten men and that ends too soon, but it's fine.

The first time I enjoyed Frederik Pohl's writing was when I was browsing through the bookshelf of a thrift shop and found a hardcover collection of the Starchild Trilogy he wrote with Jack Williamson, another writer I like. Williamson would write the first drafts and Pohl would add, fix up and edit it. So it's more a Williamson book, honestly. The cover has a hippie in a spacesuit riding what looks like a dragon. I'd show you, but this website sucks for uploading on my crappy internet. The Reefs of Space changed my life. The story involves a scientist being demoted and given an explosive collar that could detonate if he gets out of line, or doesn't check in with his appointments. He's called a "risk." The problem is he has amnesia and can't remember important details that would exonerate him. The government is ruled by a computing machine and there's people who read the ticker tape and put it into action.  The story has noirish mystery and feel with some thriller elements, even if I don't like amnesia plots (a common abused neo-noir trope that shows up in maybe a fraction of old noirs). Though I have an irrational phobia of coral in real life, the idea of it growing in spacelike a forest is beautiful imagery even though it's scientifically impossible. My favorite part of the book is the body bank. That's the one part everyone sort of ignores more than the rest when reviewing, but I think it has more development than the reefs of space itself and it's the culmination of the protagonists lot in life. The psychology of facing his ex-girlfriend, an undercover agent who turned him in was well done, but creepy. I think this may have influenced part of Miyra's characterization in my Red novel. I also liked the junkman mystery and the main character possibly being him and his identity crisis. My biggest disappointment was the protagonist coming to terms with his identity and then his memories come back that he isn't the junkman so he can live happily ever after with the semi-annoying love interest. If I crib this idea, I'm definitely playing it differently.

This gets to my new point. Since I'm feeling sick and want to vomit, I can't write, so I mine as well read. I had the choice of a Nero Wolfe mystery about a radio host, or two Frederik Pohl books. One was Plague of Pythons, which from what little I gather is about people who are mind controlled into doing horrible things that make me sick. I hate mind control stories as a rule. The other is Drunkard's Walk. The problem with this first edition book is that there is nothing on the back, or on the inside that tells you what you're in for. Just a bunch of blurbs about how cool The Space Merchants with C.M. Kornbluth is and I know this back when they were written before what was classic was decided, but everybody who's heard of Pohl has heard of Space Merchants at most. So my brother decides to flip through the book and tell me some things. The main character's name is Cornut, ewww. He's a professor. Math's involved including Pascal's Triangle. He has a wife, there's a senator, there's a guy with this name and that, one sounds suspiciously close to the author's, an author avatar, perhaps? He decides to read the last line and he won't spoil it, but he basically describes it like some Snape as Terminator shit and I'm like, whoa, I got to read this. He asks me if this was written before Day of The Daleks and Terminator. Yes. So Harlan Ellison can shut the fuck up. My brother surmises a strange plot involving the character becoming Darkseid and looking the equivalent of the anti-life equation and other things. So not wanting to spoil the ending, I decide to look up the wikipedia article to see if it had more plot information. The article has one sentence only. Something about a professor who discovers a monstrous plot. Very vague. Needless to say the plot is probably nothing like my brother's imagination. Also the original Galaxy digest cover totally looks like a superhero surrounded by atoms and holding a beer bottle. Definitely look up the article. Also the first two parts can be read through scans on Internet Archive. I wish they could make those scans have a text format that isn't fucked by the incoherent ocr they use because I do not fucks with smart phones, tablets, or kindle fire. Burns my eyes like reading a computer screen for too long. Either I find the original digests, or someone makes a text file for my black and white kindle. That's why I haven't taken advantage of all Internet Archive has to offer and mostly stick with the slow releases in Project Gutenberg.

Also one of my big regrets is that while Frederik Pohl was still alive and blogging, I didn't muster up the courage to comment on one of his articles and tell him how he influenced me. Got me that much closer to actually writing.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Nate Heywood Is An Emotional Abuser

Rewatched last Legends of Tomorrow Episode again because my brother missed it and he loves Victorian Circus motifs and Billy Zane, so he had to watch it.

On watching this a second time, I've come up with why Nate bothers me. I'll get to that, so let me explain the situation before I make accusations:

Nate's upset about Amaya showing up after leaving without saying goodbye, he decides to get drunk and blows the team's cover. Whatever everyone ends up idiot balling in this episode even Sara so he's not the only offender and everyone can take some of the blame here, but man is Nate the cause of the idiot snowballing.

Everyone else has explained better than me why Nate's been acting like an asshole before he got drunk and how he basically seems to be dense when it comes to reading the room with his beau when making donuts. I'm aromantic and even I'd be charmed by Amaya making donuts from scratch. True fact my greatgrandmother made homemade donuts. I've never tasted them, but my grandma raves of them and can find only one bakery that's open in limited hours, limited days of the week and has a first come first serve policy and those are the closest she'll ever get to tasting something similar to her mother's homemade donuts because she don't know the art of making them herself. She was a child when Amaya would have been an adult to put it in perspective. Getting off topic.

Amaya comes back to the Waverider trying to be professional for this mission she got dragged back under false pretenses that Nate was okay with it. Later when things go wrong she talks to him about her reasons for leaving, he makes the whole mess about her and blames her for all of it backfiring. The whole mess they are in this episode, he puts on her shoulders for not being honest with him. Basically he won't own up to any of his own mistakes, whether they be mutual things like the two of them aren't communicating with each other well (Barry and Iris dealt with this), or how he makes everything about himself. Maybe drinking his problems away and denying it as anything more than hanging out isn't a good look and did in fact cause the whole cover to blow. What it turns into is Amaya withholds secrets (well he doesn't exactly give her confidence she can talk serious when often he just wants to have amazing sex and eschew romantic things and kind of brushes off her need to make sure her grandchildren are born and the timeline is stable last season).

It turns into “Look what you made me do.” Nate Heywood is an emotional abuser. Is he ever nice to Amaya in their downtime? He seems to only be tender to her when their lives are in danger because otherwise it's he won't talk to her, okay he'll talk to her and call her out on her bullshit and sweep his own under the rug. That's their relationship.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cross Media Will Never Understand Oliver Queen And Dinah Drake-Lance

I know this is old news and old complaints, but man do I hate cross media missing the point on Oliver Queen. They get it in their head that he's Bruce Wayne and then make assumptions based on that. This is what's ruined him in Smallville and Arrow. They decided that Oliver can't marry his should be battle partner Dinah, or Laurel depending on the media and that he better marry the cute, nerdy blonde girl with the laptop that the showrunners poured all this time into when they decide they don't know how to write a girl vigilante better than Oliver, nor fathom he can be into such a woman. This is an irritating trend, i hope they don't repeat if ever they're adapted in the movies.

Oliver Queen loves badass women. Honest. He can be a blowhard and border on patronizing, but he knows to let Dinah steal the show because she doesn't need him. but they like each others company and fighting crime together. He's not the guy who makes his women stay safe at home, the office or in the arrow cave punching computer codes talking into his earpiece. Never was. Why does tv get this wrong? He trusts Dinah to get them out of situations when he's at a loss. Trusts her to be the powerhouse fighter she is because while he has some moves, he's more of a long range kind of guy and she's hands on. They're a team. No media outside the better comics runs get this and yes there's plenty of shitty comic runs that throw this out the window for the sake of drama and writer's male insecurities. That's a problem, no doubt, but so is these tv shows being unable cast the appropriate actors and screen test them for proper chemistry and then write them without undermining Dinah/Laurel as a character.

Look I know we all prefer Dinah to be with Barbara Gordon, but because of the Bat embargo on cw this shouldn't even be an issue. That showrunners have to undermine Dinah/Laurel to prop up Oliver's usefulness is the problem. He's not the alpha male. He's the battle partner. He's not Bruce Wayne. He's closer to Steve Trevor, but that he has a specific skill in trick arrows and street fighting instead of guns and military training. He and Dinah are battle couple, but she takes down most of the enemies more efficiently. He does his part, but he's not the star of the show. This is why Arrow is a faulty premise. They had to change Oliver's character out of the gate in order to justify him dating Felicity, or Chloe instead of Laurel/Dinah. They had to make every other woman vigilante evil, reckless, incompetent, or just utterly undermined to make them all bad choices so the real woman who doesn't fight gets the prize. What the hell does that say?

I understand that we need more female characters that aren't martial arts badasses, but are useful in less glamorous ways like being a hacker, a journalist, a doctor, a scientist. That's not the problem. It's the problem that there's no room for women who are brawlers to have the same kind of humanization and nuanced femininity. Dinah in the comics is not only the best martial artist, sometimes a g-man, sometimes a cop, field agent to Oracle, chairwoman to the JSA and JLA, she also owns a flower shop, likes gardening, is a mother figure to many characters, is arrow's team mom when they stop embargoing her. She's not just miss fanservice badass. This shouldn't be an argument on being a better character, or worse character for your fan favorite blonde support character.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bear Witness, An Old Shame

So, I'm writing a novel where one of my characters is a gangster and has amnesia from as an after affect from using his innate demi-god powers. He spends a lot of his recuperating and paid vacation time watching all kinds of movies at the theater and he likes to quote from said movies. None of the movies are real. I did this as a challenge because you're not writing a fantasy world that isn't Earth and including quotes from The Godfather, or Titanic because it would take you out of the story. So I used one from my brother's fortune cookie he got a couple days ago because it actually says:

You will always have good luck in you. Personal affairs.

So I decided the not very useful advice is bad dialogue from a movie called Personal Affairs because the second sentence is such an afterthought as to be like it was quoting from something. This got me into busting out my old folder: Debt To Hollywood, a dead project and old shame where I was going to make a story about timeless Hollywood following the filming and backstage politics of a studio and its actors, directors, producers and whatever. I knew I had to have written some mock movie titles and plot synopsis's somewhere for my amnesiac gangster to quote from. Most of these files span from 2013 and January of 2014. I dumped this project after and then by the end of October, I abandoned all projects I was working on completely and formulated a new project from scratch for my first Nanowrimo where I wrote manuscript over 60k words and never looked back.

One of the better fake movies I wrote I intended to be a dumb action revenge movie starring my Clint Eastwood expy. It's called Bear Witness and in retrospect it sounds like a parody of The Revenant, which I've never watched.

Bear Witness

In the Alaskan wilderness, a scientist toils away in his lab when the other scientists barricade his fortress and accuse him of the murder of his wife and fellow scientist. In an act of cruel and unusual punishment, they strand him in the snowy tundra with an angry bear who he soon finds out had mauled his wife the night before, after she dumped chemical waste in the river killing the bear's family. After the two grief stricken widowers have a fight to the death in the snowy tundra, the man barely (heh) escapes alive to return to the compound. The other scientists forgive him after he explains his story. To save the compound from a raid of deadly bears, the man must wear a fur suit and disguise himself as one of them to infiltrate their lifestyle. After the bear sniffs him out he takes his grenade at the bear and walks away from the fiery blaze.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, A Film Review

I saw Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets yesterday and I liked it in spite of not liking the two leads. When the production credits segued into the beginning prologue to Bowie's Space Oddity, I got chills and sang.

My brother and I were the only people in the theater which means it's probably a box office bomb and no sequels will be made, but I enjoyed being able to talk and point out details. I've honestly not read the source material, but I've had the translated graphic novel collections (all probably incomplete and edited unfortunately) sitting on my Amazon account for years now, but I've honestly not bought anything on Amazon in over a year because I don't have a steady income so I can't compare it, but I will say that they should have cast leads that didn't feel like twentysomethings playing young adult teenage protagonists. It was jarring.

These are shallow complaints honestly, but Dane DeHaan ladies man status seemed informed than shown. Cara Delevingne came off better than in Suicide Squad, but I still don't like her as an actress and honestly would have preferred Rihanna with an age appropriate male lead. Scarlet Johansson with her Avengers look would have looked accurate to Laureline in the comics, but that's nitpicky and none of us really want to see her keep getting roles anyway after that Ghost In The Shell debacle.

What I liked about the film is that it proves you can do a space opera with tons of nonhuman aliens that isn't Star Wars. A lot of comparisons will be drawn to Star Wars and Fifth Element, which the director lifted a lot of design elements from the original comics. To get it out of the way yes the original Valerian and Laureline comics predate Star Wars so their ship resembling the Millennium Falcon is the source material and changing it to modernize it, or kill comparisons is sort of inauthentic. I like that they kept a lot of the retro feeling that probably is in the source material instead of foregoing it for bland apple sleek futurism, or whatever is in for portraying the future now. The sprawling cities made up in the satellite not only remind me of Fifth element, they remind me of paintings of Trantor from Isaac Asimov's Foundation books. That's a good thing because I fear that if Foundation ever got adapted we're stuck with modern sleek with no definitions. Everything looks lived in Valerian, most set designs for the future, or the past don't. They looked pasted on and sparse.

The plot isn't anything amazing, or world bending, but it's the adventure that I liked and it teaches a moral lesson of foregoing protocol when an injustice is made. When the bad guy of the film says he's a soldier and will take genocide over humiliation, (paraphrasing, I know i have some words off) you wanted him to get it.

Another thing I liked that will bother people is the nineties style writing and dialogue. It was refreshing. I watch a lot of films from my childhood that would now be called out for bad writing because people have earnest emotions and say what they mean and then ridiculous stuff happens that escalates, or fixes a sticky situation and they don't break the fourth wall and turn snarky over it. If Cara Delevingne rolled her eyes less like a poor man's Emma Stone, or Dane DeHaan did more than ape Keanu Reeves's speech patterns it would have felt more classic.

Of course there's probably a lot of things people especially on tumblr would have a discourse over, like Valerian housing a woman's soul. I as a transmale didn't find it offensive, but it's not for me to say how a transwoman would feel about that. Things relating to the body and mind become a tricky (hate that fucking word) or, problematic in sci-fi fantasy when you factor that in. It's why I see Ready Player One failing with it's avatar controversies in an age of social media dictating that you answer for your identity on a constant basis. Rihanna's character will definitely bother people. Herbie Hancock doesn't get enough to do. The relationship between Valerian and Laureline will bother people too among other things I can think of.

Anyway, I don't regret seeing this movie and will probably own it if I see it discounted. I would like for some sequels to happen, but it's not going to happen because we can't have cool things. I wish we could have more space opera's that aren't Star Wars, Star Trek, or Marvel. I think this movie does way better than what a lot of people complained about Jupiter Ascending lacked. It's just a shame it isn't perfect enough to garner another chance and we probably won't see another space opera property outside of the big three for another decade, or more because of diminishing returns and then we're back to lazy post-apocalypse, tired teenage dystopias, boring cyberpunk and isolation, stuck in a spaceship survivor genres.

By the way I saw the preview for A Wrinkle In Time and and I know people are going to hide their racism behind unnecessary creative liberties arguments. Unnecessary creative liberties would be aging up Jonas four years in The Giver so he can have hormonal teenage angst and making it in color because people can't sit through the art direction of Schindler's List and Sin City, so his seeing color loses meaning, or how it had to be scored because people need to be bombarded with sounds constantly instead of daring to see a cinematic experience that could challenge you, or make you feel unsettled.

Meg was cast to look thirteen as the books. That's promising. So all the complaints about how Oprah shouldn't materialize and be a shining light with a disembodied voice is a nitpick. That's a necessary change because I've long learned that masking named actors backfires. That's why all superheroes barely wear their masks if they have them at all. It was wasteful of Star Wars to waste Lupita Nyong'o as a voice under motion capture, at that point anyone can do the role. Valerian at least showed us Bubble's two forms, Rihanna and blue squishy alien. I think about the fact that Julia Roberts in Hook had to have a lot of closeups to justify her being Tinker Bell because she'd otherwise be a glowing silent light.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Chester Bennington, A Retrospective As A Brief Fan

Though I don't want to admit it, I've been thinking a lot about Chester Bennington and Linkin Park in the last few days. Honestly, I haven't followed the band since Meteora. I think I gave the next album a listen and I don't remember it's name, nor do I care to look it up, but I remembered it was bland and didn't have the fire of their previous efforts. Some time after, they did a song for the Transformers soundtrack and became a laughing stock.

Before all of that though, I loved this band. They were what I could follow when Korn was taking forever to release a follow up to Issues and when they did, it sucked so hard. My father took me and my siblings to see Linkin Park at Cobo Hall, Detroit where I got to see them from a balcony. Adema opened and Cypress Hill was there too. At that point in time they hadn't even released Meteora yet, but I think they were working on it. They played off album cuts like My December and High Voltage which I bought as four track single on cd just to have even if it was a ripoff. My siblings and I used to scavenge download sites for demo's and outtakes which I'd burn to a cd and listen to. One of them I remember was named Carousel. I'd find songs from Chester's time in some obscure band called Grey Daze and I admit I enjoyed What's In The Eye a lot even though it sounded nothing like Linkin Park. I remember a live song that was something like Wake Me In The Morning After, a couple years ago my friend had Underworld, or was it Gothica? on and it had that song on the end credits.

I'd still say Hybrid Theory was their best effort. They had limited budget and time making that album and I liked it more than Meteora, which was their last good effort from what I've listened to since. Reanimation may be one of the best remix albums I've ever owned.

It's hard to say what drove me towards their music. Part of it had to with the sound collages maybe the depression and angst spoke more to me than I care to admit. I'd always tell my rational mind that I don't hear voices in my head, or that I don't have mental issues outside of learning disabilities. That the artists I listened to felt real pain and I don't. Of course that's bullshit, but it's been my long coping mechanism to deny anything wrong with me and think I'm okay. I'm not saying that I've never had suicidal thoughts, but that I mask it as a wish I was never born sentiment because you don't admit you'd be selfish enough to leave your loved ones behind after how many years and resources they poured into you, but unexisting is okay because they'd be none the wiser and had never spent the money and hardship ensuring your continual existence. So even if I theoretically thought I should go off myself, my anxiety would get in the way of doing it. Admitting that I've thought this out loud makes me real antsy because we don't talk about these notions.

We live in a society that treats suicide as the ultimate taboo. You don't admit to that train of thought, or sympathy towards those who take it further. You just don't. It's considered cowardly, selfish, sinful and we don't talk about it except to scorn the dead and move on, while continuing to curse their name if brought up. It's why I think adapting Thirteen Reasons Why was a stupid move. You can't tell that story because the answer's always, suicide's bad. There's nothing interesting, or though provoking you can do with the subject because of it's limitations. It has none of the complexity and grey areas as taking another life.

One thing that keeps ringing through my mind from my time on Tumblr. There's so many posts that try to assure us that we don't owe others our emotional welfare, our bodies, our existence, but doesn't the taboo against suicide say otherwise? Perhaps I'm making some fallacy here, but the argument against suicide always boils down to the people dependent on you that you screwed over offing yourself. You screwed them of financial support, of emotional welfare, of love, and showers of hugs and kisses, consultation, conversations and experiences. It always boils down to that.

At the end of the day I have no judgement on Chester Bennington, or his fans, or naysayers, but everybody else I know will. I know if it had been a drug overdose this would have been more divisive than what it is. We're not supposed to say he's no longer suffering. We're supposed to say he's burning in hell for what he did to his family, and what he did against perceived spiritual intentions.

In the end it doesn't even matter anymore. His family's opinions about this matter more than our collective experience as fans, moralizing naysayers and trolls.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Wonder Woman 2017

Saw Wonder Woman movie last night. From the beginning I couldn't believe what I was seeing because most of my life everybody acted like Wonder Woman's the one character you can't adapt in modern times. It's too big of leap of faith and somehow Green Lantern isn't? That they portrayed Paradise Island and set it in a non-contemporary time in World War I. It was too much for me to hope for World War II because of Marvel's stake on it and there can never be no Justice Society ever, but how often do we see any movie that's during this time that wasn't made during the silent era , or early talkies before World War II drowned it out?

They reaffirmed my faith in Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. I'll never forgive the self-misogynist women and the typical men over that outcry. I bet those same women are the same ones who freaked over the possibility over Adam Driver as Nightwing, but are now over the moon over his portrayal of Kylo Ren, the abuser. You all are obvious in your shallowness.

They made me like Chris Pine in a role. Not Steve Trevor, I already liked the character. Chris Pine has never done it for me as Captain Kirk. I'm so glad to not see him play some cocky blonde guy asshole. He played Trevor just right. He had guilt and the occasional misplaced protectiveness, but wouldn't you if you worried for someone whether they were capable, or not? Here's hoping they don't do some nasty great-great grandson as love interest Sharon Carter bullshit for the sequel. They better not recast him as Hal Jordan either unless they're really serious about that Tom Cruise rumor, in which case, fine cast Pine.

Seeing Remus Lupin as Ares, while an interesting twist instead of William Stryker wasn't as bad as people made it, but I am sick of this idea that Ares has to be portrayed by a British guy. No offense, but the British actors they pick are never scary and imposing and what was with the Burt Reynolds porn mustache in the flashback where he was in chains?

My only real criticisms with the film is the Zeus twist that you could see coming from a mile away, but I give them props that they left the whole conceived, or breathed life into distinction alone. Nothing she knows is necessarily wrong, just that she's the Godkiller, not the sword. For all we know she was still made of clay and had life struck into her as she said previously, like the animated film, but I also know they love Wonder Woman to deal with big lies and maybe I'm just clinging in denial because I want to like this movie. It's odd too me that even with Wonder Woman reclaiming her appeal with women they have to drop the goddess patrons always in favor of Zeus. It's sort of gross and the basic derivative origin to all and every Greek myth hero.

One thing that's telling though is that this film didn't want to piss off the two different factions that are fans of a character named Wonder Woman. I still say Azz's is WWINO and you can fight me. However, I notice that they kept the Marston/Perez Mars/Ares as her archenemy. They left her as the only child on Paradise Island to ease any question of of amazon sex pirates, however making her the only child reinforces that stupid Zeus twist, so… At least we didn't have to see broody origins of the other children bullying her as a freak of nature, so win.