Friday, November 16, 2018

Happy Holidays y'all and have a great rest of 2018.

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, so I'm going to sign off my blog until the first week of January for Insecure Writer's Support Group. Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Maybe I'll actually get some writing done.

Cheers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Season 7 of Game of Thrones already established that the White Walkers don't stand a chance against an army that knows its Achilles heel.

HBO announced that Game of Thrones is coming back for its final six episodes in April 2019. That being said, I've been rewatching the episodes a little bit at a time over the last few months to catch up a friend who stopped watching (life happened) back in season four. It's been a good refresher, especially where I think my theories of the Great War lie. For a while now, I've been thinking that there's just no way that the dragon-slaying Night King and his minions could ever be beaten. They bring a lot to the table, what with an ever expanding army of undead that rise from the living who are culled in ever-increasing numbers on the battlefield. However, the actual White Walkers are few in number, and apparently, all you have to do is kill the Night King and everything just dies. This plot device happened in the penultimate episode of season seven, when Jon Snow (attempting to capture a wight to take it back to King's Landing), was forced to use his Valyrian steel sword to end a White Walker who was leading a band of undead through a ravine. When the White Walker exploded into ice, all but one of the animated zombies also perished.

"Why do you think that happened?" someone asked Jon Snow. He replied, "Maybe that White Walker animated them. So when he died, everything he animated perished with him." Or something like that; it's not a direct quote. So that's the Achilles' heel of this whole plot. You kill the Night King, and the game is up. Sure, he's an obvious "Boss" within the rules well-established by video games, but could he stop a hundred dragon glass arrows? Could he best someone of Brienne of Tarth's sword ability (or Jon Snow's) wielding a Valyrian steel sword so that they don't get to cheesily unmake every weapon that you use against them? I think not. So kill that one guy...and the whole war is over. In modern terminology, if you sack the quarterback the game ends instantly.

So really, the White Walkers don't stand a chance. Imagine having the best army in the world but if you took out one leader who was always present on the battlefield, it was just game over instantly. Even with an ice dragon and an army of twenty thousand zombies, that just seems like really long odds. I wouldn't want to be on that side of a war. It's putting all your eggs in one basket, and it's just going to end up really bad for the White Walkers. This is especially true given that the Night King likes to strut around in the open with no shield or tank or anything. He just walks around, and he oftentimes can be found on a hill overlooking the battle. Could you paint a more obvious target on someone's back? Here...I'll place my most important piece that is the person who controls everything out in the open on this hill and he's just gonna stand there and make badass faces without any concern for shelter of any kind. I realize that in season 8, he may be on the back of a dragon which is significantly harder to get to, but Daenerys could always ram him with one of her dragons and when he fell off then all you'd have to do is shoot him with a hundred dragon glass arrows. If any one of them touched him, it's over.

So there you have it, unless something incredibly stupid happens, we already know how the Great War is going to be resolved. You are all welcome :).

Friday, November 9, 2018

Why are Sabrina watchers asking real life witches and satanists what they think of the show?

My friend Meg got me to watch the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina with her this last week. If you haven't watched it, the series is like the hybrid baby of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, A Norman Rockwell painting of small town America, and the movie Mean Girls. I thought it was clever, threading the needle with its plotline that somehow managed to give the audience room to sympathize and actually like the protagonist without compromising on the darkness and actual evil associated with Satan worshipers (in the town of Greendale). The fact that it exists alongside Riverdale (a CW series) is even more interesting, because it makes magic a completely plausible plot device. Not that Riverdale needed magic to be interesting...but that it takes place in a world where Harry Potter could actually happen opens up a ton of storylines beyond the old "teen angst" baseline where a lot of similar tales go to die.

However, since I read Facebook at least once a day, I've also discovered that I know people who are also watching the show, who like it, and who are asking real life witches and Satanists (whom they know) to weigh in on its authenticity. Why is this happening? The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a comic book, just like Archie and Jughead is a comic book. No one I know has ever asked worshipers of Thor and Odin (yes they are around and they still exist), whether they are offended by their portrayal in a Marvel movie. It's kind of got me flabbergasted. Who cares what any of these groups think? It's fiction people! Comic books are their own intellectual property, and I don't think anything in them demands the approval of real life organizations on how they are portrayed. The following is a message that many people are familiar with already:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Does no one but me not understand the difference between fiction and reality? On second thought...please don't answer that. I forget that I live in a world where I know a woman who buys colloidal silver online because it's cheaper that way, and it's a "cure" for all the myriad things that ail you.

I can answer my own question, because I know how people are. For example, I suppose in the end, that people just want a reason to discuss something and asking them to weigh-in on something like a popular t.v. series is like raising them up onto a pedestal with the words "Subject Matter Expert" engraved upon it. For a day, they get to pretend that they are Neil deGrasse Tyson, asked to weigh-in on the scientific inaccuracies in the latest Hollywood Blockbuster (only in this example it is Satanism and Witchcraft). And don't bother to try and tell them that they share more in common with a snake oil salesman than they do to the famous astrophysicist. It's not a good way to make friends.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

For the November IWSG I'm talking about the importance of improv as a component to creativity.

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day. If you aren't signed up for the blog fest, you can go HERE and sign up for it. Looking over my notes for this monthly event, I see that the co-hosts for the November 7 posting of the IWSG are Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman. If any of you happen to visit here during the event, then please make yourself at home :) Now...onto housekeeping. 

The November Insecure Writer's Support Group question is this: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?


Well, I'm more aware of how "pantsing" plays a role in just about anything and how stories can come together by assimilating a lot of different ideas into a pot, kind of like a good chili can have lots of different ingredients. And what I mean by "pantsing" is simply "writing by the seat of your pants." Normally, I'm a plotter, tediously doing so on paper, and then trying to find a direction to take characters. But willfully following inspiration points on the spur of the moment can lead to some really weird and creative areas of a story. And I actually think I've gotten kind of good at spotting when other authors are doing this kind of thing.

For example, (and I say this full well knowing it can never be proven) J.K. Rowling has said that she planned the snake Nagini being a maledictus and having this huge backstory of once being human (that is coming to light in the new Fantastic Beasts movie) all the way back when she was writing the Sorcerer's Stone. However, I'm skeptical of this. I think she came up with the idea much later and thought...hey...this is a thing that I didn't have planned but it totally could fit into this narrative and people will hail me as a genius. You know what? I'll just claim that it happened since the beginning. Yup...I planned it all.

And my response to that is an eye roll and something along the lines of, "Ooookay...yeah...sure you did." And we'll just leave it at that. Who knows? Maybe she actually did have it all planned out. I'm just sayin'...it seems unlikely.

Anyway...pantsing and improvisation is as important a part of creativity as just about anything else. And that's what has evolved in me since I began writing.



Monday, November 5, 2018

Leviathan Wakes has a good reminder in it from its authors who admit that it took a village to bring the thing to life.

This weekend I finished the first of the novels in the Expanse series entitled Leviathan Wakes. Aside from it being a real page turner, I also discovered that the author, James S.A. Corey, is actually the pen name for two individuals: Daniel Abraham (a fantasy author) and Ty Franck (George R.R. Martin's personal assistant). Aside from being obviously well-connected, the writers acknowledge that the book took a village to make. In their thanks of gratitude are their agents, editors, people who took formation in the book (and yes they include George R.R. Martin), a few writers of the Futurama series, and a bunch of beta-testers.

What's remarkable about this is that it serves as a much needed reminder to me (and it should be a reminder to all aspiring authors out there): to spin a tale that's truly incredible you're going to need help. Very few of the awe-inspiring writers breathed life into their creations by being alone in a room with a typewriter. So network network network, if writing is what you want to do. Find connections, and then stretch yourself and find more connections. If you can get connected to someone that is important in the industry then you need to really invest in those connections to get everything blooming. It's just like putting fertilizer on your flower beds. Yes, things will grow in the beds all their own, but the ones that get amazing care are the ones that always look spectacular.

Anyway, I also want to say that it is not my intent to diminish the accomplishments of the solo artist out there, because I truly admire your toil. I tip my hat to you, dear writer, because what you are trying to do is walk the most difficult path that there is. It's like playing a video game and selecting "Nightmare mode" right off the bat while those who do have "villages" to draw on are on the easiest game setting. And if you don't have a village? Well, sometimes life just hands you lemons. I've gotten handed plenty of lemons so I feel your pain at having "citrus overload". That's why I spend most of my time reading what other people have written and not even worrying about my own particular village (which honestly has always resembled a wilderness hut somewhere above the Arctic Circle).

Oh, and if you haven't read Leviathan Wakes and love science fiction space opera, I highly recommend it. It took a village (with some big and connected names) to bring this thing to market, and yeah, it shows on every incredible page.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The what color is this dress meme was the canary in a coal mine for how Americans are no longer on the same page about anything.

Do you remember that online viral picture asking whether the dress was blue and black or if it was white and gold? It sparked a heated debate that seemingly overnight had people (from coast to coast) weighing in with vastly different opinions on the color of a dress. I saw white and gold; my friend saw blue and black. At the time, this was a funny phenomenon, and it made people aware (perhaps for the first time) that when someone looks at a thing, that they may not see the same thing that another person sees. Looking back on it, I think it's the perfect allegory for what's happening today in our country. None of us are on the same page about anything; we're all seeing different things.

The problem is that most people have a cognitive bias that applies what one "sees" as an experience and it makes that person think that others near them are experiencing it the same way. In my daily life, I interact with a huge and diverse group of people, and I know that most do not share this same kind of experience. So, I'm in a kind of privileged position to see it. For example, in the span of a single day I literally heard the following from very adult persons that I engaged with:

1) "I believe that, in the future, everyone will have vaginas and that's how my politics work." Mmm...okay...there was no context to this statement but its scientifically and factually wrong. Imagine how this person must see the world...do they even see the same color of blue that I see? Why would everyone have vaginas in the first place? Is this person mentally ill?

2) "Finding common ground is a useless endeavor." Again...no context. Just a statement made to me in passing. But on this one, I actually responded with, "That's kind of cowardly, right? I mean...what are you really trying to say? The way you've worded this allows you to avoid responsibility. What's the alternative to common ground? I'll answer that for you. It's having nothing in common, which means violence and war, right? Are you ready to start killing? Are you ready to say, 'I want to give up compromise and just eliminate those who disagree with me?' No? Hmm, then I guess things aren't as dire as you think they are. I guess you'd probably start trying to find some common ground. Just sayin'." Imagine how this person views the world...are they afraid every hour of every day?

3) "Racism is as plain as two eggs, one white and one brown. Crack them both and you get the same insides. It's that simple." Only...it isn't that simple because some people see green where I see blue. Everyone is getting educated differently. Some people believe in science while others believe in magic. Some people think that leprechauns and the devil are real things. Some people believe that curses thrown by a witch are actual magic. Some people believe that haunted houses are real. So when it comes to racism, there's what science has to say between races (which does resemble the egg metaphor) and then there's all kinds of other stuff that people believe is just as true as what science has to say about the matter. When you try to tell them different, they say, "Fake news." So it's been my observation that it doesn't matter whether a thing that someone believes is true or not. It is the "belief" itself that is responsible for ALL THE DAMAGE,  and it's oftentimes the thing that you can't correct with education because the idea is set in concrete.

4) "Virginity is a myth and a social construct." Hmm...okay...only it isn't. It's a word that describes a person who hasn't had sex yet. So...sure...it's a social construct, however, so is language in general. We need to communicate, right? And as for a myth? Nope...it's real. You're a virgin until you have sex. Seems pretty cut and dried to me. Anyway...here we have a person who can't even agree that the definition of a word that I can look up in a dictionary does not (in fact) have that definition. Okay...this is a "I see blue" and the other person goes, "What a brilliant shade of orange." Yup...not on the same page.

5) "Ellen DeGeneres is giving away $500 million...a million dollars to 500 people chosen randomly on Facebook. All you have to do is hit 'Like,' hit 'Share,' and type 'OMG' in the comments." Skeptical of "if it's too good to be true it probably is" I looked at the person's Facebook. Right off the bat, it was spelled "Ellenn DeGenrees," which is a gross misspelling. And the video attached to it had nothing to do with any of this giveaway. The pictures of fancy cars and stacks of cash also had nothing to do with anything. They looked like stock photos. I said, "This is fake. You are sharing something that's fake and trying to get other people to do the same." The reply, "I'm such a fool." And then there were tears. I didn't expect this. What is going on in this person's head that my merely pointing something out like that caused tears and for her to say, "I'm such a fool." Why couldn't she see what I saw?

All of this reminds me of the story of the Tower of Babel. I think that homogeneity for a long time allowed people to be on the same page for a lot of ideas and it was easier for us to find common goals to work toward. But none of that exists anymore. I'm not here to say that this is good or bad. Rather, I'm here to say that I see all of us marching toward a future where agreement on anything is going to become increasingly difficult. It's like we were all building something and then we got cursed and none of us speak the same language anymore. Or here's another analogy: everyone suddenly decided they wanted to "supervise" and there's no one left to do the actual work. So now everyone is just wandering away from all of the previously established goals (and there aren't really any goals to begin with because no one is capable of making new ones), and we're all frustrated because we cannot even communicate because words don't even have the same definition anymore.

It's strange, don't you think? Well...at least it's strange to me. Who even knows what you're thinking.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Fairy Godmother still bitter over being used by Cinderella takes her anger out on Puritans in Salem in the latest Legends of Tomorrow and it was wonderful.

Warning: this post is very spoilery.

Last night's Legends of Tomorrow was awesome. As in the heading above, a fairy godmother who was still bitter over Cinderella (and girls with a princess complex in general) decides to offer her services to a girl living under Puritanical rule in old Salem, Massachusetts. And by help out, I mean using her magic to rain fire and brimstone down upon all the girl's enemies and then kind of goading the girl on so that she can use her "wish-granting" powers to much more satisfaction than manufacturing glass slippers (which apparently are terribly uncomfortable and bad for the feet). Additionally, John Constantine just can't send the fairy godmother to Hell either (for tampering with the timeline), because the fairy godmother must first be rejected by the girl or Constantine risks sending both the fairy godmother and her charge to Hell as a package. As that's not what heroes do, they need to figure out what the girl Judith needs and then see if they can meet those needs using the significant resources of the Wave Rider and all of their talents so that Judith eventually chooses to release herself from the care of the fairy godmother. Fun, right?

I don't think I'm understating this when I say that Legends of Tomorrow is the gift that keeps on giving. As far as all of the CW shows go (Arrow, Supergirl, and The Flash), Legends of Tomorrow is my favorite. It's just plain campy fun, and it always surprises me. Last week's episode had a unicorn with a rainbow mane and tail running around the famous 1969 Woodstock concert killing stoners (and then eating their hearts because unicorns all eat human flesh) until the Legends put a stop to this (with cameos of Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin along the way). This week's episode had a Disney-esque fairy godmother (complete with songs that put Ray in his "oh so happy" place") protecting a young girl whose mother was accused of being a witch in the Salem witch trials of the 1600's. The contrast between costumes (Puritan pilgrims versus everything else) just makes for pure hilarity (as does all the glitter and sparkles). But despite all the fun in last night's episode, I still had thoughts (of course I did which is why you read this blog):

1) Why did Nate never consider turning into a superhero made of steel (like he does) to show his father that supernatural things exist? This seems obvious to me, but instead he goes looking for evidence of magical things. Which leads us to...

2) How could Nate speak pig? It was really cute that he could communicate with Ray after he'd been transformed into a piglet, and it set up the super fun transformation when Ray suddenly became a man (completely naked in Nate's arms) in front of his dad. They got bonus points for not flinching even once. Yay! It's refreshing to see gayness embraced so whole-heartedly by a show like this.

3) Beebo Blox needs to be a real game like candy crush or something similar. The episode where Beebo destroyed the huge demon that ended last season has to be one of the best season finale's I have ever watched.

4) It's weird that the Legends don't get paid for doing the work that they do. I never thought of it before, and I'm glad they brought it up in this episode. Nate didn't even have enough money to take his dad out to dinner, but now he's got a salary and will be working for the Time Bureau. I think that's a good place for him.

5) Mick and John Constantine...this is going to continue to be fun. I love that they butt heads in sharing the same space. However, it wasn't entirely unexpected.

Legends of Tomorrow's got a great thing going on in that it doesn't take itself too seriously.  And there's always this point: I think there's too much darkness in the world already. We all could use sparkles, rainbows, and a song or two, right? I'm going with "Yes" for this one.