Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Kingdom is a smartly directed zombie series on Netflix that has a story to tell about income inequality amplifying all the bad parts of a pandemic.

I'm watching The Kingdom on Netflix, and it's a kind of zombie show that seems oddly prescient to our modern times. But first a few words. Unlike The Walking Dead, The Kingdom has no problem embracing it's plague of zombies and giving the watcher a reason as to why the disease is happening and how it spreads. The only thing new about it's particular take on other zombie shows is that it pins the phenomenon quite squarely on a mystical flower that grows in shady areas called the resurrection flower. And like other shows, it has another story to tell that is one layer deeper than the zombie thriller itself, which brings me to my first point: large scale governmental mismanagement is amplified by class inequities.

Sound familiar? Well it should. It's no big secret that the United States is really struggling with its Covid epidemic. And we see this too in The Kingdom. I think it's particularly telling that this drama is told through the lens of a South Korean historical epic. Just a few months ago, I watched Parasite win an Academy Award for Best Picture. That movie too had a lot to say about class inequities.

Like all zombie epics, it does have at its heart a story of the collapse of a society. It is set in a kingdom that has been plagued with famine and military defeats. Because the people revere their leader who is a king so much (and because they hate the crown prince)...when he dies...they turn to a soothsayer who can bring back the dead using a resurrection herb, which effectively keeps the crown prince from seizing power and bides them time to concoct their plans.'s not so simple. What they create is an undead that animates when the temperature is cool enough (which is usually at night), and it has an insatiable taste for flesh. They keep it chained up in order to prevent the king from eating people the men in power don't want to get eaten. And pretty much the rest of the time, they "speak for the king" essentially seizing power in the realm for themselves.

In watching the show thus far (I'm at the beginning of season 2), I haven't quite put together how the zombie plague spread from the palace to the rest of the realm. I probably missed it somewhere. But that detail is not really all that important. The fact of the matter is that the plague does get out, and zombies pop up everywhere with the associated disease being extremely contagious. It honestly makes the contagious nature of any other disease in the world look like a complete joke. And the show doesn't hold back in basically saying that a rich person may have gotten the disease first, but it is the poor who ultimately bear the brunt of the disease. They have no place to escape the zombies which rip through them like a lawnmower through tall grass. Because there are so many poor, the problem soon becomes everyone's problem, and by then it is too late because a tsunami of running hungry zombies is not something any governmental system and military is capable of handling.

It's a strange kind of zombie tale, moreso because of its time period, which is medieval Asia. So the people trying to deal with this issue (and the zombies) all have swords and bows and arrows and live in Asian-style buildings. I've never seen anything like it, and many of the scenes are quite beautiful. Maybe it's kind of similar to Game of Thrones in this aspect in that it appears to have the trappings of a dark fantasy while sporting very little magic (the resurrection herb is the only magic that appears to be real). Instead of the politics being borrowed from medieval Europe, they are borrowed from medieval Korea. In any event, I'm finding that I like it. I will give you one warning though: there are some graphic bloody scenes. So be prepared if you decide to watch.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Why did Bennioff and Weiss mess up Highgarden so much?

It's been a year since the series finale of Game of Thrones. It did end with a dull thud, and no one I know even talks about it. I've said pretty much all that I've wanted to say about it in multiple posts, but there are still a few things I think about from time to time.

Today, I'm wondering why they messed up the appearance of Highgarden so much. In the show, it was a bleak, unforgiving fortress. In the books and in statements from the Tyrells and others, Highgarden was a beautiful place. It was lovely to behold, surrounded by the fertile fields of The Reach. Under the rulership of the Tyrells, it would have been the one place in all of Westeros that I would have wanted to live (were I to be somehow magically cursed as to having to eke out any existence in George R.R. Martin's world). Here's a painting I found online that correctly captures what Highgarden was in the books. There are others for sure, but this one is my favorite. Why couldn't Highgarden have looked like this?
Instead, it looked like this:
Maybe, it's because there just aren't pretty castle cities in today's world, and they wanted to shoot from an actual location to add realism. But the castle in the series was gray and ugly. It wasn't anything like I thought Highgarden should look like. Here's the description of it from the text in the novels I read:
"Many consider Highgarden to be the most beautiful castle in all the Seven Kingdoms [...] Highgarden is girded by three concentric rings of crenelated curtain walls [...] Ivy covers the older buildings and grapes and climbing roses snake up the sides of statuary, walls, and towers. Flowers bloom everywhere."

I dunno...maybe this is an "Expectation" versus "Reality" thing. But honestly, they had the budget to do a good job of showing the home of the Tyrells by season 7. They could have even had a matte artist make something for them, and it would have been gorgeous. Remember how beautiful Rivendell looked when we saw it in The Lord of the Rings movies? At least that was done right.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

It's super fashionable for liberals to hate billionaires right now.

I'm no great fan of people in general. I've been described as an introvert, but really, my long hours of self isolation has more to do with my low tolerance for behaviors that I consider toxic. However, this low tolerance that I deem as a natural ability to see the true nature of people has given me a particular insight among my liberal friends: billionaires are just people. Sure, they are bad people. But I don't think the opposite...a.k.a....good people...actually exist. I haven't met any.

Among my friends and family, toxic narcissism (or traits that identify as toxic narcissism) abound. This runs the gamut from psychological manipulation, to severe control issues, to delusions of power, to lying, shaming, and exploitation. I could give you examples of each of these, but why bother? Everyone is doing it. There are no true "morally good" people. It's all just shades of gray, similar to what George R.R. Martin pointed out in his series, Game of Thrones. No one is truly evil. I think the people on the right tend to accept this (for whatever reason) moreso than those on the left. On the left, the people there have got individual delusions that they are morally pure. But it isn't true at all. They still commit sexual assault, they still lie, they still exploit others, they still shame others, they still form members only cliques, and they still treat other people like garbage (hopefully all of these are not attached to one person, but yes, it is a list of toxic behaviors).

It's super fashionable for liberals to hate billionaires right now. I say "liberals" because "conservatives" are money praising folk, even if they don't have money themselves. They tend to look at those who do have money as having some kind of extraordinary blessing or to just being a "stand-up" person or a "pillar of the community." This is also a delusion because having money doesn't mean any of these things. It also doesn't mean the person is smart. Nope...they just have money...and that's the real difference.

The particular billionaire I have in mind that is currently taking heat is Elon Musk. He's a deplorable guy, and he always has been. But in particular, there are articles saying how the first season of Star Trek: Discovery hasn't aged well because it dropped Elon Musk's name alongside other "greats" of the past like the Wright Brothers. I honestly know very little about the Wright Brothers, but based off what I know of human nature, they probably weren't good people either. No one is. Bill Gates gives tons of money to charity, and...he's not a good person. He totally screwed over a lot of people to get to where he is today, and he's probably making amends for a lot of that by being so generous with his money. People change. My dad used to be a cruel person, killing animals without blinking an eye. Two years ago when I visited him, he had a mouse in the garage and got upset with me when I caught it. He demanded that I release the thing so that it could live (I caught it in a bag). I'd never seen anything like it...he's a totally different person unable to harm even a mouse.

Probably two of the most morally good people I can even think of are Michelle and Barack Obama. I'm trying to recall anything I know of either of them that might shatter this image, but I can't think of anything. That doesn't mean it isn't there. Rather, it just means that I (personally) don't know of it. His family might be able to tell you something, which would just serve to burn his reputation down. So maybe it's best to keep that in the closet. If anything, having a rich person that's also a minority setting some kind of example may help lift the rest of us out of the mire that is the human condition, even if it may just be a lie.

And maybe that's what tearing down billionaires is all's this attempt to destroy the illusion that these people deserve to be put on a pedestal. You know what folks? They never did belong on a pedestal, because they were all horrible. I stopped putting billionaires on a pedestal a long time ago. I knew they made their money off the backs of the middle class, and that (ultimately) they were slave drivers and just all-around terrible people. But so are landlords, who have turned a place where a person can rest weary from the day into an "investment opportunity." What kind of bullshit is that, but it's here to stay? Someone using their privilege to acquire more and more property that they could never use or need for the exclusive purpose of squeezing others so that they can afford "not to work" and to do whatever that they desire just seems wrong to me. But, that's the whole idea behind "investment opportunity." In any situation where winning a competition results in a prize where you (hopefully) get to do whatever you want or desire is going to be filled with bad people. Bad win that prize...means they need to crush someone else.

I'm not saying that billionaires should not be vilified, dragged into the street, and shamed. By all means, it should be done. What I am saying is that we are a nation of pots calling the kettle black. We are all covered in soot and grime. We should realize this, and then continue to celebrate our nonsensical firing squad and just embrace the mob mentality. Just go with it, man. But if you pause during the process and stop and think for a moment, "I'm doing this because that other person is bad..." Please, just stop. I can almost guarantee that you are a bad person too.

Rather, I suggest focusing on just how much worse (in degrees) the other person is. There is a sliding scale, after all. It is the choice between lesser evils all of the time. Most of the people I know would fit into the box labeled "lesser evil," so let's stop pretending that we are actually good and moral. I think that would make a lot more sense, and free us all up to watch Woody Allen movies again, to have Daenerys Targaryen get the ending she deserved in Game of Thrones, to vote for Joe Biden, and to reintegrate former prisoners back into society.

Let us all admit collectively that, "People just suck." It will be a nationwide catharsis, and a healing process. We need to heal because we need people and we are social creatures. And who knows? Maybe some of these awful people could actually be changed to be less toxic if we just let them know how awful a human being they really are. Once they make changes, we can forgive and forget. It would be so much healthier, and the firing squad could/should still be aimed at billionaires. Just stop deluding yourself that it is the "moral" thing to do. Stop regretting that a reference was buried in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery and that it won't age well. Let your kids watch old reruns of Pee Wee Herman. That guy was funny and did the one thing that he was supposed to do rather well. Let's all celebrate Michael Jackson for his dancing and not be afraid to laugh/watch The Cosby Show again. The Cosby Show (for what it's worth) was a funny show made by an awful person. But, there are awful people all around us all of the time. Why do we want to pretend that there aren't?

Monday, May 18, 2020

There's a new Star Trek series called Strange New Worlds coming to CBS All Access.

I read on Variety last week that Star Trek is launching a series helmed by Anson Mount's Pike from the second season of Discovery. It's called Strange New Worlds, mostly because Enterprise was taken. In the Variety article I read, the show runners are going to take Star Trek back to its roots and make an episodic series that focuses on a monster or problem of the week.

Anson Mount put in a spectacular performance as Pike in the second season of Discovery, and I was hoping something like this would come along. Star Trek has a wonderful universe to explore, and I'd love to see what they come up with regarding these alien worlds. With Discovery launching into the far far future for season 3 (and probably beyond to its ultimate end), Picard being pretty much in the near future a decade or so after Voyager and Deep Space Nine ended, and now this new series taking place in the pre-Kirk timeline, I feel like most of my Star Trek needs are going to be attended to in due order. In particular, I do hope that there's room to tell a few more Section 31 stories. Deep Space Nine did a really good job of showcasing how dangerous and strange Section 31 actually was, and then Discovery opened the lid on a universe ending plot from Section 31 that was, quite frankly, amazing television.

The only thing left that I really want is a Captain Georgiou as the Empress spinoff, because she steals every scene that she's ever featured in, and I love the character. Regarding the new Trek series, I wonder if they will have Anson Mount do an opening monologue... "Space...the final frontier...." That would be kind of fun.

I can't wait for the time when there's Star Trek all the time. It's coming folks, I can feel it.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The lore of Warhammer 40K is a good thing but can we have good things these days?

I'm currently going down the rabbit hole of online content surrounding the lore of the Warhammer 40K universe, and it's so vast that it will take weeks for me to explore all the facets of it. I'm currently listening to some very slick and polished videos on YouTube that explain the lore behind the different factions, and I find it all to be fascinating, entertaining, and deeply satisfying. But at the same time... I've got these thoughts (about one layer deep) in my head that are appalled with the fascism of the whole thing. Allow me to explain.

Warhammer 40K really goes a long ways to glorify people who are elite due to exceptional natural endowment. On the surface, there's nothing wrong with that, as it's just a fiction...a story. But I know that there are people who love this "aspect" of the 40K universe, because it strokes some deep-seeded desire to get away from a life that is (to put it bluntly) boring. Joseph Goebbels, who was the chief propagandist for the Nazis, once said that what he was doing was more like art than politics. By saying this, he meant that their task was to create an alternative mythical reality for Germans that was more exciting and purposeful than the humdrum reality of liberal democratic politics.

When I realized what was going on in all the myth-building of Warhammer 40K's lore, a lightbulb came on. I suddenly was able to explain why I've had many negative experiences with gamers as I've tried to get people together for tabletop roleplaying games. In other words, games that have fascist ideologies (that celebrate the super-human) attract real life wanna-be fascists probably about 50% of the time. And people who like or crave fascism are not fun to be around, and they aren't fun to play games with, because they crave power, and they construct their characters or their builds that throws the balance of a game off. In game circles, they are labeled, "power gamers." But I think there's a better term that I want to coin: fascist gamers.

There are so many complicated thoughts I have regarding this topic. The lore of Warhammer 40K by itself is brilliant and highly enjoyable. I also can step away from it, separate from it, and a strange vision of a future. It's so oppressive that there are two words (a phrase) to describe it that's pulled from the Warhammer 40K tagline: "Grim Dark." The territory of "grim dark" is where you get to when you move beyond actual dark fantasy. You know where Game of Thrones stopped by showing the White Walkers defeated? In "grim dark" stories, the White Walkers wouldn't have gotten defeated. They would have conquered the world and the story would have been about the last vestiges of humanity struggling against impossible odds. There's a place for those stories, as reveling in darkness and misery (for some) can be a lot of fun, because it isn't real.

Unfortunately, however, there are a lot of people who do want life to be a real struggle so that they can prove how elite they actually are. And a lot of them are completely deluded about their own abilities, which plays into the Dunning-Kruger effect. Life (especially in the United States) doesn't afford these experiences, because overall, most of us have it pretty good. And that's got to be absolutely aggravating to those who embrace varying degrees of elitism whether it is in a survivalist mentality or a physical perfection mentality or a racial superiority mentality or a capitalist/wealth mentaility. Taken to extremes, these things are toxic to a society like the one in which we live.

I'd say we are lucky that we don't have entertainment that appeals to people in society who desperately crave elitism, because (doing that) would turn a smoldering bunch of logs into a huge bonfire. However, if I said that, I'd be lying. Games (not just Warhammer 40K) are doing exactly that as a side-effect of telling stories wherein characters need to be the elite of the elite just to survive. These games provide a culture that rewards rudeness. Cutting the weak from the strong is a means to achieve rarified goals. It's not too difficult to realize that the non neurotypical boy who feels powerful in a game, but weak in real life, may become an adult who struggles for ways to feel powerful in their identity (and maybe secretly desire that a zombie apocalypse actually happen so they have an opportunity to prove how elite they are). The United States provides a very easy means to feel powerful: it is to own and brandish guns, to threaten politicians in State houses over quarantines, and to join groups that blame others for all the negative things that happen to you in life. A lot of people just want the myth, because the myth is so much more interesting than the reality of the situation.

In finishing these thoughts, I do want to say that Warhammer 40K lore is incredible. And there are a lot of people who I think would really have a good time immersing themselves in the "grim darkness," which is taken to absurd levels. There are stories filled with all manner of grotesqueries and powerful beings...chaos gods with armies of demons destroying mankind...and elite space marines where only 1 in a million recruits actually survives the training to become a part of a brotherhood devoted to warring against evil. And by "survive," I literally do mean that, as the training grounds for these soldiers is littered with the bones of recruits that tried and failed. That's how absurd this lore is, but it is all "constructed" as necessary, because the evil happening in the 40K universe is so powerful that even the elite of the elite are barely enough to push back the tide of darkness.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's just sad we can't have good things like this without "some people" in society taking it too seriously. I'd love to see Warhammer movies, a television series, and other kinds of media. But I worry that doing so will just feed the fascists, who will go on to create more fascists and create more problems for our society. We already have a disturbing amount of them at the head of our government and making it difficult for us to deal with a pandemic. Myths are supposed to be myths. They aren't real. The trouble happens when you get people who love a thing so much that they invest their identity in that thing. No one knows how to combat people who don't care if what they believe is true, and who view calm, factual rebuttal as an aggressive attack on their identity. That's where all of us get completely f*cked, and our society circles the drain.

We can't have good things, because people ruin everything. Que sera sera, right? At least now I know why finding good players for tabletop rpg's I want to play is so hard. I think I've got a 50/50 chance of running into a fascist in gaming circles, and now I know why.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Here are six thoughts about the Star Wars universe that I want to share with you.

In re-watching some Clone Wars episodes, and watching Dave Filoni talk about Star Wars, there are things I find interesting that I want to share with you.

1) The color of Mace Windu's lightsaber is purple. I never gave it much thought, but there are a lot of people online who have said that the reason it is purple is because Mace Windu knew how to properly channel the Dark Side of the Force to draw upon its strength, without being overcome by it. Hence, his purple lightsaber is a combination of red and blue. He channeled just enough Dark Side that it affected the kyber crystal that colored his own blade, turning it purple. I like that explanation.

2) The Duel of the Fates orchestral score by John Williams happens during the climax of The Phantom Menace. Dave Filoni says that this is because Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan battling Darth Maul is all about the fate of whom gets to be Anakin's dad. I guess that had Qui-Gon lived, Anakin would have turned out very differently, and that he never would have succumbed to the Dark Side like he did. That was exclusively Obi-Wan's fault.

3) The Nightsisters were a great invention. You don't see them in the movies, because (I think) the movies are afraid of doing anything new. It's always lightsaber battle...different looking lightsabers...spaceships...bounty hunters, and the same Force powers. But you don't get the wild and crazy "other" things that could exist in a universe as epic as the one in which Star Wars takes place. But the t.v. shows have a loser structure. They can experiment with ideas, and the Nightsisters are one such idea that I really like. In case you don't know, this was a group of witches that wielded actually magic. There's very little distinguishing them from Saruman the wizard in Lord of the Rings, only I'd say the Nightsisters were far more powerful, melodramatic, and impressive with their sorcery. Whenever they appear, the tone of the Star Wars episode definitely feels more in the realm of traditional fantasy. But honestly, I've felt that Star Wars had more in common with the Lord of the Rings than it ever did with Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

4) I like the Purrgil. These are a species of massive, whale-like creatures that lived in deep space, traveling from star system to star system. They have a natural ability to fly through hyperspace. Again, this may be another thing that the movies may shy away from because of its ridiculousness. But once you get past any objection you might have of whales flying in space, they are actually pretty darn cool, especially if you get to ride one like Ezra Bridger did.

5) As much as I didn't really care for The Rise of Skywalker, I did love that the Emperor never fought with a lightsaber. His mastery of the Force was above such petty weapons. I like that (at some point at least) there is acknowledgement by the show creators that Jedi eventually grow out of their old tool and onto other ways of doing combat that are much more effective than swinging a glowing blade. A wizard just doesn't look good optically when they are swinging things around. They should be "wizardly" instead.

6) The Darksaber is very cool. This is a special lightsaber wielded by Mandalorians that has made an appearance in the show Mandalorian. I like the idea of it: a black blade that defies the colors and shape of other kinds of lightsabers. It also, apparently, is perfectly fine being wielded by someone with no power over the Force. This thinking (which is outside the box) really freshens up the story quite a bit, and I look forward to seeing what becomes of it.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Let's talk for a moment about the fates of Jyn Erso and Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars

Many of you who count yourselves (like me) as a fan of Star Wars understand that Ahsoka Tano was Anakin Skywalker's padawan. She's also unique among force users and people who have all the powers and training of the Jedi (but do not have the title "Jedi") which is just a word after all. Ahsoka didn't even exist until after "Revenge of the Sith." So her fate (and story) had to be constrained by canon. It's a tragedy that she couldn't save the Republic, and that she saw the doom on the horizon yet (like Cassandra in the Trojan War) could do very little about what was transpiring. She is my favorite character in all of Star Wars, because of this.
Jyn Erso is a great character, and her story featured in Rogue One is one of the best told in the entire series.

With the Clone Wars having ended on Disney +, it makes me think of another tragic character named Jyn Erso, whom most of us watched in Rogue One, which is a powerful, moving, and well-told Star Wars movie. Jyn Erso's story was complicated and tragic, and she isn't seen or mentioned in the original trilogy, because 1) yes it doesn't fit within the events of the original trilogy, and 2) she didn't exist as a character until many years later. That's how things like this work.

A little research online also provides the following: Jyn wasn't killed off because she wasn't mentioned in the original trilogy. They (the makers of Rogue One) intended for her and Cassian to survive. It just worked better narratively if these characters didn't survive (writers know all about these kinds of choices), and since they were totally new characters they had the freedom to go with that decision.
Many people think that Ahsoka Tano only lived because she was Dave Filoni's character (the showrunner behind
much of the Star Wars stuff that graces our screens). I disagree. Ahsoka Tano who is every bit as strong and
complex as Jyn Erso does deserves to live, and Star Wars as a story is all the better for it.
In context, I think Ahsoka is different. Jyn was created as a way to tell a story about a single huge event within Star Wars canon, and she served that purpose extremely well. Ahsoka is a character who was featured in many stories over more than a decade. She grew, became an adult, went from one animated series to another, and she was shaped by the events of Anakin becoming Darth Vader, and by Senator Palpatine becoming the Emperor (who then murdered all of her friends by enacting Order 66). In all the ways I can think, it makes sense that Ahsoka is alive in the active Star Wars universe, and that Jyn Erso is not.

Ahsoka's great strength (I think) is that she chose a different path, walking away from the Jedi Order even as she was offered acceptance into its upper ranks. She's probably the first "Jedi" to walk the right road in a very long time. The Jedi Order (before the fall) was arrogant, drunk on power, and filled with hypocrisy. Think about how bad Mace Windu was. He was more than happy to be a warrior instead of a peacekeeper. And then there was Qui Gon. He was told directly that Anakin should not be accepted as a Jedi trainee, and then Obi Wan, his head filled with Qui Gon's idealism, pulled a move to train Anakin himself. The Jedi had become something they were never supposed to evolution that took a long time. And while I'm at it, Luke was a horrible Jedi too. His training was just about weaponizing him to aim him at the Emperor and Vader, because Yoda didn't have the luxury of time. So, the more I ruminate on it, the more I realize that The Last Jedi was just pointing out what should have been obvious to me about Luke. I just wasn't prepared to hear it at the time, because my younger self had idolized him. But the story of Ahsoka Tano told to me through the years allows me to look on the events of the movies with clear eyes and a clear mind, and it all makes sense now.

Anyway, Ahosoka managed to see clearly enough what was happening, she took a stand, made a choice to remove herself from the cancer that was the Jedi Order, and she lived. By contrast, Jyn Erso died. Both stories, and the fates of their main characters make sense to me. I hope, in reading this, they make a little more sense to you.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Many of us are currently living in a grim dark dystopia that isn't too far removed from Warhammer 40K.

I've been reading a Warhammer 40K novel by author Ben Counter that's called Daemon World. I started reading it, because I wanted to explore (more fully) the world of Warhammer 40K ahead of some movies and possible television series that are going to be headed our way (assuming that Covid hasn't permanently stopped those plans).

Anyway, Ben is a good author, but I'm not yet to a point where I'd recommend a particular book in my Warhammer 40K exploration. They are...different, and yet oddly the same. The one called Daemon Lord is constant fighting, pretty much from the first chapter to the last. I've never read anything like it with just constant exposition, and pages and pages of exhaustive descriptions of this and that "named thing" killing this or that "other named thing" in the most gruesome way possible. When I explain these things to people I know who play the game, they say, "Yup...that sounds like what this world is like. In the future, there is only war." This quote is actually from the game material, and it's from the page just inside the cover. I'll post the quote below:
"It is the 41st millennium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die.
"Yet even in his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the daemon-infested miasma of the warp, the only route between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomican, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor's will. Vast armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds...they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants, and worse.
"To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be relearned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war."
One of the weird things that occurred to me in my reflections of the stories I've read is that this "mantra" of the Warhammer 40K world could be rewritten for what's going on for many of us in the world today. So, I gave it a shot. Here's how it came out:
"It is the 21st century. For more than four years a King has sat on the golden throne of the most powerful country on Earth. He is the master of deception by the will of his cultists, and has the inexhaustible might of his armies giving him providence to threaten and rage. He is the Carrion Lord of end-stage capitalism for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day to a dreaded disease, so that he and his cohorts will never have to physically labor for anything.
"To be a man in such times is to be one among untold millions. It is to live in a cruel regime that calls its wage slaves by the term 'essential worker.' Forget the power of science, for half the population has turned away from such learning, and few of them understand the technology that they use everyday. Lies are spread like truth as long as there's money to be made, the disabled are vilified, and the lazy and entitled are everywhere. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only toil and drudgery.
"You will never earn enough to stop working, and work itself will expose you to a deadly disease. You will work for every hour of your life, from morning until night, with no end, for as far as you can see. And the world burns without end as a result of human caused climate change." 
So what do you think? It seems legit, and it allows me to sort through some thoughts about our modern times. Folks, many of us are living in a grim dark dystopia that isn't too far removed from Warhammer 40K. Lucky us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

It's May and the IWSG is asking about writing rituals and whether or not I have any.

It is the lovely month of May, and it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The IWSG is a monthly blogfest originally started by Alex Cavanaugh. If you want to be a supporter or join in on the fun, please go HERE and sign up. The awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!

When it comes time to post, you can choose to blog about writing, or you can choose to answer the monthly question. This time around, I'm going to answer the question, which is:

Do you have any rituals that you use when you need
help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

About the only thing that I do to help me get into a "Zone" for writing is to make sure I have my drink. Usually it is a cold glass of some Mio-flavored concoction over ice, but in the mornings it can be coffee or chai. Another thing that I have to do before I start writing is to clean my house and do the chores I've made for myself. In other words, if the lawn needs mowing or the garage needs sweeping, or I need to pull weeds out of the garden beds...then those things take priority over my writing. I have to basically stamp out all the things that I feel like I need to get done in order to make room for writing. I also like to have the window open behind me so that I can hear the wind rustling through the trees and bushes or the kids running around in the street. I have a nice writing spot that overlooks a decent-sized expanse of grass and my akebono cherry tree, which is starting to really fill out the yard. Anyway, that's about it. Thanks for stopping by.