Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Apple TV adaptation of Foundation can't resemble the book at all if it expects watchers.

Apple TV released the first trailer for their adaptation of Foundation. I've included it below. The first season of the series comes out in the fall, and I will probably watch it. Having read the Foundation books, I'm actually surprised that these could be made into something watchable. From a reader standpoint, they were barely entertaining, with no main characters having any emotion or likeableness, and spanning a length of time that is absurd by modern-day fiction standards. If you haven't read them, imagine getting a slice of a character's day...perhaps heated dialogue with another character...and the rudimentary dressings of what Asimov believes will suffice to "set the scene." And then there's a break, and the next scene takes place fifty years later. Those characters are now dead, and their descendants find something that remotely connects back to that argument that took place fifty years prior. That's how Foundation lurches its way forward in its narrative.

The characters in Asimov's famous work are not really the story. It's the idea that this immense galactic empire is collapsing and that one man can foresee and prove that it will happen to the doom and detriment of all the civilizations that form the empire. So the empire IS the character. This doomsayer prophet using math and science doesn't convince many people. But those whom he does convince become his army to essentially work toward making sure that there is only a dark age that lasts a thousand years instead of thirty thousand years by preserving knowledge. This future-seeing man is Harry Seldon, and he checks in every once in a while with preprogrammed holograms of himself that provide instructions to people so that they can go about the tasks of ending the Dark Age of the galaxy within a single millennia.

But I read from a standpoint that characters are what make a story interesting. Without them, the story is just a summary of the rise and fall and resurrection of a galactic empire containing billions upon billions of people that I don't really care about. Asimov essentially asks us to care about civilization in these books, and the question I always have while reading is: why should I care? It's like being asked to care about a thousand people getting wiped out by a plague in Bangladesh. We gasp at how horrible that sounds, but none of us actually shed a tear (or very few at least). We don't know those people. It's just a number. "Oh...did you hear that a thousand people were killed in Myanmar?" It's that kind of thing. We never know more than the headline. know I'm not a scientist. I'm not an archeologist. I don't really have an interest in studying the rise and fall of a fictional civilization. But therein is probably the audience for this kind of thing: scientists and archeologists. It's clear that Asimov wrote this book for those people, who read science fiction and were blown away that someone would write what is essentially a summary of the Roman Empire with an added "we're back" hook that takes place over so many centuries that the characters involved in the story are just footnotes. It's the "what if" scenario. "What if there was this huge civilization, and someone saw it was falling, and then they took steps to preserve knowledge so that the horrible barbaric period only lasted a thousand years instead of thirty thousand? Wow! Wouldn't that be interesting!" And it undeniably is to some people. For me, the hang-up is just that huge timeline. It's too big for me as I never get to know a character other than in the five pages they exist.

I can see the likes of astrophysicists like Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson waxing poetic about Foundation. Though these people are super smart, they also wax poetic when talking about Earth history and cosmological time. "In this collection of a billion years...trees evolved...and there were no microorganisms that could digest the wood pulp when they fell because they hadn't evolved yet. So, it all got buried under volcanic ash and earth and became us vast petrified forests today." I is interesting. But I don't really care about those trees, and it's hard for me to care about any animal that may have lived at that time. I just don't. That's what Foundation is...more or less.

Asimov as a writer has been compared to being the worst of the great writers. More than one person has pointed out that he has thin characters whose only spin is that they face and overcome intellectual challenges that Asimov poses through his writing. You can see that Asimov was amused over his plot twists and his big ideas every time you read Foundation or any of its sister books. I will say this about him: he writes very clearly, and all of the things he says are easy to understand. But his prose isn't pretty.

This all leads me back to the trailer for Foundation. Does it make me want to watch the series? Yeah...I will watch it. But they are going to have to depart from the books a lot, because successful television requires a "soul." And you only get that through emotional connection to characters. So they are going to have to slow down the narrative of the one-thousand years to give us characters whom we can slip into in order to see the events of the collapse of the empire, which are essentially just glossed over in the book. I's pretty much just a steady decline that is narratively talked about on just a few pages. This happened, followed by that, and now we will focus in on a world on the fringe that now finds itself by itself and in need of government, because government has collapsed. Hmm...what happens next for these poor people? Oh! A hologram from Harry Seldon left fifty years ago will provide clues! Some people watch said video...and then you never hear from them again because another fifty years has passed. But they did things with that knowledge that will be built on by others.

In other's kind of boring.

It's weird that something like this could get published and lauded as so amazing. Foundation as it stands feels like a really well-developed outline. You know how you outline a book's plot? Well think of Foundation as that only being like 240 pages in length. That's what it feels like when you read outline. But in it's age, there was nothing else like it. It was like Asimov was the greatest world-builder ever, but he never got past the world-building stage to build a story that took place in real time. So all  you get is world-building. And there's pages and pages of it, telling you about all the things that happened and when. Imagine all the Star Wars stuff and its immense history being boiled down to 240 pages of outline, telling you when Order 66 happened, when the emperor was defeated, what Jango Fett did, etc. I'd be great world-building, but you wouldn't care about any of those characters. That's how Foundation reads, more or less. It's a summary of things that happened.

How on Earth is any of that going to translate into a watchable television series? Our first clues are in the trailer embedded below:

Monday, June 28, 2021

James Gunn has actually got me a little excited to see the next installment of The Suicide Squad.

The new Suicide Squad trailer aired on F9 this weekend. It was my first trip back to theaters, and it was a small bit of normalcy despite extreme weather events being a constant reminder that our planet has been totally screwed over by selfish people. Despite the first outing of Suicide Squad being almost unwatchable (because it was so bad), I think that I'll be heading to theaters opening weekend for this one if for anything...just to get more of King Shark.

Ron Funches, who is the voice actor for King Shark on the animated show Harley Quinn, absolutely kills in the performances (pun intended). In the scene below, he greets everyone with a "Howdy!" and he seems to like shark jokes. If you don't know anything about Harley Quinn click on the embedded video below and watch the first time Harley meets Shark. It's rather fun. Also, I like Idris Elba way more than Will Smith, so I'm glad that Smith isn't in this one.

And here's the trailer for the new Suicide Squad movie from James Gunn. You probably have heard of Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy. I predict that the same magic may work for this group of misfits. Here's to hoping.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Pixar gave a strong wink to all us queers celebrating pride month in their June release of Luca

I watched Pixar's Luca this week. Just like other films from the Pixar Animation Studio, I liked how bold and beautiful it looked. The main characters of Luca and Alberto were pure and innocent, and they were very relatable in context, because this is the first movie that really broaches gay love. The fact that they are fish people (merfolk?) becomes a pretty strong metaphor by the end of the movie, when the grandma declares, "There will be people who won't accept him for who he is. But I don't think it will be a problem, because he seems to know how to find the right kind of people."

It's not the first movie that broached these kinds of topics. Call Me By Your Name, which was a wonderful coming-of-age story clearly meant for adult audiences, was also set in Italy and about two males who spent their summer together (and who got to know each other very well). Luca though is a children's the subtext is extremely subtle with jealous looks given by Alberto when his friend Luca seems to be bonding with the female in the movie named Giulia, who becomes a crucial part of their adventure. But in the end, Luca expresses the purest form of love for his friend by letting go of their dream to escape on a Vespa together to see the world. Instead, he sells it, and he uses the money to grant Luca's wish to go and attend school so that their one summer together just becomes a memory.

I think it's nice that Disney is starting to tell queer stories after decades of being in the zone of telling stories about white, straight characters. It's a baby step in the right direction to embrace on-screen diversity and representation. It's too bad it didn't make more of a splash. Pixar/Disney hardly marketed it at all. So people will essentially just have to stumble across it as a stealth-released Pixar movie on Disney+. The queerness of the story is subtle enough that those who don't look very deep will undoubtedly miss it, which will probably save Disney from having too much of a headache from the likes of Tucker Carlson. But the wink from the company is there. I saw it, and for a brief moment (at least) it brought me joy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

When people slow the pacing of their stories they end up better in almost every circumstance.

In thinking about Star Wars from my Monday post, it struck me once again how frenetic each episode of Star Wars is, whether it is in cartoon form, live-action, or in movie form. It's very much a hallmark of the way a Star Wars story is told. And I wonder why. I have a deeper appreciation for slower stories these days. I just finished a book wherein the main characters essentially got together to go and investigate a swamp and have a conversation with an immortal woman who could tell them all about the lands of the dead. That's it...that was the whole book. These days, most people might expect the travel to the swamp to be one chapter, the conversation with the woman who had knowledge about the lands of the dead to be another chapter, and then we are onto something new. Maybe an investigation of the lands of the dead for chapters 3 and 4?

Anyway, I'm glad that didn't happen in the book I read. It took all twenty-six of its chapters to do the above. And that would probably piss off a lot of people. But sometimes (I think) storytellers suffer from too much get up and go. Why do we need to visit three or four different planets in a Star Wars movie? What's wrong with just staying on one planet and that's it. I see the same thing in other franchises too (mostly kid stories...which may explain things as to why they are so frenetic). Why do we need so many characters? What's wrong with just having two or three? That seems like a good number.

I learned quite some time ago that sometimes I can get in a rush to want to get all of my ideas out in front of me. Whether I'm writing or talking, I can feel like there's a bottleneck happening, which can cause me to rush things before I think they are ready. What ends up happening is that the idea gets lost, or the thing I wanted to accomplish does not resonate like I thought it would. Pacing is everything to a story, and I've discovered that (for the most part) one should take it slow. It is better to err on being too slow than I think it is to err on the side of being too fast. However, I only say this because the kinds of stories that I like to read these days have to do with the character connections. Those need time to be nurtured in order to grow strong, and if the author tries to move along too quickly, then the whole thing ends up not making sense. Ultimately, it becomes unsatisfying.

As a result, I think I know why many movies written for kids now annoy me. The pacing is off...there is always too much going on. It makes me wonder why kids need all of that. Their brains should be in a place in life where they are actively seeing out causal relationships, which take time to build. So it's either kids are asking for this, or its a content generator's idea of what kids want to watch or listen to. And somewhere in this train of thinking, someone decided that throwing ideas like tennis balls coming from a machine was the right thing to do. That's how we get movies where a gajillion things are going on at the same time. The Transformer movies are nigh unwatchable because of this.

TL/DR version: The slow burn is good y'all.

That's my two cents. Any of you care to weigh in on pacing?

Monday, June 21, 2021

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is basically an enjoyable A-Team in space but it doesn't take many risks with its world-building.

Is anyone else watching the Star Wars series called The Bad Batch, which is on Disney +? I watched a few of the episodes this weekend, and I really like them. The story follows a group of clone troopers who have a bad microchip in them that made it possible for them to ignore Order 66 given by Emperor Palpatine, and to set off on their own in a galaxy that has gone full fascism to the max.

Thus far in the series, we have seen cameos from Bib Fortuna (Jaba the Hutt's MajorDomo), the Rancor that Luke killed (in adolescence it was playful and called "Moochie"), and the bounty hunter Fennec Shand (who is in the Mandalorian). In The Mandalorian Fennec is friends with Boba Fett and is played by Ming-Na Wen (who was also in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).

I don't have many nitpicks with the series. The ones I do have are centered on the same complaints that I had with The Mandalorian. For example, the architecture of different areas of the galaxy more or less repeats itself. People (no matter what planet you happen to be on) still put the most important computer consoles out on these rickety things with no railing that are suspended over a huge drop. And the same old planets that you've seen before get to be set pieces yet again for another series. Tatooine is the worst of these. We can't ever seem to be able to get away from Tatooine. I suppose that we can chalk this up to world-building, and the fact that it is hard and complicated. Using characters and sites with which viewers are already familiar is much easier. However, they are taking small steps. We've seen a small village and another side of a Correllian city that we didn't get in the Solo movie. 

As for the subject matter of Star Wars, it seems spot on. Star Wars has always been pretty heavy and dark. In my opinion it started out as a commentary about American imperialism as pulp science fiction. The only thing that made it kid friendly was the tone. But the moral scales of the show has always kind of circled around killing Nazi-esque soldiers who are just following orders. And when you went one layer deeper, in many of these cases it was slaughtering genetic twins (which reminds us of some Concentration camp stuff). In The Bad Batch we have one clone in what I can only describe as "The A-Team in space" going 100% evil because the Kaminoans (who made him in a test tube) are amping up the malfunctioning genetic chip in his brain. We have yet to see where that goes, but I can hazard a guess that it won't be good.

Anyway, the series is obviously not done airing its first season. I took a much-needed break from other things I'm dealing with in my life to watch the show. I'd recommend it if you are a Star Wars fan, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on the show if you are watching it.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Titans season 3 is coming and it will probably leave me disappointed yet again.

season 3 is coming. I've watched the other seasons of Titans, first on DC Universe and later on HBO Max (DC Universe didn't last very long). That being said, I'm always disappointed. I was pissed last season when they killed off Wonder Girl. The actress's name is in the credits for filming season 3, so I think that we'll see her come back. However, this show consistently bites off more than it can chew.

In my opinion, there are too many characters and too many storylines to juggle in the ten episode season. They like to throw a lot of Batman stories into the mix, and (don't get me wrong) I do like the Batman. However, this isn't his show even if Dick Grayson is the star. Now we've got Jason Todd being cast as the Red Hood, and the trailer for season 3 seems to hint strongly at the Death in the Family storyline, wherein the Joker killed Jason Todd and essentially created "the Dark Knight," which was his decades long brooding phase where Batman was grim dark and the storylines were brutally violent and dripping with evil. The Death in the Family storyline was also very bonkers as Joker became a representative for Iran and received diplomatic immunity for killing Jason Todd. Then he used that status to try and gas the UN. Oh and Superman stopped Batman from going to kill Joker because Supes may not like diplomatic immunity, but he honors it. I'm like...what?

I guess we are also getting Barbara Gordon who I guess will be crippled ala the Joker so that she's Oracle (which goes along with the comic books) but it is also a dark storyline. And then there's Tim Drake (the third Robin), Blackfire, Superboy, and Krypto the dog. And that's not mentioning the Titans that we've already seen. Nobody gets any time and the ending of the season is always a low-budget mess.

Anyway, that's my rant. Below is the trailer for season 3 of Titans. I'm gonna watch it. I just wanted to bitch at something on a Friday.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Once you understand how a transporter in Star Trek works the use of it seems horrifying.

This was Robot's human form in Invincible. He helped the Mauler twins escape prison, because
they were experts at cloning. Once they were out, Robot asked them to create a body for him
and then when it was done, he had them transfer a copy of his complete brain to the new body.
Then the old body was taken off life support and allowed to die, but its death was very real.

I've been thinking of the transporter lately. I'm sure you've seen it. People in the multiple television series step into it and get "beamed" to another location almost instantaneously. What is actually happening is that a person is killed (disassembled) and their memories and personality and everything up to and including the moment of their death is reassembled in another location. To the person being reassembled it is fine. To the person being killed...that is their final moment of life. So the only one that notices it is the person who is being killed. In other still sucks for them.

The reason I embarked on this thought exercise about the transporter has a lot to do with Amazon's Invincible. I was discussing with a friend the idea of the intelligent clones that are in that show and how they invented technology to create an identical imprint of the mind into the living tissue of another body. This effectively creates an immortality scenario, because the new person is equipped with all of the memories of the old person. Every single one. Only, it isn't quite so simple. You see, the old person is still alive trapped in their body, and when they die in that is for real.

So, my friend and I had a discussion centered around this question: knowing that the transporter in Star Trek actually kills you, would you be okay using it knowing that the other clone of you would be identical to you in the same way? The clone would not be able to tell it wasn't the real person. Only the person who died at the proverbial hand of the transporter machine would actually know. He said that he would make the choice very easily and use the transporter. I said I probably would not. To me, it would be no different than dying with a bullet through the brain. It would be final death. Sure, my clone would have all of my experiences and my memories and would be identical to me. However, I would not be a part of that consciousness.

It's a strange mental exercise to imagine cloning and transporting in this manner. So, now that I've explained to you how all of that works...would you choose to use a transporter? Would you choose to be killed so that a bunch of time could be saved by recreating you in another location, even if that re-creation would be you down to the most minute detail? Your consciousness would end with your death and a new consciousness would be born in the transporter a great distance from you. The new you would not have any break in consciousness as the memories would exist all the way up to emerging on the other side. It would be the old you that no longer created memories (because you were dead). It's a strange question (I know), but I feel like it's worth asking.

And now I fully get why Bones (Dr. McCoy) did not like transporters.

Monday, June 14, 2021

I finished reading the Riftwar Saga of thirty books. It was mostly good even if it may have jumped the shark quite a while ago.

This weekend, I finished reading the Raymond E. Feist Riftwar Saga that spans thirty books while 100 degree temperatures settled in over the very parched western states. The last book in the series, Magician's End, was a bit of a slog of a read in the sense that it had a saggy middle. Feist was clearly wrapping up a lot of plot lines and had decided to devote his last novel to the politics of kingdoms, i.e., who gets the throne of the Kingdom of the Isles, etc. All of this while a greater threat from outside the world was happening under everyone's noses. While reading, I kept asking myself how I would have ended this series were these my characters. I suppose I wouldn't have done anything different. And I think that means that the series went on far too long, and it was really (in the end) dried up of any new stories to write about.

The Riftwar Saga in itself is quite an accomplishment. Thirty books means that the author and all those who participated in this magnum opus felt very strongly and passionately for these characters. Their origins may have been in Dungeons & Dragons games, but they got the full respect and treatment one would want for labors of love minus an actual movie from Hollywood. The author's stories were good, but the continual characters that were the backbone of the series all suffered from clear "power bloat," which is also a thing that plagues high-level D&D games. "Power bloat" is a phenomenon wherein a character gains so many powers, levels, and abilities over the course of play that they sail into retirement, because a story creator can no longer come up with ideas to challenge these mind-blowing and powerful characters. I never thought I'd see such evidence of this phenomenon in written books, but by the end of Magician's End, the main character was essentially a god. Rather than just "be a god" the author decided to kill off the main character in a most spectacular and very heroic way. I guess this was his method of letting go, so that he could focus on other projects and other stories. It would have been very difficult to write stories that involved an essentially omnipotent being anyway, so death in a heroic blast off was a solid way to say, "I'm stepping away from this project forever, and I'm glad you enjoyed the ride."

When I think of the Riftwar Saga, I'm kind of amazed at how much Feist decided to blend modern concepts of science into his epic fantasy. His characters in getting to know the universe leave few rocks unturned, learning about (essentially) quantum mechanics, ever expanding space, the fusion that drives stars, and other such things. Some of his characters proclaim loudly that magic doesn't really exist, even though there are magicians a plenty in the world working magic. But then as time goes and you delve into the story, you begin to see that what might be magic may be just another kind of physics that involve particles changing what they want to be at an atomic level and how magic just may be a way to encourage those particles along a pathway.

He even overexplains his bad guys, kind of taking away the mysteries of them. His demons that he introduces you to in earlier books are at first terrifying. But in later books, you just come to realize that they used to be the same host as angels and were separated in the ancient past. Hell (where the demons come from) is just another universe. And the demons have cities and their own people. They raise young and fear an ever increasing blackness at the center of their dimension. Demystifying all of this made the demons less like this evil force, and more like just another fantasy race like elves and dwarves. The big bad itself, which was this void thing called the Dread that wanted to eat all life in the universe was explained away too. Apparently, in the beginning of Feist's cosmic creation there were these two entities. One was curious and the other wasn't. The curious entity left the incurious one and started to investigate all of its ideas that it had. It created time as an organizational tool so that all of its ideas would not happen at the same exact moment. So time was literally this thing that allowed other things to be spaced apart and be organized instead of chaotic.

Well, all of this preoccupation by the curious entity made the incurious one lonely. So it attacking everything in reality to eat it and destroy it was really just its attempt to unravel time so that the curious entity would come back to its state of being and be peaceful in a kind of timeless bliss (as it had been before) with the uncurious entity. It was a weird concept that did make sense. However, it removed all of the horror to know that this was fundamentally what was going on. I felt like the big bad had been overexplained. It was still as annihilating as a black hole is, but by knowing exactly what was going on, it somehow became less interesting than it would have been were it some awful monster. Ah well. Were these choices that I might have made? I don't know. The only thing I do know is that thirty books is a lot for any one person to accomplish, and I suppose he did all right when it comes to that kind of dedication. After all, these super powerful characters needed something to figure out, because "big monster go smash" had happened so many books ago that to be original, the author needed something that would be different and justify all those pages.

Friday, June 11, 2021

He-Man in the Masters of the Universe Revelation trailer from Netflix looks like a blond superchad and I loooove it.

The Masters of the Universe: Revelation teaser trailer dropped yesterday. From the mind of Kevin Smith, I didn't expect to be so smitten by it. But the nostalgia is strong with this one! Also, they went full 80's. I've embedded the trailer below for your viewing pleasure. I mean...talking 80's here...but could you ever go wrong with Bonnie Tyler's I need a hero? The delivery on "I have the power" gave me chills, and Orko looks awesome.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Robert Kirkman's Invincible is a show that resembles in a lot of ways the America that I truly know.

This last weekend, I finished watching the first season of the Amazon series called Invincible. Before I talk about it, I want to give a spoiler alert for any people who may be reading, and who want to watch it before learning anything about the show.

Invincible was good, and that gave me hope, because I heard that Netflix's Jupiter's Legacy got canceled. Even though these two things aren't related, I did like Jupiter's Legacy enough that I wanted a second season if (for anything) just to get answers. If you've seen the show, it is anything but finished with huge dangling threads that will now have no resolution unless I want to go and read the comics (which I won't). I also liked that there were other superhero stories to tell out there that had nothing to do with DC or Marvel. As far as Jupiter's Legacy goes, the way the heroes got their powers was actually a decent story.

Sitting down to watch Invincible for the first time, I knew very little about it. In fact, the only thing I did know was that Robert Kirkman had created it. I like Robert Kirkman's stuff, his other property being mainly The Walking Dead. But even though I stopped watching TWD years ago does not mean that I didn't love the show for the world it created. Robert Kirkman has always been someone who seems to have real strength in putting together worlds and making them accessible to others. He doesn't ask too much from his audience. He gives you something that you are used to, and then puts a little spin on it to make it his own. The Wachowski's he is not, but that's totally okay. The guy isn't here to give us a brand new way of doing things.

Now to the nitty gritty of what I liked about Invincible. The first episode was benign enough all the way up to the surprise ending. It established a world that felt similar to ones I see in Marvel and DC. The Earth of Invincible is one where other supes are common enough that everyone sees them. There are space aliens, dimensional conquerors, and kaiju (yes, I said "kaiju"). That last one was really fun to find out, because kaiju look like they'd be a great add-in for any superhero show. There's also an Avengers-type club called the Guardians of the Globe stocked with this universe's equivalent of the Flash and Wonder Woman. Well at the end of the first episode, Omni-Man (who is a Superman-level powerhouse) kills every last one of the Guardians of the Globe in graphic bloody detail. We only find out later that Omni-Man was sent to Earth to conquer it by the Viltrumite Empire. It makes sense that to conquer a planet, he'd need to deal with its most powerful defenders.

Omni-Man is also voiced perfectly by J.K. Simmons, who plays J. Jonah Jamison in Spider-Man movies. Omni-Man is even drawn to resemble J. Jonah Jamison in many ways, so it seemed a natural and eerie fit to have this voice actor saying his lines. But what Invincible manages to do really well is take an 80's era aesthetic of animation, play on that nostalgia, and then cover it in gore and violence. There are tons of action-packed sequences with supervillains who do not pull their punches. And it's also the story of a teen superhero (kinda like Spider-Man) who ends up going through a hell of a lot more trauma in the telling of his stories.

My friend, James, who has read the comic books tells me that it gets even worse than what we saw in the first season (where Mark Grayson who is the teen "Invincible") gets beaten to within an inch of his life by his father "Omni-Man" who only has a change of heart at the very last moment of breath from his son. It makes me ask (at this remarkable scene) since when have we ever seen that level of violence from a show about superheroes?

And it's to the credit of the show to highlight a thing that we've known for years: adults do in fact beat up their sons, their daughters, and their spouses in many households. My own father beat my brother with a tennis racket and my brother still has that racket all these years later (don't feel sorry for me as violence was commonplace in my household growing up and it's like crying over spilt milk) covered in his own blood. These are things people don't talk about with dysfunctional families. But I've come to recognize that adults are in fact genuinely awful to one another and their children in numbers that should shock the civilized world. But no one talks about it! They are skeletons in the closet! Robert Kirkman dares to air all the dirty laundry by making superhero families no different than the Americans they are drawn from, which are (for lack of better words) awful people. And to be clear I'm not slamming Americans. I'm American too, which means I'm awful. I just know better than to pretend that I'm not.

Anyway, so Invincible almost gets slaughtered by his father. Well my friend James says that in the comics, he's got a brutal rape coming as well from a female Viltrimite. As I've grown older, I've come to understand that rape is pretty commonplace, and it's mostly perpetrated by men. I was literally at a breakfast thing with my friend Meg and her twenty friends at her home when all the women and the non-binaries started talking about their rapes they've endured for years. I was transfixed by all of these stories, and that they were talking about them.

Since that day, I've noticed that there's so much rape...rape everywhere...and trauma from it in our society. Sexual assault seems to be as common as navel oranges at the supermarket. one talks about it. I think it's good that people are starting to talk about all the oranges lying around, instead of ignoring them. Once we can all agree that it is a systemic problem, maybe things will change (that's my hope at least). But going back to Invincible and the rape of the main character by a female sounds interesting. Why? Because you don't hear a lot of female on male crime. Yet, it does happen. I have three male friends who have been raped by women. They have extreme difficulty talking about it, and other guys usually laugh at them about it (I don't...I listen with empathy). They are afraid to come forward to cops, because they feel that the system will just ignore them. And then they wonder if it was something that they did, and whether or not they are misinterpreting the situation or the experience. People have this idea that "men can't be raped" because you "can't rape the willing." That is categorically untrue and insensitive to say the least.

I got to hand it to Robert Kirkman who dares to rip the sheets back on society and use what he finds there as the foundation for his stories. The Walking Dead was always a story about the survivors, and how the people who had the cajones to survive an apocalypse would be filled with psychopathy. Invincible is the same way, showing that many superheroes would try to do the right thing, but that bad parenting, psychopathy, and the human propensity for abuse would also be visible in these characters. And even though the female superheroes were powerful, they would still be browbeat by the scourge of Christian patriarchy.

Kirkman's not trying to visualize a better world made so by the Justice League of America. He's trying to visualize a world in its natural state were these gods to actually walk among us, breed with us, and raise families. He's giving us the world where the fascist and racist person actually has the power to level a city with his own fists and isn't held in check by anyone. How do you deal with that? Where it differs from Amazon's The Boys is its scale. Invincible is galactic, pulling in Viltrimites from an empire that has conquered thousands of worlds to Martians to invaders from other dimensions. Every day of the show there was some kind of world-shaking catastrophe that needed to be dealt with by the Guardians of Earth. But even as these monsters appeared, the true monster that represented the greatest threat was always one that looked frighteningly human.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Access to money is used like a scourge to force people to do things that are against their will.

It's almost cliche to say this, but Americans are all equal. However, some are more equal than others. Growing into an adult, and also growing wise, I have seen with stark clarity the strings of manipulation that are used to get adults and young adults to conform to certain prescribed behaviors. The illusion of freedom of choice in America is exactly that. You are free to choose, just so long as your choice happens to echo the one who holds the purse strings. It's mind boggling really how this is true from the billionaire to the head of a small family. It is true from the Hollywood producer to a dating profile on OK Cupid. People desperately try to manipulate other people through the access of money.

Here in Utah, I am privy to one of the most obscene uses of money and control wielded by religious families. Let's say a teen (read this as a young adult) identifies as LGBTQ and they "come out" to a religious parent. I've seen them wield access to money like a knife. On the line are threats of homelessness, abandonment, isolation, because the young person very rarely has access to the kinds of money one can live on when on their own (especially with prices soaring in the rental market).

The solution to all of this (of course) is democratic social and monetary safety nets. Being a democrat, I think all people should have access to free medical care and universal basic income. All people should be allowed to vote regardless of whether they are in prison (or not), and housing should just be a right. If you are kicked out of a home, the government should step in and provide you with one free of charge. Call me a leftist radical if you wish. But this so called "socialism" terrifies the ruling class, because it takes away their weapon. It defangs them with the ability to scourge a person with access to money.

Utah is also one of the states in the union that is deliberately tossing extra unemployment benefits because they want to try to starve people who are on unemployment into taking crappy jobs that no one wants to do. My brain just cannot comprehend why they think this is a good thing. It is so transparently evil, that I don't know why the ones who are making this decision don't think of themselves as the devil incarnate. If you want people to work, pay them $30.00 per hour with childcare, paid leave, a full benefits package, and a generous pension. If that bankrupts you, then you are not (in fact) a job creator and don't deserve the company that you are trying to create. Stop exploiting people. Exploitation is bad, mmmkay? If your excuse is: well I want to be a job creator so I can be rich. Well tough titty. You don't have a right to be rich, and you never did. Too many people want to be rich, and it's this greed that is destroying the nation and the world.

What I don't get is why anyone would want to control another person so terribly. What does economic control give you? What does social control give you? Even if they were your own child, why wouldn't you want them to just choose to love you. If they didn't choose that, maybe it's you, and you should be a nicer person. Why would anyone want anyone else around them that wasn't choosing of their own free will to be around them? At some basic level, wouldn't you want a loved one to be taken care of no matter what? I wonder if these people (who are so into controlling another) get mad that plants grow on their own (and flourish) whether or not they are around. I think it would be a healthy lesson for people to understand that you do not have the right to treat another person like garbage. No one belongs to you. Everyone deserves a healthy and prosperous life, and they deserve to flourish regardless whether or not they even like you as a person.

I shake my head at the frustration of understanding why some people just crave power over another. Wouldn't it be healthier if you instead craved painting a nice model or if you craved playing some Dungeons & Dragons with friends on a weekend or if you craved a good book? Wouldn't it be funner if you solved a problem and then told other people how you did it and helped them to overcome a challenge too? Imagine what the world would be like. I like to think that in a world where roadblocks were removed and people could just choose what they would like to do or what they would like to believe or who they would like to love without coercion or manipulation, that everyone would be so much happier. The only way we will ever find out is to disarm those with money so that they can't scourge the backs of the ones without and make them do things that they don't want to do.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

This month the IWSG asks writers to reveal the amount of time they let a manuscript rest before going back to do edits.

Hello everyone. It is June and that means Pride month. Maybe things will look more normal going forward (I'm sure hoping so). Being the first Wednesday of the month, it is also time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you haven't heard of this and have somehow come across my blog post, please go here and give it a look. But allow me to answer a few questions you may have about it.

What is its purpose? Well, to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

When do we post? The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

The Twitter handle for the Insecure Writer's Support Group is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

June 2 question - For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

I shelve my typical draft about six months. Sometimes longer. But in the past I usually tried to let it age six months. You'd be surprised at how many things pop out at you after that time. For me, it helps spot spelling errors that are inevitable in a long manuscript. But it also allows me to sit back and think about things quite a bit to make sure I accomplished what I set out to do.

Please be sure to visit the co-hosts for the IWSG, and thank you for coming. The awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!