Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Oscars this year are a perfect reflection of the dystopian landscape of 2022.

With regard to the Academy Awards, I feel like I'm experiencing what Dorothy experienced in The Wizard of Oz when she got a peek behind the curtain and saw the old man running everything with buttons and levers. There used to be a kind of glamour to the show. It was an illusion that had me wishing that I could be among those who got invited to this kind of event. But after watching the show that aired on Sunday evening (it was not fun or entertaining), I'm wondering if I'll ever watch another one again.

My love of film goes way back. I took a course in college where I studied film seriously for a whole semester, and I saw the kind of work that went into it. There was an art and a magic to it that invoked a kind of awe. And you got all of these wonderful and talented people together to use their skills and create something beautiful and timeless: a story that was entertaining and managed to sweep you away from the doldrum of your life. But I haven't felt that kind of awe for movies in some time, and I wonder if it is just because I've gotten older, and I now see how "human" all of these supposedly glamorous people are (if I can even say that). They all appear so normal to me now that I wonder where all the class went?

By any stretch, this year's Academy Awards ceremony was an unentertaining shit show that seems to be a sign of the times. Everything these days is riddled with incompetency, anger, and incivility. The "In Memoriam" segment this year was a musical number with a dancing choir that really distracted from seeing the names on the screen. Like...what? They also made a decision to cut "boring" awards like sound editing. Then they did this "Most Cheer-Worthy Moment" thing that had clips from comic book movies like Avengers and Zack Snyder's Justice League and then right after a moving acceptance speech from a deaf actor, Chris Evans popped up on the screen to congratulate him and air an advertisement for his new film Buzz Lightyear. Look...I get that ABC is owned by Disney and wants some marketing, but this just seemed so flagrantly in your face that it felt awkward. However, I already decided some time ago that I was going to see Buzz Lightyear. retrospect...I may have been more pissed that there wasn't additional footage or that it was an old trailer.

There was a ton of crypto ads and people talking about NFT's and crypto. Look...I think this stuff about crypto, the blockchain, and NFT's is scammy as hell. It feels fake. But I also saw on CBS that the $140,000 swag bags that 23 of the people got were filled with things that feel fake. Half the supposed value of the swag bag was in plastic surgery treatments. Like...really? I know someone that got a facelift, and it was one of the expensive ones with a very reputable surgeon. Their face looked like they'd been in a car accident for nearly three weeks, all bandaged up with drainage tubes, etc., to drain all the blood and fluid off from the swollen tissues. However, they got the results they wanted eventually when everything healed but not without a cost. I guess one small nerve got knicked by accident, which can happen when even the most practiced surgeons start cutting up your face. This resulted in a kind of lifelong diminishment of hearing in one ear. And I'm like...what the hell? Imagine getting that as a gift in your swag's an invitation to get all cut up and bloody and possibly lose your hearing or something else. I think that would be the worst gift in the world, and it just shows how much of a dystopia our world actually is.

Let's also not forget about Ukraine. How could you? It was literally splashed over anything from acceptance speeches to advertisements, as if we don't hear enough about the horrible things going on over there. It's literally been on the front page of The New York Times for a month. Everyone wants people to do more, but everyone is also afraid of nuclear war. It's just another sign that we are living in a dystopia, because violence cannot solve an issue because world-ending violence is right there to ensure that you just sit on your palms and shut your mouth. So...I guess that the Oscars just became a platform for people to scream (helplessly) "That's not right..." and you know...they're correct. All of them. It's not right...but there's nothing you can do about it...and here is your swag bag. Privilege is never more glaring than when horrible things are happening and you cannot do anything about them accept be thankful that it isn't happening to you. And also, you've just been given coupons for excellent plastic surgery options in Beverly Hills.

And then of course there was the F-Bomb laced tirade from Will Smith against Chris Rock for telling a joke about Will's wife. I'm so over Jada and Will Smith. The slap/punch just shows that the death of comedy is real. Comedians cannot tell jokes anymore, because everyone is offended. I like comedy, and I like Chris Rock. I feel sorry for comedians who now have to wonder if (after a joke is told) someone from the audience will assault them for "crossing a line."

Everything is just too real these days. It's like you have "smell-o-vision" and you smell how rotten things are across the spectrum. The Oscars are just a reflecting pool for the dystopian landscape of 2022. Someone really needs to weed this garden.

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Halo pilot on Paramount + was pretty good.

I watched the pilot of HALO on Friday evening on Paramount + (a streaming service formerly known as CBS All Access). I did like it quite a bit, even if the action was a bit "floaty" at times with some questionable computer-aided imagery thrown into the mix. I never played the game, so I had no idea what to expect aside from the fact that the Spartan skin-hugging armor that Master Chief wears has become ubiquitous as "cool" in nearly all speculative fiction stories from the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to Iron Man to G.I. Joe.

And G.I. Joe via Snake Eyes kind of established the "modern" ninja look (which we've also seen done in video games like Mortal Combat and Crysis). In other words, it's not much of a stretch to say that Master Chief's armor in HALO is "Japanese "inspired." Anyway, because I knew that this thing was being adapted from a video game, I wanted violence, and the show did not disappoint. It became pretty clear that this was going to be a war of some kind on an interstellar scale, pitting humanity against genocidal aliens. This isn't exactly a new trope, as we've seen it in all kinds of stories. One that comes to mind right off the bat is Old Man's War by John Scalzi. To state it another way, the Covenant weapons were extremely brutal just causing people that got hit by their ammunition to explode violently (or die in some other horrible manner).

If you don't know what I'm talking about, the Covenant is the alien species that seems to be the big antagonist in the show. The pilot shows them wielding fantastical technology and displaying some kind of religious reverence for an artifact (I have no idea what this thing is). But when Master Chief touches the artifact, it seems to reprogram his brain so that he now has empathy (which I guess is bad for a super soldier). As far as the set pieces go, I really miss the cinematic quality of Star Trek: Discovery, which must command a much higher budget than HALO. I's pretty obvious. Everything looks too plastic and clean. The costuming is not all that good. And when we saw the aliens, it made me wish the Henson company was called in to do puppet work for close-ups, because there was just something missing. However, I still liked it. As far as pilots go, it was good.

Another thing I got from the pilot episode is that the UNSC seems to be an organization that is interested in doing the right thing, but only when it suits them. Additionally, what's going on with the Spartans (the elite warriors like Master Chief) seem to all be brainwashed so that they would be good at killing everything that the UNSC saw as a threat. So at first blush, it also seems to be a story of a military dystopia kinda like Starship Troopers. 

Anyway, those are my first impressions of the show. Did anyone else watch? If so, did it meet your expectations or did it disappoint? One last fact that surprised me...the executive producer of the show is Steven Spielberg. With his name attached, I'm honestly surprised that the pilot didn't look more polished.

Friday, March 25, 2022

I think Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is partially to blame for the 2022 nationwide housing crisis.

Unless you've been living under a rock, there's a housing crisis just about everywhere in this country. It's particularly acute here in the Salt Lake area, where the price of a median family home (average) is now at $550,000. You essentially have to make $80.00 an hour at a job to be able to afford the payments on that. Additionally, rent for a two bedroom is around the $2000.00 mark. There are a ton of people who are getting squeezed really badly by this, because they don't work at jobs that provide $6,000 a month. There are lots of theories as to why and how we got here. As for myself, I wonder if it is all because of one book. Before you scoff at me that a single book could have this much power, I just want you to remember the Bible, and how much power that single book has in the world. Or the Koran (sp?) for that matter. So follow me down this particular rabbit hole and indulge me for a while, won't you?

Back in the 90's Robert Kiyosaki wrote a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. As far as books go, this thing was just capitalist trash that in its set up, shamed a poor dad for being poor and not being able to afford nice things for his family. The rich dad on the other hand was to be respected by all. How did he get there? Simple: invest in real estate. This is the first time that I remember someone explaining this whole idea of passive income. But what it really is for the untrained masses is planting the seed that housing (which is a thing that everyone needs) should be an investment. It should be in investment portfolios, it should be in your personal portfolio, and it is the path to a wealthy lifestyle. Let the poor dad work his ass off for wages. The Rich dad is going to make other people do the work and then they will fund his lifestyle. Sounds like a great gig, right? This is the crux of exploitation, and it was marketed, sold, and served as a kind of blueprint for a whole shift in the decades to come where people just poured their savings into real estate. The only problem is that when everyone does "a thing," then shit just doesn't work right. The fact of the matter is...not everyone can be a winner. Someone has to lose. That's why all the privileged people could telework during covid, and "essential workers" had to go to their broke-ass jobs and catch covid and die. Those were "the losers." Society needed them they couldn't insult them. Not to their face at least.

But I digress. People listened to the specious wisdom of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. They said, "FU, I'm not going to be a loser like my dad," and they got into real estate. This pushed the price of real estate up. Then investment banks and corporations who also listened to Kiyosaki, poured their billions into real estate and the price went up further. And then along came Airbnb and the Silicon Valley "disruption," which convinced people who owned rentals that they could get more money by kicking long-term renters to the curb in favor of charging $250 a night for desirable apartments. And yes, I know plenty of people personally in the valley I live in who are making $5,000 a month off a single Airbnb, and their rentals (as far as they concerned) will never go to house anyone ever again.

Short-term is where the profit is at. So...bam...boom...bam...people are making money, the housing crisis is worsening because rentals are in short supply thanks to airbnb, the prices on real estate keep rising, and people who want boob jobs and vacations and $5,000 a night stays at Disney World hotels are raising the rent over and over and over. They have to, because everything else is just getting more expensive because everyone is charging everyone else exorbitant amounts of money just to live (a repair visit on my air conditioner unit to replace one part was $1300.00). And all in the back...a voice screams from the 1990' is the voice of Robert Kiyosaki...yelling, "That's the spirit! Everyone can be the rich dad!" Only this isn't what is happening. Instead we have a capitalist dystopia where business cannot afford to pay workers enough wages to actually live anywhere, because the median price of a home requires a wage of $80 per hour! So people are living like sardines, and everyone has got their hand out, and we now have tip jars at fast food, and those electronic screens that automatically ask you if you want to give a tip to someone that just served you a frickin' ice cream cone. The world today just seems insane to me.

So I'm here to posit a hypothesis. Robert Kiyosaki and his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad shares a huge part of the blame for unaffordable housing nationwide. He got a bunch of people to realize that (with no government restrictions on real estate) one could exploit the heck out of people who are just looking for a place to live. You could (in fact) essentially turn an entire caste of people into indentured servants by selling them a lie and convincing everyone that a thing that is necessary for life to flourish (as necessary as air and clean water) should be an investment instead of a liability. And thus, the house and home became ground zero for greed, and a zip code became a barometer for how successful your children would be in the world. It all just seems so upside down. But now we're stuck with this model. Unless you want to be poor, you'd better hustle and get some real estate and passive income and get around to screwing someone else who is late to the party. Capitalism is such bullshit sometimes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Peacemaker has been the perfect stage for John Cena to prove he has fantastic straight man comedy chops.

I've been watching The Peacemaker on HBO Max, and I gotta just say that this show is amazing. Of course, I see James Gunn's fingerprints all over this thing. It's in the opening title sequence and dance number done to the music of "Do you wanna taste it?" from Wig Wam to John Cena's very confused man-child in Christopher Smith, a.k.a., the Peacemaker himself. However, John Cena has way more range than Chris Pratt does, and I think that the Peacemaker was probably a role that was even funner to play than Starlord (and by fun I mean you get to spout lines of nonsense as dialog). And Gunn has always excelled at casual destruction and mayhem coming across as both a joke and horror at the same time. 

Peacemaker as a show also seems to be casually aimed at my own childhood, which weirds me out but in a good way. Rather...childhoods of people that grew up in conservative small towns with racist people just intermingling with everyone else. A lot of "friends" from my childhood were into big hair bands and stuff like Kiss, but also really into Lynyrd Skynard and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Of course there was Guns & Roses everywhere and Lita Ford screaming "Kiss me Deadly." And they were all into "professional" wrestling. Many of them would claim that they aren't racist or homophobic. But what they really mean is that "the gays" and "queers" are meant as punch lines and their place in society is to be laughed at but not in a menacing way. They'd totally be okay with gays cross-dressing as entertainers with feather boas in some gum drop circus. But they wouldn't be okay with gays being engineers, wearing suits, and being in charge as bosses, CEO's, or powerful business people. So...casually bigoted, but they wouldn't shoot you? I dunno...small towns are strange.

Boys in my neighborhood all had fireworks and pellet guns. There were roman candle fights, throwing knives, and porno mags everywhere. It all sounds so gross now, but that's just the way it was. And Peacemaker plays on all of that with the main character's background. His father is a genius inventor of Iron-Man-like technology, yet he's an abashed racist and down to his core...he believes in white power. It's all hilarious but at the same time, it's like the show is framing things that I know to be true in an odd way. A lot of people who grow up in conservative small towns in America have really messed up childhoods, and it's made our society as hilarious and colorful as this show (if I can be frank). The only sad thing is that caricature of this kind is only one step removed from the real thing. I mean...John Cena's character as this super muscly, casually insulting bully, and toxic straight man who murders bad people but feels really bad about hurting kids and has a trusting and super big heart is...kinda on the mark.

Lastly, John Cena is really showing that he has fantastic "straight man" comedy chops. His ability to earnestly deliver some absolutely lunatic lines with 100% commitment is outstanding, and I have no doubt that his WWE days probably helped a lot with that. He's like a new Lesley Nielsen (if you don't get that reference, look up Naked Gun sometime and don't be too shocked that you see a young O.J. Simpson in a comedy). Anyone else out there get won over by Cena? The Peacemaker honestly has been a shock. I didn't expect to enjoy this show as much as I have. But, it is what it is. I'm embedding the opening title sequence so you can see how fun and ridiculous this show is.

Monday, March 21, 2022

I liked Battinson more than I thought I would.

I have fatigue when it comes to the Batman. So, I really didn't want to go and see another iteration of The Batman. But I have a friend whom I greatly respect when it comes to these things, and he said he loved it. In his words, "I loved seeing The Batman as a detective and not as someone who just punches people and then has fancy toys." So...having absorbed this thought, I decided to go out and watch it. Folks, it was worth the money.

Matt Reeves's iteration of The Batman (Reeves is the director) has DC and Warner Brothers doubling down on the dark and gritty atmosphere of their movies probably because they don't want to be Marvel. With The works. This character was always a very moody, brooding figure in the comic books. I can't tell you how many comic book covers feature the Batman walking in the rain, or crouching in the rain, or doing something in the rain. Rain is ubiquitous to the atmosphere of the Batman...a rain-soaked dreary Gotham where everything is bad and no one is there to save you from the darkness is what many of us comic book readers come to expect from this particular brand of superhero. Did it ever stop raining in The Batman? If it did, I didn't notice, and that's good.

In some ways, the Batman is a figure that would transfer pretty effortlessly to the Cthulhu mythos stories, where ordinary people with perhaps extraordinary grit are faced off against the cosmic horrors of the universe and are somehow expected to survive. The fact that the Batman does manage to do this time and time again is why he is a superhero. Ordinary people would never survive the kinds of things that the Batman experiences on a daily basis.

I think that this is also the reason why the Batman isn't a good character for the broader DCU. I know he's a very popular character, which is why they need him in the Justice League of America. But he doesn't fit well with those characters, because what he is just gets lost, and he gets boiled down to a person that provides insights and money and technology to other super heroes who are really good at punching cosmic horrors in the face.

This is exactly why "Cosmic Horror" storylines do not translate well to Dungeons & Dragons. In D&D, you have a game system that makes characters into super-powered versions of Doctor Strange (more or less) or into figures like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings or Aragorn for that matter. There's very little that these people need to fear because they have such a tremendous amount of resources. So the writers end up making cheesy powers that "nullify this and that" in order to allow an invincible character to experience fear and danger. But if you just take a moment to realize what's going on, you see behind the curtain and the whole "suspension of disbelief" comes crashing down. This is also Superman's problem. It must be hell coming up with stories for this guy to do because you always have to nullify his powers or else he just stomps everything. And then when you make something more powerful than Superman, well the whole planet is in danger and the thing isn't so much horrifying as it is absurd. So you lose the scare factor if that's what you were going for in the first place.

Anyway, this new movie called The Batman and starring Robert Pattinson is good. I want more. I want a spinoff of Colin Farrell's Penguin, and I liked Paul Dano's take on The Riddler (for what its worth). It reminded me a lot more of Seven than it ever did to anything in the DC Universe. Additionally, the chemistry between Kravitz (Catwoman) and Pattinson (the Batman) was palpable. I liked it, and Pattinson looks good in the suit.

Anyone else go and see this movie? If so, did you like it?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Star Trek Discovery confirmed that Alien 10C was at least a level 2 civilization on the Kardashev scale.

This week, Star Trek: Discovery will finish up its fourth season. I've enjoyed all the seasons of Discovery, but this one has been a stand out, mostly because it has been a real treat to watch what they are doing with "Alien 10C." In practically every other iteration of Star Trek, aliens have been presented as humanoids with different foreheads. I realize that this is more than likely a decision that was made in order to keep the budget of the show in check. That being said, there are a few notable exceptions. Some of the Xindi were really interesting looking in Enterprise and in Voyager, there was Species 8472 which went to war against the Borg (they were most definitely not humanoid). And then there was "Armus" in the "Skin of Evil" episode of Next Generation that saw the death of Tasha Yar and the strange jellyfish alien from "Encounter at Farpoint." But overall, from Andorians to Klingons, to Romulans...all the aliens from Star Trek have different foreheads.

Alien 10C is the first time we have seen a Star Trek crew encounter a living civilization that has reached Level 2 of the Kardashev scale. If you aren't familiar with the Kardashev scale, it was proposed as a method of measuring a civilization's technological advancement based upon the amount of energy it is able to use. It was proposed by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964.

The Kardashev scale has three designated categories, these are:

1) A Type 1 civilization, also called a planetary civilization, can use and store all of the energy available on its planet.

2) A type 2 civilization, also called a stellar civilization, can use and control energy at the scale of its planetary system. Examples of this kind of civilization would be the successful completion of a Dyson Ring (a hypothetical megastructure), which would mean the construction of a ring of matter that entirely circles a sun at the orbit of Earth and captures all of the energy falling upon the ring while spinning to maintain gravity and atmosphere.

3) A type 3 civilization, also called a galactic civilization, can control energy at the scale of its entire host galaxy.

With Alien 10C, the Discovery's crew is now making first contact with an alien race whose technology is so advanced, that communication between them is "barely possible," even with their brightest brains and most advanced computer systems working on the problem. And in this way, it is delivering quite well on the stated goal of creating something unique and going where no one has gone before. The aliens themselves have more in common with gargantuan kaiju than they appear to have in common with the humanoids who have come to say hello. And taking a cue from the movie Arrival they communicate with molecules associated with emotions and math. After much consternation and puzzling, the crew manages to communicate to the 10C that DMA (the name of the destructive phenomenon that the 10C are using to mine boronite) + them = terror. And this happens right before Tarka once again does something stupid and launches an attack against the 10C that has the potential to be catastrophic to both the alien civilization and Earth.

All in all, I'm really looking forward to this week's season finale. There's been so much build-up to Alien 10C and the payoff has been worth the wait. The thoughtfulness with which the crew has approached First Contact, the incredibly high stakes of getting it wrong, and what this all means for Trek going forward is exciting. I've loved the hard science fiction elements, like seeing the Dyson rings that alien 10C used to inhabit before moving onto something better, which is a civilization that exists within a hyperfield that is as large as the planet Mars's orbit around the sun. The aliens themselves are these huge floating things that live within the atmospheres of gas giants. There is so much to see with these new aliens that it is a treat to have this storyline in a television series.

I have one musing that I'd like to share. The last episode of the series is called, "Coming Home." This sounds a lot like "Voyage Home" which is the title of the fourth movie in the Star Trek franchise. It came out in the 80's, and featured a really powerful probe that was sent to earth to communicate with the whales in the ocean. I have a sneaking suspicion that Alien 10C was behind the creation of that probe, and that we are going to find out that these huge floating aliens might be friends with the whales living in Earth's oceans. It "seems" plausible. I just hope that Michael figures out a way to stop Tarka, but I think she will. That is what Burnham seems to be really good at doing.

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Star Trek Strange New Worlds trailer is a thing of beauty that dips heavily into comfort and hope for our future

The new teaser trailer for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds dropped this last week. It is a new series following Paramount +'s take on the origin story of Christopher Pike, whom we last saw in Star Trek: Discovery season two (I loved him in that season by the way). We also get a young Spock, and I liked the actor they chose to play him (although I do love Zachary Quinto's take as well). I actually prefer Zachary Quinto, but I'm a big fan of Trek so I'll take what I can get. Whether it is the better of two sci-fi franchises is up for much debate, but The New York Times recently got around this conundrum with a crossword puzzle that allowed you to fill in the name of both Star Trek and Star Wars and still get the puzzle right.

That being said, I'm kind of sick of the world today. This includes sky-high inflation, how I'm exhausted all the time from working, supply chain shortages, there's a war in Europe, gaslighting is everywhere, and bullies are having their heyday. Because of all of this, it's nice to have stories of hope, optimism, and progress about our future. That's what Star Trek always was, and it's kind of becoming a bit of an addiction for me now to just sink into these shows that Paramount + is pumping out and think that (very much) Star Trek has become my version of heaven. I really do mean that by the way. I know I'm an atheist, but that just means that I don't believe in god due to a lack of reliable scientific evidence as to their existence. It doesn't mean that I can't dream and fantasize about things that aren't real. If I were given a chance to describe what heaven was to me, it would be remarkably similar if not entirely identical to living in the Star Trek universe, joining Starfleet, and working alongside people doing the hard job of exploration and first contact. It wouldn't be sitting on clouds listening to angels play harps, or whatever all else people make up about heaven.

Anyway, if you haven't seen the trailer for Strange New Worlds, you can check it out below. It looks like something I'm going to enjoy about the same time that season 2 of Picard winds down.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Brandon Sanderson's Kickstarter is kicking much A$$

I saw this thing go live on Facebook two nights ago, because I live in Utah, and Brandon Sanderson is a friend of my co-worker who watches movies at his house. I've never met the guy, but he's going down in history as having produced the largest Kickstarter ever seen since the company's founding. As far as authors go, these are like J.K. Rowling numbers he's generating from books he wrote during covid. He's obviously got a legion of fans who support him. A few years ago I watched a kickstarter for a book that he'd already written and published (and which was widely available...this was for a special edition) top 7 million dollars. With 28 days to go this one is sitting at 19.25 million or something like that...but honestly, the numbers change about every second on this thing.

To give you some context, I regularly watch very successful authors put out books on Kickstarter (and sometimes I buy them) that generate about $300,000 per Kickstarter. So, I figure that's maybe in the neighborhood of take home pay of around $150K after all is said and done. That's not bad at all, and they are obviously living well. It's more than I make. Seeing something like what Brandon Sanderson has done is outside the norm by a huugge margin. But it is fun to watch the numbers change, even if I don't necessarily read or like his literature. And that isn't a critique at all. I'm also not a fan of Adele (the singer) who has legions of fans, many of whom are gay and are flabbergasted and browbeat me over and over for not listening to her music. I always take the stance, "Just because it doesn't resonate with me doesn't mean it can't be a beautiful experience for you. You do you, and I celebrate your joy."

The Sanderson Kickstarter is also a little weird. The comments are filled with "super backers," whom (I think) have poured in $500 or more. The average donation on this Kickstarter seems to be around the $250-$300 range, which seems excessive to me for like four books and some stickers with some foil bookmarks. But the super backers seem to be acting like some kind of cultish army trying to get people to buy in more, even if they don't get any kickback from this. So, it's just really strange. I chalk it up to another thing that I don't understand, kinda like the cultish appeal of those Twilight books by Stephanie Meyer. Even weirder is when you spot (in the comments) things like, "This is one of those rare times when I say 'LET'S GO BRANDON!' and I'm actually rooting for someone." I suppose that's a telltale sign of the audience, I guess. It kinda reminds me of stuff I've read about "The Villages" which is some retirement community in Florida in which the residents are like 2 to 1 pro-Trump and really aggressive with their golf carts and their pickleball, and they have tons of money to spend on things they are passionate about like alcohol, fitness equipment, and boob jobs.

I also like to play mental games on the logistics of this self-publishing venture. For example, where does one get 300,000 books printed? That seems like a lot. How many trees is that? Also...where does one receive 300,000 books? Do they get backed into a warehouse? Do they come in multiple semi's? Additionally, who ships all of these to the backers? Who packages all the stickers and bookmarks and what all else...maybe socks or beanies with Sanderson's mug on them into swag bags? Are these people going to get paid or is it an unpaid internship or an opportunity to "work for the exposure?" I do live in exploitation gets branded in all kinds of ways by the ruling class here. Sorry, did I say "exploitation?" I meant "job creation." I wouldn't be a Utahn if I didn't use the lingo (sly wink).

In any event, money is money. Sanderson is proving himself to be the next J.K. Rowling. I'm kinda hoping his Kickstarter hits $100 million for no reason at all other than spectacle. For what it's worth, I think it has an excellent chance of doing so with 28 days remaining. Don't you think that's just crazy? That a Kickstarter for fantasy books could hit $100 million, and he hasn't even disclosed what the books are about (they are secret projects). I'm like...whaaattt? Every Kickstarter I've ever participated in was one where I knew exactly what I was getting. With these...ya just gotta have faith. It's a business model that I just can't explain. Maybe he'll make NFT's of them next. I's gotta be worth some money, right?

I'm off all of next week from blogging to take care of a bunch of things. I'll be back on Monday, March 14th, so see you all then.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The March 2022 edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group is all about scenes and how we craft them for our stories.

"Beware the Ides of March!" That phrase from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar always pops up in my head during this time of year. The response is even better when Caesar looks at the seer and says, "The Ides of March have come, and I am safe." And the Seer replies, "Aye they have come but they have not gone." It's a great scene to a famous story, and that's what this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group post is about. But before getting to all that, there's some housekeeping to do.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was started by Alex Cavanaugh. The rest comes from the IWSG web page.

Here's their Purpose: 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!

Here's when we all 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.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Here's their Social Media Information: Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Here's what you do if you have trouble coming up with something to talk about: 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!

And here is the March question that I'm answering today: Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

The awesome co-hosts for the March 2 posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, Pat Garcia, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

Writing or including scenes in a story (for me) all comes down to word count. I'm a verbose writer in just about anything that I endeavor to do. So, my process is to just get all the things onto paper first and then cut cut cut. An example of this is that I recently (through a kickstarter) sent in a wholly original monster to Kobold Press for their latest fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons monster manual in the hopes that it will get published. Careful reading of the rules and format to avoid rejection told me that it needed to be under 600 words with 575 words being a very strong recommendation. My monster was at 980 words. So, I cut absolutely everything that I possibly could, strengthened sentences by looking for stronger ways to say a thing, and managed to squeeze the core of what I wanted into 571 words. Then I sent it in.

This same process absolutely applies to writing. I look at a word count cap...let's say it is 100,000 words...and then I write my story. I guarantee that it is probably going to end up at 160,000 or some absurd length, because I'm a verbose writer. So then I look at all the things I could cut, trying to figure out what is bare bones and what isn't. What furthers the story and what is just filler? Do I actually need to rewrite large sections in order to make the plot simpler? Anyway, I go through mental gymnastics to try to fit under that word count maximum. I do think it makes me a better writer (for whatever that is worth). But that is how I figure out what scenes go in and what do not. As for there being a conflict or not depends on how much I really want a scene to stay. If it simply won't work, then I probably need to think about telling a different story altogether just to fit into the word count. After all, that's the end goal, right? Word count is the task master by which we writers live by.

I hope y'all find that explanation to your satisfaction. Thanks for visiting.