Monday, March 6, 2023

Taking a blog break until April.

March is turning into one busy month for me. I've got roommates moving in. I also have to do dad's taxes. So I'm gonna step away from the blog for a bit. However, I plan to return for the IWSG April post. I'll let you know how everything goes, especially with the roommates. This is gonna be a big change.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Tobler-9 from Alien (2022) is a downright nightmarish world.

For long time followers of my blog, y'all know I like the Alien franchise, which includes the prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. This love also extends to comic books. I've been reading one in particular, which is a mini-series called Alien (2022), and it follows a group of elite colonial marines who are all synthetics (think of super-powered humans) being tasked to infiltrate a former human colony called Tobler-9. These are people who can jump fifty feet and lift bulldozers above their heads, etc.

That being said, this new world that was introduced into the alien mythology last year is pretty scary. In this timeline, humanity is dying and only rare biotechnology has even the slightest hope of being able to save us. The only trick is that humanity has to get this biotechnology from Tobler-9, which is a "paradise lost." They explain that nothing organic could possibly survive on its surface, prompting the United Systems to reach out to Steel Team (the synthetics I mentioned above) who are the only ones who have a shot at retrieving said biotechnology. As I've been reading the comic, the hostility of the planet is pretty crazy. But to Steel Team's surprise, they've encountered people alive on the planet, this despite some pretty badass alien drones and radioactive rain. Take a look at this panel:

So yeah...the whole planet has been irradiated by atomics causing the rain to be lethal. I haven't quite gotten to the point in the comics that explains how people have been able to live on this planet. However, they did explain that the radiation in the water should be enough to make their skin peel off. But this apparently isn't happening (the mystery deepens) even though they apparently have managed to survive by hiding in underground bunkers, and moving to other ones quickly if a hive of xenomorphs that they call the "Icarus strain" happens upon them. Here's a panel featuring one of the bunkers:
Anyway, the biologic that Steel Team needs is an egg from one of the Icarus strain monsters. It turns out that this new strain has the potential to help the human race survive in badly irradiated places. However, getting an egg is not going to be easy. Here's a panel from the comic that explains why:

The black lady (survivor) who has lived on Tobler-9 all this time and says "Human Hosts, Always" in the above panel is called "Melody." She goes on to say that there is "too much of us in them, if they were beasts before they are proper monsters now," which sounds like a really bad thing.

Anyway, it's been a fun read thus far and there are plot twists, tragedies, and back-stabbing betrayals that (of course) happen to our would-be heroes. It wouldn't be an "alien" story if that kind of thing didn't occur. The whole "alien apocalypse aesthetic" is something I like, and I think it is visually stunning whether it is on screen or in a comic panel. It's hard not to think of an apocalypse scenario as deeply interesting, especially when the overall reason for it happening in the first place seems derived from the dark side of human nature more than it just being an accidental occurrence. "We did it to ourselves!" It's hard not to really want to peel back the layers on that statement. And Tobler-9 is one hell of a nightmarish world to serve as the backdrop on this story.

Anyone else out there reading along in this comic? If so, what do you think?

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Welcome to the March 2023 Insecure Writer's Support Group post.

Even though it isn't spring, and winter has a firm grasp on the part of the country where I live, March always makes me think of spring. I feel like this March is going to be particularly challenging, because I'm getting roommates to help pay the bills. It's the first time I've had roommates in over twenty years. So, lots of changes are happening in my life. One of the things that I like about this situation is that my two roommates and myself have a lot in common. And they've promised to help out around the house. When it snowed 14-inches last Wednesday, I realized after four hours of shoveling that it probably will be good to have some help now and then. I'll probably say the same thing once summer arrives and the lawn needs to be mowed. So, I'm focusing on the positives and seeing how that will work out.

And being the first Wednesday of March, it is also time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post. This blogfest rolls around every month. It was started by Alex Cavanaugh, whom most of you probably know. If you are interested in signing up for it, you can go HERE and do so at your leisure. Here are some more details about the IWSG that I modified from their website:

What is the purpose of the IWSG?: It is to share and encourage other writers. Writers who post during the IWSG can express doubts and concerns on their blogs 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 does everyone post?: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day. As a participant, your responsibility is to post your thoughts on your own blog. This is your opportunity to talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. You can discuss your struggles and triumphs or offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. You should also do your best to visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writers. The suggestion from the IWSG sign-up page is to aim for a dozen new people each time and return comments. This group is all about connecting! You also want to be sure to link to the IWSG page and display the badge in your blog post. Finally, you want to make certain that 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!

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

The awesome co-hosts for the March 1st posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Tonya Drecker, Bish Denham, Olga Godim, and JQ Rose!

Is there a question/prompt I can answer if I'm struggling to write a blog post? Yes, there is. Every month, the IWSG announces a question that members can answer in lieu of a post on writing. 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.

And all that being said, I usually just answer the question. So here is the March 1st question:
Have you ever read a line in novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?

Of course, yes! But it happened when I was quite young (still in high school). I think that is an age when people are constantly comparing themselves to others. I would read a really good story and rather than be inspired by it, I'd get a little depressed that my mind didn't come up with whatever this thing was. However, those feelings of envy went away in my early twenties. Now, I just read things, and I enjoy things for what they are. Maybe this is one way adulthood and maturity finally arrived for me. If I come across a super good story, I think, "I'm so fortunate that I found this story and that someone spent a ton of time trying to get this into my hands." Here are a few more examples that illustrate what I'm talking about.

I have friends who make tons of money, way more than I make, and I have the same feelings towards them. I'm happy that they found a path to whatever it was that they wanted. I can't walk those same paths, and I realize that. I have my own roads I need to follow, and my own opportunities. I know that some things are just not reproduceable. It's been over two centuries, and the world has yet to create another Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and maybe it never will.

I think one of the most important things to learn in life is to know what is possible for you, and to explore where those pathways lead. It's actually important in everything. If you have a friend that becomes a model for Vogue magazine, that may not be something you can reproduce for yourself. The best thing to do is recognize this and wish them well and then concentrate on your own life and how to make yourself comfortable in it. An example of this is looking at any superstar celebrity. I'm going to pick on Tom Holland for a minute. I'm sure that Tom Holland had childhood friends. Whoever these people are would have needed to realize that the success Tom Holland achieved isn't reproduceable by them even though they hung out with him all the time. It just isn't. The best thing they could have done (and I hope they did whoever they happen to be) is just to wish him well and go about living their lives and doing the things that they are capable of doing.

Americans in particular have a kind of toxic view of failure. I saw a post on Reddit about a teenaged girl and her teenaged boyfriend who are having a baby together, and they are worried (and seeking advice) because they are poor, and they have no familial support. They got tons of crazy advice, so much so that the thread got locked by Reddit. And you can guess what the advice is, but the short list assumes that a baby...any baby...deserves to live a good life. So adoption and other things were thrown into the mix under "what you gotta do now is...." and blah blah blah. The thing is, all of it is wrong. The teenaged girl and her teenaged boyfriend don't have to do anything. There are poor people everywhere. And there always have been. And there are poor uneducated babies that grow into impoverished adults. There are homeless individuals everywhere. If the United States agrees (collectively) that capitalism is the superior system, then this is natural. We should all be okay with this. We should stop shaming the poor and just admit it is natural and go about our business. Capitalism doesn't work if there is no one on the bottom. Capitalism has a "nature to it," and I've learned in my life that it is best to let Nature (for the most part) take its course. To be clear, I don't like this system. I prefer socialism with safety nets. But that's not what we have in this country. And the message from the capitalists is "you better toe the line or else." So, I toed the line. And this pregnant and poor teenaged girl is going to need to toe the line too. Welcome to poverty, and that's okay. Failure happens all of the time. I dare anyone to prove me wrong on this.

To return to the question posted by the IWSG, I think we'd be best to remember this lesson as writers. Failure happens all the time, and that's okay. Some writers will go on to be George R.R. Martin and J.K. Rowling. Many of us will not, and we need to be okay with that because we aren't entitled to success. This is the system that we have. Being envious of someone else's abilities helps no one (least of all you), and that all starts by letting go of author envy and just growing up and realizing that life is unpredictable, and that the chips are gonna fall where they may.

Thanks for visiting.