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How It Should’ve Gone

Mustafa sat proudly at the back of the rock outcropping, a paw—with just enough claw extended make the warning explicit—held firmly on the back of Sarabi’s neck. The mandrill, that neurotic mystic, walked out to the edge of the outcropping and held up Mustafa’s infant son, Simba, for all the gathered animals on the ground to see. The signal. The lions, naturally the strongest and the acknowledged instigators, leaped into action, followed a few seconds later by the hyenas. The two factions tore into the group of frantic wildebeests, and the commotion kicked up dust and shreds of wildebeest hide. The meerkats activated and jumped into the collected pile of squirming grubs and bugs. The warthogs came after, alongside the meerkats, but soon the two groups vied against each other for control of the insect pile.

There were other fiefdoms that joined in, but the details of the battle were lost in the fog of war for all those gathered on the promontory. Simba, still aloft in the crazed mandrill’s hands, cooed and giggled at the chaotic Tennysonic battle below.

Mustafa smiled. It was an orchestrated war of all against all in homage to his heir’s future, and the future of his dynasty. His pleasure-sense heightened, and his claw involuntarily extended out farther into Sarabi’s fur. She whimpered and tried to evade the clamp down, which made him tighten all the more. What a wonderful scene, Mustafa thought, ignoring Sarabi’s pained cries. Wonderful. It will make a damn fine movie someday, if they would get it right.

Magicland

Alice was the person in the audience least willing to be called upon, so naturally the magician volunteered her for his first trick. Seated on the stage chair, being so close to the magician—she forgot his name but he looked like a Mark—wasn’t as embarrassing as she expected. It also wasn’t exciting.

He was well-muscled but wore a shirt cut for a fat man, as though he had raided a wardrobe department that was staffed entirely by overhired interns. The shirt was red, maybe maroon, but Mark was the type who would insist on calling it, not even “wine-colored,” but “wine.”

He proceeded with his trick with all the nuance of a supernova in heat. Alice stifled giggles at the absurdity of the scene, but the effort was too much when the head-caressing started. In the sonic space between Mark’s megaphonic chanting, Alice squeaked out a sneezy guffaw that rang loud into the furthest corners of the function room. He didn’t break from the theatrics one bit. Mark, draped in his wine shirt, was a force with which one neither negotiate nor halt.

Steel City Comic Con 2017 Photos

Just what the title says.

Someone from something, and Bucky Barnes from Captain America/Avengers:

Freddy Krueger:

People from a thing:

New-ish Batman and old-school Robin:

A version of Wonder Woman:

Indiana Jones and yours truly:

A Doctor Who (I think), some Harry Potter person, and someone from something:

Eren from Attack on Titan. She even did the salute:

Old-school Batman and Joker:

Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) and Robin:

Goku and two people from something:

Someone from Harry Potter:

Deadpool:

Deadpool/Sailor Moon mashup (?) and Captain America:

Ash from Pokémon:

A scout trooper and Jessica Rabbit:

Yours truly and Hulk Hogan:

Negan from The Walking Dead and someone:

Jason from Friday the 13th and a Harry Potter person:

Rey and Kylo Ren without the helmet:

Reppert, a Ghostbuster:

Rey. She had a great lightsaber:

Belle and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast:

Boba Fett, one of my favorite costumes. He even had an intercom-type speaker so he could talk while the helmet was on…sounded like the real thing:

People from something:

Kylo Ren:

Negan (that’s marker stubble on his face), hitting yours truly’s daughter, who is dressed as John Egbert from Homestuck. The fellow on the right said he was Despair, but he has a mask of Glenn from The Walking Dead on.

Waldo and horse-banana:

Rey, Luke Skywalker, and a rolling BB-8! I liked Luke’s puttees:

Kylo Ren:

Thor and Loki. They were huge:

No-Face and Chihiro/Sen from Spirited Away. True to character, No-Face even gave gold away to everyone.

Someone:

John Egbert, Dirk Strider, and Dave Strider, from Homestuck:

Not pictured: a great Darth Vader costume, that was as good as the Boba Fett one. It was a bad picture that I accidentally deleted.

Fun times.

The Minäverse by Jill Domschot

Jill has decided to serialize her new book, The Minäverse, and you can read the first chapter here. Jill was kind enough to send me an ARC* and it’s definitely a good ‘un if you like absurdist sci-fi, a la Douglas Adams and that other author of that one book I can’t recall right now.

Who wouldn’t like this wordplay?

Indeed, golf had become a great sporting event, with bonding between man and beast. Men would choose their favorite bionimals, and the favorites would smugly go out to play the game, while the less desirable bears were left behind. It was par for the course.

* “ARC” is an annoying publishing industry acronym meaning “advanced release copy” or “advanced reader’s copy” or “aardvark reticulation control.”

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Review

tl;dr – a very good retelling of the original

Possible spoilers below. See my previous posts here and here about the film.

Thoughts, in no particular order:

1- Visually and aesthetically impeccable. Director Rupert Sanders did an excellent job of portraying a society figuring out its relationship with acute, mechanical, physical augmentation. He skirts the line between its usefulness and nightmarishness, though with the subject matter and the people involved, we see more of the nightmare aspect.

2- Mostly followed the plot points and thematic elements of the original, though obviously it much more Westernized: there’s less philosophy, more conflict, and a less open-ended resolution. There were times things where characters turned narrator and it kind of broke the spell, particularly the first scene where the setup of the Major’s creation was over-explained by the computer-intercom.

3- Related to #3, as I had predicted, the “I’m going to kill my creator” sentiment is there, a sentiment that is wholly absent from the original. This was to be expected since Western-philosophy based folks have (at least) a mild fear of metaphysical/supernatural phenomena, and it seems that sci-fi, as it is embracing a lot of transhumanism and artificial life-creation scenarios, is being expressed as a kind of wish-fulfillment at being able to “get back” at our creator. Since man can barely rebel against God, much less commit deicide, positing “God” to the natural level, as a literal creator, gives us physical access to Him.

4- Regarding the whitewashing accusations: that Motoko is basically Anglo in appearance is fairly central to the plot; her completely artificial body needed to look different that her original, Japanese one. Progressives don’t need to wring their hands anymore about any of this, and Rupert culturally appropriated Western-style diversity into the cast that wasn’t there in the highly monocultural Japanese version. From what I could see, one or two characters in Section 9 were blackened or feminized. The two antagonists are, thankfully, White Folk, though the Antagonist You Didn’t Expect redeems his/herself nearing the resolution. The Head Evil White is male, as expected.

5- Pure trivia: Togusa, in the original, used a Mateba auto-revolver. In the film, it was an older-style gun compared to the more advanced tech (it was emphasized that he was purely natural/non-enhanced and his handgun reflected that), and in the real world, they are not manufactured anymore. There was a scene in the 2017 version where Togusa very noticeably uses a Chiappa Rhino handgun, which was modeled after after the Mateba design, and share the same designer.

En Sabah Nur

“Always the same, and now all this. No more stones. No more spears. No more slings. No more swords. No more weapons! No more systems! No more superpowers. You can fire your arrows from the Tower of Babel, but you can never strike God!”

Two and a Half App Ideas

Gamification of Safe Driving
Gamify car dashboards, or an app itself on your phone, that rewards safe and efficient driving, accompanied by a small social media framework. There can be badges for keeping your vehicle on its eco-efficiency setting, days without a ticket or accident, for not speeding up or braking suddenly, for taking more fuel-efficient routes, for marking out speed traps, etc.. The Waze app performs some of these functions already.

Speed Tracker
Saves a record of your speed and GPS coordinates for, say, an entire trip, which can be kept or discarded afterward, to be used to protest speeding tickets…or get out of them completely. There will probably be no support from policing or court bureaucracies, since speeding tickets, etc., are money-making schemes and have nothing to do with maintaining traffic safety.

Ending Traffic Light Stupidity
Not really an app idea but really just stating a desire to overhaul the system. Traffic like software seems over-engineered; I know this because a green light will turn red when there’s no presence of any cross-traffic. There’s probably a simpler way, but that probably has more to do with regulatory factors than effective traffic control.

Larry’s Got Charm

One of the funniest lines I’ve heard in a video game.

Attn: Restaurants That Serve Breakfast, Please Take Seriously and Enjoy this Unreasonable Rant

tl;dr – I don’t want bread

Stop with all the sandwiches for breakfast. Not everything has to be in sandwich form; you’re not leaving some moral culinary duty unfilled if you don’t serve sandwiches all the time. If you really must have sandwiches on the menu, the very least you can do is offer normal platter items, or an a la carte option so I don’t have to feel like such a dick in public when I have to say out loud “CAN YOU PLEASE HOLD THE BREAD? I’M NOT GLUTEN SENSITIVE I’M JUST ONE OF THOSE JERKS WHO’S INTO LETTING EVERYONE HERE KNOW THAT I DON’T WANT A GRAIN RIGHT NOW K?” Poor Chinese orphans have mobile phones with the power to make a random person fart on the other side of the world, but you can’t put one breakfast item on your menu that doesn’t have dry, tasteless sponge-slabs on it? Save sandwiches for lunch, like a true American establishment in the post-Quest For Food™ years—especially you, that one independent deli near work that has no excuse for not taking my special snowflake requests. I’m about to tie my colon into some Boy Scout knot so that whenever I eat your bleached enriched inflammatory white flour slices of conveyor belt gluten that you have forced upon me, you’ll have to deal with the projectile linguine-blast of regrettable disgust that comes out of me.

PS – Vegans and vegetarians constitute 0.000000000120001% of your customer base. They don’t need specific menu items. Make them feel like the special snowflakes, not me.

The Epistemology of Large-Scale Distances

Astronomical distances are unfathomable—literally, inconceivable—so much so that we need ultra-instrumentation to calculate them, which in turn dump their data streams into analog displays for these distances can be “visualized.” Imagine yourself traveling through space. Scary, isn’t it? There’s a reason why some of the more accurate depictions of life in space in science fiction media have the protagonist going a little bit crazy…or anything going crazy. Something has to get its wires crossed. Insanity is imbued with the rebellious act of exo-propulsion, away from Earth. But this protag…he has no sense of movement at all, but the instruments of travel constantly blinking their garbage at him are telling him the current events are just the opposite. How can he cope with the discrepancy between his sense of inertia and parallax, and the intake of math? Either by going into cryo-sleep until the destination is reached, or by killing the rest of the crew members in increasingly gruesome ways. Or by getting killed. I can’t see how a creature with biomechanical firmware oriented towards coping with horizon distances at the most, could end up any other way.