Monthly Archives: January 2015

Feign Interest in My Writing and Sign Up For My New Book’s Email List

There’s a sticky post at the top of the site (or go here) where you can sign up for the email list for my new book, Pale Blue Scratch. It’s currently being drafted but will soon be advancing to the later, less unattractive stages.

Most of what I send out on the list will be blog posts for the worldwide consumption but it won’t be until a week or so later, like all those deadlines at work you miss.

If you sign up or the list I will send out emails relevant to the book, which will include:

  1. Writing about the book;
  2. Book excerpts;
  3. Images with quotes from the book;
  4. Videos related to the story’s subject matter (hint: “zap!”);
  5. Information about crowdfunding for the book (because you need another person in your life asking for money);
  6. Nothing about what Hacksaw Jim Duggan is doing

If you sign up you have my guarantee that I will not bake you a pie or call the cops on you, although those things wouldn’t happen if you ignored the list anyway. However, I can be convinced to do these things if you’d like. The first step to convincing me is signing up for the email list. See how it all works?

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Honest Movie Poster: Spirited Away

There are honest movie trailers and then there are honest movie posters. Here’s my honest movie poster for Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Now get me some bath tokens!

Edit: The “bath house is a brothel” theory is contentious. It’s irrelevant to the story at large; just a point of interest.

Edit II: This poster is not a reference to child prostitution. Relax.


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Scarlett Johansson’s Race and Ghost in the Shell

ghost_in_the_shell_motokoIf you’re my friend on Facebook you’ve seen me briefly whine about Scarlett Johansson’s role in the Americanized, live-action version of Ghost in the Shell (GitS). As I’ve said on there, I don’t care much about race qua race in most contexts, but within the GitS fictional world it matters a lot. Since both movies, the two series’ season and related movie, the recent mini-movie reboot, and (presumably) the manga, take place in Japan and heavily involve high-level government workings in a near-future Japan, the artistic pressure to match the race of the protagonists is present*.

Rupert Sanders, the director, could work the non-Japaneseness of Motoko Kusanagi, the main protagonist and Johansson’s role, into the plot. Kusanagi’s body is completely synthetic. Though the ethnicity of her cybernetic body has a Japanese appearance, she could conceivably have a Caucasian body since it’s not difficult to “change” bodies out. This doesn’t seem likely since this new film is going to be marketed to a more general audience than a GitS fanbase. The former demographic is not going to be concerned or even be aware of the discrepancy. Since the nature of human consciousness is a major theme, especially in the original film, Sanders could even work in some meta-counter-criticism of race by leveraging the a-ethnicity of the soul (however one may consider the nature of the soul to be).

But my main point in all this is that many Facebook commenters are calling the casting a “whitewash” of the source material. I wonder, though, if the people making this criticism would call the newest Annie film or Idris Elba’s possible casting as the new James Bond a “blackening” of the original, or if they consider a black Santa Claus a betrayal of a European tradition? Why would Johansson’s casting not be considered a win for diversity in a franchise that is traditionally very Asian?

* As far as I remember, all of the main, recurring characters in GitS except for Batou are Japanese. Batou is actually French, and presumably Caucasian. Might be interesting to track the casting of his character as well.

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Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” is a Weird Song

I don’t write about music on here often even though I have a large background in it. There is something I wanted to note in the ceremonial passing of 2014 into 2015.

Our yearly New Year’s Eve tradition is to blast the Wii with the new release of Just Dance. This past New Year’s was the 2015 edition, and it has Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” It’s an odd listen for a pop song since there’s no real chorus—the “gotsta have” element of pop music. There’s a competent build up in the pre-chorus, then the “release” is actually the start of the next verse, sans the bombast that usually drives pop choruses.

My brother in law pointed it out that the vocal melody doesn’t resolve, either. There are small tonic resolutions on the even lines in the verses— i.e., “You were gonna come to me” and “But you better choose carefully”, but she dances around that root note and cages the gloomy tension from release.

Sayeth Pop Music Theory:

Now let’s listen for the sevenths in the piece. The minor seventh can be heard in Katy’s very first vocal line (the word “you” in “I knew you were“) as well as throughout the first half of each verse (another example is the next line, the word “you” in “and here you are“).

The major seventh can be heard in the second half of the verse (the “aph” in “Aphrodite” and the word “one” in “Make me your one and only”).

Can you hear it?

Mostly unrelated is System of a Down’s “Chop Suey,” which has a tonically-resolving chorus. But as an inversion of standard pop music (as opposed to a sidestep and omission in Perry’s case) the chorus is the quiet and reflective section, not the verses.

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John C. Wright Doesn’t Like Preachy Novels

A few months ago I read an excerpt of Wright’s Awake in the Nightland and it delivered the creep factor of Kubrick’s 2001 with a hint of Lovecraft’s pantheon in its first pages. I don’t know much about Wright but as an ex-atheist, current Christian, he expresses irritation with spiritually didactic literature in a Castalia House interview:

Now that I am in the other camp of the endless war between light and darkness, I confess I am still nonplussed and unamused by preaching disguised as entertainment, whether it supports my side or not. The idea of ‘Christian entertainment’ is a sound one, as long as it is entertaining as well as being Christian. There is an odor of self satisfied smugness and piety which is as repellant as the musk of a skunk clinging to many Christian entries into the literary world, which one never finds in older works, such as Milton or Dante, and never in the works of masters even in so humble as genre as science fiction. I challenge anyone to find anything nakedly and blandly pious or preachy in the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, R.A. Lafferty, Gene Wolfe or Tim Powers, but there is clearly a spiritual dimension to all their works.

Indeed, although the drive to preach at all times is a symptom of Western spirituality to explain-explain-explain everything instead of allowing mystery to infiltrate a story. I know personally that I come to know certain truths through stories, even the ones that have nothing to do with Christianity—though the “truth apprehension” is not so much head knowledge as it is something deeper. Don’t ask for an explanation because it’s not expressable with language.

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Is There an Ether or Isn’t There?

einstein_tesla_maxwellI posted these questions on Facebook and didn’t receive much response, though I should’ve known that site isn’t the greatest medium (*rimshot*) to field science questions that aren’t in meme format.

I came across the article linked below while doing book research, and it’s actually an excerpt from a book called Transcending The Speed Of Light: Consciousness, Quantum Physics & the Fifth Dimension. If the rest of the book is anything like the article, even a know-nothing-about-science guy like me could understand a lot of it.

  1. Why would one experiment (Michelson-Morley experiment) rule out the ether, a concept which had been in place in one form or another for a long time? Why not just modify the theory instead of ditching it completely only to somewhat replace it later with dark matter?
  2. Einstein admitted that there needs to be a form of ether. Don’t know if he retracted it later. Did people just think Tesla was too much of a crank about some things that they needed to hate on ether theory so much?

From Tesla vs. Einstein: The Ether & the Birth of the New Physics:

Einstein essentially agreed with the findings by stating that by its nature, the ether could not be detected. However, Einstein also upped the ante considerably by also saying that if the ether could be detected then his theory of relativity was in error.5 Einstein further stated that if light could travel like a particle it would not need a medium (i.e., the ether) to travel through. Even though most of the great scientists of the day such as Maxwell, Faraday, Kelvin, Fitzgerald and Lorentz all accepted the obvious conclusion that there had to a medium of transfer in space, i.e., the ether, all of this was glossed over. This led to a generally accepted conclusion that the ether did not exist and that is the situation today, a full century later! It would take Einstein 15 years before he addressed this glaring misconception but the damage had already been done.

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