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Category Archives: Miscellaneous


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.

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.

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.

The Earth’s Poles Shifted and All You Read Was This Blog Post

“Doesn’t anyone have any more missiles!?”

Nibiru is the real, cosmic, deal. I know this because all of the theories of Internet-connected folks concerning its arrival into the Milky Way don’t posit the planet crashing directly into Earth like two perfect billiard balls. If it was contrived it would be aiming straight into us, right at our equatorial center, Hollywood-style, with only a cockamamie plan from Bruce Willis or Bill Pullman to stop it. Instead, it’s going to just kinda boomerang over and back near Earth’s orbit. Besides the obvious geo-ecological disaster of the shifting poles, the other disasters: 90% of all the land mass being relentlessly sloshed by monstrous tsunamis and tidal waves, most everyone’s death, and Garrison Keillor continuing to do musical tours, unharmed. Maybe a McDonald’s in Kiev will survive as the only modern-age relic. But, cosmically, it’s not even a fart in space. A positive result of all of this will be that not only the raw number of conspiracy theories we’ll have to deal with will be cut down dramatically, but the rate of conspiracy theories will be reduced to something like 2 theories per 1 thousand people. And they’ll be obvious falsehoods, on first blush, because there’s no civilization, at first, to really give it fuel; the theories will just die on the vine, and maybe the actual theorists will, too. When the Quest for Food™ returns, it’ll be hard to scrounge up yhe mental energy requires to speculate about grassy knolls and equilateral triangles with an eye inside them. There’s another good reason for the favorable lack of conspiracy theorists: most of the ones who survive are the ones who believe this Nibiru nonsense and took preparations for its arrival, and it technically won’t be a conspiracy theory because it actually happened.

One Weird Trick for a Worship Band to Make Their Album Go Platinum

Plenty of metal band releases nowadays feature a track, usually in the middle or at the end, that’s a little quieter or more contemplative, probably to break the sonic elephant-gun onslaught of everything else you’re hearing/have heard. If the metal band is Christian, this track is the time to let listeners know you are, in fact, a Christian band by allowing it to become something of a worship song, or at least a song that mentions Jesus. Bonus points if you got some Psalm verses for maximum effect and have one of those borderline funk-slap acoustic guitar intros.

But once, just once, I’d like to see the inverse happen. You’re a squeaky-clean, modern rock worship band, complete with Nashville-studio solid production, and you put a disgusting, minute-long grindcore track in the middle of your latest release. Make sure it has really questionable early-nineties production values where the guitars are just a little too tinny, and make sure the lyrics are about something mundane, like emptying the dishwasher or buying new shoelaces. It kinda doesn’t matter because no one will understand them; the vocals can be gurgled out at random and lyrics written later to match the rhythm, for the liner notes*. You may use a drum machine because your drummer has no idea how to play blastbeats and will have to sell his soul to Satan to learn how.

If not grindcore, because grindcore dudes have no idea how to play their instruments well, you may insert some Covenant-era Morbid Angel death metal. But that’s as accessible as you may go. We’re not trying to sell albums here, really, with this, and the rest of the music on your album is the very definition of squeaky-clean accessible. But this special track is going to be the ne plus ultra of artistic statements, one that would make baby Jesus giggle and clear His colic.

No Nashville A&R rep in a worth his best blazer would ever go for this idea, so this release would have to be independently-funded. But you’d get my admiration, and that may be worth more to you than recouping your advance and getting to pay your phone bill for this month.

* As an option, this grindcore track can still be a worship song. Someone, definitely not me, may suggest that you go the pornogrind route and lift some Song of Solomon verses for the lyrics. You did not read that here.