Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Within Temptation - Titanium (David Guetta cover)

I have finally given in.  I am using pop music.  However, I'm using Within Temptation to do it.  Why? Because I can actually understand the words here.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Sad Puppies Bite Back, V: a Puppy Wins the Hugo

If you're tired of Sad Puppies, I have a new article up at The Catholic Geeks, where I discuss the phenomenon of The GrimDark.

Otherwise....

Sad Puppies I
Sad Puppies II
Sad Puppies III
Sad Puppies IV


When it was suggested that I be selected for a Hugo for Sad Puppies Bite Back I-IV, I was honored.

Which made me realize that it's my turn to be SWATted.

Declan "the Pius One"Finn, Dark Lord of the Fisk.  New York City Undercover Division of Sad Puppies, 2016



[The SWAT team comes up to the Kelly green door. The leader counts down on fingers. 3. 2. 1--]

[The door swings open of its own accord. The SWAT guys look at each other, then swarm inside. They are surrounded by stacks of books that head up to the ceiling, looking like hoarders, only with hardcover novels of Larry Correia, Tom Clancy, and Neil Stephenson. One bumps a pile with a hip, consequently burying the entire SWAT team alive in hardcovers.]

[Enter Declan Finn, Undercover Sad Puppy Operative, pokes his head out on the enclosed porch] Oh, come on! You know how long it took me to organize my "to read" pile?  I'll never keep track now.

[DF growls and brings out his keychain of death -- which has two knives and a tactical baton -- and starts picking his nails with the keyblade]   I hope these guys are still alive. I don't feel like mummifying corpses this weekend. I have cats to water board and Tor bloggers to fisk.

[Finn blinks, and picks up a Brad Torgersen novel from the top of the book pile] Oh, hey, I've been looking for that one.

DAY 2

[New SWAT team pulls up to the house. They approach cautiously, ever since the last team was reported missing]

[SWAT Sergeant] "Do you hear Irish music?

[SWAT #1] Yes...why are you dancing?

[SWAT 2] It's...compelling...me to dance....Irish!

[SWAT Sergeant] By all that is holy, not Riverdance!

[DF emerges from a pile of books] You idiots again? Gah

[DF adjusts speakers.  SWAT team Irish step dances down the street, never to be seen again.  DF sighs, moves to mailbox, muttering] I wonder if John C. Wright will loan me some of his Vatican Ninjas. It's not like he gets SWATted like this. He's a living brain in a jar, what are they going to slap the handcuffs on?

[DF opens mailbox.  Opens top letter] I'm nominated for a what?

[Finn stalks upstairs, past the mountains of books, and starts writing an acceptance speech for a Hugo Award.]

Ahem.

I would like to thank the people of WorldCon for giving me a Hugo. I like to think that my selection has confirmed the complete uselessness of this award, especially since I wouldn't trust most WorldCon members to sit the right way on a pay toilet.

It's nice to see that the Hugos' long stretches of having no taste whatsoever have finally been ended. Granted, they had to be ended by people who actually have a sense of humor, unlike the mummified walking dead who have been in charge thus far. 

After I leave this lovely banquet, I will take this Hugo, drive to the nearest gas station, and hopefully trade it in for something that's actually worthwhile. 

Right now, I would like to propose a toast: to the caterers who prepared tonight's food, and to the pigeons who crapped over David Gerrold's car.

I would thank J. Michael Straczynski for inspiring me into a life of writing, but he's not here tonight. He's over in Hollywood, making his work into films and TV shows, while I have yet to be invited to write a porn adaptation of my own work. And neither have you, Mr. Scalzi.

I would also like to thank John Scalzi and Gerrold for the death threats that your minions have bombarded me with.  I'm sure I would have been physically assaulted by now, if said minions were brave enough to leave their parents' basements. As it is, I've already had two SWATting attempts made on me. So, thanks for that.

I would like to thank Arthur Chu for all of the popcorn moments, as he continues to tweet from federal prison for conspiracy to blow up the GamerGate meeting in DC in 2015.  I have sent photos of his ladyboy fascination to his fellow inmates. I hope he enjoys the results.


I would like to thank the Sad Puppies, who should be happy today. Larry Correia started it to make a point, Brad Torgersen carried the torch, and Vox Day drove all of you even more insane than you were when we started, because David Gerrold was already going senile, but this proved it.

Good night, everybody. And remember: UNLEASH THE PUPPIES!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Where do you get your ideas, remix

Oh look, I'm guest blogging at someone's place today. 

Yes, it's in my FAQs, but it still works.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow



For the record, the title is STUPID.

But this trailer looks freaking AWESOME.

I had been wondering what they were going to do with Sarah Lance, deceased ... Lazarus pit is not the call I would have made, but okay.  In the experience of the TV show, the people who go into the pits are either newly dead, or just mostly dead.  A year-long dead?  Not so much.  It'll be interesting to see this particular unstable element to this team.

The team .... I knew, from the moment they brought in Superman to play Ray Palmer, he was going to be interesting.  When they used the line "It's a bird .... it's a plane ... it's my boyfriend," I knew they were having fun.  And, frankly, I think Brand Routh is a better Clark Kent now than he was in Superman Returns.

Bringing in Captain Cold and Heatwave ... yeah, I think this was "Hey, Mr. Miller, we love your Capt. Cold. Would you like a tv show?" He's sardonic and as cynical as hell, and it's a wonderful contrast.

Also, I like Firestorm.  And Garber as Dr. Martin Stein?  Wonderfully sardonic.

Hawkgirl ... no idea.

Though bringing in Arthur Darville (Doctor Who's Rory) as, essentially, a time lord who dresses like John Constantine?  I'm good.

Also: Atom, Canary, Firestorm, Capt. Cold, Heatwave, Hawkgirl, and Rip Hunter.  They at least have the number right.   They are the Magnificent Seven. 

Best comics of the web, 2015

It's been a long, long while since I've done one of these.  Since my last one in 2012, some of the original list-- while still good -- are finished. Some have run their course, some have had their authors move on to other things.

Some of my suggestions.

Schlock Mercenary: This is a new entry on the list, first suggested to me by novel ninja Matthew Bowman (Yes, he of the Lego house and Mad Max wheelchair).  This comic about a band of roving space mercenaries looking for a semi-honest paycheck, and saving the world a lot more often then they'd expect.  Look for the Longshoreman of the Apocalypse, the killer Teddy Bear who thinks he's the HAL-9000, and meet the resident mad scientist.  And read their Maxims, you'll thank me later.

Evil-Inc: Imagine if super-villains ran their own corporation in a world that deals with outsourcing for both DC and Marvel. They make fun of comic book death, working with the enemy, sleeping with the enemy, and spandex.  Lots and lots of spandex.

MegaTokyo: A Manga-art style mixed with odd relationship and action scenarios.  It's a little strange ... okay, it's a LOT strange ... but otherwise worth it.  When two Americans are trapped in Japan by their own stupidity, they find love, ninjas, and Kaiju. No, I'm not joking.

Day By Day: a political cartoon for those who are generally fed up with politics as usual.  Good for those of either side of the aisle, really, but basically right-leaning.  And R-rated, for, of all things, nudity. Yeah. I can't make that one up.

Questionable Content: A little left-leaning at times, but filled with humor about practically every subgenre of the culture, and music, complete with strange anthropomorphic robots.  Right now, it's at a phase of "Hey! Jokes about relationship drama!" It's still funny, despite that.

C+A+D on Spartans
Girl Genius: A straight-up epic fantasy story.  If you've ever heard of steampunk, you have the idea .... oh, and there's plenty of basic politics (of the fantasy world, not of this one), pirates, steam-driven killer robots, and death rays galore.

Ctrl+Atl+Del: This is another unexpected one.  While it is centered around video games and the gamers who play them, there are some unexpected plotlines that are quite stellar .... just keep your eye on the penguin.

Order of the Stick: A very strange comic, drawn in ... stick figure format?  Believe it or not, the artwork aside, it's very standard "bring everyone together to stop the end of the world" fantasy storyline, with a lot of side stories, unexpected character development, and .... oh, yeah, it's within a world completely ruled by the rules for role playing games.

PhD Comics: for anyone who's ever been to graduate school. Just trust me on this one.

BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO....

Giving them the kiss off.
The-Gutters ... it stopped being funny. Then it stopped. It became SO not-funny, I won't even post a link to their decaying corpse of a web page.

Crimson Dark .... the artist got a job with -- I think -- George Lucas. He may return to it at some point. I really hope so. Because I think he still has work to do.

Dominic Deegan ... it ended in a full-out, Lord of the Rings-level blaze of glory.  The writer / artist behind it (known as Mookie) has moved on to another project.  Sadly, I was never able to make it past the first page of the new comic.




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A few thoughts on Supergirl



This latest DC television show is brought to you by Greg Berlanti, who's busy taking over the CW network with Flash and Arrow, and whoever else he can get his hands on.  For some reason, CW didn't want his Supergirl project. So, he went to CBS.

My first thought, as I looked at Kara and her civilian dress?  "Did they just give Felicity Smoake Superpowers?"  Because the awkwardness and personality kinda match up.

My second thought was "Why is Calista Flockhart on this show? In fact, why is she employed? And can she be the villain?"

I like the feel of this, especially in the wake of the GrimDark Batman Vs. Superman trailer, which if it gets any blacker will require night vision goggles to see anything. I'm seriously, seriously tired of the GrimDark. This? This is bright and colorful and things blow up.

Though there are some odd moments I have with what's going on here, and it's probably the editing of the trailer: You have an army guy who deals with aliens dismissing the woman who can redirect a plane and stop bullets as someone who gets coffee?  Huh? What?  I think someone had time to fill and didn't know what to stuff in.

Another head tilt moment: Jimmy Olsen in the comics is a scrawny, nerdy, redheaded stepchild. They've turned him into a tall, knowledgeable, suave fellow .... who's black. The ethnic swap is the least of these changes, but the character changes are such that I'm thinking "Why even name the guy Jimmy Olsen?" Now, if they're going with the awesome, awesome graphic novel Superman Earth One, which had Jimmy Olsen as a former embedded war photographer who will do anything to get a picture .... that would be fun.  But this guy comes off as less Jimmy Olsen and more elder-mentor type.  At which point, is Perry White so damn copyrighted? Really?

Again, it might be how the trailer was put together that we're missing a lot of context. It might turn out to be stupid, but you know what, this at least looks like fun. And when DC comics seems to think that Grim and Gritty is the way to go, I'll take a heroine who smiles.

But my real problem?  I miss John Williams.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Guest post: Joss Whedon, Sex, and Monsters: A Fan's response.

Marina Fontaine is a friend of mine. We ran into each other on Facebook, and I think she might be one of my bigger fans.  When the stupid hit the fan with Joss Whedon last week, Tor joined in on the stupid, because, well, Tor. 

As Tor is one of my favorite punching bags, I considered bouncing up and down on them like a trampoline.  

When Marina said "I'm so tempted to fisk this article," I said "Want me to host it on my blog?"  

And so, a guest post, fisking yet another stupid Tor Article.


****


First, a word from the dark side...


Avengers: Age of Ultron is about a lot of things. The film is a conversation about monsters, gods, what is right, what is wrong. Ultron is a monster, by our standards, but he thinks of himself as a god. Is Tony a monster for creating him? Will Steve ever be able to leave the war behind? Will Hawkeye ever finish the dining room?

So far so good. We want our stories, especially those told in the form of blockbuster movies, to be about a lot of things. We want big ideas, something to think over and discuss long after the end credits roll and the bucket of popcorn is emptied. And if some of those big ideas are intercut with personal quirks of the characters, so much the better. Best characters, those that stay with us, are portrayed as complete human beings, whether or not they happen to have specialized skills or super powers.

The biggest question that my friends and I have been discussing, however, is what we’ve all already started calling “The Black Widow Monster Scene.” There are several ways to interpret the exchange between Natasha and Bruce, all of which seem valid, in my opinion. But I specifically want to examine how this scene functions in the context of Joss Whedon’s overall work, and the popular perception of Whedon as a feminist writer. Simply put: let’s look at how often Whedon has relied on this trope of a woman’s power or uniqueness or, yes, monstrosity, being inseparable from her gender and sexuality—why, in Whedon’s stories of women’s power, does their strength and talent always need to be bound to their bodies and biology?

Well, now. Thank you ever so much for allowing us to interpret a scene in several ways, but you in your infinite wisdom will now tell us what we SHOULD think anyway. Personally, I think anyone claiming to divine an artist’s intent, especially in context of work from decades ago, is stretching literary analysis well beyond its limits, but hey, it’s a free country (for now). Examine away.

To begin at the beginning, in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, Buffy’s role as the Slayer is immediately sexualized, as Merrick explains that her terrible menstrual cramps are an early warning system that vampires are nearby. (And this is why Slayers have to be female.) Whedon’s film script was heavily rewritten, so it’s entirely possible that this was not one of his original plans for the character, but since it flows so well with the rest of the Buffyverse wrestling with sex and death, I’ve always felt it was probably one of his ideas. This concept was mostly dropped in the show, but the connection was reflected and echoed in other moments: it’s Buffy’s loss of virginity that triggers the return of Angelus; Willow explicitly compares her PMS to Oz’s monthly lycanthropy in “Phases”; and Faith tends to celebrate a successful slaying session with random, somewhat violent hookups—which later causes some emotional fallout with Xander.

I have to admit that the original Buffy movie is not fresh in my mind. Menstrual cramps reference never made it into the show, and one would think that if Whedon really loved the idea, he would have worked it in somehow. After all, he had seven seasons to play with ideas, new and old. Be that as it may, my first reaction as a fantasy fan is, “Hey, this is pretty clever. Take something that is biologically already there and is normally somewhat of a handicap and use it as an additional power to give the Slayer.” Also, I don’t know about you, but when I think about menstrual cramps, sexualization is pretty much the last thing on my mind. But, whatever floats your boat.

Moving on to the other points, and now I will get a little nit-picky, which I think is fair, considering the source.

The return of Angelus is triggered by the fact that Angel has sex with Buffy and achieves total bliss. Said bliss is not caused by Buffy losing her virginity, but by Angel engaging in passionate, satisfying sex with the woman he loves. Later on, Faith tries to seduce the good-again Angel to bring back Angelus. (On the spinoff Angel show, he is eventually able to have sex that is less passionate and not quite as satisfying with a woman he just kind of likes, with no adverse effects.) Personally, I think Whedon is simply using a tried and true horror trope of “sex=trouble” rather than anything much deeper. But in any case the big payoff involves Angel losing his soul, and if one wanted to make social commentary there, it might as easily have been “for men, bliss equals sex; how very primitive of them.” If anyone is defined and controlled by sex or lack thereof, it’s Angel, not Buffy.

Willow’s comment to Oz is part an awkward joke and part her trying to show empathy (hey, I know how you feel!). Willow is still in her suppressed, shy stage at that point, and this is the best she can do. In other words, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Faith, at least the version of Faith we first meet, is a gloriously amoral creature, and of course it shows in her sexual conduct. She takes anything she likes, be it shiny things or sexual pleasure, with no inhibitions, proudly and gleefully. It’s mostly a shorthand indication that we’re dealing with someone lacking inhibitions, with sex being only a consistent part of the overall character. We are back to my “complete” characters comment at the beginning. Whedon does that. It’s a good thing.

Given that Buffy was more about high school, college, growing up, and coming of age, the sexual nature of this stuff was often necessary and very metaphorical. As Whedon moved to the more adult, male-centered Angel, we also got a severe downshift in sexuality: there is a constant undercurrent that Angel has to be a vampiric monk, because he believes that any form of physical intimacy would take his soul. The tone of the show matched with the main character’s struggle, showcasing the entire team without overtly sexualizing any of their jobs, and as I watched my way through most of the Whedon oeuvre, I assumed that he’d left the conflation of power with sexuality back in high school with Buffy.

Putting aside the snide tone of the last comment, the paragraph above seems to have been written by someone who has either never seen Angel or stopped early on as that show has given us some of the strangest hookups, some with potentially world-ending consequences. It has been a while, but let me see if I can sum it up: Two vampires have sex, producing a human child. The child grows up quickly (long side story there) to adulthood and has sex with a somewhat super-powered human who used to change his diapers. Said human then gives birth to a goddess.

Nope, no strange sexual overtones in there at all. Why? Because it does not fit the narrative of the article, that’s why.

But then I watched Firefly. While Inara’s status as a Companion becomes increasingly complicated over the course of the series, her job doesn’t have much to do with her own personal sexuality; meanwhile, Zoe seems to be a happily married woman who’s attracted to her husband, and River seems to be too young and loopy to think about that sort of stuff yet. But what the hell is the deal with Kaylee? She’s a supercompetent mechanic in a future society that seems way less sexually uptight than our current Earth-based one. She’s good at her job, loves it, seems a bit naive at first. She jokes about vibrators, which, good. Sexually active girl. But then—we learn that she’s turned on by engines. In the (amazing) episode “Out of Gas,” we learn that she only got the job on Serenity because Mal caught her fucking his old mechanic in the engine room. Her skill with engines is inextricably tied to the fact that she’s sexually aroused by them, and specifically requested that Bester take her to the engine room. (She’s actually referred to as an “engineering groupie” on the Firefly wiki…).Wash isn’t turned on by flying, Zoe isn’t turned on by fighting, Simon isn’t turned on by practicing medicine, Jayne isn’t turned on by… whatever his particular skill is. (Actually, he and Simon both seemed to mostly be turned on by Kaylee?) Hell, Inara isn’t turned on by being a Companion. It’s her job, she sees it as a service, that’s really it, and we never get the sense that she’s particularly attracted to the people who visit her. Mal talks about loving Serenity… but that seems to be more of a spiritual thing than a sexual one. (If anything, he resembles the monkish Angel here.)

Once again, have we watched the same show? Kaylee “jokes about vibrators” are complaints that she has NOT been sexually active in pretty much forever. But aside from that, she rocks it out as a mechanic while otherwise being sweet, shy and somewhat lacking in self-esteem. She has a crush on Simon but will not approach him. She gets utterly devastated by a put down from a socialite regarding her frilly dress. Later at the same party, she recovers her balance by chatting up a group of men on the subject of engines. I see her skill as a source of pride and something that gives her both comfort and self-confidence. The author looks at all of that and sees a sexual fetish. Ooookay. I don’t think Whedon is the problem here.

But then, because no sexual relationship can remain happy and healthy in the Whedonverse, Kaylee’s engine room is taken away from her. During the episode “Objects in Space,” bounty hunter Jubal Early shows up, looking for River. He finds Kaylee in the engine room, working, and threatens her, asking if she’s ever been raped, and making it clear that he’s prepared to hurt her to learn what he needs to know.

She’s terrified. She thought she was alone with her engine, working in silence after the rest of the crew went to bed. This is her safe space, the part of the ship that she understands even better than Mal does, the part of the ship that is most hers. So even though he doesn’t actually go through with his threat, her space has been violated. It’s safe to assume that she won’t be able to be in that room again without thinking about this incident….was this why she took Simon to the engine room, specifically, at the end of Serenity? To reclaim it for herself? Again, as storytelling, this is incredibly compelling, but as this particularly sexualized violence is only directed at one, young, female, incredibly vulnerable crew member, it overshadows everything else in the episode. Once again, a woman’s particular talent and career has been tied to her biology in a way that was wholly unnecessary to the plot, and which makes her own competency stand apart from the rest of her team.


Over-think much? Rape is used in literature over and over again because it is a) a shorthand for cruelty and violence that has almost no equivalent and b) a primal fear of every woman, no matter how safe and sheltered. Yes, it is biologically determined, and even though men can and do get raped, this particular fear is unique to females. (Men have a primal fear of their own. I don’t know if the joke about a groin cup being invented way before a sports helmet is true, but it sounds right. However, double standard being what it is, that particular turn of events mostly appears only for cheap giggles in comedies, and Whedon has not used it in his work.)

If I wanted to find a problem with this plot point, it would be the fact that Kaylee, having been established as someone both smart and capable, is caught unarmed and helpless in the engine room. Considering she is part of a renegade crew, I would have expected her to be armed at all times. Before the “victim blaming” lynch mob gathers on my house lawn, I would like to point out that Kaylee is a fictional character and Whedon put her in that position. It’s not impossible that his own dislike of guns might have contributed to this slip-up in an otherwise exceptionally compelling story. This is a very long way for me to repeat the point I above: rape is violence, and needs to be treated as such in storytelling and in real life.

Why does Kaylee take Simon to the engine room? Because it is hers, more so than her room in the crew quarters, and because she wants to share it with the man she loves. Certainly, there is an added element of her getting over the trauma of near-rape and reclaiming her mental balance, but again, not everything is sexual.

In Dollhouse, some of the Dolls’ assignments include a fair amount of sex work, and we see Echo imprinted with the personalities of everything from a dearly departed housewife to a dominatrix. However, Dolls can be any gender, and their functions in the field are not inherently sexual. And considering that their minds are “wiped” in-between each engagement, it’s clear that they don’t get off on what they do, and while the clients might, this is not central to the Dolls’ view of themselves. The point is that the Dolls have no view of themselves until Echo begins to break down. Dollhouse explores the extremes of identity—the dolls form perspectives on themselves without tying those core identities explicitly to their sexual being—while their clients actively pay for the privilege of seeing their sexual and personal preferences embodied in someone else. Dollhouse’s focus on identity includes, among other things, exploration of the notion of biological destiny. From there, Whedon leaves his own creations and begins working in the Marvel Universe.


Interestingly enough, the author does not find fault with Dollhouse, a show that, at least in my opinion, is Whedon’s weakest work. There are certainly questions of what constitutes an identity and how much of it is genetically pre-programmed, but in all honesty the rushed plotlines did not allow for enough exploration.

So far, the author has waded unsteadily through the archives of Whedon’s work, cherry-picking and misinterpreting a elements along the way, and is now ready to regale us with her views of The Avengers. Being a naturally patient person, I am willing to allow that maybe her memory of Whedon’s older stuff is selective, faulty, or gotten from Wiki, but The Avengers is recent, so it has to get better from now on, right? Right?

Let me begin by saying that there is a difference between objectification and sexualization. Yes, the Chrises are all objectified in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—this time out, they even find an excuse to throw Hemsworth in a pool so he can whip his hair around like he’s in a shampoo ad. However, none of the guys are sexualized. None of them are defined by their sexual relationships.

Wait, Buffy is sexualized by menstrual cramps, and Willow by PMS, but a guy purposefully depicted in such a way as to turn on every straight woman and gay man in the theater is not? Whatever you say, but you may want to keep some ice ready. That kind of mental gymnastics can hurt you.

Oh, and objectification is suddenly OK. I’ll remember that when your ilk start screaming bloody murder when a pair of larger-than-usual breasts appears on a screen, or—horrors!—in a comic book.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Music Blog: Within Temptation - The Last Dance

Time to dance.

I know that, for me, that's usually code for fighting, but in this case, just a reference to the song title.

Yes, I know this is two music blogs back to back, and I've already posted SIX blogs this week between Monday and Thursday.  This is blog #7.  This makes me AN UNSTOPPABLE BLOGGING MACHINE... But I am not Larry Correia.

But, now, I'm going to take a bit of a break, and see Avengers: Age of Ultron for the second time. Ciao, all.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Within Temptation - Frozen

Do you hear that?  Listen..... No more puppies.  Huh. See, I told you, Murphy's law was right. I say that I give up, that there will be no definitive end of the Puppies until it's over ... and right then, it's done. No one has provided new ideas, suggestions, or prompts. We can go back to business as usual, like comic books and Joss Whedon, and ....

Oh wait, those were articles from the last two days....

... I don't have anything else to write today....

So, music blog!

Yes, the Within Temptation kick continues. I found a new one.  This one has a story in the video..






Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Marvel After Age of Ultron

UPDATE 2: Every time I look around, there are more characters.

UPDATED: The Cast of Civil War has been confirmed and tweaked accordingly.

So, what's next?

Yes, we've got the upcoming movie list, but what can we expect to see, given what's come out thus far?  Obviously, there will be SPOILERS from Age of Ultron, so if you're like one of three people who haven't seen it yet, this blog post is NOT FOR YOU.

THE RETURN OF DOCTOR ZOLA

Yeah, remember him from The Winter Soldier?  When last seen, the former Swiss Hydra scientist was stuck in a 1970s supercomputer.

In the comic books, Arnim Zola was in his own mechanical body, usually appearing in a giant television screen. If only there was a way to put electronic brain patterns into a robot body....

Oh, wait.


I think that some of the Marvel movie people might be able to fit that in.  Somehow.  Just a guess.

For those people who have said that Zola was blown up in The Winter Soldier ... you're new to comic books, aren't you?

CIVIL WAR IS COMING

For those of you who have read my disasters to Marvel at, you know that the Captain America: Civil War storyline and the movie will have little to nothing to do with each other. There aren't nearly enough heroes to pull that off.

In a post-SHIELD and post Age of Ultron universe, superheroes aren't going to be the most popular people in the world.  Thanks Tony, for pissing off the planet.  Hulk trashed Wakanda, so he's not too popular either.  It shouldn't be too hard for the "World Council" (who gave SHIELD orders to nuke Manhattan in Avengers, and seemingly wiped out in Winter Soldier) to convince world governments to pass something against superheroes.

HOWEVER....

It is far, far more likely that the majority of the "Civil War" elements will be between Captain America and Tony Stark.  Why?  Because it was implied in The Winter Soldier that Hydra killed Tony's father. Who, exactly, was doing all of Hydra's wetwork at that point?


Oh, yeah.  Captain America's good and dear brainwashed friend, Bucky, the Winter Soldier.

Yeah, this could end badly. Also, Tony Stark can't be in the same film with other heroes without getting into a fistfight. He's due a few rounds with Captain America, having already fought with Thor and Hulk.  This Civil War fistfight may take up a whole ten minutes of the actual film.

With the lineup we currently have, this could end up with Cap vs. Iron Man, Falcon vs. War Machine, and Black Widow vs. Agent 13 .... why the last two vs?  Because the end of Age of Ultron shows that Captain America is not alone in the world anymore, and he's got friends, even if Tony Stark is pissed at him. It wouldn't be a one-on-one smackdown, unless something odd happened. The Falcon / Widow fights mentioned are purely speculative on my part. But those would be fun as Hell. Falcon is as securely on Cap's side as War Machine is on Iron Man's.  And last I checked, Sharon Carter will be a wild card, working for the CIA, but having her in her traditional white outfit, palette swapped for Black Widow's outfit ... can't you just see how fun that would be?

Also, the bad guy in Civil War -- the real bad guy -- is Baron Zemo. As opposed to baron von Strucker ... Basically, Hydra variation #59.
No, NOT Cobra Commander
This guy isn't Red Skull, but was one of his major minions.

We know for a fact that one of the Strike team in The Winter Soldier (the character named Rumlow) will become the Hydra villain Crossbones, so we have him kicking around as well.

You have Zemo, Stark, Crossbones, Falcon, Agent 13, and Black Widow all confirmed for Civil War ... as well as Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Falcon, The Vision, Hawkeye, War Machine and the Scarlet Witch.  And a surprise guess star, Martin Freeman, as ... who knows? It's unconfirmed yet.

And ... this movie might even kill off Steve Rodgers for a few minutes, which I think would be a dick move.  If they do that, expect Bucky to become Captain America.  I'd much rather it give Steve a girlfriend with Agent 13, Sharon Carter.

Speaking of which, can we let Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Agent 13 have a movie that's a collection of spies?  Please? Because that would be excellent.

WAKANDA

Remember how Ultron went to an African country called Wakanda to get vibranium?  Well, guess who lives there?  Also, guess who is supposed to debut in Civil War?


If you said T'Challa, the Black Panther, you'd be right.

Wakanda, in the comics, is a small, postage-stamp sized country that's technologically advanced as all heck.  Think of it as the mirror image of Doctor Doom's Latveria, a small, postage-stamp sized country that's technologically advanced as all heck, only European and evil.

Having it make an appearance in Age of Ultron is a nice, almost subtle nod to the next part of the franchise, while making sense within the film itself.

Also, the arms dealer in Age of Ultron with the vibranium (played by Andy Serkis) is a Black Panther villain. I suspect Serkis will be in this film, too.

THINGS ARE GOING TO GET STRANGE.

While I have no idea how Ant-Man is going to end up in .... any of this, I do know that the next film is Doctor Strange, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the good Doctor.

One of the various and sundry toys that Doctor Strange plays with is called the Eye of Agamotto.  I'm wondering if the Eye becomes important for any given, random reason.  It's not like gems are important in this universe, are they?

Oh, wait....


Yeah, maybe.

If I'm right, then that means that Strange will have gem #5 of 6.  Gotta catch 'em all.

Keep in mind that "Phase 3" is officially the following, in this order

Captain America: Civil War
Doctor Strange
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Thor: Ragnarok
Black Panther
Infinity War 1
Captain Marvel
Inhumans
Infinity War 2

9 Films. Whew. So, a lot of the following is guesswork.


We know at least one thing for sure: Thanos has to be introduced, and Thanos needs to get all of the Infinity Gems ... and I know from reading the comics that when he gets all of the gems, it's game over.  For the universe.

Civil War will bring in Bucky, and start setting up conflict for the next Avengers film. Why? Because if the Avengers are disassembled, then they have to pull together for the Thanos threat, and I'm always for more conflict.

Doctor Strange will bring us the world of magic in Marvel (that may not be merely advanced technology), and another Infinity gem .... probably. Expect the name "Dormamu" to show up. He's basically a demon. Sort of.

Guardians 2 will most likely bring in Thanos as a primary villain. Why?  Because the man has barely been in this franchise.  All he's done has been to back Loki in Avengers and the Kree in Guardians. He's had a handful of lines in the three films we've seen him in. If he's had a full page of dialogue, I'd be surprised. At best, he's a consulting supervillain. GotG2 would give him his moment to shine, and show off just how much of a badass he is.... Oh, hell, one of the last lines in the movie was about Thanos. We should at least get a CV on this guy.

Personally, I think at least part of the plot should have Thanos attacking the Nova Corps to get the MacGuffin gem from GotG, if not getting his hands on gem #6.  However, if they're following the original 1991 Infinity Gauntlet storyline, I expect a man named Adam Warlock to appear here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Joss Whedon, Misogynist .... Really?

UPDATE THE THIRD: Tor agrees with me about why Black Widow unnerves them. Otherwise, they're as hysterical as the rest.

UPDATE: Joss has said he wasn't chased offline by the psychos. However, the psychos are still there, they still said these things. So this still works.

UPDATE: I think Sarah Hoyt has a great post on this topic, even though she doesn't mention Joss Whedon once.


So, Joss Whedon was harassed and harangued off of Twitter for not being sufficiently feminist.

No, this is not a joke. This is not a prank. This is a real event.

Black Widow is not amused.
Apparently, Joss Whedon has made a lot of statements that has outed him as someone who wouldn't like ... well, me (a member of an organized religion, and who is generally pro-life, and a few other tidbits in there).

This is the point where everyone asks: What The Hell Goes On Here?
After “Avengers: Age of Ultron” debuted in theaters Friday, some people harassed Whedon, since Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson) was portrayed as a “damsel in distress.” Naysayers labeled him a “hypocrite.”
Uh ... huh.  Yes. Really. That happened.

Also....
“The Avengers’ Black Widow Problem: How Marvel Slut-Shamed Their Most Badass Superheroine.”
What?  Somehow, Black Widow uses her charms as a weapon, and that's .... what?  Really?  Why does my brain hurt so much?

(Before someone refers to Renner's and Evans' jokes about Black Widow, that wasn't what the article was about .... also, I expected ScarJo to come out and list the male-sluts of the Marvel Comicbook Universe, which include Hawkeye, Iron Man, and Daredevil, but that's just me)

Normally at this point, I would say "spoilers," but it's not, really.  Black Widow was in as much jeopardy as everyone else for most of the movie, and she was held prisoner by the bad guy for about .... five minutes?  Maybe less.  She then proceeds to kick ass throughout the rest of the entire film.

And it can't be that Black Widow doesn't have a Marvel film, Joss is one of many people (Matt and myself included) who wanted a Black Widow movie, was pissed that he couldn't get one.

Does everyone remember the first Avengers, where she was tied up .... only because she wanted to be, just to make the bad guy think he was the one doing the interrogating? She even pulled that on Loki.  She tricked the Norse god of trickery.

Seriously, people, how do you get more badass than that?

There really should be a meme somewhere for Black Widow: outsmarts spies, gods, stops interstellar armies, hacker, martial artist ... Really, we're getting to the point where Black Widow has a skill set that matches whatever the threat level is.  Normally, that would be a Mary Sue, but she pulls it off so well. Just look at her CV for a second.  Wipe the floor with a dozen human hostiles, check (Iron Man 2). Go toe-to-toe with an alien army?  Check.  Did anyone else notice that Black Widow saved the world in The Avengers, while everyone else was basically in a holding action? Yeah. Really.

Black Widow, legs spread ... before she garrotes someone.
Get your head out of the gutter.
But Joss Whedon is a misogynist.  Riiiiiiiiggghhhhhttttt.

As for slut-shaming ... how? She's teased Captain America about his lack of a dating life, while not actually making any moves on him.  Even kissing him was a matter of avoiding surveillance.  There were no cues in The Avengers that she was throwing off with Hawkeye (for good reason, as we will discover).  She actively disliked Tony Stark in Iron Man 2. From what I can tell, over the course of four films, she hasn't had any actual social life, and has genuinely used her "seduction" skills on one person for real.

Come to think of it, even on a spy level, she hasn't actively flirted with anyone as part of a mission.

There is also the theory that, well, Black Widow is beautiful.  She is stunning. She is strong and capable and ... there are some women who will happily tear down other women, just because.

However, if you want my REAL thoughts on the matter, it involves politics ... yes, again. Why? Because I think we're assuming that the people who brought out the torches and pitchforks against Joss Whedon are entirely rational. But what brings out the crazies on twitter like nothing else? Politics.

Because on the one hand, Joss Whedon's Avengers films, and even his Firefly movie, are all war films. Have you ever noticed that?

If I were a politically minded nutcase who saw everything through the lens of politics, I could even say that Buffy was conservative because the season 3 finale was about how guns save lives, even issued to high school students. The season 4 finale was not only a war story, but the entire season was about how big government was inept, while small, private institutions can get the job done!

Yes, it's a little insane insane, but so's accusing Joss of being a misogynist.

If you apply this line of thought to the Avengers film, these points are even worse -- cops and the national guard help in the all out war against Loki's Chitauri, the individuals are saving the world while the big bad world Council is trying to nuke Manhattan, and in Age of Ultron, the film opens with individuals cleaning up a massive world threat of Hydra. There's Hawkeye's little socially conservative secret.  Captain America isn't a douchebag but he's a soldier, and America, and grrrrr.

Maybe they're pissed off because the Scarlet Witch wasn't given a pep talk by Black Widow about "sisterhood is strong." Would that have satisfied some of the nutters out there? Maybe not

There's also one other subject that can make some people go bat guano insane.

There are some real SPOILERS coming up ... now.

Within Temptation - Dangerous ft. Howard Jones

Okay, I like the visuals and the song on this one.


Review: Amy Lynn Golden Angel

Amy Lynn: Golden Angel ... if the first book was To Kill a Mockingbird written by Vince Flynn, this is Brad Thor doing an episode of Mission: Impossible, where we see the entire team being assembled, complete with biographies.

This takes place shortly after the end of book one. Amy is still recovering from the battle at the climax of that. She's now close to President North (aka: "Not" Sarah Palin ... even though her Secret Service handle is "Polar Bear"), and back home with her charming and rustic family.

But it's hard to go back to the way life used to be for Amy, especially after all she's been through. She wants to simply bury her boyfriend and move on with her life, but she doesn't yet know how to do that yet.

And now, Amy's friend "T", CIA killer, wants to bring her on board a mission to hunt down a human trafficking ring that is abducting American girls...

Yes, this one went dark quickly.

We've got a Mission: Impossible team of badasses with fully-developed backstories and biographies. The reformed black militant cryptographer; the one-man insurgency; the Polish playboy who thinks he's James Bond; and the boy scout who has won the dark heart of a CIA Assassin.

The "dark" continuous when you get to the mildly incestuous twins, one is an autistic computer genius, the other is a (literal) whore (sort-of retired).

And, of course, Amy Lynn.

There is action, there is adventure, there is some neat spy stuff, and there is even the possibility of redemption.

But sometimes, redemption can only be found in death.

4.5/5  Rated R for... dark stuff

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Puppies of WoldCon, an Epilogue






Or: Sad Puppies Bite Back, Part IV

Part 1: Sad Puppies Bite Back
Part 2: .... Part 2
Part 3: The Puppies come to WorldCon

So, yeah, here we go again.

I hang out with a lot of writers.  They have liked the previous Sad Puppy stories.  So they give me bits of business they would have liked to have seen....

The cycle begins anew.

If you're someone who hasn't been enjoying these articles ... feel free to comment and tell me something you DO want to see. I've been posting Puppies every other day, so tell me what you'd want to see on those days. I'm running out of music blogs anyway.  There will be a book review tomorrow.

While I think about it -- MY VAMPIRE NOVEL FINAL EDITS ARE DONE.  The next step is typesetting, then publishing. I'm told it might get to be published by September, so that should be interesting.

By the way, in other news, I'm thinking of posting A Pius Legacy (book 2) for free on Kindle in the next month. So watch this space for more on that. I figure that since A Pius Man is book 1, A Pius Stand is book 3, this should be like making people want to see A New Hope and Return of the Jedi by handing out Empire Strikes Back.  We'll see if that works.

But that's for later.

Now?

UNLEASH THE PUPPIES.



MATT BOWMAN, THE NOVEL NINJA


[SWAT comes up to a house made entirely of Lego Bricks.  They hit the door with a battering ram. The door disintegrates into lego bricks.  The SWAT team tries to charge in, but the bricks act like caltrops, and hurts like a bastard.  They swarm through the house until they end up in the bed room. There is The Novel Ninja, Matthew Bowman, clothed in black from head to toe, sitting in a wheelchair.  He sits back, fingers steepled, perfectly calm]  May I help you gentlemen?

[SWAT leader looks confused] 911 had a call of a madman waving a gun around, threatening to kill someone.

[Bowman spreads his hands to indicate the rest of the house]  You obviously didn't find anyone else in the house, and I assure you I haven't been waving a gun around. I proposed to you that I have been SWATted, a tactic of certain groups that involves calling in fake 911 calls upon their political adversaries, or people they merely don't like. One of the first incidents on record happened with an Erick Ericsson of Red State news, a conservative news service online. Though we really should look back on similar, older tactics that have been utilized since the dawn of...

[Bowman continues, weaving together a history of Chestertonian thought, Catholic history, Civilization IV, narrative, and, somehow, Lego.  One SWAT member starts bleeding from the eyes and ears, one suffers a grand mal seizure.   The others fall back, blasting occasional cover fire.]

[Bowman] ...so you had no grounds for exigent circumstances.

[Bowman waits a moment to listen for the total silence.  He gives a little nod, then wheels himself over to a wall.  He opens up a secret panel.  Inside, there is a wheelchair that looks like it was created for Professor X, on modified by technicians from Mad Max. It is simply labeled "Convention Wheelchair,"]  I'll reserve you for DragonCon.

[Bowman looks to a yellow suit hanging next to the wheelchair] I'll use you next time. Maybe if I ever go to WorldCon.

A few things on this one.  Mr. Bowman is a friend, and we've both kidded about his ability to use ten words when one can do. 

Matt doesn't actually call himself "The Novel Ninja," it's just the name of his blog / business. But that doesn't stop, well, anyone, really, from using it as a personal noun, not for just his business.

And if you don't get the Yellow Suit reference ... why aren't you watching The Flash?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review of Avengers, Age of Ultron

UPDATE: The Novel Ninja has a review as well

The Marvel Universe is back, baby, and it is awesome.  Ignore all those reviews -- the one that says "oh, this character is mopey" or "WWWAAAHHH SUMMER MOVIE!!!! CORPORATE FIAT!!!!" (looking at you, NY Times).

This was just plain fun.  And we've had a dearth of fun at the theaters lately.

Let's start someplace simple: If you have been following Agents of SHIELD, you saw Coulson and Co find a mad scientist named Baron von Strucker, who is in possession of Loki's scepter from Avengers one -- but then, you knew that if you hung around at the end of The Winter Soldier, so same difference.  We open in the middle of a full-on Avengers attack on the final Hydra base standing.

Enter Wanda and Pietro Maximof, "the twins" of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. These two are oddly charming ... okay, he's oddly charming, she's a little off, but that's fine, so's everyone else here.  The attack goes off without a hitch, and the scepter is recovered, it's millah time.

Unfortunately, before Thor just takes the scepter away, the resident mad scientists get to play with it, and that's when things go crazy.  Due to mad science and Heinlein's law of technology, Tony Stark finds that the scepter, and the jewel within it, are the key to his ultimate goal, an AI to protect the entire world in a post-SHIELD universe.

Unfortunately for Tony, the scepter has its own ideas. The result is Ultron, a killer robot who runs on snark and hatred. First, he will destroy the Avengers, and next, THE WORLD. BWAHAHAHAHAHA

And the execution? Flawless.  In terms of the overall narrative of the MCU, it fits wonderfully.  At the end of Iron Man 3, Whedon said "NOW what am I going to do with Avengers 2?"  He then picked up the ball and ran with it, since Iron Man 3 also gave him his solution (not the Mandarin, the "House Party" protocol from the film.... you'll see in the opening how Tony uses it to supplant SHIELD to some extent).

Whedon also weaves in everything from the previous movies. The House Party from Iron Man 3. Thor is still on Earth after the events of The Dark World. Falcon swoops in to discuss "our missing persons project" with Captain America from The Winter Soldier. And, of course, we have a further discussion of the infinity gems, from Guardians of the Galaxy. It ties up and ties off everything from the rest of phase two, and starts leading into phase 3 nicely -- probably a direct lead to the next Thor film. Whedon is also going in for world building.  Because the world is being built, and Captain America has the nails. It's the end of the movie, and you're going to like it. You really are.


Now, some of character bits of business.  Along the way, the Scarlet Witch will be playing with the heads of our heroes, and she really causes the entire movie to happen, just by playing on the fear of "What if I can't save everyone?" and we go from there.  The mind-screwing isn't harped on too much, just enough to slow everyone down at the appropriate moments -- but, it doesn't slow down the film. In fact, messing with Bruce Banner's head leads into, well, smashing stuff.

Puppies Come to WorldCon


Sad Puppies Bite Back (Part 3)

The "Sad Puppies" world I have created in my head is slowly taking over my brain, so bear with me.

If you haven't read the last two blogs, you might be new here.  This started with a thought: what if Sad Puppy authors were SWATted (part 1)? Then it sort of drifted from the "ringleaders" in part one (Correia, Torgersen, Hoyt) to "mere" supporters in part two (Kratman, Ringo, Weber).

While I was chatting briefly with Tom Knighton, mentioning that the tank really was all him, I was struck with a thought: What would happen if the Puppies showed up at World Con, where the Hugos are handed out?  And not the real ones, the ones I've created here.

Stop me before I post again!

... But until that point, more puppies.  I just hope this isn't too much inside baseball, like with It Was Only On Stun!

Though for those people who know what I'm talking about, it may not be ENOUGH inside baseball.

If you're surprised that this has come to a point ... you're not the only one.


Lehman asked for this. Literally. Never say I am not obliging.


[Lone SWAT guy comes to submarine held in drydock (literally. On stilts, on dry land). SWAT guy knocks on the hull.  From the conn tower pops The Morrigan, William Lehman, looking more like a pirate than Johnny Depp ever will, parrot on one shoulder, cutlass in hand]  Avast! Who goes there?

[SWAT guy] Hey, Will, it's James. How're you doing?

[WL] Ahoy matey! What can I do for ye?

["James"] 911 called us, they got a report of you threatening someone with a gun?

[WL] Nonsense! All me muskets are locked up tight.

[James nods]  That's what we figured.  We knew something was off when they called your place a house. You hosted too many shindigs back when you worked with us on the force. See ya around.

[WL] By the way, matey, what day is it?

[James mentions date]  Avast! I must be off!

No, that's not the end of the story. Wait for it.

James was also going to be a bit player below. But, he also asked for this.


[SWAT team approaches house with no problem at all. They take up positions on either side of the door.  The battering ram is about to take the door when cute little kitten brushes up against SWAT guy's leg.  SWAT guy nudges it away.  Door opens.  SWAT is buried in cats.  Schardt runs out of the house for car, wearing a Wendell's Roughnecks t-shirt.  He stops, notices the SWAT guys buried in felines]  Oh, hey, everybody.  Anyone want a cat? I have too many of them.  Feel free to take a few, I'll do a headcount when I return from Spokane. Ciao!

[Schardt gets in car, and drives to aiport]

Kate Paulk, The Impaler

In my defense, this was Tom Knighton's idea

[In the backwoods of Pennsylvania, a SWAT team weaves in an out through another part of the forest. They come to the door of the house.  Sign on the door says "Gone to WorldCon."  SWAT team turns around.  The "forest" they moves through was an entire front lawn filled with poles with tips sharpened for impaling people.  The tips of all of them are black with what appears to be dried blood. Sign next to them reads: "For SJWs who piss me off."  SWAT team leaves at doubletime.]


Before anyone tells me that Madam Paulk doesn't live in the backwoods, I should noted two things. One, I'm a New Yorker so San Francisco feels like the backwoods. Two, I've been to Pennsylvania, it all feels like backwoods

WORLDCON, SPOKANE WASHINGTON

[WorldCon is practically empty, for a Con. A borderline ghost town of two thousand people.  If DragonCon is New York City, WorldCon is Detroit.  Suddenly, the ground shakes. The front windows rattle. It feels like an earthquake!  Suddenly, the squeal of brakes as a tank rumbles to a stop outside.]

[Tom "His Tankness" Knighton pops out of the Abrams] We're here everybody!

[The International Lord Of Hate himself, Larry Correia, pulls himself out. He is bristling with guns -- handguns in hip, thigh, ankle, and shoulder holsters, a bazooka and two automatic rifles on his back, and a LMG cradled in his hand like a baby.  His MOLLE vest is covered with ammo. He looks like a heavily-armed mountain] Thanks for the lift, Tom.

[Sarah Hoyt, the Beautiful Yet Evil Space Princess beams herself onto the sidewalk from inside the tank. She is dressed like Erin Gray from Buck Rodgers, wrapped in tin foil, with a bubble helmet] I'm just glad that there wasn't another stop for gas.

[Knighton shrugs]  Sorry. Cruddy mileage. Could have been worse --

[A belch of flame comes out of the top of the tank, Brad Torgersen, the Warm and Cuddly Skeletor bounds out like a kid with a toy]  Whhhheeeee!!!

[Knighton sighs] --we could have left the flamethrower with Brad on the way here.

[Brad sprays the air with the flamthrower for a bit, then stops, and notices that everyone is looking at him. Like a kid with a cookie jar, he puts the flame on "cigarette lighter" and lowers it]  Sorry.

[Sarah pats him on the head] It's okay.

[Knighton looks around] Where is everyone, anyway? The Hugos are supposed to be this big thing, and I've seen Ohio Comic Con more crowded.

[Larry shrugs, and his arsenal moves with him] Our people haven't shown up yet. Don't worry about it. But that's been part of the problem of the Hugos for years, and why the Hugos only represent this incredible small, incredibly cliquish circle of fans.

[A Black Knight appears before them, strangely barefoot, stating in an incredibly snotty voice]  No! None -- of you -- shall pass! The Hugos represent allll of Science Fiction!

[Larry sighs] Hi, John. Everyone, you remember John Scalzi.

[Sarah rolls her eyes] Doesn't he get enough of a beating every time you two go a few rounds on Twitter?

[The Barefoot Scalzi roars]  No! He never addresses any of my points! He started Sad Puppies because he just wants a Hugo! Admit it, Correia! Admit it!

[Brad]  But he turned down his nomination this year.

[Scalzi] Oh, shut up Brad!

[Brad pouts and hugs his flamethrower like a teddy bear]

[Sarah nods, nearly dropping her fishbowl helmet] Hey, stop picking on Brad! And hell, you couldn't even get on the ballot!

[Scalzi] That doesn't even touch on the issue!

[Knighton] It blows you out of the water. You have no leg to stand on. Now stand aside!

[Scalzi] You didn't even touch me!

[Sarah rolls her eyes]  Your argument is in pieces on the floor.

[Scalzi] It was just a scratch! I've had worse! Come on, ya pansy!

[FFFFWWWWWEEEE WHAP!  Scalzi is suddenly covered in a half ton of carp. Larry, Brad, Sarah and Knighton turn to see the Grand Strategikon himself, Tom Kratman, in his full Patton-regalia]  Princess Sarah! Your Carp Trebuchet Of Doom is perfectly accurate!

[Sarah laughs] Isn't it though? I had to sacrifice a few Mings worth of planets to get it just right.

[Kratman slaps Larry on a patch of skin not covered by guns or ammo] Larry, you magnificent bastard!  What are we all waiting around here for! Let's go in!

[Larry] We're waiting on a few more people.

[Van comes to a screeching halt. John "Dr. O. No" Ringo emerges, wearing his kilt and button down shirt.  After him comes Miriam, Queen of All Things Goth. His two kids spring out, wearing full BDFs, carrying enough weapons to make Larry happy]

[Ringo mutters] Why did I have to come to WorldCon? I have DragonCon in a week!

[Miriam] Hush dear, it'll be over shortly.

[Ringo] At least it's night. Cursed daystar.

[Sarah] Hey John! Miriam! Write any good books lately?

[Ringo shrugs] I haven't felt like it. Why are we all here? These guys stiffed Jim Baen, so they don't get my vote.

[Brad] I thought a united front would be good for us.

[Knighton] And I needed to take my tank out for a spin rather than just commuting.

[Kratman] This is outstanding!

[Ringo] Yeah, yeah.

[Miriam hands him a coffee. He downs it like a shot of vodka.  Ringo blinks, looks around, whips out his laptop, and starts writing his next book]

[Kratman] We waiting on anyone else?

[Sarah beams, radiant]  Who do you think we're waiting for? We only need one more.

Halt!

[David Gerrold, the Cryptkeeper, lurches up to them]  All of you stay out!  This, the Hugos, the precious, they belong to the people of WorldCon! Not outsiders!

[Larry rolls his eyes] That's what I said before this started. [Points to pile of carp] Tell that to him.

[Gerrold roars] Racists!

[Larry frowns] I'm Portuguese.

[Sarah] Ditto.

[Gerrold] Misogynists!

[Sarah stamps her foot] Hello? Woman! Otherwise, I'm a guy with a great rack!

[Sarah poses prettily, stops traffic for surrounding mile]

[Miriam] Ditto!

[Miriam poses next to Sarah.  Traffic accidents happen all over Spokane]

[Brad laughs] You're just lucky Cedar isn't here, too. She's a redhead. Your brain would probably melt.

[Knighton] You sure it hasn't already?

[Gerrold]  VVVVOOOOXXXX DDDDAAAAYYYYY

[Everyone exchanges a look. Shrugs]

[Brad] Where?

[Gerrold] Homophobes! White men!

[Sarah raises Schwartz ring to blast him into a million furry balls of fluff, Miriam waves her off]

[Kratman steps up to Gerrold in perfect parade ground march] Listen, you ignoble bastard, insult my people any more, I will call you out to a duel, and my ivory-handled pistols will probably hit you before your hand can clear leather!

[Gerrold] Don't you know who I am? I made tribbles! I'll unfriend you on Facebook! I'll unfriend allll of you on Facebook!

[Ringo's children tackle Gerrold to the ground and start wrestling him]

[Miriam] Kids! No roughhousing with the creepy old man! You don't know where he's been!

[Sarah nods sagely] Not enough disinfectant.

[Ringo slaps laptop down]  Done!  Larry, you'll have another book to edit when you check your mail.

[Larry groans] Another? I'm still two behind.

[Ringo chuckles, downs another Red Bull]  So, who are we waiting on?

[David Weber, Lord of the Missile Barrages, enters, talking into a headset as he carries a laptop in one hand, dictating his next book.  Next to him is Mrs Weber, Queen of the Dual Wielding]

[Larry nods] NOW we're all here.

[Gerrold straightens.]  And another thing--

[Larry whistles]  Wendell's Roughnecks!  Charge!

[Two thousand men and women, all wearing a t-shirt with a cuddly manatee on the front, all invade WorldCon, en mass, with Schardt, Lehman, and Paulk leading the charge.  David Gerrold is lost in the stampede.]

[Sarah rolls her eyes and smiles] Show off.

[Kratman]  Outstanding!

[Knightman shrugs] I'll go park the tank.

[Everyone disperses]

[Scalzi, still under a pile of carp] Had enough? I'm invincible! I'll bite your legs off! Hello!  Hello! All right, we'll call it a draw! Hello?

~The End~

I want to thank all of the people who have made these go over so well, including Tom Kratman, Sarah Hoyt, Brad Torgersen, Tom Knighton, everyone who has shared this throughout the net, everyone who offered suggestions, and even those who asked to be apart of it. I'm honored, touched, and a bit surprised that something that started as a "fever dream" has been suggested (seriously) for a Hugo.

Thank you all.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Within Temptation: Whole World is Watching

Ignore the guy's voice, focus on hers ....

And pretend this is an ad for Wounded Warriors.

This one is for Ava Armstrong.



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sad Puppies Bite Back (Part 2)

Yeah. So, Monday's post went over well.

Very, very well.

Within 36 hours of posting, it was already one of the top ten blogs of all time.

So, something like that requires a sequel...especially when you have half a dozen people literally demanding a sequel. If you didn't read the first one, check it out here.  Be warned, however, it already has a confirmed kill of at least one keyboard that I know of.

Basically, what would happen if certain Sad Puppy supporting authors were targeted for being SWATted.  I missed a few last time, in part because the voices in my head didn't pester me about them.

But when I get requests for a follow-up post? Of course I'm going to give it a shot.

And now? UNLEASH THE PUPPIES