Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Dragon Awards Are Coming, everyone look busy

Dragon Con 2016 - Fan Award Voting Sign Up

If you are unaware, the Dragon Awards are coming soon, to a DragonCon near you. Granted, if you're anywhere near Atlanta.

This "small, regional" convention, to use the SJW term, is host to 60,000 people on an off-year. And yet they have over 100,000 people come to look at their annual parade. But shhhhh, don't tell the local fire marshals. they may suspect that the numbers are low-balled.

Anyway, as you might recall, DragonCon now has their own awards, the Dragon.

As their materials say:

These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are your chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and shows. There is no qualification for voting – no convention fees or other memberships are needed. The only requirement is that you register, confirm your email address for voting purposes, and agree to the rules. This ensures that all votes count equally.
NOMINATING VOTES ARE DUE IN BY JULY 25th.

That's correct. An award you don't have to pay money for. You just go to their website and you vote. That's it. A little time, and you're done. Have a nice day.

Now, while I wasn't really interesting in the Hugo Awards until I discovered I had half a hope in Hell of getting a nomination, this one I will actively market for.  If I had any idea how to market (I have three promotional methods, and they're called Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. I could probably do better if I knew how to handle Goodreads, but dang, that UI sucks).

I know I have about 20 fans out there (they voted for me in Sad Puppies 4). I don't know if that's anywhere near enough to compete in the Dragon Awards (Maybe I should just cal them the Dragons. Or something "The Flight.") but I would like to give it the old college try.

Obviously, my only eligible book from last year is Honor At Stake. This is the purchase link if you haven't already grabbed it.

I hope I'm not asking too much. Heck, at most, I'm asking for $2.99 on Kindle, and that's assuming you've been to this blog and not purchased it already.

Technically, I'm not even asking you to buy the book, just vote for it, but I would really rather prefer that you've read the booked, liked the book, and then vote for the book, rather than just cast a vote. I suppose that, yes, if you don't have anything else to vote on, sure, fill in the blank with my book if you like. But I would really rather prefer you have read the book.

Categories Honor at Stake is eligible in.

Best Science Fiction Novel (yes, really. There is science in there. It goes metaphysical, not physical, but it's there.)
Best Fantasy / Paranormal Novel (Obviously. Because Vampires)
Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel (I originally meant it for a YA audience. Shows what I know, eh?)
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel (Maybe .... I do have a paramilitary strike force in the Vatican ninja, and an engagement of forces at the end, but this is a stretch.)
Best Horror Novel -- I've actually gotten one vote in that category already.

You could vote for it in all of them. Heh. (No, I wouldn't suggest it. Not even I did that. Then again, I voted for John C. Wright and John Ringo ... Ringo in at least two categories for the same book)

While you're there, also think about what you'd vote for in
Best Alternate History Novel
Best Apocalyptic Novel (My choice was Ringo's last zombie novel)
Best Comic Book
Best Graphic Novel
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectable Card / Role-Playing Game
Anyway, at the end of the day, it's all up to you. I don't really have anything else here. Enjoy.

DragonCon award sign up link is here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Marvel after Civil War

After Age of Ultron, I did a post on the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Where would it go, what would we see? What would the movies consist of?

If Civil War is anything to go by, every film from now on has the potential to be an Avengers movie, so I should probably do another one.

It goes without saying that everything from here on out is going to have spoilers for the franchise to date. If you've seen Civil War, the only spoilers will be speculation that I might get right. Also, perhaps some comic book spoilers.

If you don't want spoilers, STOP NOW.

Now then, where were we....?

After Civil War, I am curious about how much the future films will be Avengers tie-ins.  Especially the Black Panther movie. But we'll get to that.

The Line up

As we've seen in the previous films, the Infinity Gems have been the major MacGuffin devices in the series. The Tesseract / Cosmic Cube was the main plot device in Captain America and The Avengers. The "mind gem" was in Loki's staff in The Avengers, and was responsible for Ultron. The "Aether" of Thor: The Dark World turns into a third. And Guardians of the Galaxy was driven by a fourth (held on the planet of the Nova corps).

For the record, there are two others out there. And there's a reason Why Avengers 3 is Infinity War, part one and two.

Phase 3 will be all about the build up to Avengers: Infinity War.  Why? Because it has to. To this point, the villain, Thanos, has been a background character in only three films: Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Age of Ultron, and that's about it.

Thanos is supposed to be the villain behind everything since Avengers ... okay, not everything, he's not Moriarty, but still, he provided Loki an army, unleashed a crazed Kree on the universe, and .... he showed up for a second after the credits of Age of Ultron. That's it. On screen, we know nothing about his character, his goals, or why he wants the gems.

From now on, Thanos has to appear in several of the upcoming films. Must. Why? Because by the time Inifinity War comes up, we will have been building towards him for a decade. (Iron Man came out in 2008).

The lineup thus far (and it's been changed in last year) is

  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part I (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part II (2019)
  • Inhumans (TBA)

If you're wondering what happened to the Inhumans movie, Agents of SHIELD happened, that's what.

And yes, Spider-Man, even though he's shared by Sony, will be part of the MCU from here on in.

We'll also know that there are two Infinity gems left in play.

Dissassembled

They're all still running.

Civil War split the Avengers team right down the middle. In fact, odds are that Captain America won't be seen again in any film until 2018, because he and his people will be on the run. Bucky's on ice. Hawkeye will probably go back to retirement. Ant-Man is a fugitive on a good day anyway. In short, none of these people will be able to pop their heads up without getting it shot off.

Now imagine what happens when Avengers comes up again. That's a lot for them to overcome, considering the events of Civil War. Because trust me, what I know of Thanos, and the Infinity Gems, they're going to need all hands on deck. And then they'll need even more.

Which leads us to ....

Doctor Strange

With the infinity gems, supposition is that one of them is the "Eye of Agamotto," a talisman that Doctor Strange uses. He'll have #5 of 6.

Gotta catch them all.

Other data is TBD. I suspect there will be little tie-in to the rest of the series, outside of having an infinity gem.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


We're now at the point where Thanos must be explored as a character. Why? Because this is the Marvel Cosmic Universe, where Thanos mainly exists. And if Thanos isn't brought in at this point, well, he's barely been in this franchise.  Despite his appearances, even in Ultron, 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.

GotG 2 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 GotG 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. Then they're really going to get strange ... Stranger, anyway.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

... Pass. I have nothing.

Seriously, how is Spider-Man going to have something that impacts the MCU? Beuller? Beuller?

Short version is that this will be a thorough introduction film, without any origin story. Thank God. That's the best part about Civil War -- Spider-Man will have already been invented. I don't have to see yet another Uncle Ben die. And they've done their best to avoid the line "With Great Power comes great responsibility."

We'll have to see what happens.

Ragnarok

Dollars to doughnuts, Thor: Ragnarok will serve the same purpose as Civil War did. It's going to start moving players off of the chess board. It'll at least be something else to overcome for Avengers: Infinity War. Because not only will this have Thor, it will also have Bruce Banner in the cast.

Yes, I know Natalie Portman won't be back for the next film, and honestly, who needs her? When We last saw Thor fly off, he was going to investigate his visions in Age of Ultron, with the potential end of Asgard and the Infinity Gems. Honestly, where would Jane Foster fit in all this?

Where would Bruce Banner fit? Easy. The "Tesseract" (the Cosmic Cube of the comics) emitted gamma radiation (Avengers), so expect the other gems to have something similar.

I suspect that part of Ragnarok will, in some instance, feature Thanos. Let's face it, right now, the Tesseract is being sheltered in Asgard. In fact, last time we saw the Infinity Gauntlet (the user interface for all six Infinity Gems), it was in the vaults of Asgard. Thanos has to get his hands on it somehow.

This means that Ragnarok will either have Thanos attacking Asgard, or will have Thanos in a final, post-credit scene in which he goes through the wreckage of Asgard, coming up with the gauntlet, and probably the Tesseract.

One way or the other, Thanos should end up with the Cosmic Rubix Cube, and we should see Asgard falling apart under the rule of fake-Odin. If GotG 2 just talks about Thanos, this must be the movie that shows off what a threat level he truly is.  If an entire civilization of aliens who are all on the level of Thor are going to get trounced by Thanos, what hope does everyone else in the universe have?

Black Panther

This will be ... interesting, depending on how they want to play it.

Option 1: Civil War 1.5.  Large chunks of Captain America's Avenger team (Secret Avengers, if you will) are hiding out in Wakanda. Since Wakanda is basically an entire country running on Stark-level technology, anyone who wants to get their hands on it will want a piece. This could be Hydra, AIM, or any other sinister organization.

Option 1a: People discover Bucky, on ice, in Wakanda.

Option 2: This has nothing whatsoever to do with Civil War, and will involve T'Challa dealing with people a) stealing Wakandan technology or b) peddling Wakandan tech on the black market. Expect to see Andy Serkis' character from Age of Ultron make an appearance. Probably with a cybernetic hand. After all, Serkis' character was a Mister Klaue (pronounced "Claw"). Insert your own joke here.

(Side note: In Age of Ultron, when Serkis has to deal with a CGI motion-capture character, you have to wonder if he thought So this is what it feels like to be the real character when the other is a green screen effect. He and James Spader must have an some interesting conversations. All I'm saying.)

My money is on some variation on #2. If Serkis isn't in the film at all, I'll be a little disappointed.

Unless...

Option #3 (a joke post): Black Panther moves to Hell's Kitchen to take over for Charlie Cox's Daredevil.

..... BWAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA.  It'll never happen.

(PS: If it does happen, I was only making a joke based off of Black Panther doing the same thing in the comics)

Possibly this might have Infinity Gem #6. Because let's face it, Wakanda has to run on something  as a power source.

Avengers: Infinity War, Part I

If my previous guesses are correct, by the time this film opens, Thanos will have 2 out of the 6 gems.

This should either bring Thanos to Earth, or he should be on his way by then. We know that Earth has the Mind Gem with Vision. If we're right about Doctor Strange, he's also got a gem.  If Thanos wants to collect the whole set, he has to go through the wielder of at least one, if not two gems.

As I said last time, the bulk of this movie will be picking up the pieces of Civil War, bringing everyone back on board, bringing Stephen Strange into the Avengers (whatever may or may not be left of them). Expect the last scene of the movie to have a money shot of every last superhero mentioned above gathered in one space with the obligatory "Let's get to work" or even, maybe,just maybe, "Avengers, ASSEMBLE!" Yes, that would be one crowded room.

If I took Marvel seriously when they insisted that Coulson would be back for Avengers 3, right after "Avengers Assemble," Coulson should appear out of nowhere and answer "Whatever you say Captain."

But I don't have have that much confidence in them.

In short: this one should open with Thor crashing into Earth after Ragnarok (assuming he hasn't been blasted into another plane of existence by then), and playing Paul Revere: Thanos is coming, Thanos is coming!

It's time to mount up.

At the end of the day, part one will be about getting the band back together.  The Russo brothers (in charge of the franchise right now) have already said that more characters will be coming in with this one. That would make a certain level of sense.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Will this feature Ant-Man on the run? No idea. Seriously, no idea. Though Scott Lang has been a fugitive so long, being wanted by the government might not be a deterrent.

But the fact that this sequel takes place in between films makes me think that, no, Thanos will not be on Earth by the end of Infinity War Part I. Otherwise, nothing else would be going on.

Scott Lang will probably be off doing something else of minimal importance in the middle of all of this.

No, Ant-Man doesn't impress me. Civil War was the first time I really liked him.

Though the end of this one will probably be an Avenger knocking on his door saying "Suit up. We have work to do."

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers is, essentially, an Inhuman (as seen on Agents of SHIELD) an alien weapons program that tried to turn other races into living weapons of death.  In the AoS franchise, the official Inhumans license is due to the Kree ... in the comic books, the Skrulls created Captain Marvel, but we haven't seen the Skrulls, yet (or we have seen them, as the Chitauri, depending on who you listen to).

This can go a few ways.  The film can start with Carol Danvers being abducted by aliens to be experimented upon, and the powers she's given cause her to break loose and wreak havoc upon her captors as she fights her way back to Earth, thereby causing another uniting factor between Marvel Earth and Marvel Cosmic.

.... or she can be a bit player freed by the Guardians of the Galaxy in their sequel. Which may work. Maybe. 

Otherwise, if the GotG aren't already in Infinity War part 1, I will lay money, right here, right now, that Carol Danvers will be broken out, or given a ride home (in a post-credit scene), by the Guardians. Because this is another way to bring this particular band of misfits to Earth.

Infinity War Part II

Welcome to the End of All Things.  This should be the biggest, baddest, most epic shootout ever.  I'm not sure if it's going to be (1) the Avengers in a beat-the-clock chase to collect all the Infinity Gems before Thanos can get them, or (2) if it's them defending the last gem, or (3) if it's "Thanos has all the gems, and the gauntlet, and we're screwed."

If it's #3, expect casualties. A lot of them. In fact, this might be their excuse to start recasting certain actors (like Robert Downey Jr., who is both awesome, and getting too old for this, and probably reaching 8 Marvel films by this point, if not more).

Originally, I thought that the Infinity War #1 could end with Thanos getting his hands on the final infinity gem. Except here's the problem. I've read the script ... okay, I read the original comic book. Why will this be "bad" if Thanos has all of the gems?  Think about it: Any one of these gems seen thus far can destroy a planet, if not the universe. Now collect all six.  Yeah. It will be bad for our heroes. Unless someone can trick Thanos into being very, very stupid.

In the comic, when Thanos had all six gems, he won. Against everybody. And then he did something truly stupid.

Obviously, the people who have gems will feature heavily in this one.

In Civil War, Vision wanted to master the gem he wears. Expect Vision to master his gem here. Really master it.

Also expect Doctor Strange to feature heavily. He'll be on Thor-level power by then.

Also? Both of those might not be enough.

If they're lucky, this battle will take place in outer space, and not on Earth.

If it takes place on Earth, let's hope it takes place in Nevada, or the Sahara, or some other location that doesn't have a lot of people.

Also, remember all of the street-level fighting that happened in The Avengers? If the Russos really want to play ball with every character ever, then we should have NetFlix meet up with The Avengers. Especially since The Defenders show up the year before -- with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, et al. They should be dealing with the street-level, "Save the civilians" work while the heavy hitters try to stop the threat. However, given how little interaction there has been, I'm not holding my breath.

If done well, this will be epic, with each Infinity War film being 3 hours or so.

If done poorly, expect a train wreck. But after Civil War, my money is on epic.

Inhumans

Who cares? We'll see if it even happens. Agents of SHIELD will have probably killed that franchise possibility, especially since the ratings keep dropping each season.

And let's face it, after the Agents of SHIELD and Infinity War, who will give a damn?

And that's ... all the guesswork I can come up with.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Captain America: Civil War, reviewed

Yes, I'm the last person on the face of the Earth to see the ruddy film, so sue me.

So, the premise of Civil War begins with a mission in Nigeria that goes sideways and wipes out some civilians. The UN sees this as a good excuse to shackle the Avengers to their whims. US Secretary of State General (ret) Thunderbolt Ross is in charge of the arm twisting.

Meanwhile, a little grey man named Zemo is manipulating things from behind the scenes. First, Zemo attacks the UN conference for the Avengers agreement, framing Bucky "Winter Soldier" Barnes for the attack, making the world a suddenly much smaller place for him to hide.

And then, we're off to the races.

Now let's look at this for a moment, shall we?



This isn't even everybody.  There were twelve characters on screen. And, much to my surprise, each and every one of them had a character moment. They had screen time that made their appearance worthwhile. Some of these people were only on screen for about 5-15 minutes (sorry I'm vague about the time, but I didn't look at my watch once during the entire 2:30 running time).

And keep in mind, they introduced two new heroes. We'll get into both of them in a moment, but think about how much work had to be done here. This wasn't a Captain America film, this was an Avenger movie. And the best part is, there was no SHIELD, no Infinity Gems. And the bad guy was more of a MacGuffin than an antagonist.

The Russo brothers proved that they can take over for Joss Whedon's seat as the directors of Phase 3 of the Marvel universe.

About the villain: I am surprised that they changed the character of Zemo from the comics. He was not at all affiliated with Hydra. I was thrown by it. I was also thrown by the fact that, after a bombing, he did very little in this movie. It was all about thinking, and chess, and playing people. And people were played very well. It almost makes me wonder if he planned the opening scene as well, just to set the events in motion. He was a spymaster. Just a grey little man with nothing special except a plan. It was like George Smiley versus the Avengers, and he almost won.

Team Cap
And the bit players. Yeah. They were fun. Hawkeye didn't steal large parts of the show again, but he came close for a few scenes. Vision and the Scarlet Witch had surprisingly good chemistry on screen, even if, well, he's a robot dressed in a sweater (yes, really). Sharon Carter contributed nice little moments, but didn't feel shoe-horned in. I expected her to have a larger part of the film, but maybe later.

Also, notice, this had Ant-Man. I even liked Ant-Man. There was some good bits of business with him which boil down to spoilers. So moving on.

By the way, remember in Winter Soldier when Peggy Carter brought all the feels? She kinda does that again.

Black Panther And .... 

Meet prince T'Challa of Wakanda. He made his introduction into the MCU with this movie, and he was done surprisingly well. When he is brought into the situation, he is driven by vengeance, and he's also obviously royalty. He carries himself like a king, and you will respect him like one, or he will rip your throat out.

Interestingly enough, at the end of the day, he was the sanest one on the battlefield. I look forward to him having his own movie.

Of course, the other one people talk about is ....



Yup. Back to Spider-Man. Sony and Marvel studios came to an accord after they badly mishandled Amazing Spider Man 2.

However, I can say with all honesty, I like this one. Especially scenes where he's bantering with Tony Stark.

Marissa Tomei as Aunt May is probably more realistic (consider the ages for a moment, you'll see what I mean. Aunt May should be 46, watching after a 16 year old. Not much older. Rosemary Harris, while accurate to the comic, was probably older than she should have been).

Also, this exchange.
Parker: You know that really old movie, The Empire Strikes Back?
War Machine: How old is this kid Tony?
Stark: I don't know. I didn't carbon date him!
I'll take it.

At the end of the day, this was a totally character-driven film. There's plot, but this one relies heavily on the characters. It is the end result of multiple movies coming to fruition. And it never slowed down. And I never looked at my watch once.

Best Marvel film to date. Hands down.

And props for making certain that this image was in the film.




SPOILERS

Now, a few things: Last time I had this conversation, after Age of Ultron, I called a few things. Some things weren't that hard to guess. That they brought up Bucky killing Stark's father is not a surprise. I didn't even believe that they made it a "twist" in the film. Was anybody surprised by that?

Blowback happened from the Hulk's rampage in Age of Ultron. Also not surprising.

And of course, the Disassembling of the Avengers. Called it. But then again, not surprising either.

Tell me that last note to Stark wasn't a note from Chris Evans to Marvel fans. "If you need me, call"? Pretty much what Evans said about retiring ... except for Marvel films.

The Catholic Geek: Gaslight & Grimm

The Catholic Geek: Gaslight & Grimm 05/22 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:


The Catholic Geek Radio Show welcomes the authors and editors of Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales, a new collection released by eSpec Books on May 29th, 2016.
Once Upon a Time, ageless tales were told from one generation to the next, filled with both wonders and warnings. Tales of handsome princes and wicked queens, of good-hearted folk and evil stepmothers. Tales of danger and caution and magic...classics that still echo in our hearts and memories even to this day, told from old, cherished books or from memory at Grandma's knee. Oh yes, tales have been told...but never quite like these.
Journey with us through the pages of Gaslight and Grimm to discover timeless truths through lenses polished in the age of steam. 
With tales by James Chambers, Christine Norris, Bernie Mojzes, Danny Birt, Jean Marie Ward, Jeff Young, Gail Z. and Larry N. Martin, Elaine Corvidae, David Lee Summers, Kelly A. Harmon, Jonah Knight, Diana Bastine, and Jody Lynn Nye. 

Our guests will include Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Gail Z. Martin, Christine Norris, Jody Lynn Nye, and Larry N. Martin.

TWITTER HANDLES
@eSpecBooks @DMcPhail @Jean_Marie_Ward @GailZMartin @davidleesummers @cnorrisauthor

@JodyLynnNye @LNMartinAuthor

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Music Blog: Dreamstate - Evolution

I've pretty much heard this one on a loop lately. It's fun.

It also features the lead singer of Amaranthe.

Enjoy

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Spinning Doctor Strange

Once again, they have changed the narrative about Doctor Strange and what they did to the ancient one.

First, it was obviously a transgender pandering moment.

Then, nope. They claimed that "fans want womyn, so we're going to give you womyn!"

Then they said that it was really about not offending China by having a Tibetan bad ass. That didn't even told up to the scrutiny of professional homosexual George Takai, who bitched about the whitewashing of the Ancient One.

And now, NOW, Disney insists that they changed the Ancient one because because you're a racist.

Yup. Really.

As Kevin Feige, master of the MCU just said
“We make all of our decisions on all of our films, and certainly on Doctor Strange, for creative reasons and not political reasons.  That’s just always been the case."
Always been the case? Really Kevin? Really? You just said a few weeks ago that it was about MOAR WOMYN.

And then it came out that it was about not offending China.

Who do you think you're fooling? You've changed positions on this four times in a month. That's more often than a skin walker shape shifts.
"I’ve always believed that it is the films themselves that will cross all borders and really get people to identify with these heroes, and that always comes down to creative and not political reasons." 
"All borders" meaning "China has a billion people and we really want their money."
"The casting of The Ancient One was a major topic of conversation in the development and the creative process of the story."
I'm certain that there were no other factors -- at all -- in this decision.
“We didn’t want to play into any of the stereotypes found in the comic books, some of which go back as far as 50 years or more. We felt the idea of gender swapping the role of The Ancient One was exciting. It opened up possibilities, it was a fresh way into this old and very typical storyline."
Um, dude, if you honestly wanted to do that, you'd cut out the origin story entirely. Why? Because the origin story of Doctor Strange is "An ego-maniacal genius at the top of his field finds himself humbled in an incident that requires him to find redemption in being a superhero."  You know, exactly like Tony Stark. If you really wanted to ditch the "old and very typical storyline," maybe you shouldn't be repeating the exactly same motif from film one.

Also, you've had a string of comic books for 50 years. Did you think that anyone who's been reading those comics might actually give a crap about having it look like what they were reading?

What about the young Asian kid who saw the Ancient One and thought "Yeah, I'd want to be a badass when I'm that old"? Nah. He doesn't matter, does he?
“Why not make the wisest bestower of knowledge in the universe to our heroes in the particular film a woman instead of a man?
Because you didn't make him a woman, you made him look more like a space alien.

Kill it with fire!
“We made changes to some of the other key characters in the comic for similar reasons. Specifically, casting Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo….
Why? Because you didn't want any more Russians to be the bad guys?

Oh, wait, you're not even going to have Mordo as the bad guy in this one, you've got him as the side kick.
“The truth is, the conversation that’s taking place around this is super-important."
Super important? Not super-duper important? How about super-super-duper important?

Does he even hear how stupid he sounds?
"It’s something we are incredibly mindful of. We cast Tilda out of a desire to subvert stereotypes, not feed into them."
Did you ever think that the archetype of the wise old man was a thing because there was something special about wise old men? Or do you not put that much thought into it? Is Jung just too advanced for you?
"I don’t know if you saw [Doctor Strange director] Scott Derrickson’s tweet the other day. He said we’re listening and we’re learning, every day. That really is true. As long as we’re starting on this topic, it means so much to us that people know that. We also know that people expect actions and not words in a Q&A, and I’m hopeful that some of our upcoming announcements are going to show that we’ve been listening.”
They're listening, but they are not going to change jack. Because you're a racist. I mean, obviously, if you actually want the wise old Asian character you may have cared about from the comic to, I don't know, look like a wise old Asian man, well, you want a stereotype, and stereotypes must be subverted. So if you want that evil stereotype, you must be subverted, so you are the problem. You are the racist.

Yes, I'm sure they're listening to you. You're just not saying anything that they want to hear.

As John C. Wright put it.
A young man learns from an old man because generally old men know more about what a young man wants to know than a younger woman. And Tibetans know more about Tibetan mysticism than Scottish Calvinists. Just saying.

I am wondering what exciting possibilities are opened up by having the Ancient One be a Scottish woman. If the only difference between men and women is plumbing, then the only way for having a woman play a man’s role and play it in a mannish fashion to be new and exciting is to have the story line be about plumbing, not about personality.

And now that the decision is done, filming is done, and it is too late to change anything, now you are listening and learning, is that the plan? Now, when it is too late to change your mind, it is super-important for us to have a conversation?

You would have been better off claiming that the Red Chinese bribed you.

Then, at least, the fans would have known you had some principles, that you were willing to whore for money. The capitalist side of my soul would have disapproved, but understood.
I'm with him.

Not to mention that they took out a large chunk from the comic book. The "stereotype" they jettisoned was important no only because of the comic, but because of the character. Think about it for a moment. In J. Michael Straczynski's The Oath, he highlighted that Doctor Strange, surgeon, not only had to stop being an egomaniac, he would also have to kowtow in a strange, alien land, and force his scientific, American Mind to learn the ways of Oriental mysticism. Guess what? We don't have that anymore. Poof. Why? Because the Scottish Calvinist figured it out, obviously our boy Strange will as well. That's one of the reasons I figure it's a darn good reason to either A) jettison the origin story or B) keep her role very, very limited.

A show of hands, please: at the end of the day, how many people would have cared if they had stuck to one story? Or just admitted they were going for deliberate gender bending? Or as JCW put it, just being bribed by the fact of the PRC? Maybe then, they could have had something resembling the courage of their convictions. Stupid convictions, but sticking to your guns has got to be better than sniveling around like a worm, hoping not to be stepped on by the fans.

This has been going on for a month. The trailer dropped on April 14, and this latest spin came out on May 10th. And they've gone through four reasons on this topic. Does anyone want to make a guess on when they're going to settle on one story and stick with it? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Strong Female Character Autopsy: Agent Carter and Supergirl

By now, we all know that Supergirl and Agent Carter have failed at being TV shows. The former has been moved from CBS and a $3 billion budget, and the latter has been outright cancelled.

Both have "Strong Female Characters," but is that actually the reason? Not really. Both failed from a failure to act.

If we're all being honest here, Agent Carter's season 1 should have killed it. At worst, women were ignored in the late 40s, not belittled and treated like crap. Almost everyone in her entire office outright hated her. Seriously, how did any of these guys ever have dates with attitudes like that? Carter, in turn, was so hostile to every single male in the office it was grating (hate the people who hate her? Fine. Hate the people who are NICE to her? WTF lady?). By the end of the first season, it had been toned down. And Season 2 almost turned that off completely, which was nice ... then it went soapy with the villains, and finally just went bizarre with a ten minute musical number in one of the last few episodes ... a musical number that came out of nowhere THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE REST OF THE STORY.

Gah!

So, no, while it's better than Agents of Stupid, I will not really miss the show. Then again, who'll miss it? It's already got a petition to make it a NetFlix show with fifty thousand names on it. Yes. Really. Maybe then they'll cut back on the ultra-hard "Men are evil, womyn rules" bit entirely, cut out the soap opera, and just stick with halfway decent writing.

At the end of the day, Agent Carter didn't fail because the character wasn't strong enough, or even too strong.

The writing sucked.

Even the good season, number 2, was padded with irrelevant, unnecessary flashbacks that felt like an Arrow knockoff. I didn't care about the crazy super villain going from her politician husband to her gangster boyfriend. I didn't care about the pseudo-Illuminati (Seriously? Evil Businessmen rule the world? What is this? The 90s? Why not have evil white supremacist militias, too?).

Perhaps the writers felt that the character could carry the program. It might have happened if the show had actually spent more time with her. The show is called Agent Carter, not "Super-powered Criminal Minds."

And then there was Supergirl, brought to you by the same man who did The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.

And it was an utter train wreck, a puff piece of a TV show filled with more cotton candy than a carnival. The characters were very ... chick flick. And no, not a good or witty chick flick (yes, those exist), but bad ones, with all the cliches. You know the ones I'm talking about: eating ice cream with her sister on a couch, talking out her feelings with her friends, and where her true "strength" isn't that she can lift a building, but that's she caring, compassionate and understanding. Are all of these automatically a problem? Not really. The Flash and Arrow also lean heavily on emotional stability, even angst. But the CW programs breaks up these thoughtful moments about our characters' emotional lives with at least four fight scenes an episode, a puzzle to solve, and threats to people we care about.

But for Supergirl, the writers relied on these moments. The better episodes had all of the latter elements. Their episode with a nuclear-powered psychopath hunting Cat Grant, and they had to figure out who the bad guy was, what his motivations were, and how to actually beat him? Those parts were fun, weren't they?

Then there's 15 minutes of Kara whining that Jimmy Olsen called in Superman to save her when it clearly looked like she was getting her ass kicked. Then she had to apologize for whining. Wasn't that fun? No? Yeah, you're not alone. That was so much of the series, it was painful.

What went wrong? Why did a team that puts out a product of quality put out this level of drek?

To start with, Supergirl was originally a project meant for the CW. But CBS wanted it, and obviously wanted it for their targeted audience -- really stupid ten year old girls who didn't know any better, and SJWs who felt like they could pat themselves on the back about such a strooooonnnnggg woman role model. Granted, on Supergirl, there are a lot of moments I can see a good script struggling to get through.

It's one of those moments where I can almost see studio interference doodling on the script pages in crayon. Every time that the show looks like it's going to be awesome, it starts whining.

And Supergirl is budgeted at $3 million an episode? Where'd that money go? Calista Flockhart's salary and hair care? They have THREE major sets -- a bat cave that looks less impressive than Arrow's, an office set, and a spaceship that is only a black room with a CGI table. Are they telling me that it costs $3 million for special effects that aren't much better than the ones Christopher Reeves had? Or was it all because it was shot in LA, and not the cheaper Vancouver of the other Berlanti-verse shows.

I'm figuring the move to the CW could be a vast improvement. Especially if they do something simple and merge the universes. No, I'm not suggestion a four-part crossover even that ends with Supergirl coming to the same universe as the other three shows ... that could be a bit of a Crisis in and of itself. Heh.

Besides, I'm trying to imagine Kara meeting .... anyone on Arrow, really. "Hi, meet Oliver .... no, perhaps Thea .... er, um, Felicity. That's safe. Except Felicity is just like Kara, only without superpowers."

That would be amusing.

At the end of the day, why did these shows fail? You could say that it was political -- you know, writers or studios pushing an agenda. Though I'm not even entirely certain that they know what their agenda was? Was it Grrrl power? In which case, I can recommend a webcomic for you. Was it men are evil? Well, then, it would be strange, since Kara lusted after photographer and part time underwear model Jimmy Olsen, while Agent Carter didn't know what she wanted in her convoluted love life.

So, while it may in part be that CBS wanted a role model for ten year old girls and TrigglyPuff, the simple version is that there wasn't any "there" there. There was no substance, and barely any style. You know you have to worry when one of the most interesting characters on the show was their low-rent Lex Luthor, played by objectivist Maxwell Lord. Hell, I spent the last two episodes screaming at the television for them to stop talking at each other and JUST DO SOMETHING DAMNIT. And while Agent Carter didn't suffer as much from the problem, there was a lot of uneven writing, where they didn't know if they wanted a spy thriller, or if they wanted a soap opera. They tried for both, and got neither. Seriously, when the most interesting character on the show, with the most character development, is Jarvis, not Agent Carter, in the words of Oliver Queen, you have failed this series.

But, again, in the case of Supergirl, I still hold out hope. With the move to Vancouver, expect to see the end of Calista Flockhart, and probably a few of the other actors, who would rather not move to the frozen north. They would rather stay in Hell-A, along with the CBS studio execs who scribbled notes all over the scripts.

And the advantage of being on the CW? Look over the writers of The Flash and Arrow. You might recognize some names. They're comic book writers, like Geoff Johns, or Paul Dini (of the cartoon Batman from the early 90s). And you won't see them on Agent Carter or on Supergirl.

First rule of writing for a comic book show? You might want to know something about comic books.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Attack of Fall Television

This season of television isn't even over yet (gee, thanks, CW) and I already need to do a post on the upcoming Fall season. Yikes.

If you haven't heard, Fox has already dropped some of their upcoming shows, and the list of the season in general.

Let's see some of the highlights.

THE RETURNING

Lucifer will be back in the spring. If you don't know this show already, it's really quite inoffensive ... okay, Lucifer is an arrogant hedonistic egomaniac with a chip on his shoulder the size of Plymouth Rock, and always does the right thing when he realizes that even he benefits from it, but it's like working a redemption story with the unredeemable. Next year will probably be fighting more supernatural threats -- when Lucifer refers to "mom" escaping, I presume he means Lilith, because that's the only thing that makes sense, really. At least he's more likable than House.

And that's ... the only show on Fox I care about, really. You'd have to pay me to watch Gotham.

THE NEW ... ISH

The Exorcist (Friday Nights, Fall)

Yes. Really. What the hell? No pun intended. I'm not sure what's stranger: That this is actually a series, or that Geena Davis is in it.  Yes, the mother is Geena Davis. I don't recall the film that much -- was the mother such a big role that they got movie-quality star power for it?  Or is Geena Davis not doing that well in this point of her career?



They want to make this a psychological thriller, following two priests tackling one case of demonic possession. There's Father new priest of Chicago, all shiny and new and "progressive," and probably screwed. The other is ... sigh ... "a modern-day Templar Knight, an orphan raised since childhood by the Vatican to wage war against its enemies. Father Marcus is everything Father Tomas is not: relentless, abrasive and utterly consumed by his sacred mission." While I have no problem with that, there are so many ways to spin that as a negative that I'm almost certain they're going to make him look like an utter nutcase by the end of the day.

And "it's the house"? Yeah. Sure. Thanks. I think I heard this movie was called The Amityville Horror. The original incident of The Exorcist (yes, based on a true story) had a little boy playing with occult crap that ended up playing with him.

Pros? If William Peter Blatty -- author of the original book -- is involved, this should be awesome. We should be seeing the entire process of what it takes to get an exorcism performed in this day and age. MRIs, psychologists, every expert scientist in every field should come on the show, run tests, and come up with alternate solutions for what's wrong with ... whoever this child is, I guess.

Cons: If they make this another stupid horror show like The Following or Sleepy Hollow, I'll throw rocks at the screen.

Lethal Weapon (Weds night, Fall, 2017)

All right, hold on. When I wrote that post "The Return of everything," I didn't think that I would be that predictive. Stop it already. First Rush Hour, then The Exorcist, now this?



No, seriously, was this inspired by the Rush Hour TV show? You know, "If CBS can make this crappy movie into an ok TV show, we can do it with better original material?"

While I grew up with the Lethal Weapon films, has anyone watched them recently? Sure, they almost started the genre of "opposite personality syndrome" in cops shows (I don't recall it in DragNet, The FBI Story, The Untouchables, The Naked City, or Hill Street Blues), but wow, those films do not hold up as well. Far too shallow, and far, far too superseded by movies that came after them and did it better.

But now it's Damon Wayans? Remind me, is he trying to get a career as a serious actor? Because "insane cop / bad comedian cop" doesn't sound like a show I want to see.

I'll give it a try.

This time they want to make Riggs a former Navy SEAL, and they want Murtaugh to have recently had a heart attack.

Pros: There's a lot of room for improvement on the originals.

Cons: There's also a lot they can do terribly, terribly wrong.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show.... 

Do I even need to say any more about this?

Didn't think so.

Let's move on.

Prison Break

I guess Wentwood Miller and Dominic Purcell made an impression on The Flash.

24: Legacy



I am so conflicted about this one. On the one  hand: YES, MORE 24, BWAHAHAHAHA

On the other hand ... WHERE'S MY JACK BAUER. I WANT BAUER BACK NOW DAMNIT! THERE'S NO TIME!

Anyway, again, another terrorist attack is coming to United States soil. After killing an Osama knockoff, the Rangers from the mission have been targeted by not-Osama's followers. With the help of Eowyn (Miranda Otto, “Lord of the Rings”), he's going to strike back. Here, Eowyn is "a brilliant and ambitious intelligence officer who has stepped down from her post as National Director of CTU to support her husband (Jimmy Smits) in his campaign for President of the United States."

Dear Hollyweird, while I appreciate you bringing back one of my favorite shows, could you please read a book or something and make a tv show out of that? And not for premium cable?

Cons: Our lead looks like a kid. He could be the brother of Jax from Berlanti's Arrow-verse. He's supposed to be an officer, with a wife and family? What happened to the veteran?  Oh yes, and least I forget, WHERE'S JACK BAUER? ... oh, wait, he's producing.

Pros: It's more 24, with several solid actors, even some bit players.

THE NEW: YES, REALLY

APB (Spring, 2017)




So, Tony Stark took over a police department, and he's now on his way to taking over the police department of the entire city.

Do you want to create RoboCop? Because this is how you get RoboCop.

Seriously, this feels like someone saw the 90s show The District, and just threw in Tony Stark.

However....

The executive producer is the same one from Lucifer, and the creator of Burn Notice, Matt Nix.

All right, they have my attention.

"Inspired by true events" ... huh. Okay.

Pros: This looks like insane fun. With the guys from Lucifer, Burn Notice, and Ernie Hudson.

Cons: Too many possibilities to take this into Mary Sue territory ... which they may have deflated in the last scene of the trailer, so who knows, there may be hope for this.

Monday, May 16, 2016

#RabidPuppies Bite Back: Tingling Sensation

Wow, I am so tired right now, I should be asleep. I should also never write when my eyes are burning.

Once again, I'm going to remind you of the ground rules.  The short version is that THIS IS A PARODY. No one, to my knowledge, has been SWATted within the Puppy community. If this changes, let me know.  It'e been a parody from day one, and as I said last week, it's still a parody.

The full story is, of course, in the Sad Puppies tab above. Click it if you have the time.

Anyway ....

After Moira Greyland was SWATted, I had suggestions about other Rabid Puppies.

Take a wild guess who suggestion #1 was.


Doctor Chuck Tingle

New York City: The Village

[SWAT team takes door of an aging brownstone. There are two little old ladies at dual writing desks.]

[Old Lady #1 looks up] Oh look, Martha, company!

[Old Lady #2 beams] Oh know, Abby! Isn't it wonderful?

[SWAT #1] We were told there would be a Chuck Tingle here? He writes ... erotica?

[Old Lady #1] No, no one here by that name. But we write ....

[Old Lady #2 interjects] Modern romances.

[Old Lady #1 nods] Yes. That's it. Modern romances. That's all.

[SWAT #1 grimaces, backs away slowly]

LA: Chinatown

[SWAT takes the door of an old building ... and find a sweatshop making gimp suits]

[SWAT #1 growls at the iPhone in his hand]  Stupid Tor Browser.  Gah!

San Francisco

[SWAT takes the door of a picture postcard house. They swarm the living room.  They are greeted with the image of several burly men in raptor masks, in leather space suit tops, but nude below the waste.]

[Doctor Chuck Tingle strides into the room, quite naked, looks at the cops and smiles.] Someone ordered in? Awesome! Did you bring handcuffs?

[SWAT leader turns to the team] X-out on this one guys. You go back to base. I'm going to .... follow up here.

[SWAT leader calls in sick for the next week. Six days later, Chuck Tingle comes out with yet another book: SWATted up the Butt by my Hugo Nomination.]

If you don't get the jokes here ... wow have you not been keeping abreast of the situation.
Chuck Tingle is, obviously, an alias -- hence the rerouting of SWAT teams. 
His Hugo nomination is .... Space Raptor Butt Invasion.
Never thought you'd see a title like that on this blog, did you?

And yes, I do almost expect him to write that book.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Catholic Geek: God, Robot, the panel 05/15

The Catholic Geek: God, Robot, the panel 05/15 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:

On this episode, The Catholic Geek is swarmed by bother editors and authors from the anthology God, Robot. Will Declan survive the experience?

God, Robot, is set in the year 6080 AD. Detective Theseus Hollywell has at last discovered the hiding place of William Locke, a notorious fugitive from justice who has been hunted for decades after committing unspeakable crimes. But Locke has a story to tell. This is the tale of the theobots, the robotic beings created to love God and neighbor with a perfection no human could achieve. In ten stories by eight different award-winning authors, Locke recounts the role of the theobots throughout history, from the purposes for which they were originally created to their ultimate role in deciding the fate of Man, the galaxy, and one lost and tortured soul. 

Robot Missionaries in space. It doesn't get much better than this.

Authors joining us for the program are: Anthony Marchetta, Mariel Marchetta (MJ Marzo), Josh Young, John C. Wright and L. Jagi Lamplighter Steve Rzasa, And, time allowing, Vox Day himself.