Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Guest Post: De-constructing Sleeping Beauty

For the record, I hated the Angelina Jolie movie Maleficent.  It started by ripping off visuals from the Lord of the Rings, and even the lesser Narnia films ... which were also Lord of the Rings rip-offs.

One of the biggest betrayals? They didn't use Tchaikovsky. How do you do something around Sleeping Beauty without Tchaikovsky?

Anyway. It was terrible. I hated it with a burning passion.  How? Why?  I live-posted it to Facebook last year.

Dear Disney: at the 12 minute mark of your film Maleficent, you have stolen the narrator and the CGI (and some lines and music) from Lord of the Rings. And Ents. You should be sued by the Tolkien estate.
And the twit who wrote Wicked. She should sue too.

Maleficent, 24 minute mark ... Minas Morgul is acting up again, is it?
Disney, screw you bastards. Screw you with a hot poker.

Maleficent -- for the good fairies, they cast Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter.....
I have this urge to use a power drill on my brain.

Maleficent, 40 minute mark, congratulations, you've managed to get to the 10 minute mark of THE ORIGINAL CARTOON.

Maleficent -- the good fairies are now the three stooges while Maleficent takes care of the kid.
Disney, never run into me in a dark alley. There's a baseball bat waiting for you.
Yeah, so I wasn't happy.  And by the 50 minute mark, Maleficent turned into Magneto. There was at least 20 minutes of setup before she turned "evil," her character is inconsistent, it's thin on plot, heavy on meaningless "action." I got to the 50 minutes mark, and stopped caring. These stories spit on the original stories by making the good guys stupid, evil, or completely inept.

And then, Marina Fontaine, who was born in the Soviet Union, had never seen either Sleeping Beauty or Maleficent.  You've seen her here before, defending Joss Whedon, and even heard her on my radio show.

Hehhehehehehehe. Then the fun starts.


De-constructing Sleeping Beauty

by Marina Fontaine

Last weekend, as an unintended but welcome consequence of participating in the Hugo voting process, I realized that after my almost three decades as a well-assimilated American, I still was not familiar with one of the greatest creations of American culture. I am, of course, referring to the Disney classic movie, Sleeping Beauty. Suitably mortified, I suggested the movie for our family movie night, and ended up renting both the original and the “modern spin” version that is Maleficent.

I had reservations, having been burned to a crisp by the atrocity that was Ever After, but the trailers promised great visuals, plus Angelina Jolie in title role sounded intriguing.

Thus, a double-feature family movie night was on. Perhaps it is not fair to compare a modern Hollywood production to a beloved classic. On the other hand, since I had not seen either movie previously, sentimental value was a non-factor in my case and my expectations would not be unreasonably raised for one over the other.


First, Sleeping Beauty. In terms of storytelling, it is straightforward and honest, the way children’s tales tend to be. The rules of magic are simple, the threat and the possible salvation are laid out, all the characters are introduced in the early scenes, and we more or less know how this ends.

Yet there are layers, too, and it’s a great demonstration of how a story can be more complex than it seems while retaining its innocence. Take the scene where Aurora meets the Prince in the woods. They have, essentially, fallen in love before ever having laid their eyes on each other. The meeting is just a validation of something that is already there. How? Why? Is it magic, or destiny, or just a lucky coincidence? We don’t know, but by establishing that both had dreamed of each other before their encounter, we, even as cynical adults, are given enough reason to believe that true love is indeed in the works.

Later on, we get a surprisingly dark yet effective scene where Maleficent, having captured the Prince, torments him with visions of life wasted and love lost, but there is something else. She is mocking the traditional model of a heroic knight who defeats his foe and rescues a maiden, denying the very possibility that the good can triumph. In her world, there is only power and vengeance. No love, no hope, no joy except in denying love and hope to others—a perfect combination of ancient evil and modern nihilism.

In the end, while the Prince is the nominal hero of the story, a big chunk of the credit belongs to the good fairies. They free him not just from physical chains of the dungeon, but also from despair, give him the right tools (the Sword of Truth and the Shield of Righteousness- that’s right, take this, nihilism!) and guide him along the way. Even in the final confrontation, where the Prince, seemingly alone, has to defeat a fearsome dragon, he is not, in fact, alone as the good fairies make sure the final strike of the sword strikes home. Is there a deeper meaning to the way this part of the story pays out? It is for the viewer to decide.

The rest of the story is simplistic by today’s standards. True love’s kiss is just that. Aurora does indeed wake up, and aside from a little comic relief, the story concludes exactly in the manner we had been promised at the start. It’s not a bad lesson to modern storytellers always on the lookout for The Big Twist. Some stories are beautiful just by their essence and can be told effectively using neither irony nor misdirection.


And now, for Maleficent. Skeptical as I was, the visually stunning opening scenes, combined with a hypnotic voice-over asking us to challenge what we think we know of the story, gave me much hope. A part of me wondered why a beautiful girl possessed of magic powers to heal and protect all living things would have a name that literally means “causing or capable of producing evil,” but I put it aside. It did, however, set the tone for the story: hauntingly, darkly beautiful; self-aware in a detached, post-modern way, and often too clever for its own good. In other words, mostly the opposite of the original story it was meant to re-tell.

Maleficent is not the villain of old, but a horribly wronged, heartbroken woman trying to heal her physical and emotional wounds through an act of revenge. And other characters are just as unrecognizable.

The King Father is first a thief and a liar, then a cruel coward, then a full blown lunatic obsessed with killing and destruction, his daughter merely an afterthought by the time the story really gets going. The brief moments where he shows glimpses of humanity are lost because they serve no purpose to this particular version, and that’s too bad because he could have been a great tragic character if handled by a more careful storyteller.

The fairies, who in the original are comical and lovable yet powerful when it counts most, are reduced to incompetent, annoying, squabbling hags who seem to understand nothing of life, or love. They disappear for large stretches of the movie, only to come back and remind everyone how ineffectual they truly are before slinking off again, not even managing to produce comic relief, let alone serious magic.

Aurora is sweet enough, and does get a decent amount of screen time. The best scenes that could really have been the whole (much better) movie are between Aurora and Maleficent, the innocence and innate joy of the girl slowly but surely melting the heart of the bitter, vengeful woman and turning her into a loving maternal figure.

What about the Prince, you ask? Well, there is a Prince. Unfortunately, he has nothing to do but look confused, and we see a mile away that this particular character is entirely irrelevant.

There’s also a Raven who is turned by Maleficent into a shape-shifter and spends some of his time being a semi-useful sidekick who occasionally utters a word of wisdom before being turned into yet another CGI creature.

“But, but…What about True Love’s Kiss? You promised!” says a demanding, if unsophisticated, viewer who still thinks she paid the $10 to see a fairy tale. Said viewer will, indeed witness a kiss, and the Beauty will wake up, but that is all. The Big Twist so lacking in the original is found here. I did not feel cheated, per se, only because the “surprise” ending was, in a way, so tediously predictable, but neither was I satisfied.

The thought of Aurora ruling over the newly happy magical kingdom under the wise tutelage of Maleficent should have been enough. But is it? Is there room in the story for romance, for the quaint idea of “happily ever after”? Well, the Prince shows up at the end, for now apparent reason, and all I could think about at that point was “He wants MALEFICENT for his mother in law? He must be either very brave or very stupid, and from the movie’s view of men, I’d have to put money on stupid.” But by then, we are back to the beautiful vistas and a hypnotic voice-over, and soon the end credits start rolling to a suitably macabre remake of the original Sleeping beauty love song. The movie stayed true to its vision till the very end. Unfortunately, the vision is thoroughly at odds with the classic it was claiming to re-tell. While it is possible to create a compelling story—NOT a true fairy tale, but perhaps a dark fantasy—where the hero and the villain is one and the same, I don’t think the movie quite gets there either. But then, maybe by preceding it by a Disney classic, I set my expectations too high after all.

[Editor's note: No. The movie sucked. The original was superior. Not your imagination.]

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bayou Renaissance Man: The blindness of the ideologically bound

Bayou Renaissance Man: The blindness of the ideologically bound: One thing that's struck me very forcibly in the whole Tor situation is how utterly blind to reality are many of those on the left/liber...

A good, solid article. To which I only have this to add.

As Mr. Grant started with, objective facts are the problem -- the "facts" of the Puppy Kickers, theirs, not those of the Sad Puppies. Remember, everything is *subjective.* Words mean what they want them to mean. It's postmodern, deconstructionist BS every single step of the way. These guys follow Herbert Marcuse -- where freedom of speech is good for when their enemies are in power, but not for when THEY are in power.

They're not even playing the game of moving the goalposts. The posts are wherever they say they are. Reality is whatever they say it is. And oh, can you define what the meaning of the word "is" is?

... See, this is what happens when they piss off a philosophy major. Give me Aquinas any day.

Though what they don't realize is that we are in control of the narrative. We control the vertical, we control the horizontal, and we've got truth on our side, and you can't kill the truth. It can only be smothered into unconsciousness for a little while.

DragonForce - The Last Journey Home

Yeah, this is how I feel whenever I come home from a long trip. This includes the bad CGI graphics.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sad Puppies Bite Back XI: Puppies with Teeth


This one is a little complicated, and will come with plenty of footnotes.

Also, this contains a few requested / suggested SWATs.

And Jim Butcher.

Also into this enters Peter Grant, of Bayou Renaissance Man, who has even had a few posts on this series.  Basically, he's a guy who even Larry Correia respects.  Grant is also leading a boycott of Tor, especially after Irene Gallo's comments a few weeks ago. He basically wants a real, public, apology from Tor.... while on the other hand, Vox Day wants Irene Gallo fired.

Anyway, once again, this is parody. I'm just making fun of a lot of the stupid. I'm not taking any of this seriously, and neither should you. If you do take this seriously, you need to lighten up. To my knowledge, none of these people mentioned in this series have even been SWATted.

Fun fact, though: I've posted a link or two at a blog that has chronicled these posts. The replies to those links have made it clear to me that some idiots have seen these blogs as death threats.  Yes, you read that right, "Sad Puppies Bite Back" is now a series of death threats, according to some of the Puppy Kickers. Even though the original premise of SWATting is about attempted assassination by SWAT team, and even though the targets are all Sad Puppies, the Puppy Kickers are the abused party. Remember that.

No wonder some people I know want to rename them the Angry Pussies.

Also, when I TWEETED that fun fact, said blog replied that I am a man of "great simplicity of mind." Having read his comments section ... seriously, buddy, don't go there. Heh.

Anyway, time to once again UNLEASH THE PUPPIES.

Peter "Renaissance Man" Grant
Dorothy "Earhart" Grant

Sigh. Seriously. This guy's about as threatening as Brad Torgersen.
And yes, she is a pilot.

Peter Grant

[SWAT team pulls up to a house on the bayou. Peter Grant sits off to one side, painting a sunrise over the ocean. The SWAT team unloads casually.] Peter Grant?

[The painter looks up and smiles broadly] Let me guess, 911 call? Man with a gun?

[SWAT #1 nods] Yes sir. But a few guys at the station know you were a prison chaplain, so we took it with a grain of salt.

[PG] Should have taken it with tequila. Goes better with the salt. As for the call, I wondered when they would get around to me, especially after I started my Tor boycott.

[PG slowly rises from the easel, heads inside with a heavy limp] Follow me inside. Got something I want to show you fellas.

[SWAT #1 follows.  The inside of the house has a ceiling that looks like the Sistine chapel. The walls are made of marble, painted with frescoes. In the front corner of the house is a shrine.  Then there's a gun rack. PG himself is heading towards a computer station next to the guns]

[SWAT #1] Nice weapon collection.

[PG laughs] It's Tennessee. Are we allowed residence without an arsenal? 

[SWAT #1 nods] True

[PG boots up computer] Excuse the mess.

[SWAT #1 looks down.  There are neatly stacked books on the coffee table, ranging from theology and philosophy to mechanical engineering.] Not a problem.

[PG taps the computer a few times]  That's what I thought. See, you're one part of a number of SWATting incidents of authors.  I used to be in IT, and John Ringo has some fans in the NSA who keep reading his books, so he's sicced them on it, too. Give it about two or three more phone calls, and we'll have the guy.

[Sound of an engine comes in, Puddle jumper lands next to the house.  PG smiles] Could be worse, it could be Tom Knighton's tank.

[Dorothy Grant is heard outside, offering lemonade to all the SWAT guys, who politely decline. She enters the front]  Peter? We're entertaining guests?

[PG grins] We've been SWATted.

[She nods] Any idea by whom?

[PG] At a guess? The usual suspect.

[DG]  Well, just bless. His. Heart.

[Both men cringe at the most threatening insult in all of the South.  PG continues]  Apparently, there's another phone call going out from the phone. Give it another two calls, you'll have the sucker.

[SWAT #1 nods] Thank you, sir, we'll keep track, and get back to you if there is anything.

[SWAT leaves. Dorothy hugs. Peter. They watch SWAT drive off, and they wave goodbye]

[DG] Everything went well?

[PG] Yup. And if it didn't, we've got the automated turrets, just in case they came in shooting.

[DG] So, who's the next person being SWATted?

[PG shrugs]  I have no idea.  The burner phone wasn't calling 911 this time. The outgoing call was to another country.

[DG] Really? Why?

[PG] No idea. I don't even know why this guy would call Australia.

Peter Grant is also the name of Led Zeppelin's manager, so researching Mr. Grant was fun.

As for Australia, read on.

RK "Shadowdancer" Modena

I am told that SWATting doesn't work in Australia. 
Madam Modena has pissed off a few Islamofascists....

[In the outback of Australia, a pleasant little house in the middle of nowhere. A car quietly pulls up to the house, and everyone in it disembarks quietly Back door is kicked in. Multiple men in balaclavas storm in, AK-47s at the ready. Instead of a hallway, they find themselves in a small pantry, leading to a kitchen.  The first intruder is nailed with three kitchen knives to the chest and staggers back.]  She's armed!

[RK "Shadowdancer" Modena is at her kitchen counter, quickly running out of knives from the block. She is a petite 4'8." Her hair is long and black, and she shoves it out of her eyes and readjusts her librarian glasses. In her right hand, there is a frying pan] Don't startle me like that!

[RKM blinks and realizes that these are intruders, not cops or houseguests.]  Not again!

[The intruders get off shots.  They are deflected by the frying pan. The frying pan then crashes into the forehead of one invader. RKM reaches down for the knife labeled "Turkey carver." It is a katana. The next intruder is hit with a bottle of Carolina Reapers in olive oil -- basically like being hit with pepper spray that never comes off. He is then nailed with two hair pins through the kneecaps] So there!

[The next attackers come in see the sword in her hand, and the sharp objects that line every last square inch of the kitchen walls.]  Oh. Crap.

[RKM smiles. Screaming begins in the kitchen]

[Meanwhile, the front door crashes in.  More men in ski masks.  The first one is dropped by a server to the face. Yes, a computer server. A blogger in Melbourne experiences a momentary blip on his site as he tries to upload new cat photos. The second one faces down a Remington 700, wielded by Rhys "Iron Man" Modena] G'day mate.

[Rhys gestures at the front room, which has enough weapons parts to satisfy Tony Stark and Michael Z. Williamson, combined with a server farm] Did you ever think you shouldn't invade an armorer's house? Especially one who competes at army shooting ranges?

[Sounds of violence and grunts of pain come from the kitchen. The cries of despair are all male.  Rhys shrugs] She's short, but she's vicious. You're just lucky the kids aren't in the house tonight. So, some of your guys might make it out alive.

[Female scream of rage. Male screams of terror] Why [grunt] won't [grunt] you [grunt] just [grunt] f^(kin' [grunt] die, [grunt] you miserable [grunt] f^(ks!

{Rhys shrugs] Or not. So, which one are you? Puppy Kicker? Islamofascist? General psychos?

[Ski mask #2 thinks a moment. Rears back]  Allahu ak--

[Rhys rams rifle into his face] Allahu chocolate bar. At least it answers that question. [Rolls eyes.] They never learn. Time to see what's cooking.

[Rhys strolls calmly into kitchen. The bodies on the floor are crumpled in various stages of "oh my God don't put that there!"and "it doesn't bend that way!" RKM stands in the middle of the chaos, katana in one hand, bloody chopsticks in the other. Her hair dangles around her face like a curtain. Fresh blood still drips from the katana.  The door bursts in behind her again.  More men with guns are leveled and at the ready. RKM looks over her shoulder at them, tightens her grip on the sword.]

[SWAT #1] Stand down, boys. The shots fired are all over now. We missed all the fun. [Sighs] Again.

[SWAT #2] Again? Aw man! This house has all the fun...

[RKM pants a little.  Takes a deep breath.  Looks around.] Are you men going to make yourself useful, or do I have to clean all of this up myself?

[SWAT puts away guns, grabs the nearest mops, starts cleaning up the mess]

If the image of the carnage in the kitchen sounds familiar, 
Madam Modena at one point used the words "River Tam."

Brad "Music Man" Johnson

This one is mostly taken from Brad himself.
That'll teach him. ;)

[SWAT crashes in the front door. Brad is reclining on his couch, dressed in a black V necked t-shirt, camo patterned cargo pants, and a black cowboy hat that may or may not be permanently grafted to his head. Loud rock music is playing from the nearby speakers.]


[Brad turns volume up] Will you guys knock it off, I love this song. *turns volume up*

[SWAT Leader] We got a report that there was a maniac threatening people with a gun here.

[Brad point to his right] Dude, my cousin lives in that house, and he owes me money. [Points left] And my best friend lives in that house, and he's got more guns than me. As for the rest of the idiots who live out here, if I was going to shoot them, I wouldn't wave the gun around first, I'd just shoot them. And I admit, I have given it some thought.

[Swat Leader] Okay, I guess we're done he---

[Brad] Since you guys are here, sit down. I think you'll love this band. You see they started out as two completely different bands back in the late seventies and in 1980 they combined after the first one fired their lead singer...

[Seven hours, and an extended history of the band and their particular brand of heavy metal/prog rock later]

[Brad] ...and that's how they ended up releasing this album, even though they said that they were done ten years before. Hey, you guys alright? So anyway, next up: Pheonix Down. Interesting story behind this band. The lead singer, Kane Roberts, started out as Alice Cooper's lead guitarist back in...

[The whole SWAT team has fallen into a coma from a rapid over intake of music information]

Jim is one of the Hugo nominees, not necessarily a Puppy. But, Irene Gallo labeled him one of the "bad to reprehensible" authors nominated, so ....
This puppy has teeth.

Yes. He could be considered a nerd. Just a bit.

[SWAT team takes the door. They sweep into a living room that is one massive D&D RPG game session.  They hesitate.  In a matter of seconds, they are all disarmed.  Butcher stand there, a pile of their guns at his feet]  Oh, sorry, guys, you shouldn't have done that.  Yeah, sorry, reflex.  You want to come in?

[SWAT looks bemused. There are swords everywhere. The gamers are in full CosPlay dress. There are no guns, but plenty of blasting rods. One of the players shouts FEUGO.  Swat #1 reflexively reaches for his sidearm, and finds it gone too] We had a report of gunshots here?

[JB frowns, confused]  No idea. We've been playing nonstop for hours -- is it still Sunday?

[SWAT #1 shakes his head] Monday.

[JB shrugs]  Huh. Time flies. Anyway, my mage was about to whup that paladin when you guys crashed in--

[SWAT #2] Sir? The guns?

[JB] Oh, right.  [Calls over shoulder]  Honey!  You and Mandie playing with the props for another short film?

[Kitty Krell comes down the stairs] No. Trying on the outfit for Godmother. What do you think?

[SWAT team all develop nosebleeds]

[JB] Looks great, Kitty.  Hey, SWAT guys, you want to come in, play a little D&D?

[SWAT #3 raises his hand.  SWAT#2 slaps it down.  SWAT #1 says] Sorry sir, we couldn't possibly impose--

[JB] You sure? We've got 5th edition rules.

[SWAT #1 Hesitates, shrugs]  Oh, why not?

[JB grins]  Cool.  Grab a seat right over there, just clear off the swords and don't trip on any of the guide books.

Just a bit of a side note: Yes, that is Jim's girlfriend. She models. Yes, he does know karate. 
Also, I decidedly recall him saying that he met his (now-ex) wife at a 24 hour D&D gaming session, though the internet tells me different.

He's also one of the nicest guys ever.

Yes. Really. Those are only some of his online alias. 

[The house starts to shake. The windows rattle. The lamps topple over. The loud rolling thunder sounds like the end of the world. SWAT breaks down the door.  AM is dressed in standard Unibomber chic -- unkempt hair and beard that make him look like an escapee from an insane asylum. He is already face down on the floor, hands held at the small of his back.]

[AM] Vox Day did this to me!  Vox Day SWATted me! He's out to destroy my life! He keeps calling the cops on me because his novels suck! He's stalked my friends! He posted embarrassing videos of my friends to YouTube!

[SWAT officer #1 zip-ties AM. The other team members sweep the house. SWAT #1 hauls him to his feet] You are under arrest on multiple counts of fraudulent 911 calls. You have the right to remain silent--

[AM] No! NO! You can't do this to me! Vox is doing this! Vox also planted the mutilated small animals in my back yard!

[SWAT #2 comes down stairs, holds up cellphone]  Found it, Sarge. Under his pillow. I need a shower. He's a bed-wetter.

[SWAT #1 tightens his grip]  Just because it's a burner doesn't mean you can keep using it over and over again.

[SWAT #2] Especially when John Ringo has fans at the NSA.

[AM stares a moment, dumbfounded]  Vox sent you, didn't he? You're all under Vox's mind control! You're out to get me. You're allll out to get me! I need my tinfoil helmet!  Save me! Save me someone!

[SWAT #2] Who are you yelling for? Not like you have any friends here. Unless you mean the stuffed animals upstairs.

[AM screams] Don't you touch Bill the buffalo! He's my bestest friend ever!

[SWAT #1 sighs]  Seriously, you have the right to shut the f*** up. Anything you say can and will be used to prove you are an idiot.

[AM] They're going to feed me to Cthulu! I don't want my mind eaten by an elder god! HHHEEEELLLLPPPPPPP!!!!

[SWAT #1] That presumes you have a brain.

[AM] I've been framed! Framed! I'll kill you all with my mind!

[SWAT #1] Blanks never hurt anyone.

[SWAT #2] Did you mention the terrorism charges?

[SWAT #1]  No, I forgot. Australia wants first dibs on you. Something about stalking, threatening, and directing terrorism against one of their citizens, and I don't know about Cthulu, but they did talk about maybe feeding you to crocodiles ...

[AM thrashes in terror] No! Not the Shadowdancer! Not the Shadowdancer! WWWAAAAHHHHH!!!! MOMMY!!!!

[SWAT #1]  Aw, damn. Johnny, this guy pissed himself!

[SWAT manhandles him outside.  There is a TARDIS blue Abrams tank parked in front. His Tankness, Tom Knighton is waiting at the hatch, smiling] Hey, Andrew. I heard they were busting your sorry ass. I volunteered to come down and escort your behind to jail. If you behave, I may not bring out the first poker. No promises.

[AM passes out. SWAT #1 frowns at him.]  Your Tankness, you said you wouldn't mess with him. You were just joking, right?

[Knighton smiles beatifically] Of course. What sort of person do you think I am?

Meanwhile, over at Tor

[Hayden #1 and #2 look at the arrest of AM on the television. They look at Moshe Feder.]

[Teresa Hayden] Really, Igor? That guy was the best you could come up with?  He's crazier than a bag of cats.

[Patrick nods] Quite, dear.

[MF shrugs] He'th perfect. No one will ever believe we put him up to it.

[TH frowns] Do you have anyone else?

[MF shrugs] I have a backup in a file.

[MF takes out cellphone, taps out 770-770-0770]  Hey, Mike, remember that reader of yours that you sent us? We need another guy .... No, no problem. He worked out fine. He just had to move on ... Yes, unavoidable circumstances.

For those of you who don't get the joke, Alex Marston is one of Vox Day's stalkers -- AS WELL AS one of Shadowdancer's. He's so utterly insane, the local cops have apparently been sicced on him a few times.  Also, he's even visited us.  

So, if anyone sees an Anonymous comment talking about how Vox Day really is going to raise Cthulu, or taking this WAY too seriously, you know who it is.

As for "Mike's fans," it's a reference to where I saw the comments about how these posts are "death threats." I know nothing about the guy who runs the site, but damn, some of his readers in the comments are a little off.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

TONIGHT ON THE CATHOLIC GEEK: Karina Fabian and Infinite Space Infinite God!

Remember when I took a look at Karina Fabian's Infinite Space Infinite God II? It was an anthology of Catholic Science fiction. It was odd, but fun. Like every anthology I've ever read, it had some hits and misses, but it was overall fun.

Now, tonight, on the Catholic Geek, I have Karina and one of her authors from the original ISIG (and ISIG II) Colleen Drippe.

Tonight, at 7PM, EST, I will have both Colleen and Karina On my radio show.  Keep in mind this link right here will not play anything until that time.

What I will cover, to my chagrin, will be Pope Francis, his global warming encyclical, and his statements on guns. Oy.

Remember, this IS a call-in show. You CAN call in. The number is in the link.

If you are seeing this post AFTER June 28, 2015, at 7:00PM EST, this player below should work

Should being the operative word.

Check Out Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with We Built That Network on BlogTalkRadio

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Good Science Fiction

Good science fiction requires two things: good world building, and good characters.

Obviously, all writing requires good characters, but in the world of SF, the world and the characters are interlinked. The world created by the writer is going to shape the characters as much as anything else.

Let's look at why the original Star Trek worked, shall we? While the Federation wasn't as well developed as it would become, most of the places the Enterprise visited had fairly simply ideas behind it, but you could see how that worked. Even if it included Roman Imperial Nazis, or a world run on the model of the gangs of Chicago. They took simple ideas, made a world around them, and tossed in their semi-iconic characters, who are all perfectly likable, into the mix.

Then you go into Babylon 5. It had a deep world in the background, and that's evidence from the various and sundry guide books for role playing games. It it depth, it had science that obeyed the actual laws of physics. It had politics – and none of this Utopian, one-world BS of the federation. Star Trek was one big happy fleet, while B5 had opposing views and opinions, and hate groups and civil war, without the aliens fresh from Mordor. Even at Star Trek's deepest, they had, what, three episodes of DS9? The Maquis? Who, on Voyager, were assimilated by the Federation after one episode and half a season? Even the Klingons, at their worst, had a bought of internal strife that lasted for … an episode? Three? B5 had a year and a half, if not three (depending on how you count it).

The best science fiction has a whole range of culture and society, as well as spiffy technology. I believe it was Sarah Hoyt who pointed out to me that SF has two core tenets: either it's hard SF, or cultural SF (much of which is owned by SJWs). But what happens when you have someone like John Ringo or David Weber, or a Babylon 5, who cover science, history, technology, culture, economies, and how things get done not only from a technology aspect, but also a governmental aspect? Star Trek really never had a history behind it until later, and none that was ever really felt during the show, and made up as they went along, and we won't even go into whether or not they don't need money (as Troi once told Mark Twain) or if they operated on a system of small gold bars (DS9)

Heck, when I wrote Codename: Winterborn, I went through a lot of trouble trying to apply all of these lessons. A lot of it was so easy, I'm surprised more people don't do it more often.

When my co-author, Allan, first mentioned his world to me, before I even signed on, he had a simple premise: the world had been nuked on 4-1-2090, with San Francisco cut off by miles of wasteland from the “real world.” From there, a lot of it was easy. I just asked questions. And what he didn't know, I reasoned.

What's the economy? For San Francisco, locally, it's a barter system. However, since the larger corporations still have connections to the outside world, money is still good. Why would corporations be in San Francisco? Because there are now no limits on off-coast drilling. Duh!

What's the history? Allan wanted Israel to take over the Middle East in the 2060s. From there, I created the Bethlehem Catholic Church … because Rome was nuked when everyone started breaking out their own atomic toys. And since the Franciscans were long ago given places of worship to run in the Holy Land (this goes back to Saint Francis), Bethlehem sounded like a great place to move. Yup, the Catholic Church. We're like roaches. We WILL survive being nuked. You can't stop us, you can't kill us. We'll always come back in three days. MUAHAHAHAHAAHA....


Also, when I did the math on anti-ballistic missile systems (which are already up and running, by the by), I figured that Allan's United States would only be partially nuked. But that would certainly take a good chunk out of congress.

The nuclear war led Allan to create San Francisco, but I figured “So, there's a real world out there, right? And the real world has satellites, right? Well then, that means the rest of the world knows. World governments know, if nothing else. This makes San Francisco a great place for dropping off the inconvenient of their population. Why kill them when you can just be rid of them?” This created Exiles. When I suggested making a spy to be dumped there, Allan said “I'll call him Mister Anderson, like The Matrix.” He became Kevin Anderson.

But what horrible, horrible sin could Kevin commit to send him to a little backwater hell? Something to do with a mission. Do I know any places that'll be the enemy in 2093, since the Middle East will be run by an ally?

Oh, wait! I know where all the remaining Islamofascists will be! Europe! Let's make it France! (Whose birthrate in 2003 was less than half that of the fringe elements who tended towards radical Islam, meaning that by 2050, France might just be the Islamic Republic of France).

You can see how the progression goes from there. After a while, and after enough time, the world writes itself. But in order to get there, a writer has to bring something to the table. A worldview, a knowledge of how the world works (either theirs or the real world), and it proceeds from there.

Good science fiction has depth, of both world and of character. The world building can be cultural, technological, or both, but there's got to be something there that warrants it being a tale of science fiction. But most of all, the characters must carry it. If it doesn't, then the writing just sucks. I'm not going to read books about technology. I never even read the Star Trek technical manual.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On the Pope: Stop the Stupid

Ever since Pope Francis was elected, I've been told that he's been part of a particular sect called Liberation Theology. It's basically the equivalent of saying that no, the Pope actually isn't Catholic, and that he's going to destory the foundations of the Catholic church.

This week?  I've had that to the tenth power.

I've had to listen to a LOT of bullcrap. For months it's ben "Oh, the Pope is a Godless Commie leftist."  Every other schmuck wants to say the "Sky is Falling!" "Schism!" Death! Doom! Despair! 

And this isn't a political thing, really.  People on the right scream schism. People on the left say "The Pope will bring the downfall of all that's evil about the Catholic church."

What have I been saying?


But no, no one wants to read ANYTHING the Pope says, whole and entire. They want Francis to be a dirty commie bastard and screw you if you say different.  They WANT a schism. They WANT the sky to be falling.

Oh look -- this is what the latest encyclical says.

OH MY GOD, he's linked the value of human life to conservation!  He's talking about the value of human life over other animals! Save the whales AND the baby human. There are men, there are women, and there IS NO OPTION C.  The Pope is talking about the stewardship of God's creation, the need to explore ideas and not shackle science to politics.  He's evening telling people that participation isn't Facebook activism!  Wow.

GASP. It's almost like it's in tune with the encyclicals of past popes! I was promised something DIFFERENT!!!!


Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Enough.

"Oh, the Pope is one of the liberation theology people! He's a Latin American Jesuit! That proves it!"

Oh? Really? Where? How? John Paul II hated Liberation Theology and promoted Francis, so how does this man manage to slip past JPII?  How?  Please, tell me that.  And do it by providing evidence. But no. They can't. They say it's so, and shut up.

I am so freaking DONE with these people, it isn't even funny.

Hell, Larry Correia made a joke about "If you're not happy with the Catholic church being against guns, we'll send some Mormons on bikes your way. We have cookies."  

I damn near leaped down his throat because I've been listening to so much utter bullcrap about Francis, I couldn't even see it as a joke.

Oh, and for the record, THE POPE ISN'T AGAINST GUNS.  Thank you. 

And if you tell me he is, for the love of God, I will stomp on you until the fecal matter that passes for brains come out your ears. 

Yes, I am tired of the stupid. The idiocy.  I am drowning in it.  I am choking on it. The "real" conservatives who know more than I do and are seeing schism everywhere. The "good liberals" who are seeing the Pope put their agenda on the map!

And for the record, the only agenda that Pope Francis is following IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S

Screw you, you're both wrong. Now please leave me alone. Or die. Or just go into another room. I have music blogs, go play one. But I am done. 

"Oh, but the Pope is / does / has said / will do --"

I said shut. Up.  I can read. I can also read Italian, which is more than I can say for whoever is translating the Pope in the lamestream media (thanks to Lori for that one).

Everyone who wants to tell me how they're so much smarter than I am, stop it. I will come to my own conclusions in my own time. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Amaranthe - Digital World

I was not impressed with the original, official video.

.... but then I saw the stunts in this one. You can watch it on mute if you must, but you'll find something then.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Radio Show #3 -- Tom Knighton and the Attack of the Puppies.

Check Out Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with We Built That Network on BlogTalkRadio

I'm feeling lazy today.  So here's a new radio show broadcast dedicated to ... well, video games and Sad Puppies.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Top ten blogs of The Pius Trilogy, June 2015 (Puppies Take over)

My radio show tomorrow night will be all about Sad Puppies.  If you thought they were taking over my life before, just wait a minute, you'll see.

As for another top ten .... Yes. another one. I posted this list for the 500th blog in February.

However, I'm already up to blog #580, and it's only four months later.

Also? The list is radically different.

1) Who would Captain America vote for? An election special:
This one is still on top. Odd though, huh?  Written back for the Presidential election of 2012, I was fed up with politics, and thought it much more amusing to speculate on what comic book characters would vote for who. I still like it better than most modern politics.  The hits on this one used to equal an entire month of viewership on the blog....

But then #2 happened.

2) Sad Puppies Bite Back.
The first journey down the rabbit hole. Yes. It was a one-shot that spiraled so far out of control, I really don't see the end of it. But people are still coming to the blog just to read them.  I'd publish these, but I'd really like to avoid being sued by David Gerrold or John Scalzi, or any of the other Puppy Kickers.

This is where it started, with Larry and Brad and Sarah.  And from what I've found? All of them I've SWATted found it funny.  Who knew?

3) Sex, DC Comics, and ... wtf? 
Yup, it's still here. Right after the dawn of DC's New 52 Universes in 2011, the comics had gone into a sideways spiral of strange. I think this had something to do with sex being in the title.

4) Thils one is also still here.  Waaaay back in 2010, I ripped apart all of the Disasters to Marvel At: A Comic Discussion, with every stupid decision that Marvel comics had made for the previous 5 years.  Sadly, some of those decisions are still going strong.

Where's the difference, you ask?

5) Sad Puppies Bite Back (Part two) 
This is where things start going really odd. And I probably should have seen it coming that things were going to really go sideways ... "sideways" as in "The Puppies have taken over my blog."  I think part one got suggestions of nominating this for a "Best related" award from the Hugos.

6) Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Puppies of War!
This was after the Entertainment Weekly's libelous article about Sad Puppies, written and published without talking to anyone within Sad Puppies. At all. Yes, really.  Believe it or not, in retrospect, this was not what got me really into the Sad Puppies bandwagon. That was when someone decided to go after Brad Torgersen's wife. Then, then I had a meltdown, and decided someone needed a stern talking to.

7) Puppies Come to WorldCon  (SPBB III)
This was going to be The End. Period. Dot. Final. The last straw. The Puppies were going to come to the Hugos, and it would have to end there. Why? Because there would be nothing left for me to write until the Hugos came out. It was a perfect out, right? Right?

8) Snarky Theology 4: "Things that go boink in the night."
Yeah, this one is still here.  From the Easter of 2011, it's still on the top ten list. I can't get rid of the damn thing. I had tried to play nice and explain my faith, and tenets of Catholicism to the average person.  That ended in disaster and a flame war, and a few other things going wrong alonh the way.

But, once again, Sex scores well on the site.

This is still freaking strange for a blog all about Catholic thrillers.

9) Recommended Reading; Larry Correia.
Surprise, another blog that's slightly Puppy related.

This one was at the top of the charts the first week it was up back in January. Given the Puppies posts, I'm almost surprised it was still there.

This is what happens when you review an awesome, awesome novelist, and he, in turns, shares your work with every single one of his followers.

For the record, Correia has not (to my knowledge) shared a single one of the SPBB posts. Which probably shows either (a) good sense or (b) good taste on his part.

Because let's face it, there are more than enough accusations of conspiracies and such around the Puppies. If Larry shared these? Imagine John Scalzi's head exploding. Because, after all, everybody knows that I'm really Vox Day in disguise ... or mind-controlled by him ... or something stupid like that. I really stop paying attention to these theories after a while.

If Correia wasn't a great writer, he'd probably be popular because he's an awesome person.

He's also someone I would never have discovered without this blog, and selling my books.

10) The Anti-Puppies (Sad Puppies Bite Back VI)
Somehow, we jumped from part III to part VI.  Seriously, it almost feels like Star Wars opening with Episode IV.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

E3 Roundup

If you don't already know, I'm on a blog called The Catholic Geeks.

As opposed to my radio show called the Catholic Geek, singular.

Anyway, I did a whole bunch of blogs on E3 this week, that make for a nice collection of upcoming games.


Microsoft Opens strong at E3
Halo 5: Guardians
New IP
New controllers
Dark Souls III: Die Hardest.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Tom Clancy’s The Division

Rise of the Tomb Raider Gameplay at E3
Dedicated to one game. Only.

Fallout 4 at E3
Yup. Fallout is back.

E3 Is Doomed.
YAWN.  Doom is back

Dishonored ... Again

Super Smash Bros.

The Last Guardian -- new IP .... first announced 8 years ago.
Horizon: Zero Dawn -- new IP
Street Fighter V
No Man’s Sky -- new IP
Dreams -- new IP
Firewatch -- new IP
Destiny: The Taken King.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate .... sigh.  AGAIN
Final Fantasy 7. The Remake.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Star Wars: Battlefront
Uncharted 4
War For Honor -- a new IP
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands.

...And Star Was: BattleFront

Just Cause 3
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Kingdom Hearts
Deus Ex

Xenoblade Chronicles
Star Fox Zero
Super Mario Maker

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Guest Puppy Bites Back

I have apparently inspired fan fiction.  Yes, it will go into the Sad Puppies tag above.

This is either the best fact ever, or terrifying beyond belief. :)

This is from Catholic Writer Guild colleague Dawn Wtizke.

The only changes I've made to the SWATting is to make it match the format of previous SWATs.  The WorldCon post was only modded for consistency with the other parts...and I added one line.

[SWAT, all two of them, is stationed in front of the apartment door, battering ram at the ready]

“Excuse me.”

[DW approaches] “Can I help you?”

[SWAT #1] “Ma’am, you can’t go in there. We have reports that someone inside is waiving a gun around and threatening to kill people.”

[DW] “Seriously? Get out of my way.”

[The officer, who is at least a foot taller, puffs out his chest, blocking the way]

[DW] "Don’t make me tell you twice. The Hugo Awards are today and I’m damn well not going to miss it. Now get out of my way.”

[SWAT #2 pouts] “But, this is our first call in ten years. Can’t you just let us take a look?”

[DW sighs, rolls her eyes] “Fine. You can look, but you’re not breaking my door in.”

[Opens door. A pile of rifles is stacked haphazardly on a yoga mat. Cleaning supplies scattered next to them.]

[SWAT #1] “Gun!”

[DW glares] “Was that really necessary?”

[SWAT #2 hangs his head] “Sorry. I always wanted to say that.”

[DW] “So, look around.”

[SWAT #1] “Damn. Nothing.”

[DW] “Sorry I couldn’t be the crazy psycho you were hoping for. Are we done?”

[SWAT #2] “We’re done. Sorry to bother you ma’am.”

[SWAT leaves.  DW goes to bookcase and swings it away from the wall, revealing a collection of weapons. She picks up several curved blades and a roll of duct tape.] I’ll need this tonight.

The Catholic Geek: Defending Joss Whedon, E3 Preview

Check Out Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with We Built That Network on BlogTalkRadio

So, remember the whole bit with Joss Whedon being a misogynist sexist prick?  Then I had a lady friend of mine rip that stupid to pieces?

Now you can meet her.

And, yes, I've kept the cover for my upcoming book in the credits. Because.

Speaking of E3, I've been doing the collected E3 over at The Catholic Geek blog. Click the tab above for more details. I'll see about doing a roundup at the end of the week.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sad Puppies Bite Back X: X marks the spot

Dear Angry Pussies,

Please stop giving me material to work with.

Thanks, love me.

For those of you who are wondering what has happened to this blog, you're going to want to go to the tabs at the top, click "Sad Puppies" and start from there. This is a very, very long story.

For those of you who are caught up, this offer of peace was posted at 2:09 AM on Friday by puppy kicker "The Cryptkeeper" David Gerrold (Just in case, a blog commenting on it: the blog is posted at nearly noon.)

Apparently, this was posted at 1:09pm THAT SAME DAY (Friday).

Ummm.... so, wait, neither Brad nor Larry commented on your 2am apology, you had angry people still pissed at being called neo-Nazis, and NOT EVEN 11 HOURS LATER you want to play This is War! No, seriously, David, are you brain damaged?

Also, I had promised some SWATting today.

A good swath of this opening was cut by Matthew Bowman, Novel Ninja, who has discovered that the characters just don't STOP talking. Welcome to the party, Matt.

And now, it's time to unleash .... oh, you know by now.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nightwish: Crownless

Because Nightwish.

I think I'm Puppied out for this week. Between Irene Gallo being insane, Tom Doherty trying to maintain his publishing company's dignity, and everyone else doubling down on Gallo's inane psychotic break, I think I've had enough time swimming in the psycho end of the gene pool. With any luck, the nutters will take a breath for a few hours.

Give me a few days, okay?  I've got a radio show to record on Sunday, with video games and Joss Whedon, etc, so we'll see what happens.