|Posted on July 16, 2013 at 9:05 PM||comments (0)|
I know this is a little out-of-the-blue, and strange for not being an ADHDcast-related post, but I made a RageComic for the first time, and it's something I have been noticing happening to lots of people but especially me lately:
There's just too much internet! AAARGHFJPOSFHSU! It was bad enough fifteen-odd years ago when I first explored its pitfalls and perils, but it has only become worse in the intervening span! WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THIS?!
Also, McDiving. CANNOT EVEN HANDLE THAT.
Of course, the answer is nothing; we police ourselves, restrict ourselves to only certain lengths of time, or devest ourselves of certain sites that are too big of time-sucks. Though I did succumb to the wiles of Twitter, I do not have a Tumblr and am not on Reddit, and will not be on WookieCheeseEgg or whatever the next social media platform may be. There are very good reasons why: THEY WOULD EAT ALL THE REST OF THE TIME I ALREADY WASTE ON MY PODCAST, THEREBY PREEMPTING A FOURTH BOOK GETTING FINISHED UNTIL I AM 62.
By the way, I just joined Goodreads! Check me out here!
|Posted on April 24, 2013 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
Okay, so normally I only discuss writing and book-related things on my blog here, but today let's take a quick look at Immigration Reform and tax breaks, and how it's kind of exploded into this writhing mass of a debate. My tirade is brought on by a picture I saw posted somewhere that shall remain nameless, which I will now display to put you in the proper frame of mind for my rebuttal.
See, what the Right is trying to convince us of here is that walking across a made-up line should be punishable by death, while reaching out to our fellow man in their time of need is not only stupid, but irresponsible. Why should we be responsible for others, especially if they're not "our kind"? Hell, the wealthy don't even believe they have any reason to pay more taxes than the impoverished, and they use their money and power to prevent exactly that. Why on earth should they have to give up Rolls Royces and solid gold toilet seats when instead the government can steal food out of starving children's mouths, bleed the public school systems and Social Security? Let's all shoot "illegal" Latinos on sight and celebrate how rich the rich are while we struggle to catch the bus between two different jobs just so they don't kick us out of our studio apartments. God bless America!
Is there a reason we shouldn't be proud to stand as the country that feeds and clothes the destitute? "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" That is mounted inside the Statue of Liberty. What happened to that mentality? "We're all full up, Maria and José, try the inn over in next country." Makes me viscerally ill. We are such a conflicted country, standing on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, yet turning away those who didn't get here "the right way". Picketing funerals because of "fags" and using God as our excuse for such bigoted behavior, dishonoring the dead to honor the Lord. Even those of us who aren't part of that hate group... we have created a climate in which such ugliness is possible. Thousands of dollars (many of them tax dollars, and don't you kid yourself otherwise) are absolutely wasted fighting against a freedom that should have been granted to same-sex couples at least a decade prior. The same goes for gun control; background checks are a common-sense measure and are NOT the same as banning all guns, yet the Wrongly-Right perpetrates an infuriating filibuster that, again, wastes everybody's time and money; we all know this is going to come to a vote again (and likely soon), so their cowardice only prevented us from adequately utilizing our Senators. We don't want to pay more taxes, the rich really don't want to pay more taxes, and yet we complain about the national debt and the so-called "fiscal cliff"... demanding more from a government we are bankrupting by giving the politicians running it such engorged salaries that they could easily pay for two of themselves and accompanying families to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. Even our president putting money back into the Treasury to ease the pressure of the debt doesn't inspire others to do the same. Militant Republicans tear him down, dismiss him as ineffectual and/or demonize him as the Antichrist, and somehow this is an excuse to not emulate such commendable behavior? I don't get that. I don't get that at all.
But I got off-topic, even if only slightly. Immigration reform. "Illegal aliens." Here, let me try this again and see if we can correct their error in
logic humanity (and notice how very little effort I had to put into this):
By the way, when your best example of what we should do is NORTH KOREA or AFGHANISTAN, I think it's time you checked yourself. Those are both countries you wouldn't hesitate to condemn in any situation other than this one, so sir, I remove that card from your hand. MY card now. You get no card.
|Posted on April 11, 2013 at 8:30 PM||comments (0)|
More than fair warning: I don't like A Game Of Thrones. I've never watched the TV version, either, because the book was such a let-down - and I don't plan to just because a bunch of HBO fanatics want me to "give it a second chance". Why should it be any better than the cringe-worthy pool of offal that is True Blood? Which, I will say, did not encourage me to read Charlaine Harris's books (though TB at least had the diamond-in-the-rough excellence that is the character of Eric Northman.) Therefore, listen and listen well: if you have very fragile, delicate feelings of love for the "Song Of Ass And Phallus" series, I really encourage you not to read beyond this point. Dead serious, here. I know I've stumbled across many vitriolic blog-rants about other serieseses (how many "es"es?) that mean a lot to me, and this made me feel sad in the pants, so here I am giving you a chance to bail before I come out swinging. If you're not scared off by all that, read on, Macduff - just don't cry foul in the eleventh hour. Also, there are major spoilers for the whole book (first season) in this post, but that should go without saying. Also, it's super verbose, so it may incite a "tl:dr" reaction.
Another disclaimer: I actually don't think A Game Of Thrones is the worst book I've ever read. In fact, it comes pretty close to being as moderately-decent of a literary work as Twilight. See? I'm reasonable. There is another reason unrelated to the prose itself that I'm tearing it a new one: George R. R Martin is a hypocritical old codger who needs to be taken down a peg. Now, from what I hear Martin is allegedly a pretty personable guy and cool where most topics are concerned, but I'm sure there were lots of friendly, amiable Nazis, too. Understand that for all of my cynicism and sardonic bile, I mean this part sincerely: only because MrRRRR Martin seems to think his writing is so loftily Sacred and Holy that nobody should be "allowed" to write fanfiction (or, as he puts it, "so-called 'fan fiction'" complete with snide quotation marks) about his beloved series, and also because so many people have looked at me with shock and revulsion when I say I'm not interested in the show ("OMG yyyy but its teh BEST EVARR, ur crazey or sumthing") have I gone to such lengths to pick apart everything wrong with his book. But this is turning into another fanfiction rant, so I'll head myself off here and get back to A Game Of Thrones. Maybe if Martin had a less grumpy and disappointing attitude toward his fellow writers, if he was more open-minded, I would be kinder (or wouldn't care enough to bother). Too bad, too late. Claiming fanfiction authors are "thieves" or are "wasting their time" opens up the floodgates to a critique of your multi-thousand-page waste of time. Hold out your hand, Georgie, because I am about to plop your own ass into it.
We will now hear the Airing of Grievances! "I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you're gonna hear about it!' (~Frank Costanza)
1. Everybody's a jerk. Worse yet, many characters are the same jerk. Viserys and Joffrey are almost identical "petulant children with god complexes", both of whom needed a good smack upside the forehead (and only one of whom got his comeuppance). Thing is, I really dislike characters like that in the first place, but I understand they are a necessary evil to create conflict and keep things interesting. Could they at least not be clones of each other? Heh, Game of Clones. There is one character that, I feel, shines above the rest in this pageantry of asshattedness - and this character will get their own bullet point.
2. Sansa is the worst. Defend her if you want, but good friggin' luck. A completely self-absorbed and whiny brat who can't even stand up for herself when she finally stops being blinded by Breeding and Rank and, belatedly, does realize Joffrey is a douche. Bravo! You couldn't have come up with that one before both your wolf and your father were slain, your sister run out of King's Landing (as far as she knows, at least), and the rest of your family plunged into war? She gets her own wolf killed - at the hand of her beloved and his mother - and somehow continues to gallingly blame her sister instead of the true guilty parties. Even after the execution of her father finally forces her to realize Prince Draco Malfoy Jr. isn't worth her time, her plan seems to be "Okay, I'll hang around kissing his ass and wait for an opportunity to escape and/or take my revenge," but how am I supposed to give a flying turd when she's made every wrong decision possible up to that point? By the way, you should never, ever create a character this annoying and unlovable and then write any chapters from their viewpoint; it mostly just makes the reader want to use the book for kindling. Which I wanted to do every single time a chapter started with the word "Sansa".
3. "The dragon". "You don't want to wake the dragon", "I am the blood of the dragon." Dragon, dragon, dragon. Here's an even better quote: "Could someone stop that man from yelling 'dragon'?" Know who said that? Yakko Warner, from Animaniacs. Children's television circa 1993 already knew that was beyond annoying, yet Georgie can't seem to figure it out. SHUT UP ABOUT THE DAMN DRAGON. And its blood, and its fossilized eggs, and all of it. Instead of epically awesome, it sounds cheesy - and mostly because you hear it every three seconds in the Daenerys chapters. Enough already!
4. Frequent sexy times that are more execrable than erotic. Ooh baby, I really wanna read about man-seed running down the inside of a thirteen-year-old girl's legs. It's not creepy at all, tell me more! Tell me about her 30-year-old husband's "manhood glistening wetly" - even better! Smelling like semen, man, that's pretty much what revs the motors of all women across the globe. Axe should get on that! While we're on this subject, all the application of perfume on vaginas, described in loving detail (or vile gratuity, depending on your perspective) needed to be curtailed. Have you also noticed that it's only underage women you get the most awkward detail about being sexually molested? Incestuous abuse, too, once in a while. Women who are actually of age might be bare-chested or star in a brief brother/sister love scene (?!?!?!) or some such, but only incidentally; the main event is pubescent girls. Yeah, that's not uncomfortable or anything. And for the love of GOD, somebody get that man a wet nurse, because he's got this crazy obsession with lactating breasts! Why so much explicit detail about a tween-ager's swollen, engorged boobs with milk running down from the red, inflamed nipples? (And I know most of you are squirming because I wrote that just now, so how could it be any less weird that the original author did?) Dany even breastfeeds the freaking DRAGONS! Is that insane or what?! Georgie probably just rubber-banded a Bic Stic around his dick and used that to write the whole book. Don't forget: you can't spell Westeros without "eros"! That trash should be in Penthouse Forum, not the New York Times bestseller list. (From what I hear, the show isn't much better... except the characters are at least closer to being age-appropriate.)
5. Nonstandard swearing. "Cock" was stlll just a rooster in the Middle Ages, not a euphamism for the penis. And "Bunghole", really? Sir Beavis of Winterfell? Also, he seems to have a real thing about mutilation of genitals, which might as well go here, too - it's all kind of generally offensive and crude. If I make a new number for every sub-bullet-point I'll be in the hundreds soon enough... but yes, I got tired of being subjected to closeted homoerotic idiocy like "cut his cock off and shove it in his mouth - that'll shut him up!" And no, I didn't bother to double-check the quote for exact phrasing. Why would I ever willingly read that again? I'm crossing my legs just retyping it. No thanks.
6. Lukewarm adjectives that are meant to sound especially robust and eloquent, but instead are stupid. Example: "Her own silver-gold hair". Explain to me how that makes sense; silver and gold are two completely different colors! That'd be like saying, "Her red-green shirt." Either it's red, it's green, it's red-and-green coexisting in some kind of pattern, or it's an ugly muddy brown color because that's what you get when you mix red and green! If you can't bust out the poetic brush without making a complete mess, then be simple and clear instead of embarrassing yourself.
7. Rampant Orientalism. "Black eyes", "eyes shaped like almonds", "coppery skin". It's clear the Dothraki are supposed to be Mongol hordes, warlike "savages". "Khal" is one letter's difference from "Khan" (not this one). Drogo's father's name is even "Bharbo", as in "barbarian". Good job pretty much just slapping a new label on a preexisting ancient culture; there's some real creativity! Then we go out of our way to make them out to be nothing but animals, rutting in the streets - not just figuratively, but actually grabbing random wenches and raping them right there on the side of the road. Seriously, regardless of potential historical accuracy, we needed the "Asian" race to be portrayed this way? I kept waiting for the "omg, and they even eat with CHOPSTICKS" scene.
8. GENEALOGIES. Oh, the genealogies. I don't care who some obscure lord's great-uncle's cousin once removed was. Georgie-poo, If he's not in the plot, or didn't affect it dramatically, forget that mess. Leave it out. Keep the damn story rolling. Your book ended up being 835 exruciating pages because you've never heard of the word "concise." What the hell was your editor doing instead of catching this? Oh, right - getting off on the statutory rape scenes. Forgot.
9. Similarly, there are long, meandering descriptions of trivial information. Do we so desperately need to know the name of every single lordling in the entire room? Georgie tries to cover it once or twice, by wrapping up with "and there were many more" or something, but not nearly soon enough. The Rule Of Three is held in high esteem for a reason; if you keep listing things off beyond three of them, people get freaking bored. More often than not, he blows past three and doesn't start to contemplate a stopping point until seven or eight have gone by. If I wanted to read endless lists of random crap, I'd be on Reddit or Buzzfeed.
10. Women, "cripples", the elderly, illegitimate children, little people, fat people, homely people, gays, and pretty much anybody who's not a young strapping heterosexual male is, at best, of little-to-no consequence. At worst, they're abominations in the same category as attractions in a Cirque du Grotesque. He comes close to redeeming the whole thing with Sam being such a decent guy, but still can't resist describing him as "fat" at every opportunity as if that's the one defining attribute about his character (and this is extremely surprising to me, given that Mr. Martin himself is not at all svelte). There's only so much you can cover this with either the "That's just the way the world was back then" excuse or the "Drawing attention to the injustice by portraying it in your art" argument before either one falls apart. He does it so damn much that it quickly becomes clear he's not really trying to make any kind of equality statement, and is instead just having fun laughing at the expense of anything non-manly. Way to be racist, ageist, sexist and bigoted, Georgie. Are you by any chance secretly a Republican?
11. Setting up Important Portents, such as events or Chosen People or whatever, and then kind of throwing them out the window. What was the point of squandering all that time, making such a big fucking deal about Daenerys's son being the Blood of the Dragon and the Stallion Who Mounts The World (what a shitty title, anyway), and then killing him off? I feel like I just drove eleven hours to see my favorite band in concert, only to be told the band decided not to perform. And I really couldn't care less if this serves to "temper Dany's character" or something equally pathetic. Really, it feels more like Georgie couldn't think of any decent way to continue the storyline if Rhaego lived, so he axed him. This is done over and over with multiple characters and concepts. The whole thing about "five direwolves for five Starks, plus an albino one for the 'bastard' son" was actually extremely cool... until he bumped off one of them and had another run away. Ruined the whole idea. Also, you'll notice the two wolves removed from the lineup are the two that belonged to the girls, because clearly women aren't worth anything and therefore there's no point in letting them keep their trusty animal sidekicks. After all, soon enough they'll just be popping out babies and fulfilling their only legitimate reason for existing, right? I don't even care if Nymeria comes back at a later point in the series for a Last-Moment Heroic Save. Lady is still dead as a doornail. Prophecy shattered, cool plot device equally destroyed. Masterful.
12. Let's expand on this. Anything I liked about the book, sooner or later, he either neglects or throws out. Arya was one of the few characters I actually enjoyed reading about and was interested to see what became of her. A girl who (gasp) actually wants to fight? Like, with a sword?! Alas, my hopes were dashed against the rocks. She gets like, two scenes in the whole book. Hundreds of pages fly by with nothing, and then we get a chapter of her eating pigeons and witnessing her father's death before she's whisked away once more, never to be seen again. Great. Same with Jon: he gets a tiny bit more "screen time", but not nearly enough when you consider how much time is squandered on Sansa and Tyrion (not that I dislike Tyrion; he's just not all that sympathetic beyond the "dwarf" thing. A douchey Lannister through and through, despite the brief flash of camaraderie with Jon.) Oh, and let's not forget how many pages are also taken up by sex scenes between Old Man Drogo and the jailbait.
13. Ravens are not parrots. I don't care if they can be trained to speak, too. Who would bother? NEXT.
14. "Bastard", "Manhood", "Dragon" and "Dwarf" are all words I could go years without hearing again and be perfectly happy. Especially because I actually am a bastard. Do you think I really would refer to myself as a bastard at every given opportunity? "Hey, good to meet you; I'm Dustin, the bastard. Did I mention I'm a bastard?" Let me lay that one to rest for you: I DON'T. This does tie in with the "everybody not a virile male is of no value" thing and also the "overuse of dragon" thing, but gets a separate point because those four words themselves are annoying to read over and over and over and over and over and over and over. See? Oh, not yet? Hang on. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Done now? Thought so.
15. Speaking of "bastards", let's talk about Jon. I cannot, cannot imagine this family, with Eddard being as loving a father as he is, caring so little that he's going north to "take the black" (another overused phrase that only brings to mind images of interracial porn). Doesn't hold water. Bastard or no, he's been living with them for what is it, 15 years? 16? Don't care enough to look it up. Anyway, nobody with the character of a man like Lord Ned (how do you even get 'Ned' from 'Eddard'?) would look after the well-being of his own child for that long and then just go, "Okay, now go on up to the Wall there and join all those criminals and rapists, because that's about all I think of you. There's a good lad!" At the very least, he could be put in command of a regiment of soldiers, or sit as an advisor on some council or other. But no, lineage is everything. I don't buy that, even during the "ye olden age" that aGoT is set within. It would be one thing if he was a bastard that Eddard had barely seen since his birth, but he's been living with them. Bonds form. Pretending Ned would be okay with Jon leaving for the Night's Watch is just laziness, and probably the product of someone who's never had any strong familial connections.
16. Creativity of names. He steals the protagonist surname from Iron Man and uses it for... the protagonists. I'm surprised the boys never mentioned an Uncle Anthony. Then there's Joffrey. Good job slightly misspelling Geoffrey/Jeffrey. That's like people who think they invented a new name when they butcher Kaitlin into "Catelyn". OH WAIT...
Believe it or not, I could go on. No really, as much as I just vented all over the keyboard, if I didn't have anything else to do today I would keep it up and throw down maybe another six or seven bullet points. And seriously, I don't wanna hear any "But this and that happens in book two that tooootally justifies such and such in book one!" Don't care. If book one licked so much asscrack that I don't even want to be in the same room with it, you had better damn well believe I'm not going to put myself through the fresh hell that would likely be A Clash Of Kings. I've got better things to read... like Naruto. Or Frog And Toad Are Still Friends Even Knowing What Toad Did Last Summer. ANYTHING AT ALL.
But again, I promise you, I have read other books I enjoyed less that were written by authors I admire more (*cough*Casual Vacancy*cough*). That still doesn't make this steaming pile of horse excrement smell any more like roses. I'm glad some people got something more out of it than wasted time, but you are never going to find me in that category. Sorry, GOT fans.
|Posted on March 26, 2013 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
Okay, okay, I know I'm taking forever to get Accelerati out the door and on its way, not to mention Diadae #3. Get off my back, willya? Kidding. Kind of. But I'm not here to talk about that right now. There's something else that's been irritating my shorts the last few days. Fanfiction.
Not that I'm irritated by fanfiction itself. In fact, quite the opposite. Fanfiction (or "fan fiction" if you're claustrophobic and need a little space) is, as you are likely aware, stories based on existing works written by the geeks who are hopelessly enamored of said existing works. Top categories include Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, Marvel and DC comic books, and pretty much anything on TV. I'm not ashamed to admit I've written more than my fair share (though you'll forgive me if I don't link you to it; some worlds are not meant to collide). It is a vast and fertile landscape of derivative creativity.
Fanfiction is also really GAY. Most junior high schoolers are sitting there going, "Yeah dude, that sh!t is so gay lol", but I actually mean a high percentage of it involves non-heteronormative pairings. In this way, my blog post ties in with Equality Day (or whatever it's called that we're celebrating by changing Facebook pictures to red boxes). That's beautiful. I'm on board with that, 100%. Mostly I wanted to put this in to acknowledge the major concern of the day, which is not what this post is about but also important.
What fanfiction is NOT, is plagiarism or copyright infringement.
Under copyright law, without express rights in form of a written agreement, no one can take your intellectual property and use it to make money. Doing so constitutes copyright infringement. Following that logic, fanfiction doesn't count since the fic authors don't make a dime. It's pure enjoyment.
What are you going to do about it, anyway? Let's say a group of guys are sitting around a table in Denny's after attending Wizard World, postulating, "Hey, what if the Venom symbiote adhered itself to Spider-WOMAN instead of Spider-Man? And she hooked up with Carnage? Would they have little red-and-black babies who can fly and shoot laser beams?" Are you going to send in the FBI to storm f*cking Denny's and arrest the poor geeks? Where does it end? I can't see the difference between that and taking "legal action" against fanfiction writers and/or websites on which they are supported.
Let's be clear: there is such a thing as fanfiction from which money can be made. There are literally hundreds of "original Star Trek novels" floating around out there, published since the original series was on in the Sixties. Many widely-respected authors have taken a whack at Trek: Greg Bear, Diane Duane, Peter David, Laurell K. Hamilton, and we could be here all day. THAT'S JUST TREK. Forget about going into Star Wars. And then Dungeons & Dragons novels. And then we could do Supernatural, or X-Files, or...
Yet when people do it online, solely for fun, it's silly and devoid of merit - or worse, evil and worthy of prosecution. A collective middle finger goes up from the fanfiction community to those narrow-minded individuals like George R. R. Martin, whose attitude [see here] sparked today's ranting. He is not alone, but he is in the minority; most authors are thrilled to death when they hear people have been writing fanfiction about their characters and worlds, and graciously allow the practice. It's a badge of honor, a mark of success. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Alas, then it becomes all about the money. Here, let me address that: you don't get to make money off everything. More importantly, how many of us truly believe that, for example, J. K. Rowling suffered any dip in sales due to fanfiction readers? Perhaps three. And that's three books. If that many.
Most fanfiction readers want to enjoy the original works before they delve into the murky waters of reimagining and alternate universes. Point of fact, I would never have read Harry Potter if not for my friend sending me a fanfiction link. It was not an epic tale (or even a "pretty good" one), but it got me interested in the characters and setting - which I then went on to explore by picking up the movies and books before I started bothering with fanfic. See how it's actually a brilliant marketing tool in a kind of bass-ackwards way?
As to those authors who tout a concern that fanfiction writers need to "find their own story", do you really think it's so bad that they cut their teeth on yours? I wrote a fanfiction before I knew what it was. It is a totally natural progression of imagination, especially from the Baby Boomers forward. Before then, entertainment was pretty much limited to radio dramas, books and the occasional movie, but the rising popularity of TV and comic books widened the availability of the fictional works of others. The internet caused it to explode. Children are increasingly inundated with stories from all sides, so in my opinion, it's becoming more and more commonplace for them to begin cobbling their own stories from pieces of others than to dream up fiction without derivation. We should be nurturing this, not stamping it out!
"All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet - it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you." - Joss Whedon
But noooo, you want your precious money, Orson Scott Card [same link]. Sorry. You also want marriage to stay inequal, yet you want to write interspecies romance? (Clark marries Lois, even though he isn't even human... and yet two men can't hook up? Shaky logic, there.) Maybe you should check your scruples, because I think they took a hit somewhere along the line. Around the same period that you became a miserly bigot.
Just so we don't let them off the hook, here's a list of the other authors who expressly "forbid" any fanfiction based on their writings [via fanfiction.net]:
•Dennis L. McKiernan
•Laurell K. Hamilton
•Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb
Ahh, see?! Remember earlier when I mentioned Laurell K. had written "original" Star Trek novels? And she doesn't want anybody to write fanfiction of her works without making money! Leg to stand on - I deny you this, madam.
Of course, I put "forbid" in quotes because they can't forbid it. Other fanfiction websites aren't quite as docile and domesticated as FFnet, and have lawyers on retainer just waiting for some foolish corporate attorney to actually attempt to file a lawsuit. Because it won't hold any water.
In conclusion, fanfiction is a lush and excuisite world, full of as many perils as wonders. Cash-hoarding fiends would paint it as mimicry which somehow "devalues" their original work, but don't forget that both wriiting and reading fanfic is completely voluntary. It's not going to ruin someone's watching Game of Thrones on HBO that there's a steamy homoerotic story of their two favorite characters floating around the internet written by a tenth-grader in Cheboygan. Not unless they go digging for it themselves. You're probably already on the New York Times best-seller list and have a fifteen-car garage full of Rolls Royces, so why don't you live and let live?
All of this without even touching with a ten-foot pole the commercial success of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies.