Fictoid: two ladies from the south

by Buzz on 22/07/2016

Edwin Georgi - ever read Man From The South

Well, have you ever read
Roald Dahl’s “Man From The South”?
art by Edwin Georgi

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I Blather On (Yet Again)

by Buzz on 20/07/2016

Josh Hadley invited me to talk about adapting the classic pulps into modern media over at Radiodrome.  My part kicks in at the 25 minute mark.

Norman Saunders - Reprint-of-August-1936

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Writing Report: July 19, 2016

by Buzz on 19/07/2016

My mind plays peculiar tricks on me.

Nice tricks, but tricks nonetheless.

Without my being consciously aware of it, my mind will plant seed / lay track for complex developments in the stories I write.

Case in point:
A couple of weeks ago I started my dark barbarian fantasy story.

At the time I thought I’d have a 2,800 – 3,500 word story when done.

I passed the 10,000 word mark last night and anticipate going to at least 12,000 – 15,000 before I’m done.

The more I wrote, the
richer that world became.

As soon as I had the basic idea,
I knew how the story would have to end.

What I didn’t have was a
coda or denouement for it.

When I started it, I didn’t have a specific weapon in mind for my protagonist.  About 1,000 or so words in I gave them a battle axe[1] then, about 3,000 words in, decided to have them visit a weaponsmith to modify it into a weapon I’d originally created for a villain in Thundarr The Barbarian.

ABC’s Standards & Practices (i.e., the censors) took one look at my design and passed on it[2] but the idea festered sat in the back of me widdle head all this time.

When I decided to give the protagonist this modified weapon, I realized I had my coda:  A scene in which said weapon would be used against the #1 Baddie.

But the way in which it’s used against #1 Baddie practically begged a sequel story, so I thought, okay, once this story is done I’ll think about a sequel.

Of course, once the weapon was modified by the weaponsmith, I had to show it in action.

Now, my story needed three key scenes to work:  Big, Bigger, Biggest.  A minor bad guy provided the impetus for the Bigger scene, but that was pretty much his whole contribution to the story.

Well, with the modified weapon, he soon found himself on the receiving end of some Major League Karma after his Bigger scene was finished.

A satisfying end to him, and a good bridge to the next scene, the Biggest.

That scene required a major bad guy, and I envisioned him as a plausible Bluto, a malevolent Bud Spencer.

The major bad guy had to arrive at the locale by ship; my story is set in a location that has a real world / historical parallel (i.e., the Mediterranean) that required it to be accessible by ships.

In the course of the story, various characters roughly fill us in on the geography of this fantasy world:  The Northern Lands (i.e., Europe), The Eastern Lands (i.e., the Middle and Far East), The Southern Lands (i.e., Africa).

While not mentioned specifically, this world has nothing but open seas to the west.

So my protagonist goes to meet the major bad guy as their ship arrives (at this point in the story the protagonist is not aware of who the major bad guy is; when they recognize the major bad guy it sets the ball a’rolling towards the climax).

And when the major bad guy disembarks, he’s wearing a mask to hide his identity (which makes sense because his motive in the story is something a lot of other people would want to stop if they knew he was interested in it).

So my protagonist is escorting the major bad guy to the scene of the climax, still not knowing who he is…

…and then my protagonist realizes through
the disguise it’s not a him but a her.

The Mongols national myth says there was a mother with five sons, each by a different father.  The mother held out her hand before them and showed that while each finger (and thumb) was independent, they were also linked together…

…and if they closed in to form a fist, they could strike at their enemies.

And all of a sudden my major bad guy became a Mom with three sons[3] she wants to make god-kings of The Northern Lands, The Eastern Lands, The Southern Lands.

Much better motivation than I originally thought out for major bad guy.

And then the sequel I envision after the death of #1 Bad Guy suddenly popped into sharp focus, and it would involve Son #3…

…because my protagonist, after disposing of Mom, would then go after Son #1…

…but somebody would tip off Son #2 and he’d come looking for my protagonist[4]

…and the aftermath of that would be the original sequel idea I envisioned.

Four stories.

If they each average 15,000 words, then I’ve got a novel.

With everything else I’ve got on deck, it will probably take me a minimum of four years to finish the stories, using them as a palette cleanser between other projects.

animated thundarr opening

NOT the protagonist in my story!!!

[1]  Figuring Robert E. Howard’s Kull (whom I actually prefer over Conan) was the only other major fantasy character to carry such a weapon.

[2]  Actually, they said something along the lines of “HOLY #%@&ING %#@&!  ARE YOU INSANE?!?!?  YOU CAN’T PUT THAT IN THE HANDS OF A SATURDAY MORNING CARTOON CHARACTER!!!”

[3]  Because I’m too damned lazy to try to come up with story ideas for five sons.

[4]  Hey, ya need a little variety, ammiright?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Words Of The Prophets…

by Buzz on 16/07/2016

…are written on the subway walls
and tenement hallsWotP 14 Edward Gorey

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I Luvz Me Some GHOSTBUSTERS 2016

by Buzz on 16/07/2016

This is how you do a remake![1]  Keep the core idea and story, keep the elements and tone people like, but feel free to go afield from that so long as you stay in the same ballpark.

Ghostbusters (2016; directed by Paul Feig, written by Katie Dippold & Feig, based on the 1984 film directed by Ivan Reitman, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis) does that perfectly, adapting and expanding upon the original by reinterpreting it for the 21st century and reflecting a female cast.[2]

The new all-female Ghostbusters are not simply the original characters in drag: 
They are unique and interesting on their own account, their relationship is not that of three college chums + an employee but rather a series of overlapping relationships and histories that finally jells into a single compact team.  Kristin Wilg as Erin Gilbert is former BFF with Melissa McCarthy’s Abby Yates; the friendship broke up over Gilbert’s desire to pursue “serious” science instead of paranormal investigations.  Yates is now friends / co-researcher with Kate McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann, a hyperkinetic engineer whom my younger granddaughter describes as “the best because she’s funny, she builds things, and she’s flexible.”  And to this mix Leslie Jones as MTA employee Patty Tolan who first comes to the Ghostbusters as a client and pretty much invites herself into the club; her encyclopedic and photographic memory of New York history and geography make her a vital addition to the team and while her character may lack to formal education the others possess she is certainly their equal in the brains department.

Oh, yeah, these ladies are all smart.  Very smart.  That’s what makes this film so delightful:  The female characters are characters who are female, not stereotypes being forced into an old story.  They come across as fresh and original while still maintaining the flavor of the 1984 film.

In fact, the only real dummy in the film is their beefcake receptionist, Kevin (played by Chris Hemsworth) who is one of the stupidest yet most endearing characters ever in movies.   He, too, plays a vital part in the construction of the film, albeit not the one you might expect.

The basic plot is still the same: 
Ghostbusters, after being drummed out of academia, start a business that nobody takes seriously until they finally catch a ghost; then as business booms the government tries to regulate them out of existence only to find itself hopeless outgunned by a massive supernatural invasions and forced to rely on the team to save the day.

The script construction is great, you get everything you want in a Ghostbusters movie only not in the way you expect it, including cameos galore featuring the original cast.

Highly recommended.

ghostbusters-2016-cast-proton-packs-images

[1]  Not a reboot, a remake.  A reboot drastically alters something about the theme / tone/ intent of the original  Reboots done well are good, but too often they are just a new creative team pissing on material to mark it as their.

[2]  There’s been a lot of hate directed at this film by MRAs suffering terminal butthurt from the fact the four main characters are female as opposed to the four male protagonists of the first film.  Congratulations, guys; now you know how women feel when they see men starring in 88%.  Ghostbusters ’16 is aware of that animosity and comments on it directly more than once in the course of the film, and almost always to dismiss it as unimportant to Just Doing Their Jobs.  Brava, Ghostbusters ’16!

 

 

 

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Reverse The Polarities

by Buzz on 15/07/2016

Trail-of-Tears

Two centuries after being forcibly removed from their homelands, the Cherokee people decided they wanted to come home.

They’d set up new lives for themselves after being relocated to Oklahoma and truth be told many of them prospered, perhaps more so than had they stayed in their original homeland.

But the dream of returning remained strong among them, permeating their art, their music, their poems, their songs, their spirituality. Every generation saw Cherokee chiefs and shamans fervently arguing for return and finally, after many, many generations of Cherokee had come and gone, they decided to return.

The land they wanted lay in the Appalachian Mountains around the point where North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia touched; not a terribly large nor exceptionally valuable piece of real estate.

What it lacked in natural resources it made up for in new inhabitants. Others referred to them by a variety of impolite names — “ridge-runners” “crackers” “peckerwoods” “hillbillies” — but Scots-Irish is as good a label to hang on them as any.

Like the Cherokee, they had their own tragic history.

A few Cherokee still lived among the Scots-Irish in that region, some peaceably, some not (in fairness it was Scots-Irish bigots who had problems with the Cherokee, not the other way around).

As a new generation of relocated Cherokee began moving into the area, friction arose.

Many Scots-Irish in the area saw no problem with Cherokees moving in so long as the Scots-Irish and their culture remained in charge. Cherokee were free to live as they like on lands they purchased just so long as they didn’t upset the Scots-Irish apple cart.

However, a significant number of Scots-Irish resented the influx of Cherokee, fearing — and rightly so, as events played out — that the Cherokee intended to usurp their authority and control.

As more and more Cherokee moved in including a huge influx directly fleeing intense anti-Cherokee violence in Oklahoma, their ultimate aim for the area became known: It was not enough to merely return to the geographic area where their tribe originated, they needed to establish — or in their view re-establish – the Cherokee tribe as an independent nation.

Meaning they would be in charge.

Meaning things would be run their way.

The Scots-Irish in the area fell into three camps over this:
Those (admittedly few in number) who thought the Cherokee could do as good if not a better job of running things than their own corrupt local and state governments
Those who were willing to live-and-let-live and allow the Cherokee some territory to call their own so long as they didn’t take all of it
Those outraged by the idea of Cherokee coming back to take land from them that their families had lived on for generations (they pointed out that if the Cherokee were treated badly by the Oklahomans, then it was a problem they needed to take up with Oklahoma, not Appalachia)

Add to the mix Scots-Irish pedagogues and politicians who lived outside the immediate area but saw a profit in keeping things stirred up among the Appalachian Scots-Irish.

Things finally reached a tipping point:
The Cherokee grew in number to the point where they were able to declare independence.

The United Nations tried to smooth things over by dividing the territory in two as fairly as they could and telling both sides to respect the borders and live peaceably with one another.

While many Scots-Irish fled the Cherokee territory, fearing discrimination, many others stayed.

Russia, saying in essence “Hey, they’re ‘reds’ and we used to be ‘reds’ so we like them”, recognized the Cherokee’s national independence and implicitly threatened to protect the Cherokee under their own nuclear umbrella. China and other nuclear super-powers soon joined in. The United States was in no position to go to war over the issue.

While they thought they still had a chance, the Scots-Irish in and around the area decided to destroy the nascent nation once and for all. They warned Scots-Irish living in non-Cherokee controlled territory to flee the area so as not to be accidentally hurt in the upcoming war. They told the Scots-Irish who chose to remain under Cherokee control that they’d either have to turn on their new neighbors or be slaughtered along with them.

The refugees fled to nearby camps, expecting a swift return once the fighting stopped.

But when the fighting stopped, the Cherokee had not only soundly beaten the Scots-Irish attackers but now claimed much of the U.N. territory previously apportioned for the Scots-Irish.

This did not make the Scots-Irish happy.

Over the next half century, as one pedagogue after another who lived outside the immediate area stirred them up and told them they must annihilate the Cherokee and their loathsome allies, the Scots-Irish launched war after war against the Cherokee.

And the Cherokee beat them and beat them badly every single time, typically taking more and more of the U.N. apportioned Scots-Irish territory as they did.

Finally the local Scots-Irish leadership had enough and struck a very rough peace with the Cherokee: No more official massive attacks on the Cherokee nation, the Scots-Irish would be left to their own in their territory.

The Cherokee agreed, but were unwilling to surrender much of the territory they’d conquered by that point. They also unilaterally declared their right to massive retaliation if the Scots-Irish leadership didn’t keep a damper on their own population.

Scots-Irish refugees, living in camps for half a century now, felt outrage at this: Where was their right to return to their homes?

Scots-Irish living within Cherokee held areas resented the heavy handed way the Cherokee administered the territory, especially how they denied Scots-Irish basic civil rights afforded the Cherokee. (The Cherokee, of course, argued they needed to do so in order to protect peaceable Cherokees from attacks by Scots-Irish gangs.)

The Scots-Irish who were already living with the Cherokee when the wars started now found themselves cut off from their Scots-Irish relatives and, no matter how much sympathy they had for them or irritation at the Cherokee, were forced to ally themselves with the Cherokee because all other Scots-Irish had sworn their destruction as well.

Scots-Irish pedagogues outside the area saw their own personal fortunes tied to how well they encouraged the Appalachian Scots-Irish to cling to their dream of destroying the Cherokee or at the very least driving them out of most of the territory.

Scots-Irish politicians in North Carolina and Tennessee and George and other states with large Scots-Irish populations also gave lip service to the Appalachian Scots-Irish reclaiming their land, but were damned if they were going to let the Scots-Irish refugees settle in their states because (a) they were dirt poor and would be a strain on their own resources and (b) they were filled with firebrands who would upset their own states’ relatively stable politics and cost the politicians their jobs.

They suggested that perhaps Russia could take in some of the Scots-Irish refugees and while the Russians did make a big show of accepting a handful of token immigrants, no real solution was to be found in that area.

North Carolina, Tennessee, and George did a lot of business with Russia, and they did not want the ruble-train cut off.

The Cherokee also did a lot of business with Russia as well, and while the Cherokee built their own excellent weapons for their own highly skilled armed forces, they bought a lot of Russian weapons as well. The Russians, to keep this lucrative market open, gave the Cherokee a lot of rubles in aid, far more rubles than they doled out to the Scots-Irish of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.

And that is where things stand right now.

Quiz:

  1. If you were a Scots-Irish living in Cherokee controlled territory or in a refugee camp, would you passively accept your fate?
  2. If the answer to the above is “no” then aren’t you also arguing the Palestinians shouldn’t passively accept their fate?

Bonus Question:

  • Solving the Middle East dilemma, especially in regards to Israel, ain’t that easy, is it?
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“Never Give An Order You Can’t Enforce”

by Buzz on 12/07/2016

That is the very first thing every officer is taught in military school.

All laws, even the most mundane, end in the death penalty.

They have to.

If you get a parking ticket…
…and you refuse to pay it…
…and you resist the state’s attempt to collect…
…you must either agree challenge their interpretation through their own courts
(thus tacitly agreeing they have the authority to take your property)
…or you flee their jurisdiction
(and thus tacitly agreeing they have the authority to take your property)
…or you must passively surrender
(which again tacitly agrees they have the authority they claim)
…or you physically resist…
…and you either resist and win
(thus destroying the state and its authority)
…or you lose…
…and they kill you…

The state cannot allow its authority to go unchallenged.

And absolutely this includes the most benign, citizen-participatory grass-roots democracies imaginable. The state cannot pass laws unless they can enforce the laws, and they cannot ignore those who refuse to acknowledge their authority.

This includes those within the government who are corrupt or attempt to circumvent the law for their own purposes. Those officials must be identified and brought in line with the true authority of the state, or else the state loses all credibility as a governing force.

Many states are reluctant to escalate confrontations too quickly and there is much wisdom in that: Better by far to let a minor traffic offender escape for the moment than to launch a dangerous high speed chase that might result in innocent people being hurt; the state can always track the offender down later and deal with them.

And many states will use or encourage banishment to avoid a head on confrontation with a problematic citizen. That serves both parties’ goals: The state has its authority recognized by someone fleeing their jurisdiction in order to avoid that authority, and the person banished can rightfully claim they have not submitted to what they feel is an unjust authority.

Every state, even the most totalitarian, governs through the consent of those governed, and that consent is the basis of their authority.

Laws against premeditated homicide were just as valid in Nazi Germany as they are in modern day Israel.

If authority cannot enforce its laws, then there are no laws, and if there are no laws, then there is no authority.

We the people have the right to set limits and decide how those limits are enforced in our various cultures and societies. Those cultures and societies (i.e., the state) have the authority we give them to enforce those limits.

If we don’t like it, we can either try to persuade others to support a change in those limits, or we can leave.

Or we can fight and hope to destroy the state and replace it with something we prefer.

Secular readers can stop here;
religious readers can follow after the jump.

Read the rest of this article »

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The Words Of The Prophets…

by Buzz on 9/07/2016

…are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls


https-::www.flickr.com:commonsWotP 14 Mother Jones

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Writing Report, July 7, 2016

by Buzz on 8/07/2016

Donald Duck reads what he wrote

I’m using Expresso, a nice little editing app you can use for free online, to digitally prep the manuscript for “The Most Dangerous Man In The World:  The Lost Classic G.I. Joe Episode” for re-writing / polish / final copyediting.

Expresso does not replace a human carefully going over a manuscript, but it speeds up the process by drawing attention to weak verbs, run on sentences, etc.  I’m a little less than halfway done with the preliminary pass of the manuscript thru Expresso; the free version can’t seem to handle more than 1,500 or so words without freezing up so I’m feeding the story thru two or three scenes at a time.

Expresso finds the most problems with my writing in the non-action scenes; it seems to like my action and combat writing just fine.

As with most writers I’ve got several projects going simultaneously, including a very dark barbarian fantasy which I mentioned previously.  I wrote a scene for it the other night which “works” insofar as it conveys the necessary information the story requires at that point but does so in a really awkward and way out of character manner for my protagonist.  Expect that to get severely re-written once I finish the handwritten first draft.

The cartoon above pretty much sums up my feelings once I finished writing the scene.

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GMO Crops / GMO Crap

by Buzz on 5/07/2016

GMO smoking-medical-camels-chesterfieldGMO smoking-babys-drs

There’s a lot of pressure to quiet criticism of GMO crops and the companies (Monsanto, front and center, but others as well) that promote them.

Typically the protests against GMO are depicted as being on par with Luddites or anti-vaxxers.

While you can find some folks who oppose unlabeled GMO in our food supply for purely bogus sci-fi horror movie reasons, the truth is the bulk of objections are pretty sound, and the more the GMO producers try to silence the objections, the louder they have to become.

And we’re excluding criticism of merely the business side of GMO crops — the producers’ exclusive claim to all seeds, their usurious leasing rates for new seed crops, etc.  That’s awful and well worth hammering them about, but it would be the same for any business using similar high pressure tactics against customers.

No, the problem is this:
History has shown that industry is fully capable of selling dangerous and defective products to customers, and not merely products that later prove themselves to be dangerous, such as thalidomide, but products they already know to be dangerous.

Such as tobacco.

Such as cars with vulnerable fuel tanks.

Such as hot coffee capable of producing 3rd degree burns.

Industry has repeatedly demonstrated even when regulatory agencies were fully authorized and funded that they knowingly hide damaging information from public, scientific, and governmental review, all so their stock holders could make more money.

So when the GMO producers want to hide the fact that some of our food supply contains GMO produce despite the fact they have well established procedures and mechanisms in place to track such crops so that they can bill farmers, then we see red flags being waved everywhere.

Something is not right in this picture,
and it isn’t the fact people are
ill-informed on GMO crops.

What the GMO producers are saying when they demand there be no labels on GMO crops is that their right to make money supersedes their customers’ right to make informed purchases for any reason.

Maybe you don’t like the taste of something.

Maybe the color or the texture doesn’t appeal to you.

Maybe you want to buy only from local farmers.

Maybe whether it’s organic or GMO, you still say it’s spinach and you still say to hell with it.

The fact is that you the consumer have every right in the world to make a purchase based on your own personal choices, and no one has the right to trick you into buying something you do not wish to purchase.

If the GMO producers were 100% certain there were no long term health risks to GMO crops, why would they be opposed to GMO crops being labeled as such?

Okay, say a certain percentage of the “free market” opposes them and won’t buy foodstuffs with GMO ingredients.

So what?

The people who do purchase GMO crops will be buying better quality (it will be better, won’t it?) and cheaper priced (it will be cheaper, right?) food than their neighbors who don’t.

After 10 – 20 – 30 years with no health problems, pretty much everybody on the planet comes around to the fact that GMOs pose no health risk and everybody except for the real health food fanatics are buying them.

I mean, it’s not like they won’t make
money between now and then, right?

And the patents will run for gawdawful long periods of time, so they’ll still be reaping the benefits — literally and financially — of GMO crops a century from now.

Why don’t they want us to know if there are GMO crops in our food supply?

See, our thinking goes like this: 
In many cases GMO crops are designed to withstand lavish amounts of pesticides and herbicides, significantly higher than the current acceptable levels. We know the pesticides and herbicides are relatively harmless over a human lifetime at their current dosage; we don’t know if multiplying those doses by a factor of two or four or eight times is going to have long term health problems.

We know what Agent Orange did to people with even mere passing exposure to it so you can’t say our concerns are groundless.

What we wonder is if the GMO producers, like the tobacco companies, do not want a paper trail pointing back to it in the event there proves to be a long term health problem in the future. To us, that indicates they are not 100% convinced increased pesticide / herbicide use will be harmless, even though said pesticides / herbicides are supposed to break down in nature and be rendered harmless before the crops enter the human food supply.

It also makes us wonder how well our ecosystem will react to massive extra doses of supposedly harmless compounds entering our water tables, our soil, and our oceans.  This is not a groundless fear!  We’ve seen the damage fertilizers can do to once pristine fresh water supplies in Florida and other places, not to mention laundry detergents.

What the GMO producers want is this:

  1. To use deception to force us to buy products we have no trust in
  2. To hide the trail leading back to them if anything goes wrong

Sorry, no.

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