Closure

A couple weeks ago someone from the RA fanbase contacted me to check in and see how I was since apparently my silence has raised some concern among some folks. I appreciated that. 🙂

She also mentioned by JPK/J fanfics which I wrote oh so long ago and left the last one unfinished. Ever since she mentioned it to me, JP has been popping up in my dreams. Not like, every night, but enough for me to think my subconscious is telling me something.

So yes, I will finish the last JPK/J fanfic, JPJ: India.

Now this is straight up author insertion/fantasy (or at least an idealized version thereof, but not as idealized as y’know, a full blown Mary Sue), so I know that is not for everyone. Totally understandable. But obviously, this is something I gotta do no matter how potentially embarrassing it is. 😀

If anything, maybe it will help kick start writing again.

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Into the Storm (Spoilers)

(First of all, sorry for the spelling error in the title of last night’s post.)

I did not get to go with anyone from work, but I understand the physics of the tornado themselves were realistic.

Though one wonders why an airport did not clear out its traffic in advance of a major system like that.

As for the film itself?

Well…erm.

Even taking into account that it was just a popcorn, special-effects showcase, disaster flick…erm.

Seriously, I was re-writing that film as I was watching it. “Set the entire thing in real time. Because of the briefness of the event, you can do that. Ditch offensive stereotype rednecks. If they contribute nothing to the plot, get rid of them. Ditch whiny camera guy who had no redeeming qualities for the audience to get attached to. (And why would someone hire a cameraman who had no experience in dealing with dangerous events?) Because the audience did not get attached, they did not care when he unnecessarily-horrifically died. Having someone in the main cast suddenly killed by just flying debris (notice no one was? Even though that is what kills most people in a tornado) would have not only been more realistic, the suddenness of it would have had more impact. Like a Saving Private Ryan moment where you are following this guy and then *bang* it’s over. That fast.

Honestly, for drama’s sake, I would have killed Richard Armitage’s character right after he saved his son, when the audience assumed that family was safe. That would have been a shock moment that would resonate through the audience and rest of the characters.

If not him, then either develop and then kill the assistant-dude who only had two lines or kill the African American cameraman who was developed and fun to watch. Anyone the audience would care about. Do not simply leave African-American guy, probably the most interesting one on the entire tornado-chasing team, behind for no reason. The whole argument in the church? Cut it, unnecessary time waster. And badly written, so badly written. A somber mood and accusing and guilty looks would have probably been even more powerful. It’s show, not tell people!”

The whole film, I was doing that.

Also, noticing continuity errors.

I will give it credit for having an exciting and somewhat more realistic end than Twister. Also I did not expect the main tornado chasing guy to come back to save everyone. That was well-played. But The Matrix: Revolutions moment of the tank flying all the way up past the cloud layer was stupid.

Also the “Chekov’s pocket knife” and the father-son interaction over it was nicely done.

The Last Things…Oh, and That Guy

To be anti-climactic:

19. This year I have to get bifocals. I have been puting it off by taking off my glasses when I read, but that just is not hacking it anymore. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 11 (and needed them long before that), no problem. But that’s… well, that’s a bit of a shocker. I’m only 43.

I remember that first time I got glasses, I was freaked out by how sharply defined the world actually was.

20. The first fiction I wrote was X-Men fanfic, and Chris Claremont is a huge influence on me as a writer. What can I say? You never forget your first. Or in this case, second. Kipling was my first.

And just for funsies, let’s swing this meme into another meme:

Ten Books That have Stayed With You

1. The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

2. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

3. The Rainbow – D.H. Lawrence

4. Watership Down – Richard Adams

5. Dubliners & Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (I have them as one book) – James Joyce.

6. HMS Surprise – Patrick O’Brian.

7. Here Be Dragons – Sharon Kay Penman

8. Scaramouche – Rafael Sabatini

9. The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera

10. New Mutants: Demon Bear arc/Uncanny X-Men #274 “Crossroads” – Chris Claremont.

Now I challenge Caty, Nell and Augustick!

So…

TheCrucible1

After twelve weeks, scores of rave reviews from critics, hundreds of rave reviews from audience members, The Old Vic 2014 production of The Crucible has wrapped.  Congratulations to all the cast and crew on such a resounding success.

And congratulations to Richard Armitage on laurels well-earned. I have yet to see the performance, I look forward to its release on Digital Theatre (and I will review when I see it), but I will take everyone’s word for it. I am so glad you have had a chance to challenge yourself this way and that you surmounted it so completely. I know this was an endurance trial as well, yet you have seemed so happy in your interviews during this period, I hope that you return to theatre on a  regular basis to feed your soul.

Now put your feet up and have a glass on me.

wine1

…so to speak. Tell you what, I’ll just donate 8$ to one of your charities. That covers a good glass of wine these days, doesn’t it?

Wine

I Give Credit Where Credit Is Due…

I recently slammed Richard Armitage for not using his Twitter feed as said he would to help spread the word about the charities he in involved with. This afternoon Richard Armitage plugged some of his chosen charities on his Twitter feed.

Good on ya Richard. 🙂 I retract that statement and apologize. You’re putting Twitter to the best possible use here. I should have been more patient.

These are all great charities helping people for worthy causes. I encourage people to follow his lead, read up and donate.

I would also like to say that something he has said a couple times in the past I was dismissive of, and he was right. I put this in a previous post and then took it out because it did not quite fit the topic.

RA is (or at least was) a self-proclaimed pacifist. He has regularly expressed concern about the level of violence in entertainment. (Always while acknowledging the hypocrisy of his taking so many action roles, so he’s was being honest. Though…*ahem* He may have asked, but he did not get.) And, a couple times, he has included concern with it’s effects on kids. In the past I disregarded that. I am American from a military family with a love of military history and action movies and I though he was being, well, kind of overly sensitive. I really did not think it was that big of a deal. I grew up with toy guns and my brothers and I beating the snot out of each other. And I’m fine.

You know…in my way. My very rude, crude and socially unacceptable way.

Fine.

…O.k., maybe that should have been a clue.

But recent historical readings and personal events have changed my mind and made me concerned about the glorification of violence in our culture and its impact on society and kids. All cultures are capable of violence, but the West/Europe and the U.S. seems to revel in the gory details of it like no other, and has for well over a millennia. That has to have an impact. I don’t think a video game is going to turn someone into a criminal, but there is so much of it in our entertainment and even our news (“If it bleeds, it leads”), I would be very surprised if we weren’t picking up some if it by osmosis and that it is colouring our reactions by making us more aggressive.

I am sure someone must have studied this from a purely anthropological perspective, they should have anyway. It’s hard to get an unbiased reading on the effects of a facet of culture on individuals from within that culture. And while all societies have wars, that does not bring into the accounting other forms of aggression and violence within a culture.

So while I still do not agree with him on everything, for instance I don’t think we need to eliminate private gun ownership to greatly diminish gun violence, in this instance I agree he has a valid argument.

Though I too am a hypocrite in that I love both reading and writing action stories.

“It’s Our Traditional Way of Life”

I was reading about how the Japanese just countered the U.N. Ban on their hunting whales off Antarctica by killing 30 Minke whales off their own coast and their PM swearing to restart commercial whaling.

Despite the fact that whale meat has grown so unpopular in Japan, they have to give it away.

My first response was anger of course. Japan has long been giving the world the one-finger salute over international whaling ban by taking whales for the “scientific purpose” of selling whale meat. In the end, the only defense they have for this and things like the dolphin slaughter in Taiji Cove is “It’s our traditional way of life.”

What a bunch of B.S..

The same argument is being made by communities that mine coal in order to protect the coal industry, despite the number of ecological disasters it causes. Putting Global Climate Change aside, let’s talk slurry spills and the other effects of mountain top removal coal mining.

Yes, it is an industry that exports millions of tons of coal…to China, but the principal defense of coal mining seems to be “It’s our traditional way of life.”

Oh, give me a break…

But then I thought of the post I have in my “Drafts” cue about the Open Carry Twats. It begins, in good conscience, by addressing the unusual passion for firearms in the U.S., trying to find the rational line been responsible gun owners and those hysterics that require guns as an ego prop so much they go into public places to implicitly threaten others with assault rifles. Now, I do believe in the Second Amendment. I was raised in a hunting culture in rural America and I know there are still people who reply on wild game to feed their families. But when I came to the  “armed citizens keep the government from becoming a tyranny” argument, which is the only valid reason why anyone would own an assault rifle, I ran up against the examples of other developed nations with unarmed populaces who seem to keep their countries from becoming tyrannies just fine. Including Japan.

Well, damn.

The only argument for our cultural attachment to firearms I found to fall back on was “It’s part of American culture.”

“It’s our traditional way of life.”

Shit.

“We need to do it because we always did it” is a circular argument, an argumentative fallacy.

The adherence to cultural tradition is one of the most powerful forces in history, America had a Civil War over the “tradition” of slavery after all. The bloodbath of the Protestant Reformation was a war between a new concept of religion vs. the tradition of the Catholic Church.

(And as a side, note, I think it is because the United States has no cultural memory of such a bloody upheaval as the Reformation that we are so tolerant of religious zealotry in our midst.)

And not all traditions are bad. I was discussing with someone that of all the things our culture is not good at, one of the things we got right was our concept of childhood as a protected time, an extended protected time. That seems to be slowly taking hold across the world in cultures where infanticide, child workers/slaves, child soldiers and child brides are slowly being stomped out. Thank the Gods. And Japan has a tradition of public service that would be good for Americans to learn from.

As an Anthropology major (I double majored) I know how vital it is for a people to hang on to a cultural identity. In the U.S. Anthropology and Archaeology have their roots in trying to document the swiftly fading AmerIndian cultures of the Americas. It was incredibly vital to the aboriginal peoples to hang onto their lifeways and cultural identities in the face of genocidal devastation.

But there has to be a certain point where clinging to an aspect of a cultural identity is simply wrong in the harm that it does. Child brides and female genital mutilation, for instance. Antisemitism was a major part of European culture for a thousand years culminating in one of the worst acts of genocide seen in all of human history. America is facing numerous mass murders and yet we can’t move on any form of gun control, even just a background check system that actually works, because of a large part of our society screaming “Guns are our traditional way of life!”

And I know part of the hysteria over gun control is part of the fear many conservative Americans are facing in a changing world.

But life is change.

In fact, I believe the instant a culture tries to freeze itself in time, it is on the decline.

We no longer live on a frontier that requires everyone to own a firearm. So is the ability to walk into a store and walk out with an AR15 an hour later *really* necessary to one’s cultural identity as an American? I am immensely proud of my family’s 379 year history on these shores. I culturally identify myself as an “American” full stop. And I do not own a gun. My cultural identity is not reliant on owning a firearms. It’s bigger than anything I can hold in my hand.

Most things we think of as “traditional” are harmless; holidays, rituals, music, dances and so on. And what is important in all cultural traditions is that they are outward reflection of the inner, innate ideals, beliefs, morals and attitudes of their culture. Things that do slowly change over time, but I think that process does not eliminate them. It refines them. Accepting homosexual marriage does not mean that we no longer believe in the monogamous marriage. It just means we have opened that cultural tradition to everyone. If we enacted stricter gun control laws, that does not mean Americans are no longer a valiant people. It just means that we don’t need to wave guns around to prove it. It means we realized that guns undercut the idea of true courage because any bully can threaten someone with superior force. The brave person is the one that stands up to superior force and says, “No, you are wrong.”

Haven’t we, as a species, advanced enough to be self-aware enough to look at aspects of our culture and see them objectively, to be able to weigh the harm they do vs. the true cultural impact of letting them go? Is our identity as Americans going to vanish because we enact stricter gun laws or stop mining coal? Will the 1500 year old Japanese culture collapse if they stop whaling?

Of course not. A culture is stronger, or at least it should be stronger, than a single outward aspect of its traditions.

Well…

Dear Richard Armitage,

Happy Birthday and many happy returns.

I see you are are enjoying having your ego fed on Twitter. What a blast.

The first Tweet was cute. The second…”I have 9000 fans, look how LOVED I am!” (by people who want you to do the ALS challenge just to see you in a wet T-shirt) “Aw…*bats eyelashes* Will you sing to me? I still don’t feel loved enough.”

Not even a “Thank you.”

Seriously, you are getting standing O’s almost every night, rave reviews from professional critics and fans, have gotten adoration from fans for years, you have what appears to be a fulfilling social life …and it’s not enough?

Guess not.

Have fun Dude,

Kip

When the Internet Sucks, or Why Open Social Media is a Really Bad Idea for Celebrities

There are a number reasons for famous people to not Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, etc.. It opens the doors of their privacy, for one. Twitter and other social media sites do this on multiple levels with our own mistakes of TMI, people digging into information we wish to keep among friends and companies data-mining our accounts. The strong likelihood of a major embarrassing gaffe is another reason. If Stephen Fry can step in it on Twitter, no one is safe from their own stupidity.

But today presented a sadly normal hell that social media is capable of:

Robin Williams Daughter Leaves Social Media After Receiving Abuse

Robin Williams’ daughter has left social media after receiving abusive messages – including images of photoshopped images of her father’s body – in the wake of his death.

This happened within 24 hours of his death. These people are sick fucks. And they will continue to be sick fucks to anyone they can be, the more famous the better. Trolling famous people, and their fans, in social media is a much bigger stage than they could get on their own and gets them more of the attention they crave.

I know fans have been pushing a certain actor to get a Twitter account in order to get a daily fix of their obsession. Sure they say, “it’s better for publicity” but there really is no proof that a Twitter account got anyone an acting job. (His performances get him acting jobs, just like his performances get him fans.) The media and fansites keep people informed of his projects and appearances in the press, so he and his publicist do not need a social media platform/account to do so. His fans just want more access to him, direct access to him. (Social media propagates the illusion of intimacy.) Thus far he has wisely refused.

I hope he will continue to be wise. His privacy is already disappearing faster than snow in August. Twitter, Facebook, etc. would only further expose the private life he has quite clearly stated he wants to keep out of the public eye (tho’ many fans have proven they don’t give a damn about what he wants for his own life) and expose him to hurtful jerks like the trolls above and the ensuing drama.

I feel deeply sorry for Zelda Williams and the rest of Robin Williams’ family. I hope they can find some peace and comfort during this time.