athelind: (Beware My Power)
I am home sick today, my third round with a stomach bug in a four-week span, so let's talk Superhero Movies.

Recently, Time Warner announced that they were ramping up their slate of DC Comics-based movies in a desperate attempt to play catch-up to Disney’s unprecedented success with the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Justice League Part One (2017)
  • The Flash (2018)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam (2019)
  • Justice League Part Two (2019)
  • Cyborg (2020)
  • Green Lantern (2020)


Needless to say, this prompted some discussion ‘mongst my social circle … and some eye-rolling that followed the last entry on that four-year, ten-movie extravaganza: Green Lantern.

Long-time readers will recall that GL was once Your Obedient Serpent’s very favorite superhero, but even he will admit that the last attempt at translating the Emerald Gladiator to the big screen was, to be generous ... unimpressive. Nevertheless, while its descent into mediocrity was the end result of bad creative choices, one should not fall into the trap of assuming that the first of those bad choices was "let's make a Green Lantern movie!"

The first and biggest Bad Choice was to cram far too many elements into the first movie, all from different periods of the comic, without really giving any of it a proper build-up.

The second Bad Choice was Hal Jordan.

Okay, let me rephrase that. No, I am not Happy Hal's biggest fan; of all the different characters who've worn the ring and claimed the title, I'd have to say that there were three or four ... thousand ... I like more than Hal Jordan. And if the movie had actually given us Hal Jordan instead of Stock Character #438, I'd have been middlin' pleased.

Look, here's the Secret Magic Ingredient that Marvel Studios stumbled across that turned their movies into both critical and box-office successes: superhero movies need distinctive characters and strong character arcs.

The character arc in the Green Lantern movie? "Look, the slacker screwing up his life gets a magic ring, straightens out, and turns his life around, proving that he's not such a screw-up after all." No surprises there: that's about as trite and unimaginative as Hollywood gets these days.

It's also not Hal Jordan.1

Please note that I am not saying "oh, they aren't faithful to the character, so this movie sucks." I'm also aware that they've been trying to shoehorn "reckless maverick who's always in trouble" into Hal's backstory since they did Emerald Dawn back in '89, but that's never really clicked.

I AM saying that Hal Jordan's character arc in the comics is a lot more compelling and unusual than the story of Yet Another Man-Child Growing Up.

When we first meet Hal in 1959, he's got it all. He's a test-pilot, competent, confident and successful in a career that demands highly-honed skills and steady nerves. He's fearless, not reckless: having him on the Ferris Aircraft payroll is an asset. He's a jet-setting ladies' man who has his sights set on the woman who runs the company, and lives a life of martinis and tuxedos that James Bond would envy.

The magic ring that falls from the sky doesn't straighten out his screwed-up life; quite the contrary. It gives him amazing power and opens the entire Cosmos up to him ... but little by little, it sends his personal and professional lives into a tailspin. The responsibilities of protecting Sector 2814 as a member of both the Corps and the Justice League take more and more of his time from his life on Earth. By the mid-'70s, he's gone from a high-prestige test pilot to someone who can't hold a steady job, his resume including such gems as travelling salesman for a toy company.

He spent a good chunk of the mid-'80s having resigned from the Corps, trying to figure out what had happened to his life, wandering around as a drifter trying to figure out just who Hal Jordan was apart from being Green Lantern.

And yet he keeps going back.2

Now, that's a character arc that we haven't really seen on the big screen. In the Spider-Man movies, Peter Parker can't hold a steady job because because of his extracurricular activities, but it hasn't really dragged him down -- at worst, it's held him back. In the Iron Man series, we watched Tony Stark go from a reckless genius billionaire playboy asshole who didn't give a damn about anything to ... um ... a reckless genius billionaire playboy asshole who really does want to do the right thing, mostly. By the end of Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, Bruce Wayne is a battered, broken semi-invalid, but really, he was always a broken man: his body just caught up with his soul.

So far, we haven't had a superhero movie where the "Guy Who Has It All" finds his true calling ... and loses "it all" because of it.

As much as I can see the potential of a good Hal Jordon movie, though, I think they could get a lot more mileage out of John Stewart. Really, as much as it pains the Silver Age Stagnation Squad to see it, John is familiar to a lot more people than Hal, thanks to his headlining role in three brilliant seasons of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

I would love to see a movie that really took advantage of John's two primary background elements: he's a Marine Sniper who became an Architect. Seems like writers who eagerly adopt the Marine backstory (first introduced in the above-mentioned animated series) completely ignore the Architect (the vocation he's pursued in the comics almost since the beginning), but that dissonance between Warrior and Builder has a LOT of untapped potential.

John was the protagonist of Green Lantern: MOSAIC, a brilliant, surreal early '90s series by Gerard Jones that DC shows no interest in reprinting or even acknowledging. At one point, Jones scripts him a scene -- almost a soliloquy -- that manages to reconcile Warrior and Builder as two aspects of the same principle:

"What I do," John says, "is redistribute violence."

After this this startling proclamation, he clarifies: the job of an architect is to balance all the forces acting on a structure, and redirect them to make it stronger instead of tearing it apart.

That's John Stewart, particularly when Jones writes him: he's intelligent. He's erudite. He's philosophical.

John Stewart is the Warrior Poet.

We've had a lot of "smart" superheroes on the big screen ... we haven't really had an intellectual up there.

I will also note that John has another quality that is important for entirely different reasons: he's African-American.

And yes, dammit, that's important. Ask my friend [livejournal.com profile] kolchis, a school teacher who does a lot of substitute work in a lot of different areas, about the black kids who immediately zero in on the Green Lantern keychain the middle-aged white guy carries.

Rest assured it's not because they're Ryan Reynolds fans.

No matter how hard they try to push him as one of their Iconic Characters, Cyborg is the odd man out in that slate of movies. Sure, he's been around for more than thirty years now, but when push comes to shove, he's a Teen Titan. When they try to shoehorn him into the Justice League, it feels like they're desperate to dig up just one character in their roster who isn't Upper/Middle Class White Guy Man.

Do I think they should leave him out? Hell, no! I want to see Victor Stone up there on the screen with John Stewart. I want to see Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson playing Captain Marvel Shazam instead of Black Adam, and Billy Batson played by a kid with an equally-diverse heritage.

Representation and diversity is not tokenism.


1 "It's Kyle Rayner." "YOU SHUT UP. JUST SHUT UP."
2 This is directly related to why I am one of the few people who thought that Emerald Twilight was perfectly in character and was the logical culmination of three decades of storytelling ... but that is a story for another time.
athelind: (WARNING: TV Tropes)
Recently, I've had several conversations with different people about franchise fiction, why it becomes popular, and why so many franchises develop followings and fandoms far out of proportion to their literary merit (at least as perceived by the arbiters of such intangibles).

Since it's been a while since this (or any other) topic has come up in this venue, let's review (and rename, and renumber) Snark's Athelind's Laws of Fanfic Transformative Works:

  1. Athelind's First Law of Transformative Works:

    • A sufficiently established franchise is indistinguishable from fanfic.

      • Corollary: Star Trek novels exist because Paramount realized they weren't getting a cut of the fanzine market (see TV Tropes: Running the Asylum).

  2. Athelind's Second Law of Transformative Works:

    • The popularity of franchise fiction rests not only in the stories that are told, but in the stories that could be told in the franchise's setting. The more fertile the ground for exploration, extrapolation and personal interpretation, the more enthusiastic and enduring the fandom.


Analysis:

Phineas & Ferb is a very good show, at least as good as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Both shows are smart, snappy, extol virtues of creativity, cooperation, diversity and enthusiasm without being pandering or insulting, and are packed full of Parental Bonus humor.  They have fluid, slick animation and simple, crisp, geometric character design (P&F's creative team have gone on record as saying that the distinctive designs of the cast were intended to make them easy for young fans to draw).

And yet, while Phineas & Ferb has a following, it doesn't have a fandom with the same level of ... devotion ... as the Bronies.*  I will note that it also doesn't really have a premise that lends itself gracefully to fan-made characters;  a neighborhood full of eccentric grade-schoolers with a penchant for Mad Science is entertaining to watch, but adding one more quirky personality to that particular mix isn't something that excites the imagination.  Sure, it would be a blast to be nine years old and live on the same block as the Flynn-Fletchers, but nobody fantasizes about being Elmyra to Pinkie and the Brain.**

This supports the Second Law: Given two shows of approximately equal quality, I submit that the factor that makes one attract a hard-core fandom is how readily one can inject one's self or one's own creations into its milieu.

Harry Potter, My Little Pony, Star Trek, superhero comics ... They're all setting with a "sandbox" quality to them.  They have or imply Loads and Loads of Characters, and lend themselves to letting you be one of those thousands.

People write Monk fanfics, but they don't drop personal alter-egos or original characters into the Monk milieu unless they're Mary Suing. I love Babylon 5, but it has a finite story arc all centered around a particular cadre of Important People. People don't make their own imaginary Earthforce vessels like they do Federation starships.

I think the two purest distillations of "Milieus You Can Become A Part Of" are Furry Fandom, which has actually dispensed with ANY central narrative or setting and revolves primarily around the fandom's own self-created personae more than any particular commercial work ... and superhero comics, where the entire process has long been a matter of dropping a creator's own ideas and alter-egos into the larger setting.


* It's hard to think of many fandoms as devout as the Bronies.  Not even the Beatles, and they were more popular than ... well, they were pretty popular.
** Almost nobody.


WEDDING!

Oct. 24th, 2011 07:54 am
athelind: (Default)
I guess you shouldn't say a wedding went off "without a hitch", because the whole point is getting hitched, right?

Be that as it may, [livejournal.com profile] jirris_midvale and [livejournal.com profile] moredena got themselves hitched yesterday, and the ceremony went off almost flawlessly.1

It was my honor and privilege to serve as Best Man on this happy occasion, and I have never seen a ceremony so full of love and joy and beauty. They are a marvelous couple, and I am pleased and proud to have known them, and to have seen their relationship grow from their first meeting to this wonderful, inevitable day.


1 Almost flawlessly. As Best Man, it is also my obligation to preserve the memories of that happy day. All the memories, including the one that I shall tactfully summarize here as "oop ack ring herp derp". If you were there, you remember.
athelind: (Default)
... but who's going to FC this year?

(Wow, it's really the 13th-17th? That seems really early in the month!)


athelind: (work)
I don't often mention events at my current job, but last night bears some note.

Around closing time, I noticed that the mall was starting to get busy. This wasn't unexpected, since the new Harry Potter movie was slated for a midnight debut. I had some puttering around to do -- normally, I vacuum during the slow periods on Thursday night, but I had a few other tasks and not that many slow moments.

i decided to stay open while I was vacuuming, and see who wandered in.

A little after 9, I called my boss and let him know that I had more people wandering around the store than I'd had at any other point in the day.

Lots of bored people standing in line = lots of after-hours sales for the comic store.


... particularly after I sent a co-worker out to drum up business by handing out freebie comics and letting folks know that we had Harry Potter wands left over from Halloween, and were selling them at 20% off.

(I didn't clear that particular discount with the boss, but given that I sold all but two of the wands, and most everyone who came in to look at and/or purchase wands wound up buying other stuff, I don't think he'll complain.)

We wound up staying open until 11; a full third of yesterday's sales were made in those last two hours. There were, evidently, several thousand people in a line that ranged all the way around the mall. The theater wound up shutting down other shows so they could open Potter on more screens and clear the crowds out faster.

The energy of the crowd was infectious. Everyone was upbeat and happy and excited, and the realization of just how long two hours of waiting in a line really was only diminished that slightly (and fueled the impulse to head into Geek Heaven to find reading material, decks of cards, and other ways to kill time, so hey, bonus). That aura of enthusiasm kept me rarin' to go (RAR) well after I normally would have been fading out (aided and abetted by a 7PM can of Dr Pepper), and I have to admit: I had fun.

Pity we didn't have more Potter paraphernalia in stock.

My last customer of the night was also my favorite: a person in a Green Lantern shirt who admitted she was really there to see the GL trailer on the big screen. You gotta respect that.


athelind: (hoard potato)
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Fanfiction: Do you love it or hate it, or are you totally indifferent? Why?

Intellectually, I respect the concept of transformative art.

As a gamer, well, even if you're not playing in a licensed setting, that's all about pillaging pop culture and repurposing it.

As a creative impulse, though ... I just don't get it.

Let me clarify.

I grew up as a comics fan in the late '60s and early '70s, at the dawn of what the fandom calls The Bronze Age. In addition to everything going on at Marvel and DC at the time, it was also a period when a lot of books were coming out about the history of comics.

I didn't just grow up reading about Superman and Batman, Spider-Man and the Hulk -- I grew up reading about Siegel and Schuster, and Bob Kane and Bill Finger, and Stan and Jack and Ditko and Steranko, all these scrappy, struggling guys, exploding with new ideas as they struggled to create a whole new art form.

And I didn't want to write about their creations.

I wanted to create my own characters.

Am I saying that's somehow "better" than fanfic?

Hell, no!

I've got characters by the score. A lot of you know a few of them: I've roleplayed them, online and on the tabletop. Some of you have heard me kick around ideas and concepts for others. There's a passel of them that even I've forgotten about, or recycled into other characters.

What I don't have is stories, and that, arguably, is a lot more important if you actually want to write. [livejournal.com profile] scarfman has shown that it's not hard to take stories originally written as fanfic for licensed properties and turn it into something new and different by substituting different charaqcters.* If you don't have any stories, though, all you have is a bunch of people standing around, doing nothing, with no way to show how cool and exotic they are.

There's a connection to this line of thinking and the irritation that I feel about DC dragging its old Silver Age characters back into the limelight, but I have a beer in me, so that's going to have to wait.

... possibly until I have more than one beer in me.


*If you don't like that example, remember that Douglas Adams recycled a couple of his mostly-unproduced Doctor Who scripts into one of the Hitchhiker's books and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
... and who the heck are Sheldon and Penny?

athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Fasten your seatbelts, kids; this post starts talking about current Pop Culture, then veers into politics, philosophy, personal development, and metaprogramming.

It all started when I was doing something I normally avoid: reading comments on an internet blog. Unmoderated comment boards are usually overflowing with ill-considered, insulting, infuriating nonsense that can completely ruin an article I may have otherwise enjoyed.

In this case, however, the opposite occurred.

The io9 Blog's review of James Cameron's Avatar is the same blah-blah-blah-Mighty-Whitey-IN-SPACE critique that I've heard over and over. Nothing new here. The comments, on the other claw, are full of feedback from non-whites and non-Americans that undercut that as a being a white-Americans-are-the-center-of-the-universe interpretation that's at least as insulting, if not moreso.

I think my favorite comment thus far is this one:
All stories are about someone leaving a group or joining a group, it's just that some of these groups are a racial group. Outsider Luke Skywalker joins the rebels and becomes their number one gun. That's a heroic journey story, but if Luke was the only human and all the rest of the rebels were aliens suddenly it becomes a white guilt story? I don't buy it.


And now, Mood Whiplash. This shook some things out in my head, and I think they're worth sharing:

I've been sorting through the cognitive baggage cluttering my mind lately, and you know what? I think that "White Guilt" is a particularly toxic meme. To be more specific, there's a pervasive idea that any action that may have "White Guilt" as a motivating force is automatically invalid, or just more cultural imperialism. This is bullshit. It is an invitation to inaction.

Your Obedient Serpent, when he's not a dragon, is a middle-aged Anglo-American, raised in a middle-class suburb, who's seriously considering an opportunity to teach middle school science in a "high-need", inner-city environment. The very idea of standing in front of a classroom is a massive paradigm shift for him, and coming to this decision has involved jumping over a lot of mental hurdles.

You know what? True Confession Time: One of them was "Mighty Whitey".

"What right do you have to come swooping in with your degree and your laptop and your melanin deficiency, to try and "save" these kids? That's no different than England coking along to "civilize" India!"

Sounds really stupid when you verbalize it, doesn't it?

But people keep saying this, over and over: these stories are bad, they're unprincipled, they're just new and different ways for the privileged to lord it over everyone else. And if these stories are morally suspect, and your life-choices parallel them, why, then, those must be bad choices, right?

Once again: it sounds really stupid when you verbalize it. Stupid and arrogant. The only thing more arrogant than casting yourself as The Great Savior is to walk away from helping people because you're afraid people will think that's what you're doing.

That's part of the point: there are a lot of unexamined assumptions that mass media promulgates on an entirely sub-verbal level. It's good to examine them, it's good to scrutinize them -- but it's an iterative process. What unexamined assumptions are the critiques carrying with them?

One of the big ones, in this case, is the assumption that any real person's real life is simplistic enough to use fiction as a valid model. This isn't the first time I've fallen into that trap, and I'm sure it won't be the last -- but at least now I'm aware that trap is out there.

Or in here.


athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Fasten your seatbelts, kids; this post starts talking about current Pop Culture, then veers into politics, philosophy, personal development, and metaprogramming.

It all started when I was doing something I normally avoid: reading comments on an internet blog. Unmoderated comment boards are usually overflowing with ill-considered, insulting, infuriating nonsense that can completely ruin an article I may have otherwise enjoyed.

In this case, however, the opposite occurred.

The io9 Blog's review of James Cameron's Avatar is the same blah-blah-blah-Mighty-Whitey-IN-SPACE critique that I've heard over and over. Nothing new here. The comments, on the other claw, are full of feedback from non-whites and non-Americans that undercut that as a being a white-Americans-are-the-center-of-the-universe interpretation that's at least as insulting, if not moreso.

I think my favorite comment thus far is this one:
All stories are about someone leaving a group or joining a group, it's just that some of these groups are a racial group. Outsider Luke Skywalker joins the rebels and becomes their number one gun. That's a heroic journey story, but if Luke was the only human and all the rest of the rebels were aliens suddenly it becomes a white guilt story? I don't buy it.


And now, Mood Whiplash. This shook some things out in my head, and I think they're worth sharing:

I've been sorting through the cognitive baggage cluttering my mind lately, and you know what? I think that "White Guilt" is a particularly toxic meme. To be more specific, there's a pervasive idea that any action that may have "White Guilt" as a motivating force is automatically invalid, or just more cultural imperialism. This is bullshit. It is an invitation to inaction.

Your Obedient Serpent, when he's not a dragon, is a middle-aged Anglo-American, raised in a middle-class suburb, who's seriously considering an opportunity to teach middle school science in a "high-need", inner-city environment. The very idea of standing in front of a classroom is a massive paradigm shift for him, and coming to this decision has involved jumping over a lot of mental hurdles.

You know what? True Confession Time: One of them was "Mighty Whitey".

"What right do you have to come swooping in with your degree and your laptop and your melanin deficiency, to try and "save" these kids? That's no different than England coking along to "civilize" India!"

Sounds really stupid when you verbalize it, doesn't it?

But people keep saying this, over and over: these stories are bad, they're unprincipled, they're just new and different ways for the privileged to lord it over everyone else. And if these stories are morally suspect, and your life-choices parallel them, why, then, those must be bad choices, right?

Once again: it sounds really stupid when you verbalize it. Stupid and arrogant. The only thing more arrogant than casting yourself as The Great Savior is to walk away from helping people because you're afraid people will think that's what you're doing.

That's part of the point: there are a lot of unexamined assumptions that mass media promulgates on an entirely sub-verbal level. It's good to examine them, it's good to scrutinize them -- but it's an iterative process. What unexamined assumptions are the critiques carrying with them?

One of the big ones, in this case, is the assumption that any real person's real life is simplistic enough to use fiction as a valid model. This isn't the first time I've fallen into that trap, and I'm sure it won't be the last -- but at least now I'm aware that trap is out there.

Or in here.


athelind: (grognard)
Old leezard is old.

I talk about RPGs with a lot of people, most notably, [livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty.

The Rat has been gaming almost as long as I have, but that "almost" is significant -- never more so than when he'll contradict me about "how things were in the early days".1 I notice similar disconnects when reading LiveJournals, blogs... even the Designer Notes inside published RPGs.

What Rafferty and most other gamers don't realize is those few short years between 1978, when Your Obedient Serpent started gaming, and 1983-84, when The Rat started gaming, are a lot like the first three minutes after the Big Bang.2

Science Fiction Fans refer to "First Fandom" as those who were actively involved in fannish activity before 1 January 1938. The role-playing equivalent, IMNSHO, would be those already playing D&D when Dallas Egbert went missing on 16 August 1979 (yep, exactly 30 years ago this Sunday).3

Git offa my hex paper lawn, you whippersnappers! )

athelind: (Default)
Old leezard is old.

I talk about RPGs with a lot of people, most notably, [livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty.

The Rat has been gaming almost as long as I have, but that "almost" is significant -- never more so than when he'll contradict me about "how things were in the early days".1 I notice similar disconnects when reading LiveJournals, blogs... even the Designer Notes inside published RPGs.

What Rafferty and most other gamers don't realize is those few short years between 1978, when Your Obedient Serpent started gaming, and 1983-84, when The Rat started gaming, are a lot like the first three minutes after the Big Bang.2

Science Fiction Fans refer to "First Fandom" as those who were actively involved in fannish activity before 1 January 1938. The role-playing equivalent, IMNSHO, would be those already playing D&D when Dallas Egbert went missing on 16 August 1979 (yep, exactly 30 years ago this Sunday).3

Git offa my hex paper lawn, you whippersnappers! )

athelind: (hoard potato)
This made me laugh out loud:


I may have to print it out and post it at work.

Speaking as a long-time fan of the Green Lanterns, who's read the book(s) through all the ups and downs since 1970 or so, this multi-year arc that Geoff Johns has been writing is the Best Damned Run Of Green Lantern ever, one of the best things DC has done in the last decade, and Blackest Night is shaping up to be the "Final Crisis" that Final Crisis wasn't.

Honestly, it's a big part of why I still bother with superhero comics.

After, what, five years of non-stop Big Events and Red Skies Crossovers from both major companies, after a year of working in a comic store, and after my Fanfic Epiphany from a couple of years ago, I've come very close to burning out on commercialized adolescent power fantasies.

But Johns is good, and Blackest Night is not so much an Editorially-Mandated MegaCrossover as it is the logical climax of the story he's been telling for the last five years.

Still and nonetheless... "They turned Green Lanterns into Care Bears" is spit-take-worthy.


athelind: (Default)
This made me laugh out loud:


I may have to print it out and post it at work.

Speaking as a long-time fan of the Green Lanterns, who's read the book(s) through all the ups and downs since 1970 or so, this multi-year arc that Geoff Johns has been writing is the Best Damned Run Of Green Lantern ever, one of the best things DC has done in the last decade, and Blackest Night is shaping up to be the "Final Crisis" that Final Crisis wasn't.

Honestly, it's a big part of why I still bother with superhero comics.

After, what, five years of non-stop Big Events and Red Skies Crossovers from both major companies, after a year of working in a comic store, and after my Fanfic Epiphany from a couple of years ago, I've come very close to burning out on commercialized adolescent power fantasies.

But Johns is good, and Blackest Night is not so much an Editorially-Mandated MegaCrossover as it is the logical climax of the story he's been telling for the last five years.

Still and nonetheless... "They turned Green Lanterns into Care Bears" is spit-take-worthy.


athelind: (hoard potato)
Both Kinds: X1 and X2 indicates a distinction that seems non-existent to an outsider, but to an insider, seems not only significant, but a proud example of diversity and broad tastes.


Derives from the scene in The Blues Brothers in which the eponymous band cruise into a cowboy bar and claim to be the act that's actually booked their, stealing their gig. As they're setting up, they try to get an idea of what they should play:



Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
Bar Manager: Oh, we got both kinds. We got country and western.



Can also be used for the inversion, where an insider who really knows the diversity of a field winces at what a dabbler considers "diverse":


Grognard: "What kind of games do you usually play here?"
WoW Refugee: "Oh, we play both kinds: Dungeons and Dragons."
addendum, 16 Feb 2010: "I don't play D&D, I play Pathfinder."


In rare instances, it works both ways simultaneously:


Customer: "What kind of comics do you sell?"
Loyal Diamond Minion: "Both kinds: Marvel and DC."



athelind: (Default)
Both Kinds: X1 and X2 indicates a distinction that seems non-existent to an outsider, but to an insider, seems not only significant, but a proud example of diversity and broad tastes.


Derives from the scene in The Blues Brothers in which the eponymous band cruise into a cowboy bar and claim to be the act that's actually booked their, stealing their gig. As they're setting up, they try to get an idea of what they should play:



Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
Bar Manager: Oh, we got both kinds. We got country and western.



Can also be used for the inversion, where an insider who really knows the diversity of a field winces at what a dabbler considers "diverse":


Grognard: "What kind of games do you usually play here?"
WoW Refugee: "Oh, we play both kinds: Dungeons and Dragons."
addendum, 16 Feb 2010: "I don't play D&D, I play Pathfinder."


In rare instances, it works both ways simultaneously:


Customer: "What kind of comics do you sell?"
Loyal Diamond Minion: "Both kinds: Marvel and DC."



athelind: (weird science)
I find myself amused by some of the "new entries" in the "Canonical Glossary of Slang for Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0".

Current slang such as "Cobweb Site" and "Dead Tree Edition" has infiltrated "future" slang as as the "bleeding edge of the One-And-Twenty" slips toward the Present Day and into the Recent Past.


athelind: (Default)
I find myself amused by some of the "new entries" in the "Canonical Glossary of Slang for Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0".

Current slang such as "Cobweb Site" and "Dead Tree Edition" has infiltrated "future" slang as as the "bleeding edge of the One-And-Twenty" slips toward the Present Day and into the Recent Past.


athelind: (hoard potato)
Every so often, there are grumbles about why it is, in the furry fandom, that art gets a lot of attention, while prose is largely overlooked.

It's pretty straightforward to me.

You can glance at a piece of art -- or even a thumbnail -- and tell whether or not it's worth a closer look.

On the other claw, you can't tell if a story is going be worth your time until you've already spent a significant portion of that time.

The "entry fee" is much lower for art.

This isn't just the furry fandom, either. It's part of internet culture. People make careers out of web comics, and become fairly well-known; prose fiction on the web doesn't get the same audience.

athelind: (Default)
Every so often, there are grumbles about why it is, in the furry fandom, that art gets a lot of attention, while prose is largely overlooked.

It's pretty straightforward to me.

You can glance at a piece of art -- or even a thumbnail -- and tell whether or not it's worth a closer look.

On the other claw, you can't tell if a story is going be worth your time until you've already spent a significant portion of that time.

The "entry fee" is much lower for art.

This isn't just the furry fandom, either. It's part of internet culture. People make careers out of web comics, and become fairly well-known; prose fiction on the web doesn't get the same audience.

athelind: (hoard potato)
Back in 1993, I ran a GURPS Space game for my local gaming group. A local BBS -- remember those? -- was the organizing center of our social activities in those days, and it was common practice to use it to schedule games and distribute material.

I came up with a simple premise for a setting, wrote up a quick history to give everyone the basics, and set it up so that the players themselves could create the planet and the culture from which their characters hailed.

When we sat down to play, I found that most of the players hadn't bothered to read the background post.

These are people who would memorize setting information in stacks of published material.

[livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty calls this "Complete Stranger Theory": players are more willing to accept the work of a complete stranger than they are that of the person sitting in the same room.

(Since Rafferty designs tabletop games and uses his local group as playtesters, you can imagine how frustrating this must get for him.)

This came to mind because, yesterday evening, I leafed through the Russian Doll file structure of my hard drive and found, nested in Archive folders two or three deep, the files from that time-lost game.

Both [livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty and [livejournal.com profile] rodant_kapoor asserted that they would have read it -- so let's test that, shall we?

tl;dr )

I've said "four pages" in relating this story over the years; it actually comes out to less than a page and a half, as originally formatted.

It's evident what I was reading at the time; there are bits in there obviously cribbed from Phil Foglio's Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, and some obvious influence from David Brin's work, especially Earth.

The general framework, however, is pretty good: Humanity colonizes worlds using "slow FTL", develops dozens of cultures in comparative isolation, and then, poof, the discovery of "fast FTL" drops everyone in each other's back yard -- and First Contact.

There, okay, I just summed it up in one run-on sentence. But really, was a page and a half that onerous?

athelind: (Default)
Back in 1993, I ran a GURPS Space game for my local gaming group. A local BBS -- remember those? -- was the organizing center of our social activities in those days, and it was common practice to use it to schedule games and distribute material.

I came up with a simple premise for a setting, wrote up a quick history to give everyone the basics, and set it up so that the players themselves could create the planet and the culture from which their characters hailed.

When we sat down to play, I found that most of the players hadn't bothered to read the background post.

These are people who would memorize setting information in stacks of published material.

[livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty calls this "Complete Stranger Theory": players are more willing to accept the work of a complete stranger than they are that of the person sitting in the same room.

(Since Rafferty designs tabletop games and uses his local group as playtesters, you can imagine how frustrating this must get for him.)

This came to mind because, yesterday evening, I leafed through the Russian Doll file structure of my hard drive and found, nested in Archive folders two or three deep, the files from that time-lost game.

Both [livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty and [livejournal.com profile] rodant_kapoor asserted that they would have read it -- so let's test that, shall we?

tl;dr )

I've said "four pages" in relating this story over the years; it actually comes out to less than a page and a half, as originally formatted.

It's evident what I was reading at the time; there are bits in there obviously cribbed from Phil Foglio's Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, and some obvious influence from David Brin's work, especially Earth.

The general framework, however, is pretty good: Humanity colonizes worlds using "slow FTL", develops dozens of cultures in comparative isolation, and then, poof, the discovery of "fast FTL" drops everyone in each other's back yard -- and First Contact.

There, okay, I just summed it up in one run-on sentence. But really, was a page and a half that onerous?

athelind: (His Master's Voice)
You know, in my last post, I linked to last year's tirade about Alvin and the Chipmunks. I should have gone ahead and quoted the best insight from the comments on that older post, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] circuit_four, since it really gets to the heart of the matter:

"A lot of this pop-culture purism is just people clinging to their own generation's nostalgia -- and I'm not really comfortable, myself, with how much of that nostalgia was hand-chosen for us by commercial interests."


Amen.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to order my tickets for Star Trek.
athelind: (Default)
You know, in my last post, I linked to last year's tirade about Alvin and the Chipmunks. I should have gone ahead and quoted the best insight from the comments on that older post, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] circuit_four, since it really gets to the heart of the matter:

"A lot of this pop-culture purism is just people clinging to their own generation's nostalgia -- and I'm not really comfortable, myself, with how much of that nostalgia was hand-chosen for us by commercial interests."


Amen.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to order my tickets for Star Trek.
athelind: (hoard potato)
There's a G.I. Joe movie coming out this summer.

Most of the buzz from the trailers has been positive, so far, but we're inevitably going to get a lot of bitching from the crowd who grew up on the '80s cartoon.

Considering that I had -- and still have -- a 1966-vintage Mercury Astronaut G.I. Joe, and was nearly 20 wheh your precious cartoon assaulted my fond childhood memories, there's not a whole lot I can say that is essentially different than what I said a year and a half ago when people were bitching about Alvin & The Chipmunks.


Come to think of it, I'm not really interested in your positive reactions, either.

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