athelind: (hoard potato)
In the comments to my last entry, I opined that Superman vs. Muhammad Ali was "one of the top five Superman stories ever".

[livejournal.com profile] hitchkitty then decided to put me on the spot for specifics.

My current list, in chronological order:



I reserve the right to revise the list as my whims might demand.

Feel free to discuss this list and/or your own lists in the comments.

Edited to provide links to Amazon links for those stories in print, and online versions of those that aren't. Some additional notes:
  • Jerry and Joe wrote "K-Metal" in 1940, but the Powers That Be at DC shot it down in favor of indefinitely maintaining the status quo. It was never published, but over the years, the script and various pages of mostly-finished artwork made it to the collector's market. The link leads to a project to reconstruct the story, and if I'm interpreting recent court decisions correctly, this material would definitely fall under the auspices of the Siegel and Shuster heirs, rather than DC-AOL-Time-Warner-Mega-Huge-Conglomco.
  • Neal Adams has repeatedly referenced Superman vs. Muhammad Ali as his favorite comic book work. It really is Adams at his best; he goes all-out on the art, and it is epic.
  • Maggin's novel has been out of print for years, and DC shows no inclination to remedy that. The link leads to the entirety of the novel, online; Maggin himself has given his blessing to the web site, and has in fact contributed additional stories (an unusual instance of a former professional writing fanfic about the character he used to be paid to write).
  • The link for the Alan Moore story goes to the recent trade compilation of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? -- which includes "For The Man Who Has Everything" and another Superman story by Moore. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow almost made this list, but as excellent as it is, I don't think it holds up as well as a stand-alone story.
  • "For The Man Who Has Everything" was also adapted as an episode of Justice League Unlimited. All-Star Superman was recently adapted as one of the DC Universe direct-to-video animated movies. It's quite good, but has a slightly different tone than the graphic novel.




Comments to the effect that Superman is "too powerful" to write interesting stories about will simply be deleted. Don't be a troll.



athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
On a Google search of the phrase "Your Obedient Serpent", eight of the ten links on the first page are to my blogs, user profiles, or comments I've left elsewhere. Only one actually concerns the source I stole it from to which that phrase pays homage: Bob Clampett's Beany & Cecil cartoons of the '60s, in which Cecil caps off the end credits by declaring himself "Your Obedient Serpent".

I'm ... not entirely sure how I feel about that.

On the one claw, hooray! Trivial fame! A memorable phrase linked inextricably with me!

On the other ... where's the love for Unca Bob and his Seasick Sea Serpent?


athelind: (Ommm)
Reading my friends list this morning, I saw one post that immediately made me think of responding with lines from Max Ehrmann's famous poem.

And then I saw another.

And another.

And I realized that I could use a reminder, myself.



Desiderata
Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.


I know that when YouTube has videos available, I usually post them, but, oh my stars and garters, Les Crane's 1972 recording is Pure Concentrate of 1970s Badness. Can't we get Leonard Cohen or someone to do their version?
Please don't link to the parody in the comments.

athelind: (hoard potato)
Charles Stross explains why he's burned out on "Steampunk".

It boils down to "90% of Steampunk is crud", of course, and over at Futurismic, Paul Raven's commentary applies the inevitable and immortal coda to that clause.

I enjoyed both articles, and my superficial summary should not be construed as a dismissal; both Stross and Raven do provide some analysis of why Sturgeon's Ratio arises.*

Personally, I think that Stross's issues arise because, as a writer, he sees "Steampunk" primarily as a literary movement. In contrast, Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing tends to approach it more as a design aesthetic, applying the craftsmanship, materials and visual motifs of a bygone era to both wardrobe and cutting-edge technology.

I lean toward Doctorow's view: the current "Steampunk Movement" is connected to the Maker Movement. Steampunk's central defining elements are artifacts that imply a backstory. The literature that actually provides a backstory is a secondary effect. Science fiction writers and fans do love to follow such implications reductio ad asburdum, sometimes to good effect—but they often stretch a simple premise to its breaking point.

However, none of that is the main thrust of this post.

You see, inevitably, when discussions of this currently-trendy subgenre arise, there's always someone who fixates on the word used to describe it, insisting that it's neither "steam" (being more often wood, brass, and high-voltage Teslary) nor "punk".**

After reading this tedious protest one too many times, I hereby affix thumb to nose.

Steampunk is Punk because, as a design aesthetic, it's rebelling against mass production and homogenization by reintroducing the idea of hand-crafted artistry to technological artifacts.

Steampunk is STEAM because of a literary device known as synecdoche, in which part of something is used to refer to the whole thing. "Steam" is a concise shorthand for "Victorian Era Technology", because it was, in fact, the dominant and most distinctive technology of the era. Tesla and Edison, fine; Nemo's electric batteries, fine; Cavorite, if you must -- but it was the steam locomotive and the steam engine that reshaped the human landscape. Moreover, it's a technology that has by and large fallen out of use in the present day; by contrast, things like electricity are far more prevalent now than they were then.

Of course, once you discover that the original meaning of "punk" is neither "mohawked rocker" nor "small-time hood", but "prostitute" ... well, then, the whole "transformation of the subgenre into the current trendy cash cow for skeevy publishers looking to milk a quick buck" just makes it all the more appropriate. As Mr. Raven points out, the same thing happened to both the "rock" and the "cyber" variations on the theme.



*A quick look around suggests that the "second artist effect" that Unca Charlie cites may in fact be a new and elegant coinage for a principle that has been stammered about in genre analysis circles for decades. Has anyone else heard that turn of phrase ere now?
**No, it's not just you. Or you. Or any of the many of you who think this is personally aimed in your direction.
Cross-posted to KDDR.

athelind: (Eye - VK)
Last week's Yoda quote raised a little controversy in the comments.

Here's another quote that I find equally compelling:

"Failure is always an option!"

—Adam Savage, Mythbusters



In my mind, this does not conflict in any way with Yoda's "Do, or do not; there is no try."

Let's put that into some context, courtesy CNET:

That leads to another question I wanted to ask: Talk about the notion of "Failure is always an option."

Savage: Well, people always imagine a scientist sets up an experiment to prove something. When it doesn't, they imagine him saying "my experiment was a failure." In fact, a real scientist sets up an experiment to test something. If he was wrong about his preconceptions, he's far from upset. In fact, it means something else entirely new has been illuminated. This is how it is for us, and thus we say that any experiment that yields data, even if we were wrong about what that data would be, is a successful experiment.


As Unca Sammy taught me to say:

Failure1 is not Failure2.



When Yoda says, "that is why you fail1", he's saying "you have sabotaged yourself with your own doubt and disbelieve, and your impatience has caused you to surrender when you have actually made headway toward accomplishing your goal." Only, you know, in backwards Muppet Moonspeak.

Failure1 means giving up.



When Adam says "failure2 is not an option", he's saying that, to an experimenter, there are no failures: there are unanticipated successes.

Failure2 means learning something new.



They are the same word, but they are not the same idea.


The "Feed Your Head" series started with the subject line, "Things I KNOW, but need to LEARN". If I sound didactic, rest assured that you are not the intended student body.

Which doesn't mean you're not welcome to audit the course, naturally.

athelind: (Howitzer)
When did it stop being bad manners to talk about religion and personal belief?

Ninety-nine percent of our problems with polarization and conflict stem from the shift in culture that's made this an acceptable topic of public discourse.

I miss the concept of "boundaries".


athelind: (Warning: Caustic)
One of the recurrent themes in yesterday's discussions of "Draw Mohammad Day" was that when you deliberately go out to provoke people, there are going to be consequences.

Well, after my post about Fundamentalism and Atheism, the comment threads that followed, and my own flippant, insensitive responses, I just wound up losing one of my oldest friends.

Yeah. Go me.


athelind: (no help whatsoever)
I got home and read my comments.

I'm just ...

I mean ...

I ...

Aw, screw it.

What the hell, it's not like I can make things WORSE:



It's short for "Athelind".




athelind: (Default)
A comment over at [livejournal.com profile] toob's journal prompted me to finally put down in words something that I've mulled over for a very long time.

Over the decades, I've seen a great deal of evidence to support the hypothesis that, no matter what faith they might nominally adhere to, Fundamentalists of any creed have more in common with each other than they do with more moderate adherents of their own creed.

From my observations, the common keystone in the Fundamentalist worldview is this:

We and we alone know the One True and Proper Path, and those who disagree with us are not merely in error, they are evil, they are our enemies, and any abuse we can deliver unto them is not only justified, but for their own good.


All too often, this becomes the Fundamentalist's primary tenet -- the specific details of his or her faith all become a distant second to the pure, blind assertion that I am right and you are not.

This is their true religion.

Proportionally, I've seen just as many Fundamentalists who think they're Atheists as I have Fundamentalists who think they're Anything Else, and their reaction to Thoughtcrime is just as zealous.

Did that last sentence piss you off?

Might want to run some diagnostics.


athelind: (Warning: Group Intellect)
J.K. Rowling is getting sued by the clueless again. Yes, yet another plagiarism accusation. Making Light goes into great detail about the spuriousness of the claim, and the wretched quality of the claimant's allegedly-plagiarized work.

You don't really need to read all that. You'll find the meat of the whole issue before you even have to scroll down the page, when Ms. Hayden points out three things about such lawsuits. Her second point addresses something that comes up a lot in pop culture conversations:

“Non-writers think it’s the ideas, rather than the execution, that make a book. They’ve got that backward.”



I submit this as a Law of the Internet, on a par with Godwin's and Poe's: "Hayden's Second Law".

As I said, this comes up a lot. "Plagiarism", per se, is seldom invoked, but milder euphemisms abound: "derivative" is a popular epithet, and to many, "originality" seems the highest criterion for literary merit.

The career of the Gentleman from Avon indicates otherwise.

I should note that I'm guilty of this, myself; I've repeatedly tabled my own flailing attempts at writing because my characters, settings, or plot seem "derivative".


Addendum: just a few hours before I made this post, [livejournal.com profile] foofers provided a technological example of "it's not the ideas, it's the execution" -- in this instance, whether the ideas got executed at all.
athelind: (Default)
J.K. Rowling is getting sued by the clueless again. Yes, yet another plagiarism accusation. Making Light goes into great detail about the spuriousness of the claim, and the wretched quality of the claimant's allegedly-plagiarized work.

You don't really need to read all that. You'll find the meat of the whole issue before you even have to scroll down the page, when Ms. Hayden points out three things about such lawsuits. Her second point addresses something that comes up a lot in pop culture conversations:

“Non-writers think it’s the ideas, rather than the execution, that make a book. They’ve got that backward.”



I submit this as a Law of the Internet, on a par with Godwin's and Poe's: "Hayden's Second Law".

As I said, this comes up a lot. "Plagiarism", per se, is seldom invoked, but milder euphemisms abound: "derivative" is a popular epithet, and to many, "originality" seems the highest criterion for literary merit.

The career of the Gentleman from Avon indicates otherwise.

I should note that I'm guilty of this, myself; I've repeatedly tabled my own flailing attempts at writing because my characters, settings, or plot seem "derivative".


Addendum: just a few hours before I made this post, [livejournal.com profile] foofers provided a technological example of "it's not the ideas, it's the execution" -- in this instance, whether the ideas got executed at all.
athelind: (facepalm)
It's a law of the internet: any mention of a holiday always gets at least one reply asserting that the respondent pays no attention to that holiday, and why.

The response demonstrates that the respondent, in that alleged disregard, pays more attention to the holiday than do those who might observe it casually, and feel no need to comment.

That said, this is the first day of Lent -- a ritual I observe only in the most secular way -- and thus, I bid you all the appropriate tidings for Ash Wednesday.


athelind: (Default)
It's a law of the internet: any mention of a holiday always gets at least one reply asserting that the respondent pays no attention to that holiday, and why.

The response demonstrates that the respondent, in that alleged disregard, pays more attention to the holiday than do those who might observe it casually, and feel no need to comment.

That said, this is the first day of Lent -- a ritual I observe only in the most secular way -- and thus, I bid you all the appropriate tidings for Ash Wednesday.


athelind: (His Master's Voice)
Every now and then, I'll see a topic or a line of thought or, hell, a spelling or grammatical error that crops up repeatedly over the span of a few days -- often enough that I feel the need to make a LiveJournal comment about it.

I usually include a note that I've been seeing this [whatever] in a number of different places, and that my comments aren't aimed at anyone in particular.

Invariably, that note is ignored, and at least one person will respond most heatedly as if I were in fact addressing them specifically. It's not just a matter of getting defensive about their position; sometimes, they will come right out and say "you didn't need to take this public".

You know who you are. Don't try to deny it. Yes, I'm talking to you. You're the only one who has ever done this.

You may have noticed that I run a few "sub-columns" in this journal, usually identified by headers. The Hoard Potato talks about mass media, Understating Athelind's Argot discusses peculiar turns of phrase that I use, Film at 11 talks about the news of the day, and so on.

From here on, when I make a broad response to something that more than one person has brought up that annoys me, or that I feel needs response, I am going to use this header: You're So Vain.

Just for you.

athelind: (Default)
Every now and then, I'll see a topic or a line of thought or, hell, a spelling or grammatical error that crops up repeatedly over the span of a few days -- often enough that I feel the need to make a LiveJournal comment about it.

I usually include a note that I've been seeing this [whatever] in a number of different places, and that my comments aren't aimed at anyone in particular.

Invariably, that note is ignored, and at least one person will respond most heatedly as if I were in fact addressing them specifically. It's not just a matter of getting defensive about their position; sometimes, they will come right out and say "you didn't need to take this public".

You know who you are. Don't try to deny it. Yes, I'm talking to you. You're the only one who has ever done this.

You may have noticed that I run a few "sub-columns" in this journal, usually identified by headers. The Hoard Potato talks about mass media, Understating Athelind's Argot discusses peculiar turns of phrase that I use, Film at 11 talks about the news of the day, and so on.

From here on, when I make a broad response to something that more than one person has brought up that annoys me, or that I feel needs response, I am going to use this header: You're So Vain.

Just for you.

athelind: (facepalm)
I've seen this spelling error twice in the last few days, so I just thought I'd give you a quick visual guide:



This is a faun.






This is a fawn.




Thank you for your time and attention.
athelind: (Default)
I've seen this spelling error twice in the last few days, so I just thought I'd give you a quick visual guide:



This is a faun.






This is a fawn.




Thank you for your time and attention.

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