Monday, November 20, 2017

GoFundMe Page

I resisted doing this as long as I could but any help is appreciated, even if it comes in the form of sharing this page with others:



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rating the 2017 Releases: (Updated)



The following is a list of films released in 2017 that I have actually seen. Some were seen theatrically, others using the magic of borrowed library DVDs:

Hidden Figures- This is one of those wonderfully acted and written Oscar-bound  based on a true story movies that the cynic in me wants to cast aspersions on. But that would do a disservice to a wonderful film filled with incredible performances. This was easily one of the better movies of this year and it came out during the first few weeks.

I am Not Your Negro- I learned more about James Baldwin than I ever knew before and I came away considering him a national treasure and an incredible human being. There isn’t a dull, plodding moment in this documentary.

John Wick: Chapter Two- Action movie sequels are an iffy proposition. Sometimes you get a quality production such as “Lethal Weapon 2” but usually you get a mediocre followup such as “Taken 2” which makes you reconsider the flawed original film in negative ways. Fortunately, that’s not the case with this one. The mythology surrounding the title character it rich, fascinating and compelling and this sequel throws the audience right back into it with delightful abandon.

The Lego Batman Movie- The trailers made this movie look unfunny and rather stupid. To my surprise, it was neither. Simply put, this was the funniest movie I’ve seen in a while. Featuring fully realized characters, an actual plot and a plethora of successful gags, this one actually outshines “The Lego Movie” with its brilliance.

The Great Wall- Reports of supposed whitewashing with this movie were greatly overblown. Matt Damon’s character was not the hero nor did he save the day in any way, shape or form. Instead, this was a very enjoyable period fantasy with solid acting, good direction and great action.

Logan- A contender for best movie I’ve seen all year, this was the Wolverine film fans of the comics and movies were waiting for. The changes that were made to the “Old Man Logan” story actually improved on the concept. Instead of a bunch of jarring inclusions of Marvel characters, the focus is kept narrowed to Logan and Professor Xavier. The acting is top notch as is the story. I have only been able to see it once so far because the emotions were too much.

Kong: Skull Island- I unapologetically LOVED this movie. I went in with modest expectations and wound up seeing it two more times. Talk about pitch perfect kaiju movie making. I’ve always been critical of Western attempts to make watchable movies about giant monsters; what the Japanese make look effortless generally failed in American hands. But King Kong is ours and even the Japanese didn’t do him justice with their attempts in the 1960s and 1970s. This was the film that should have started the shared universe rather than that pathetically morose “Godzilla” movie from 2014. Kong got everything right from tone to plot to characterization and action. It even made me re-watch Gareth Edwards’ version of Godzilla to catch the connections.

Beauty and the Beast- Anyone who knows me knows I consider Disney to be pure evil. If you don’t, you’re either blissfully unaware or not paying enough attention. So their live-action remakes of their own animated movies which are, in turn, adaptations of the work of others, seem rather self-serving, cynical and manipulative to me. And even though the Cinderella live-action turned out to relatively good, such was not the case with “Beauty and the Beast.” Based on one of the more annoying films of the so-called “Disney Renaissance Era,” this version seems hell-bent on replicating what made the first abomination marketable rather than following the Cinderella example of doing something different. Same stupid songs sung by worse singers and the ugliest CGI versions of the non-human characters conceivable made this so unpleasant and obnoxious I couldn’t even finish watching it.

Ghost in the Shell- Once more the reports of whitewashing were greatly exaggerated. The main protaganist isn't Asian. She was, but the artificial body she currently inhabits was not. The original anime and its even better sequel are two of my favorite films, so my expectations weren't exactly high for this Western live-action version. I was pleasantly surprised that what resulted was an enjoyable, thoughtful film with good performances and an intelligent script. It's nowhere near as good as the anime but it's still good.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- I'm on record as not being too fond of the jokey, uneven tone of the first film in this series, so when I realized I was enjoying myself watching the second go-round, nobody was more surprised than I. In fact, I loved this movie. Everything I found fault with in the first movie was present in the sequel, but it was balanced well and integrated into the plot. Instead of another uneven mess with some appealing moments, this was a wonderful ride with more fully realized characters and a better story.

The Mummy- People were poised to hate this one before it was even released. Tom Cruise has become a popular target of late in spite of a consistent high quality output over the past decade or more. Then there are those who actually think the Stephen Sommers films were somehow definitive versions of the mummy story. So even though the movie was entertaining and a mostly decent start to a shared universe franchise that is now dead in the water, it barely survived at he box office.

Spider-Man: Homecoming- This one falls under the "Liked it, Wanted to Love it, didn't" category. It was a good effort by Marvel Studios, but considering how long it took them to reacquire the rights to their own character from Sony's recent butcherings, I was hoping for something more. The approach basically boils down to John Hughes movie meets the back-end of the Marvel Universe while a man-child learns a valuable life lesson. Lots of good acting and funny moments don't overshadow the lack of compelling action and adventure. Even the boat scene pales by comparison to the train sequence in "Spider-Man 2."

War for the Planet of the Apes- I left the theater with tears in my eyes. This was an incredibly somber, fatalistic film that could have only ended one way. Kudos to Matt Reeves for making the journey getting there so compelling and tragic. 

The Dark Tower- I read all eight of Stephen King's Dark tower novels and I still don't know what the hell this was. I know the idea was to make a sequel to the novels (if you've read them, you know how that could work) but what we got was a skeletal, superficial outline of a greater tale. Idris Alba is one of the most overrated actors working in film and his wooden performance is stiff to the point of hilarity. The 90-minute running time didn't help matters much. What a waste.

It- What more can I say about this terrible piece of garbage? I hated it too much to offer much in the way of coherent criticism except to say this: Worst movie I saw all year.

Blade Runner 2049- Remember what I wrote about "It?" Well, the opposite applies to this film. A sublime masterpiece.

Get Out- Wait, maybe "It" wasn't the worst movie I saw this year. It was definitely the worst one I saw theatrically, but Jordan Peele's mind-numbingly awful attempt at social criticism through blatantly ripping off "The Stepford Wives" gives it a run for its money. As uneven as the tone of "It" was, at least it had more than one. "Get Out" has one long, boring, unchanging tone that tries to mix things up during a ludicrous, asinine climax. For a brilliant comedian like Peele to create such sub-standard, pretentious rubbish, there is hope for all writers.

American Made- Say what you will about Scientology's Favorite Son, Tom Cruse's output has been of remarkably high quality for a very long time now. It's difficult to remember the last time he made a bad movie and this latest Doug Liman film about an actual CIA pilot who also worked for Colombian drug cartels is at once funny, engaging and brilliant.

Wonder Woman- A lot of people consider this the best superhero film of the year and Warner Bros.' best DC film yet. It's hard to disagree and I'm certainly not going to try. "Logan" has a more emotional connection for me because I've invested in that franchise for seventeen years but "Wonder Woman" is an incredibly well-made film that should have finally shut the DC detractors the hell up.

Thor: Ranganork- I'm not going to say this is probably the best Marvel film since "Winter Soldier" but I just did so I'm sticking with it. The self-deprecation works here because the hero us supposedly untouchable and perfect. The action is great, the acting is, too and all the elements of a solid superhero film are present.

Murder on the Orient Express- I'm always amazed when I meet someone who doesn't know the answer to the mystery of this classic story, but they exist and there are enough of them to warrant a remake. This time it's under the gifted guidance of Kenneth Branagh, whose eye for detail and insistence on strong performances pays off handsomely with this riveting period piece. All of t he actors are wonderful as is the direction and the cinematography. This time around, the filmmakers wisely focus on Agatha Cristie's genius detective's views on how life should  work and the moral dilemma he faces when it doesn't fit his narrative. 

Justice League- I'd been waiting all my life for this damn movie and I wasn't disappointed. The actors are well-cast, the action feels new in places, and the marriage of Zack Snyder's dark imagery and Joss Whedon's character-driven writing are an excellent one. This is easily my favorite team superhero movie to date.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

An Opinion Piece About Opinions (How meta!)

I have been told, a lot recently, that my expectations and standards for entertainment are “too high.” Sometimes this comes in the form of a criticism, sometimes it comes as a genuinely baffled reaction to my views on a given film or book, and often it comes as a misguided attempt to get me to relax and just accept what I’m given and not demand anything more. After all, it’s “just a movie.” As long as there’s something entertaining in it, who cares if it doesn’t meet my fiction-writing standards?
I cares, that’s who.

It isn’t just about quality for me. That doesn’t mean quality isn’t a factor in my opinions, but it’s also a highly subjective term that doesn’t carry much weight in the world of analysis. In fact, it’s a crutch for online shit-stirrers whose only goal is negativity for its own sake. Contrary to what some may believe, I don’t want to have negative opinions of movies and books I’ve been looking forward to seeing and reading. I actually want to like them. Unfortunately, my criteria for enjoyment is more involved than simply gaining gratification from spectacle. I have been trained to recognize story structure and characterization and plot progression. I even know the actual meaning of “plot hole.”

That’s not bragging, it’s a fact. Casual observers have no idea what goes into the act of creation and execution. They only know the finished product and, since they aren’t in a similar capacity, the represent the mainstream audience in a way I find difficult although not always impossible. Of course, this hasn't stopped hordes of know-it-all fanatics from acting as if they know how it all works, but that's a topic for a different post.

Frankly, the absolutely stupidest point anyone can make about a movie or book is that it made a lot of money and therefore that means it was good and people liked it. The implication here is that if you don't, you are the one who has a problem and should lower your lofty standards. The resounding idiocy of this reasoning lies in the fact that the person making the point is using a flawed capitalism=quality model. Remember when I mentioned the fact that quality is a subjective concept? So is the idea that the accumulation of vast sums of money automatically indicate quality. Many products or services of low quality have earned billions of dollars. One needs look no further than any fast food restaurant chain to see a real-life example. But there's another component to this silliness, and that is the human tendency to use the peer group as a weapon against differing opinions.

I've seen this line of reasoning used when someone has tried to prove a point about an entire race of people. They find one self-loathing member of that race and then use their words as justification for bigotry. It happens when people use former members of religious groups, too. Somewhere much farther down the scale, a similar rationale is employed when using the dual arguments of  "It made a whole lot of money so it must be good" and "Since it made all that money, people liked it and it was popular." Wrong. Large grosses of money are not automatic indicators of popularity. In fact, there are so many factors involved in how audiences and readers are pre-programmed to consume a finished product whether they liked it or not, it's almost obscene. I've sat in movie theaters where people acted out this programming like good little clapping seals and marveled at the power of suggestion through advertising and fabricated buzz. 

I won't bore anyone with a list of movies that made gobs of money that nobody liked. You'll either have to trust me or do your own research.

I'll let you in on a little secret: The reason I upset people with my opinions isn't because they necessarily disagree with them. There are actually three reasons they react with such knee-jerkiness:

1. I make them think about what they watched or read in ways they either never have or never wanted to.
2. I make them feel less intelligent because they don't watch or read things with a critical enough eye. (This is an entirely subjective point I'm making more from their perspectives than my own)
3. People that stray from the Group-think make them uncomfortable and threaten their perception of reality and security.

So, I rarely harbor any ill will towards people when they challenge my opinions. There's no point to it. Nor do I apologize for having a well-developed criteria for my entertainment. To expect anything less would be beneath my expectations for myself. And that's what it really boils down to, I guess.

I expect no less than the same level of  effort I demand of myself. No matter what I'm writing, I push myself to make it as good as I can. I don't always succeed but I at least make the effort. When I can sense someone else isn't doing that or, even worse, doesn't even believe it's necessary, it disgusts me and results in a hostile reactions as I feel my time has been wasted and my intelligence insulted. Without getting into specifics (I swore I wouldn't do that in this post...challenge met) my visceral reaction to a movie I recently watched was because of these reasons. I wasn't expressing some version of fanboy angst about not adhering to the source material or my favorite scene from the bookbeing absent. My objection was to inconsistent tone, flat characterizations, poor directing, laughable dramatic moments and an overall laziness in the production. I've had similar reactions to the fiction I've read.

I may not have notoriety as an author, but I still expect more of myself than many of these individuals do. So you better fucking well believe I expect the same of people with so many  resources at their disposal. 

Like the man said, "Did I bug ya? Sorry. Didn't mean to bug ya."


Thursday, September 7, 2017

International Voices Finally Speaking in Science Fiction.

I'm not normally one to join in on the "essential reading" bandwagon and especially when it's work I haven't even read (This anthology doesn't come out for another five days) but in a field traditionally dominated by basically two types of authors, namely men and women of Western European descent, it's about damn time someone else got into the science fiction writing field.

Despite what those idiotic "Sad Puppies" choose to believe, there is a larger, more vital world beyond White Male Christendom-themed tales of human superiority in the realm of speculative fiction .

So, I can't wait for this one and despite the fact that I work for two libraries and could easily read it for free, I think I'll buy it instead.






If it's anywhere near as good as the Chinese science fiction anthology "Invisible Planets" I read earlier this year, I'll be most pleased. Talk about a refreshing, unique approach and execution. Every story was lyrical and compelling.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

An Apt Quote For Today

"When the masses begin to rage, and reason is under a cloud, it is a good thing, if the health of one's soul is not quite assured, to go under a doorway and look out to see what the weather is like."
                                                                                             -Frederich Nietzsche

 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

I Rate the MCU: Phase Three

And now we come to the end as of now. Since Phase 3 is still in progress, I'm obviously stopping at the most recent film but I will add to it as the later ones are released. This time around, you'll likely notice a diminished enthusiasm and a creeping annoyance in my tone.

Captain America: Civil War- The Law of Diminishing Returns is, as the hipsters say, a "thing" and nowhere is it more obvious than this third Captain America outing. Hats off to Marvel for making a dozen films before this became the case but damn! They really saved it all up for this disappointment. My criticisms are numerous, yet the real irony is that I can still find enough enjoyment in this movie to watch it from time to time. Still, it's an over-crowded mess filled with sub-plots galore, absurd contrivances and easily the most anti-climatic showdown in the franchise's history. The much touted battle royale between titans is reduced to little more than a stalling action for the main plot and a parking lot brawl with little actual consequence. Iron Man 2 is often maligned for being an obvious franchise bridge yet for whatever reason this one gets a pass? Fanboys, I disdainfully shake my head at you!

Doctor. Strange- A brief restoration of sanity and quality to the MCU, this long-awaited origin film featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme almost feels like a DC movie, and that's not an insult coming from me. This is a wonderfully absurd piece of thoughtful filmmaking that provides a nice rest for all the obnoxious franchise building going on in the other films. Ironically, this nice break would continue with

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Something happened on the way to the GOTG sequel. I sat in the theater and loved every minute of it! How, after my unimpressed reaction to the first movie, this one was such a great experience is either a testament to my incredible open-mindedness (Doubtful!) or the fact that James Gunn et. al. improved upon every single criticism I had of the first film and delivered an incredible sequel. I am now a fan of this franchise.

Spider-Man: Homecoming- And here endeth the honeymoon! Marvel spent years trying to finagle the rights away from Sony (who was absolutely destroying Spider-Man with those awful Andrew Garfield movies) and they finally got him, recast him, made him a kid again and threw him awkwardly but enjoyably into the mix in Civil War. Expectations were high for a movie that finally got the character just right and delivered the MCU goods in new and exciting ways. And on paper, it was all there to happen. Tom Holland is a great Peter Parker and Michael Keaton's Vulture was the most refreshing villain since Loki. But then a hit and miss script seemingly more concerned with the trials and tribulations of teenage existence was chosen and what could have been the best MCU movie since the Avengers turned out to be enjoyable but shockingly mediocre.

Well, that's it for now. I'll add to the list once Thor: Ragnarok comes out.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

I Rate the MCU: Phase Two

All of you waiting with bated breath after my Phase One list was posted can now relax those nether regions as I launch right into reviewing the Marvel Cinematic Universe's second phase of awesomeness!
(You will see that this is where I start to diverge from the Fanboy Legion)


Iron Man 3- It's weird to put the words "Controversial" and "guy wearing a super-powered suit of armor" in the same sentence, but that's the best way to describe this one. From its darker tone to its portrayal of Tony Stark's PTSD after almost dying in "Avengers," fans had a lot of shit to say about what is actually one of the stronger post-Phase One films. Writer/Director Shane Black reinvents the format here by portraying an even more troubled Tony Stark than the one we saw in the second sequel as he deals with real-world problems. Frankly, if by the third film we aren't seeing more of the alter-ego than the masked hero, it's probably not a good sign, hence the invalidation of the "Tony Stark has a bigger part than Iron Man" criticisms. Even Black's clever sleight of hand with a fake Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is entertaining and suits the film.

Thor: The Dark World- Another one that gets unfairly dissed, the Thor sequel is one of the stronger entries in the series. Yes, the plot is a tad typical but that's only because there have already been several movies at this point and world-ending threats have become the norm. But these movies are about our connection with the characters and desire to see them persevere.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier- Simply put, this is probably the best movie in the MCU's list of releases so far. Combining the feel of a late Seventies suspense thriller with incredible fight scenes and character moments, the Russo Bros. strike a perfect balance between Marvel's tendency to be too jokey and an edgier, more real-world feel. This is why I wrote previously that the first film is overshadowed. This one is literally as good as the MCU gets...at least so far.

Guardians of the Galaxy. Vol. One- And here it is. The movie that practically caused fanboys and girls alike to have screaming orgasms in the aisles because it was so hip, so cool, so freaking funny! To paraphrase Montgomery Burns, in case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic. I had numerous issues with this movie, from its obnoxious characters to its low stakes plot and tendency to shit all over decent drama with bad jokes. When I saw this one theatrically, there was a woman in the theater who literally laughed the entire time the movie ran. That was when I realized this film was an example of pre-programming. That alone doesn't necessitate a bad movie, however, and while GOTG certainly doesn't match the classic definition of a bad movie, I found it to be a series of misfires and a blatant attempt to combine Marvel with a Disney sensibility.

Avengers: Age of Ultron- Another film in the series fans love to hate, there is an admittedly compromised feel to the film, but that's not Joss Whedon's fault. Disney/Marvel is to blame. Despite that, this installment is quite a feat. Despite the changes to Ultron's origins and some quirky character reveals (Hawkeye has a wife and kids? Black Widow has it for Bruce Banner?) or perhaps because of them, this film, along with Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3, genuinely feel like sincere efforts to move the franchise into a more adult direction. In many ways, it's a stronger film than its predecessor, especially because the actors know their characters so well at this point, but there's an unfortunate "Been there" feel to the proceedings.

Ant Man- The stories of behind-the-camera turmoil regarding this comparatively small film didn't diminish its success at the box office or as a film. It's a welcome break from all the world-threatening mayhem films, keeping its plot relatively small and the drama more personal. Unlike the more bloated GOTG, the humor works beautifully here and I actually cared about the characters and what was happening.

Next up...Phase Three Finds Amazing New Ways to Disappoint Me...

Friday, August 25, 2017

I Rate the MCU: Phase One


And now for something you really don’t care about! Many on Facebook have endured my occasional bitching about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its glaring shortcomings. While I still enjoy them overall and will continue to see them at least through the “Infinity War” storyline, as a writer and a fan, I am allowed to have my gripes. And if you’ve read my open letter to Marvel, (hardly anyone did so probably not. Oops! Here’s a hyperlink!) you will probably note the consistency in my criticisms as well as my praise because, yes, there is praise as well.

Let’s start the feel-good cavalcade, shall we?

 

Iron Man- An awesome beginning to a potential movie franchise, this unlikely starting point places an arrogant Tony Stark brilliantly portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr. into an international weapons dealing conspiracy and a superhero’s origin story. The performances are top notch, the action is superb and the writing is genuinely compelling. The final line of dialogue still gives me shivers.

The Incredible Hulk- A highly underrated sideways sequel to a forgettable first attempt, Edward Norton is perfectly cast as Bruce Banner and the storyline advances the character and the universe even more effectively than Iron Man did.

Iron Man 2- The only thing that hampers this obviously fast-tracked sequel is the rushed, sub-plot crowded feel of a blatant attempt to set up the next few movies in the franchise. Downey still shines as a now more emotionally troubled Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow is given more to do and be this time around. Also, we get out first glimpse of the Black Widow in action and Thor’s hammer!

Thor- Still one of my favorite first movies in the MCU, Thor mixes Greek-level tragedy with Shakespearean emoting, opulent set designs and good old fish out of water humor. Chris Hemsworth makes an excellent Thor and Natalie Portman, who always seems to think she’s slumming in genre films, is charming and funny in her role as his love interest and helper. The Earth sequences have been criticized for feeling claustrophic but that’s because the big stuff was being saves for later.

Captain America: The First Avenger- Joe Johnston is the best director for WWII era superhero stories, as is evidenced by this film and “The Rocketeer.” I can’t say enough about this film or its vastly superior sequel. This one has it all. A likable lead, the ultimate in high stakes, great dialogue and wonderful character beats. It doesn’t get the respect it deserves, I think, because “Winter Soldier” overshadowed it.

The Avengers- As of this writing, this is Joss Whedon’s magnum opus. Everything he learned working on those TV shows of varying quality and his years writing for Marvel paid off beautifully. This is an almost perfect superhero movie from start to finish from the sets to the action to the music to the dialogue and the performances.

 

Next up: Phase Two Gets a Little Shaky…

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Some Reviews of my stuff with links.

It's been a while since I discussed my own work on this blog. Much has happened to prevent me from doing much writing this year, most notably a wife battling cancer and a pretty demanding yet rewarding work schedule split between two libraries. However, I still occasionally look at my Amazon author page and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised by a positive mention.

Here are a few:

The Good Fight (Superhero vs. Monster Anthology)- The Hero Disease by Christopher Nadeau – An insightful look at the superhero in all of us when the world’s last superhero, Vanishing Act, must battle an unbeatable foe.

The Best of the Horror Zine: The Early Years- And, finally, Christopher Nadeau gave us "Never Say Treat" about Halloween becoming something much darker and terrifying.
Picking four favorites was a difficult task. I enjoyed the entire book.


Not in the Brochure: Tales of a Disappointing Apocalypse- "On the Eighth Day", by Christopher Nadeau. Something about Nadeau's stories makes me cheer the blood baths and laugh in all the wrong places. I love that.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ten Things Genre Fiction Needs to Lose in Order to Not Succumb to Irrelevance: A Highly Subjective List

Get your butthurt cream ready, folks 'cause this list is sure to upset hardcore fanboys and girls alike! And to add insult to perceived injury, I'm not going to explain my rationale, mainly because if you're someone who can't conceive of science fiction, fantasy or horror without these elements, you're part of what I dislike about the current direction of that particular field of pop culture, and unlikely to change. Nor am I interested in getting you to do so. Unlike the typical fanatic, I'm fine with my interests and opinions being my own and yours as well.

This list merely fleshes out what I find objectionable, tiresome and obnoxious in the genre. It is by no means a call to arms. So, ease that thumb off that keypad, take a swig of something awful and ignore everything below in favor of your favorite stuff!

10. Vampires.

9. Zombies.

8. Self-referencing pop culture (attempted) parodies.

7. Cinematic superheroes who can't stop spouting one-liners (unless they're Spiderman).

6. YA Dystopia.

5. Main protagonists with Daddy Issues who save the day anyway. (With the exceptions of "All our Wrong Todays" and "How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe."

4. Love of video games being used to tell dull, listless tales of uber-nerds saving the world.

3. Constant depictions of dark, depressing futures where all hope lies in escape.

2. Endless series books that stretch a premise well beyond its breaking point.

1. Heroes, male and fermale alike, who are merely extensions of a sociopolitical agenda (this goes for liberals and conservatives) at the expense of story or, even worse, extensions of the author's self-fulfilling fantasy life.

There. That's it. I'm well aware I probably commit some of the above "sins" at times, although I do try to reinvent the wheel whenever I have to start spinning.

Come at me if you must~

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Postscript to that Sherry Shriner Post.

Not long ago, I posted this regarding how the insanity and heedlessness of Sherry Shriner led to the death of one of her followers. In that post, I write that I was still blocked from viewing Shriner's page. Recently I discovered that is no longer the case.

Interesting. When one is no longer blocked, one can also be seen by she who blocked him.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Quote That Perfectly Explains my Disdain for Fandom.

 "There was once a false sense that fandom was the place where all of those things were celebrated: Diversity, the fight against bullies of all types, and the front line of those supporting progress and change. Apparently, that was a smokescreen that the Internet has effectively wiped away."

-David Wilson, Writer and Illustrator

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Danger of Sherry Shriner Revealed.

Seven years ago I posted this exchange between the followers of a woman named Sherry Shriner, her followers and I. At the time, I was astounded by the sheer insanity I saw on her Facebook page (I'm still blocked from viewing it, by the way) and amused by the interplay that resulted from my attempts to locate a modicum of logic in their bizarre belief system.

In a nutshell, Sherry Shriner believes in every conspiracy theory regarding aliens, monsters and secret societies out there. She uses the Bible as a way of combining them all. Soon after the reposted exchange, I decided to start investigating this individual to see if she was insane or a con artist. I wrote several articles, finally arriving at a disturbing conclusion: She was both. It is indeed possible to believe one's own delusions and still be a manipulative confidence artist. Charles Manson and Jim Jones come to mind.

Shriner does it in a post-modern online way but she still leads a cult of unstable wackjobs desperate to believe what she says ties up all the things that make them uncomfortable or uncertain and presents them in a neat, prepackaged bow. Most of my articles are, sadly, no longer available but as I published them, I went from outright amusement to deep concern. Cults have always fascinated me. I actually began a novel featuring feuding cults fighting over a captured alien. But Sherry Shriner always struck we as someone potentially dangerous and now I know why.

Somebody has died because of her insanity.

It's not funny anymore. This woman needs to be institutionalized right alongside her equally mentally ill followers.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Quote of the Week

"CHELSEA CLINTON has degrees from Stanford, Oxford, Columbia and NYU AND she lived in the White House for 8 years AND is the daughter of the former U.S. President, and U.S. Senator and Secretary of State... Ivanka is a really good shopper ..."


-From a comment on a Yahoo! article

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Best Review of an Anthology I'm in yet.

Previously I posted what I considered the best review of anything ever written. And while I stand by that admittedly dubious claim, below is the best review of a short story anthology I've appeared in.

The book in question, "Beyond Science Fiction Complete Anthology," is the, "complete compilation of short stories, reviews, artwork and other content published in the Beyond Science Fiction magazine in 2014 and 2015." It is 1023 pages long and what does the one review say about it?


"Didn't find anything of interest."

If I used emoticons on this site, it would be a giant laughing face. Since I don't, here's for you:

 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Prime Example of the Writer's Lament

If I wrote a story with a character who was:

a) Anti-gay and
b) Consorted with White Supremacists while
c) Voting in favor of allowing the mentally ill to own guns and
d) Reaping the benefits of free taxpayer-supplied healthcare

who was shot by a crazy man with a legal handgun, saved by an African American lesbian and able to go into the hospital without a worry about insurance coverage because the government is footing the bill, I would be accused of preaching or being a "social justice warrior."

Yet in real life something like this has actually taken place!

Fiction has to make more sense than reality for people to believe it's realistic!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Quote of (next?) Week

"Why would a higher ed institution invite a commencement speaker who is an undereducated religious fanatic, and who's family's wealth was made in a pyramid marketing scheme?"

                                                                            -Dean Goddard, Facebook Commenter

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“So at the end of that monologue I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So it’s a fair fight.”
                                                                 -Stephen Colbert

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Short Story in SciFan Magazine Being Released on April 29th!

Available for preorder on Amazon, this issue features my latest short story,




And What’s Left of the World’s a Better Place for it -
Synopsis:
Glenda is a scientist who lives in a place simply known as "The Place." She suspects there was a larger world outside this building in which the remainder of humanity resides and that somehow the scientist is charge is the cause of all her strife. Soon the evidence mounts that he isn't the savior he claims to be and Glenda must decide if safety is worth the loss of freedom to choose.

I'm rather proud of the story conceptually so if you read it, feel free to let me know what you thought. Even if you hated it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"Dark Little Dreams" Available at the Library.

While working at one of the libraries with which I am employed, I went onto the Melcat catalog in search of something I swear had nothing to do with me. Somehow I found me anyway.

A general fantasy and science fiction search yielded a single result for a collection of short stories called "Dark Little Dreams." It sounded familiar so I clicked on the link and saw my name in the contents section:

Contents:
Intellectual property / The love of a good entity / Buried in work / BuzzWord / Dr. Aljimati : professor of the forlorn sky / The fox god and the fox / Midnight and Jefe Bowman / The bone washer / The Wilds / Mousetrap / Witchy man, woman skin / Where sheep have fangs when you count them / Nevermore / Love the one you're with / My little babies
 
The Garden City Public Library, which  I have never visited, has the copy. It's nice to see less mainstream works containing the work of at least one local Michigan author included on their shelves.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Submission Accepted

My difficult to categorize short story about a future where the entire world consists of a single building concealing an impossible to conceal truth about how humanity's existence has dwindled to a handful of scientists was sent to SciFan Magazine a few weeks ago.

For those who might be unaware, SciFan is the new incarnation of Beyond Science Fiction, whose entire published work is collected here and Beyond Imagination, both of which featured incredible covers by my homey Larry Lonsby, Jr.

Below is the first paragraph from the letter I received from publisher Dayne Edmonson:

Dear Christopher Nadeau,

Thank you for sending us "And What's Left of the World's a Better Place for it". We love it and would like to publish it in an upcoming issue of SciFan Magazine. You should receive a notification when "And What's Left of the World's a Better Place for it" is scheduled for publication and another email when the issue containing your story is released.



Obviously I'll update on this blog once the story has been published.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Brief Study in Hypocrisy

To borrow from another president whose disgraces have been eclipsed by the current POTUS, let me be perfectly clear: I do not advocate even the mention of assassinating a President of the United States or, for that matter, a foreign head of state. The founders of this country, intensely flawed though they were, possessed enough wisdom to establish a system of checks and balances, up to and including the ability to legally remove a sitting president or, at the very least, vote his or her ass out in four years.

So, the witless attempt at political commentary by Snoop gets no free pass from me. However, the meme below is 100% correct in its assessment of the hypocrisy from the Right regarding celebrities (or whatever the hell Ted Nugent is these days) openly advocating for the killing of a President of these here United States:

 Philosophical consistency is going the way of political satire.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I am not a nice man. You want something heartwarming...buy a puppy."

-Greg Palast, Kickass Investigative Journalist and Thorn in the Side of the Koch Bros.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fifth Wedding Anniversary

Today marks five years since Lorie Wallace said "I do" in that Victorian wedding chapel. It was an odd March, nothing like today's snowstorm enveloped day. Five years ago we expected a freezing cold day and instead wound up with such warm weather that we were able to take pictures in front of the lake behind the chapel.

It was a day set aside just for us as we escaped the difficulties we were facing for a few happy hours. And although times have continued to be difficult, the memories of that wonderful day and the love it made official drives us forward to hopefully better, more peaceful times.

To my wife: I love you beyond mere words and am forever fortunate you said "I do" five years ago.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“You don’t tell anybody to shut up!You work for us!”

-A Constituent in Frost, Texas in response to Rep. Joe Barton (R)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Arrogance of Imbeciles (1 of an ongoing series)

It's become a familiar story: Some smug jackoff shows up on a news article trying to be witty while insulting everyone who disagrees in a vain attempt to whine about political correctness. Then when several people call him on his BS, he tries to say he was being sarcastic but apparently he's too high level for their tiny brains.
 I decided to take a different approach this time. I decided to point out that perhaps he isn't good at sarcasm. Naturally he fell back on the everything is subjective argument.  I tried to help him understand that there are established criteria for fiction writing amd comedy despite whether or not someone"likes it."

His response? "The only criteria for fiction is that it be fiction."

My reply:   "I don't know which matchbox correspondence school you attended but they clearly only taught you that "it's fiction long as they's makin' stuff up."
I then told him before trying to understand the craft of fiction, he should start by learning the difference between comedy and sarcasm.

Okay. I looked at his Facebook page and added, "typical Trumper. Knows little about alot but passes himself off as an unaffected genius."

When I went back on Facebook a bit later I noticed all the likes etc. were gone. He ran. They usually do, especially when you point out they're showing their ignorance of a field the other person practices.

Sorry, man. Sarcasm is a high level art that only some of us can practice well. Good riddance.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Issac Marion's Fake Trump Tweet & The Death of Political Satire

Years ago during the opening credits of one of the Halloween specials "The Simpsons" does every year, one of the many gravestones with funny messages on them featured political satire as the dearly departed. As usual, the alien time travelers who write for that show foresaw the future in hilarious and frightening ways.

At the time, political satire was still viable, despite needing occasional trips to the doctor. However, the dominance of social media, something that should have been a force for increased knowledge and understanding of parody and satire, has actually aided in the swiftly encroaching loss of this most vital component of a supposedly free society. Instead, we're now moving towards an era where all attempts at irony become fodder for an increasingly easily offended population. And political affiliation is becoming meaningless, as the so-called "snowflake" mentality is just as prevalent among those on the Right as it is on the Left.

Recently, horror author Issac Marion who wrote the surprisingly engaging zombie romance satire "Warm Bodies" dared to post a humorous dialogue between himself and *urp* President Trump. I have also used the fake Trump Tweet app a few times. To my delight, nobody could tell if they were real or not in most cases. I never created a series of them like Marion because I knew some imbecile would screenshot it and, at some point, somebody would think they were real. It never occurred to me that a new breed of imbecile would find offense in the satire itself, but that's exactly what happened to him.

In a stunning display of contextual ignorance, angry people who thought the exchange was real and jumped to Marion's defense went on the offensive, reading him the riot act for daring to indulge a fiction writing exercise designed to make a point about a subject he finds repugnant. I'd mention the irony of the invective coming from members of the Left Wing, but since irony is a rapidly diminishing resource, I don't want to waste any of it by mentioning something so obvious.

Marion  breaks down his perceived "offenses" in list form, each point more ludicrous and asinine than the last. The most telling is Point #2, wherein he addresses an accusation of spreading the now ubiquitous and soon-to-be-meaningless concept of fake news. In his analysis, Marion writes:

I am a fiction writer. I wrote a fictional dialogue and posted it on my personal Twitter account, without any surrounding context to suggest that this was a real occurrence rather than just another bit of nonsense theater squirting out of my brain. If anyone thought it really mattered, a quick click to my profile—or Trump’s—would have revealed the truth. But no one bothered to do that because IT DIDN'T MATTER.
That's right, it didn't. People are so primed for and even seduced by the very notion of outrage now that fact-checking is regarded as quaint and wasteful. Not to toot my own horn, but my first instinct was to question the veracity of the reposting. It seemed too good to be true. Trump had finally crossed the line from journalism antagonist to displaying a woeful ignorance of the fiction writing process. And he'd chosen a lesser known writer to attack! Within moments, I'd discovered the truth and guess what? I was okay with it!

Granted, I'm a fiction writer as well and, while my renown is significantly lower even than Marion's self-described low number of followers, I am at least acquainted with the creative process. I don't expect everyone else to be, elitist as that may sound to those who aren't, but satire and parody are protected by the First Amendment! That means it's something all thinking Americans and indeed humans should know about.  There is no excuse for being so wrapped up in one's personal cause that harmless and entertaining humor becomes viewed as worthy of ridicule and scorn.

We are now entering a very dangerous era and it all started when the drawings of schoolchildren containing vaguely violent imagery became calls to the police and mandatory psychiatric sessions. Think of all the people of previous generations--people like me--whose writing and drawing could have ruined their lives in such a free thought hostile environment. Now the same preposterous censorship of the darker aspects of our minds are being scrutinized in authors by over-sensitive adults with too much time on their hands. These same people actually feel the need to write "sarcasm" after their barely sarcastic comments and insist that others do the same to avoid potential offense.

Isaac Marion created a satirical piece, mostly for his own amusement. Leave him the hell alone and get over yourselves.










Friday, February 17, 2017

Being the Anniversary of the Most Difficult Loss.

Back in November of last year, I posted a tribute to my mother-in-law because it was her birthday and because she'd passed away nine months prior surrounded by loved ones. Today marks the anniversary of her passing and I think it suitable and appropriate to repost my wife's words concerning her memories of her mother and the horrible pain she is experiencing (The original post and picture of their hands follows this one):

"Tonight at 9:10pm, I watched you pass away. I grabbed your hand (Chris took the pic while crying) and immediately realized I felt the most devastating loss I could imagine. It caused a physical pain in my chest that went all the way through to my shoulders and back. I got in bed with you and held you for a while and then somehow felt a presence that never left me.
My life immediately changed forever. You weren't just my mom, you had told me since I was a tiny girl that I was... your best friend and through my entire life that it was, "Always just you and me, my girl." 


 12 months have gone by and although your constant presence has been felt by even Chris and especially the dog, I miss hearing my phone ring 5 times a day. I miss you calling me at 9pm at work to go for "just a little bite to eat," because that was our thing. Many times you would just to drive through our old neighborhood where you, me and Cliff lived. You always wanted to see the home you had to leave in 2001.


 You lived for being around people your whole life. You loved music. You loved art. You LOVED the lakes and ocean and especially the east coast. You loved lighthouses. You loved the sound of ships sounding their horns. You loved birds, penguins, elephants, and dogs and you were kind to all living creatures. You loved Winter but also the look of an English garden. You loved your faith. You loved academics. You marveled at science and even metaphysics. You had every book on longevity and the mind and you refused the idea of giving up the fight. You cried and laughed equally. We would make each other laugh and also scream our heads off at each other only to hold hands and say, "I love you forever." 


 Our song sing I was tiny was, " You and Me Against the World," and we danced to it at my wedding. I waited nearly 41 years to get married and mamma you walked me down the aisle and I would never have it any other way.


 Life has grown cold and empty for me these past 12 months and time has stood still. I don't sleep and I've somehow grown very old in my eyes. I love you, my best friend and mamma. I didn't give up on you then and my heart will never forget. Love you more.


And mamma...it's still you and me."


At 9:10pm on Wednesday, February 17th, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand-Sixteen, my mamma and my world passed away.
A light of the world went dark and the ...spark of light in me went dark with her forever.
There are no appropriate words. There is no comfort. I've been here several times. But mamma...my mamma.
There is no mamma. I will love you with my dying breath

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

On Genre Ignorance & Politics


Trigger Warning:
The following post contains a bit of name-calling and a judgmental, possibly even self-righteous tone.

There’s a reason most writers of speculative fiction, i.e. science fiction, fantasy, horror and magical realism, shudder when we hear some overpaid media pinhead use a clueless expression such as, “It’s like something out of science fiction.” It’s not because there aren’t situations that might actually call for such a dubious phrase, however. It’s because the majority of the time, it’s being used stupidly to make a point better made by just discussing the issue at hand.

The most recent example of this started with an idiot being allowed to speak for an even bigger idiot. That first idiot is Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the *urp* President of the United States. I’m pretty sure you’ve already guessed the identity of the bigger idiot. And unless you’ve been on a self-imposed media blackout the scale of which would be truly impressive as well as enviable, you are probably aware of Conway’s insistence on the existence of “alternative facts.”

Her unfortunate and no doubt intentional phrasing has entered the lexicon in a big and probably unintended way.  Instead of being a viable concept, it’s become a running gag on social media the likes of which we haven’t seen since, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Naturally, not every piece of commentary has been satiricial, and that brings me right back to where this whole thing started: This well-intentioned but ultimately clueless letter comparing science fiction to alternative facts.
 
The letter's author, one Gordon Merseth of Portland, Oregon, seems to be making a case for science fiction and the sub-genre alternate history as being akin to the altered reality the Trump administration seems hell-bent on fostering on the American public. While that attempt might seem to work on the surface, it's a specious comparison rooted in genre ignorance not unlike the writing of a certain English school principal I wrote about last year. In the minds of non-fans and even those who have little appreciation for science fiction, it is little more than a weird distortion of concrete reality bereft of rules and somehow disingenuous as a literary form.
 
Fortunately, no less than one of the greatest living science fiction authors of all time, Ursuala K Le Guin,  took Mr. Merseth to task for his lack of a foundation in the genre in a letter to his letter. In it, she wrote:
 
 The comparison won't work.  We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real - all invented, imagined --  and we call it fiction because it isn't fact. We may call some of it "alternative history" or "an alternate universe," but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are "alternative facts."
 Even if I didn't know any better, I'd side with a woman the Library of Congress named a Living Legend because of her outstanding contributions to the world of English Literature.

I understand the desire to describe the Trump administration's blatant attempts to gaslight as many Americans as possible in terms that clearly and intelligently do so. But when someone tries to do that using concepts and forms of expression of which they are ignorant or simply misinformed, it becomes the focus rather than the original intended subject.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quote of the Week.

"The specter of the fuming President-elect railing against fake news, this from a man who had promoted for years the lie that President Barack Obama was not American and whose speeches on the campaign trail were often Briar patches of mendacity - was an irony verging on Shakespearean tragedy. But if Mr. Trump and his inner circle think that this type of authoritarian behavior will cow the press, I think they will find it will only embolden us."

-Dan Rather

Monday, January 9, 2017

A First Impression Review of "Star Wars: Rogue One"

Two days after "Rogue One" opened, I submitted this review to a movie site I used to write for. Three weeks later it still sat unacknowledged and unpublished, so I removed it and am  publishing it here instead. Please keep in mind these are my initial reactions to the movie and I am planning to go back and see it a second time. This is the first "Star Wars" film I haven't seen more than once within nearly a month of its release, so it should be obvious I was underwhelmed.

A second, likely shorter review, will follow this one once I've given it a second chance.

Review:


Ever since George Lucas sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney for a, in retrospect, ridiculously low sum of $4 billion, equal amounts of fans cried foul and raised their glasses in celebration. What would the House of Mouse do to the beloved space fantasy franchise. Would it be the savior for those who disliked the prequels or would it take a concept that was specific to its creator and start churning out by-the-numbers films every so often?
 
We are now two movies in to the Disney Era and it’s still too soon to answer that question. What we do know is there has been a successful saga relaunch in the form of Episode VII and a stand-alone adventure that appears poised to once again make gobs of money at the box office.  At this point, it’s a built-in moneymaker.  But is it any good?
 
Well, yes. And no.
 
The elements are certainly all there.  The film takes place between Episodes III and IV, at the very end of that twenty-year period where Emperor Palpatine is cementing his hold on the galaxy with the help of his physically and emotionally damaged apprentice Darth Vader.  This is the story of how the Rebellion got ahold of the Death Star plans, eventually succeeding in blowing it to hell and showing the galaxy they meant business.
 
It’s a story many Star Wars fans wanted told.  And in this era of nobody seeming to believe there should be any mystery in life and that every moment and nuance needs to be expanded upon, this was a wise move on Disney’s part regarding launching a stand-alone series of movies.  It’s also painfully unnecessary.
 
Because “Rogue One” isn’t a story that had to be told, it feels suspiciously like fan fiction.  Certainly there’s a different tone to this one; it’s a war movie featuring the requisite disposable characters based around a deadly, hopeless mission that will change the tide of the war. The stakes are suitably high, the battles are executed with great skill and the dialogue is serviceable without being memorable.  So, why isn’t it a better movie?
 
Story- Tony Gilroy who write the first two Jason Bourne movies as well as the stand-alone The Bourne Legacy has never been known for his breakneck pacing. He also tends to take long, unnecessary side-trips in his narratives. And while he is one of two writers of Rogue One’s screenplay, his earmarks are all over it. Thus we get a story that is somehow plodding yet moves too quickly without ever establishing motivations beyond the superficial needs of the Rebellion and the Empire and the supposed main character Jyn Erso (more on her later).
 
Directing- There’s no other way to put this now that he’s been given three chances to prove himself: Gareth Edwards is a sub-par director. He frames his shots well enough, although he tends to have an over-reliance on close-ups during scenes where a larger scope would be more effective. His major fault lies with the performances he gets from his actors. In a word, they’re terrible. Nobody expects Edwards to be a Kubrick or Ridley Scott-type director tormenting his actors with take after take, but Edwards’ takes seem almost Ed Wood-like in the settling that takes place. He also has a rare talent for taking what should be the most exciting portion of a film and rendering it about as interesting as watching C-Span.
 
Casting and Acting- There’s a lot of online chatter about the quality of acting in the Star Wars movies, especially the prequels. However, since this is a completely different type of film in the franchise, it’s fair to judge the acting in it without comparing it to the other Saga films. Felicity Jones is Jyn Erso, the daughter of the scientist whose work and research helped make the Death Star operational. She is supposedly a tough, take-no-crap orphan who was rescued by a militant rebel extremist named Saw Gerra (Forrest Whitaker). Jones is unconvincing and unlikable in the role and never once does it seem like she’s there for anything expect to collect a paycheck. Whitaker is just weird and off-putting. Deigo Luna is flat and uninteresting as Captain Andor, Riz Ahmed is laughably unconvincing as the defecting Imperial with no motivation ever explained, Alan Tudyk as the voice of K-2SO has insured that Jar Jar Binks can no longer be called the most annoying franchise character and Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen steal the show. Basically, with two exceptions, the main rebels stink.
Ben Mendelsohn as Director  Orson Krennic is a wonderful Imperial villain. Mads Mikkelson is utterly wasted as Galen Erso, but that’s clearly an editing issue.
 
Characters- One thing Star Wars movies have always done well is give us characters we care about. Until now. This particular band of doomed rebels is about as interesting as watching Whiteout dry. This is probably the best example of the lazy filmmaking on display here. Obviously it’s assumed that the concept overrides the characters, so even in a film populated by clich├ęs and dullards, the viewer is so consumed with how those Death Star plans were obtained that we’ll all be riveted.
 
Saga Tie-ins- This film is easily the one most filled with fanboy porn. There are more Episode IV cameos than one should expect, from a decidedly creepy Peter Cushing to all the pilots from the original to a certain main character whose CGI appearance at the end if bizarre and jarring. Darth Vader is on hand, although criminally under-utilized, and his appearance adds more bafflement to the story than it clears up. Still one cannot deny the utter coolness of his final scene in the movie.
 
Third Act- Disney demanded some reshoots of this film and it shows. The third act, which should have been a smaller, guerilla warfare conclusion, turns into one of the largest space battles in the franchise’s history. Why is that a huge miscalculation?
 
Inconsistencies- Simply put, this movie goes too big. It should have never been a film with a huge climatic battle sequence. This was supposed to be about a small tactical group of rebels ready to die in service of their cause. Instead, years of Star Wars history is reversed as we suddenly realize there was a pretty sizable rebel fleet before Episode IV. This renders the whole concept of there never having been much of a rebellion until after the destruction of the Death Star meaningless. Not to mention the pedestrian way the whole thing is dealt with at the end of the film. More lazy filmmaking on display. Also, there’s the issue of the prequel-level skillset of Darth Vader on display that is suddenly absent in Episode IV and the inclusion of Mon Mothma who is nowhere to be found during the Battle of Yavin.
 
Ultimately, “Rogue One” is a mediocre side-trip into the Star Wars universe that feels more like watching someone play a video game than a film with any dramatic stakes or relatable moments. It cements Gareth Edwards as a journeyman version of Chris Nolan and reminds us that what makes these movies work isn’t just a bunch of nifty ideas.