(And, as of Spring 2019, this blog is also an accidental Iron Man shrine. Oops!)

Friday, October 18, 2019

One Quick Geeky Recommendation

The Chronicles of Davids, David Afsharirad (ed.)

Apparently, there are a lot of people named David who write good science fiction, and Baen recently decided to collect a bunch of their stories in one volume just for novelty's sake. All in harmless fun, right?

Well, if you're normal, you recognize this for what it is. But if you're a petty social justice bully, you get butt-mad because this one book doesn't meet your exacting specifications.

I find it funny - and by "funny," I mean "really freaking obnoxious and hypocritical" - that these people never live by their own rules. They keep telling us "it wasn't made for you" or "make your own" or "don't like, don't read," but as soon as someone on our side starts having what SJW's designate as Wrongfun, the knives come out.

To steal a phrase Sarah Hoyt used today on social media, it's sick-of-this-nonsense o' clock.

Today, publishing a book is insanely easy -- once you have it written, that is. The barriers to entry are essentially nonexistent if you're willing to do the work required to promote your stuff. The result? Whatever your esoteric tastes, you can probably find something to read on Amazon, the Great Bastion of Dino Porn. You don't need to force everyone else to cater to your whims.

So let me throw your platitudes back in your face, dear wokescolds: if you don't like this particular anthology, then don't purchase it. Go buy one of the many "diverse" anthologies that are out there, as I'm sure they'll be more suited to your tastes. Don't just sit there and bitch; buzz off and let other people enjoy things.

And to those on my side: this book ropes in proven talents. Buy it and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

IMB, 10/16/19: A Video & A Fic

I'm still adding content to my YouTube channel. Please subscribe if you haven't already!

What do I offer? Well, in this video, I prove Martin Scorsese wrong via a discussion of Tony Stark:

At the same time, I'm also working through my feelings regarding this character through fanfiction -- because, as my brother would say, I am a mega-dork. Here are the first two chapters of a six-chapter work-in-progress in which I'm exploring Tony's canonical PTSD as seen through the eyes of the people around him:

DSM-V: Chapter One // Chapter Two

I'm arranging the chapters both chronologically and by intimacy of the relationship, so if you're looking for, say, Tony/Pepper, that's coming. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Grumpy Thoughts, 8th Edition

Admin Note: The weekly schedule has been rearranged. Please see the sidebar at right!

I think one reason why so many people are confused about Joker is that they've swallowed the nonsense idea that victims can't ever be terrible people. But our society as a whole needs to get over this mental block before it completely warps our ability to tell right from wrong. Just because you have a legitimate grievance - or several - doesn't mean you should have carte blanche to act like an asshole. Do you want mass graves? Because that's how you get mass graves.

Special privileges are wrong no matter which way they cut; the rules should be the same for everyone. There is room for discussion regarding what, precisely, is moral, meritorious behavior -- but once the standards have been established, we shouldn't be exempting entire classes of people to settle cosmic scores. That's a good way to perpetuate resentment, not peace. It's also a good way to keep certain groups from achieving their full human potential; after all, why bother to put forth your maximum effort if people are just going to set stuff aside for you?

Over the past several years, I've been sorely tempted to write a post entitled "If You're a Writer, You Should Write All-White, All-Straight, All-Male Casts." I don't genuinely believe this, of course. That's why I haven't indulged the impulse: because I'm sure some idiot would skim until offended and completely miss the actual argument. But, as I was discussing over chat with my brother the other day, the fact remains that the SJW-left has created a perverse media universe in which you can't do anything truly interesting with characters who aren't straight, white men without being bombarded with worthless, harassing criticism and threats of "cancellation" -- which means if you want to write characters who are fully-realized, flawed human beings, you basically have to avoid "diversity" entirely. (Which, of course, risks worthless, harassing criticism of another type. You can't win!)

Thus, in the writing world, as in many spheres, SJW tactics actually achieve the opposite of their intended effect (unless the intended effect is simply division and chaos, which is not outside the realm of possibility). You can't actually have real diversity if you set out to terrify anyone who tries to incorporate it.

As my parents will no doubt tell you, I'm a contrary and cross-grained character. If you tell me not to push the shiny, jolly, candy-like button, I'm going to push it eventually. And I believe many of my fellow Americans are just. like. me. So if you try to control us? I don't think that's going to work out well for you. As a matter of fact, I think that's going backfire spectacularly.

Sure: tell us we can't practice our religion or raise our children as we see fit. Tell us you're coming for the arms we have a right to bear. Tell us you're going to mandate certain kinds of speech -- and that you're going to outlaw others. But please ask yourself:

There aren't many people who actually like the guy. I personally think he's a blowhard. But I'll vote for him - and enthusiastically too! - if it means keeping petty tyrants out of power.

Friday, October 11, 2019

IMB, 10/11/19: 1872

I've gushed over MCU Tony Stark. I've gushed over 616 Tony Stark. But today? Today, I'm going to gush over something a little different: 1872.

1872, for those who aren't familiar, is a four-issue mini-series that re-imagines our heroes as Wild West figures living in a tiny boom town. Steve Rogers is the sheriff, Bruce Banner is the apothecary, Wilson Fisk is the evil mayor -- I think you get the idea. 1872 was one of the alternate universes that spun off the Secret Wars event from a few years ago -- and I have to say that four issues is not nearly enough to satisfy my appetite for this particular setting. Why? I'll give you regular readers one guess.

Yep, that's right: Tony Effing Stark. 1872 Tony is absolutely precious. In this post, I will show you why.

(Cut because this is going to be a bit image heavy.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Geeky Recommendations, 10/9/19

(Note: Sorry for the lack of a post this past Sunday. I got a little busy and ran out of time.)

Books: Dan Simmons Month

For no particular reason at all, I've decided to spend the rest of October highlighting the work of Dan Simmons. Up first? Hyperion, his 1990 Hugo Award winner. The other day, I described this novel to a co-worker as "The Canterbury Tales... IN SPACE," but that only gives you a very basic sense of its structure. In reality, this is an odd, kitchen-sink kind of book that somehow manages to be a space opera, a cyberpunk tale, a mystery, and a literary reflection all at once. My favorite of the six stories told is probably Sol Weintraub's because it seriously grapples with the problem of suffering, but interesting ideas are included throughout. Fair warning, though: since this is the first of a series, you may find the ending a bit unsatisfying, as Simmons leaves the central mystery that drives the pilgrimage unsolved.

Now Playing

Joker. Let's cut through the pervasive mental retardation, shall we?

(Possible spoilers below the cut.)

Friday, October 4, 2019

IMB, 10/4/19: I'm Finally Ready to Talk About Vol. 4

I've been saying all along that I have issues with how Tony Stark is written in the comics post-2004. Well -- now that I've had the chance to mull it over, I think I can, at last, explain those reservations in words:

1.) Extremis. God, I respect the hell out of Warren Ellis. I think he's a fantastic writer. But that doesn't change the fact that I don't want Tony to have actual superpowers. After reading ToS and volumes 1 & 3 (remember: the mid-90's don't exist), I've become insanely invested in a Tony Stark who's just a regular smart guy under the machinery -- a Tony Stark who, indeed, is often medically breakable. I love that Tony spends half of the ToS run swooning because he's overtaxed his heart. I love that, at the beginning of volume 3, Tony is essentially pulped inside the armor and has to be strong-armed into going to a rehab facility. As I said in my first YouTube video on Iron Man, it means something to me that Tony, pre-2004, is physically fragile. I connect to that on a profound emotional level. But now that Tony has taken the Extremis enhancile, an entire dimension of his fundamental vulnerability has been erased -- and I miss it.

2.) Civil War. My biggest problem with this event and its immediate aftermath in re: Tony is the lack of consistency. In some issues, he's coldly accepting of the new order -- to the point that he willingly lays traps to snare rebels. In other issues, he's screaming in pain over what he feels he has to do (Frontline #11), sobbing openly over losing friends (Casualties of War, The Confession), or laying around in bed and not showering for days because he's been crippled by his depression and self doubt (the Iron Man tie-ins). True: these differences could be explained away with the public face/private face contrast that's been central to the character since ToS. But -- then I remember those forty years of comics prior to Civil War and think: no, no, it still doesn't work. Is it plausible that Tony would accept the necessity of government oversight to stave off something worse? Yes, of course, if you write it carefully. But would he ever agree to ratchet the enforcement to level eleven the minute the clock strikes midnight? No. No way. That's what's dumb. He'd scramble to negotiate first. And oh by the way, if he overheard SHIELD commandos calling themselves "cape-killers," he'd shut that shit down with extreme prejudice because he fucking loves his friends. That's the Tony I have come to know.

3.) Then there's the unremitting darkness of this era in general. As much as I love angst, you have to counter it with levity on occasion or else reading your comics becomes a chore. Trust me: you don't have set up permanent camp in the pit of the despair to be "serious." Tony can still juggle cars at children's hospitals without losing one iota of "respectability."

All that being said, many issues in this period still succeed in their cardinal task: getting me to feel something (other than frustration with the writer, that is). 21st century 616 Tony Stark is far more disturbed than his earlier iterations (yes, even when you factor in the alcoholism), but -- God, I can't help but continue to love my now unbalanced boy. How can I not love a character who, while in the grip of a major depression with psychotic features (I say "psychotic" because, in the same arc, a hallucination of his dead best friend attacks him in his bedroom), decides that the best way to save the world from a global plague is to cut off half his foot? YES, THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENS. And how can I not love a character who, after Norman Osborn takes over the remnants of SHIELD in the wake of the Skrull invasion, decides that the best way to keep Osborn's grubby hands off the SHRA database is to commit slow, painful brain suicide? THIS CAT IS CRAZY, GUYS. He's so heartbreakingly beautiful that I want to squish him senseless smack him silly.

My Facebook friend says it quite well: Tony is a superhero because "kill me" (or "maim me") is WAY higher on his list of acceptable side-effects than "someone else gets hurt."


In which I discuss ToS #56 -- which showcases Tony's capacity for guilt and self-loathing.