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10th Anniversary update: state of the journal [Sep. 8th, 2016|10:00 am]
[Current Location |Yellow Springs, OH]
[mood |Not really back, sorry]
[music |A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob on the End, by Heather Wood]

Hello everyone,

Well, here we are, ten years since I began this account, and what a journey it's been since then.

Obviously, it's been a while since I last updated this journal. There are numerous reasons for this, major and minor, and I'm only going to focus on 3 of the former for now. One reason is that I was working fro December through August, including my first real 40-hour per week job (a seasonal gig), and work time eats into writing time something fierce. Second, for the last ~18 months, I've been trying to buckle down on my fiction writing, with the goal of producing publishable material in the not-too-distant future. So what writing time I've scraped together lately has been mostly devoted to fiction, with the remainder going to miscellaneous other projects. And third, I haven't felt the same drive to produce which fueled me for so long. I thought I might write an article about Jessica Jones, and the awesomeness of Trish Walker. I still kind of want to write an analysis of Everybody Loves Charles, a sci-fi story by Bao Shu I listened to on the Clarke's World podcast several months back. And there have been other things to catch my interest that I'd like to put my thoughts into pixelated type about, but I haven't been able to muster the enthusiasm to write them down. Hell, I'm already two full series behind on Doctor Who, and it's not because I've stopped watching the show, or run out of thoughts about it—certainly not. And the first of those two series wrapped up almost a year before I started the new job, so it isn't that, either. I've never had enough time to work on every project I'd like, but I used to be able to carve out time to work on Doctor Who reviews because I was so strongly motivated to get them out. But lately, reviews in general have plummeted on my priority list and I don't really know why.

So the upshot is, this journal has seen a decrease in activity in the past year and a half, and that quiet is going to continue for the foreseeable future. I'm not going to close the account, because it's not costing me anything, and because there's still a few people on this site I like being able to keep in touch with. Also, even though I've moved away from journal-related content indefinitely, I still like to have this record of that part of my life around. And I should say that I have not entirely moved away from journal-related content. I have one or two projects in the works which are suitable for livejournal, and which I'm pretty sure I'll be able to complete to my satisfaction and post here. Some will take me longer than others, but since nobody's clamoring for them to begin with, I figure I can afford to take my time with this.

Anyway, that's the state of the journal. There will be at least a little more activity coming up in the future, but expect that when you see it and not before. Till then, bye.
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Farewell (for now) to Middle-earth: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [May. 25th, 2015|10:36 am]
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[Current Location |Yellow Springs, Ohio]
[mood |A bit disappointing, but I'll take it]
[music |Song of the Lonely Mountain, by Neil Finn]

For various reasons, I only ended up seeing the third installment in Peter Jackson and company's Hobbit film duology with my sister Noria and our mom, rather than the full sibling complement. Once again, we watched it in 2d, which was just fine with me.

As usual, expect massive spoilers.

I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evilCollapse )with this enjoyable yet disappointing note, the “Lord of the Rings”/“Hobbit” film series comes to a close. Prospects for a Silmarillion film are very low—and to be honest, I'm cool with that. I love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but the most I can say about the Silmarillion is that I like parts of it. Maybe there'll be a cinematic or TV reboot in another decade or two, and I'll be interested to see them when and if they come. But for the foreseeable future, this really is farewell to Middle-Earth on the big screen.

Peace out.
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Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi [May. 5th, 2015|10:36 am]
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[Current Location |Peekskill, NY]
[mood |exasperated]
[music |Daylighters, by Rachel Caine]

The Last Jedi, by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, published in February 2013, is a sequel to Reaves' 2008-2009 “Coruscant Nights” trilogy. Set a year or two after Revenge of the Sith and Order 66, it follows Jedi Knight Jax Pavan and his companions as they face their greatest test yet.

An attempt to relocate resistance leader Thi Xon Yimmon goes horribly awry, resulting in the death of one of Jax's friends, and Yimmon's capture by Darth Vader. Grief-stricken, Jax must go deeper into himself than ever before to regain his clarity of purpose, and find the power he'll need to rescue Yimmon from Vader's clutches while there's still hope for the fledgling resistance.

Major spoilers for The Last Jedi follow.

Coruscant Nights - the tepid conclusionCollapse )

Peace out, y'all.
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Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens first impressions [Mar. 31st, 2015|03:30 pm]
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[Current Location |Peekskill, NY]
[mood |cautiously pessimistic]
[music |The Bugle podcast]

According to Entertainment Weekly, the Lucasfilm story group plans to release a slew of books, comic books, and other publications, chronicling the major events of the new continuity between Episode VI, Return of of the Jedi and Episode VII, The Force Awakens. This Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens will begin publishing in the fall.

Details in the EW article are sketchy, listing only a couple of titles and a handful of authors—it looks like the named ones will be writing YA. The only name I recognize from the list is Greg Rucka, whom I haven't read, but I understand his run on Wonder Woman was highly regarded*. The only other thing I noticed about the concrete announcements is that it looks like we so far have three male writers and just one female writer confirmed. Hardly surprising, but discouraging nonetheless. Anyway, here's what I think, given the preliminary nature of the information we have at present.

*Though as John Jackson Miller's output attests, good comic book writing doesn't necessarily equate to good novel writing. Not that his novels are terrible, they just can't compete with his comics. (And yes, I know not everyone thinks Jackson Miller is that great a comic book writer, either, but I still do.)

In short: I'm conflictedCollapse )
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What the f*ck, Janet Morris? [Mar. 30th, 2015|10:00 pm]
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[Current Location |Peekskill, NY]
[mood |Seriously, what the f*ck am I hearing?]
[music |Eve of Destruction, by Barry McGuire]

(Content warning for discussions of racism and victim-blaming)

So, a little while ago, author Janet Morris and her husband Chris did an interview on the “Roundtable Podcast.” Cut for massive quantities of nonsense and commentaryCollapse )
Bottom line: This interview is a trainwreck of patronizing, neocolonial apologia. Blegh.

Peace out, y'all.
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Remembering literary fantasy master Terry Pratchett [Mar. 12th, 2015|06:30 pm]
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[Current Location |Peekskill, NY]
[mood |May the light he brought into the world never truly go out]
[music |Terry Pratchett interview on Youtube]


“Hmm, yes? Oh, my goodness, it's you.”


“And that must mean that I'm …”


“Well, well. I must say, I never expected to actually meet you. Never believed in this sort of thing, you know.”


“Yes, I suppose we do. So what now, then?”


“Of course. And what, er, what is the next part, exactly?”


“I guess we might as well go, then.”


“Yes? Go on.”


“Goodness, really? Well, after all, why not?”

I wrote those words in a flash of inspiration back in the fall of 2012, hoping it would be a very long time before I had to break them out. Well, that time has sadly come, and I suppose it's only fitting that the master preempted me. I hope he won't begrudge me the indulgence.

Recent weeks have not been good for speculative fiction fans. First Leonard Nimoy in the the last days of February, now Pratchett.

I've mentioned Sir Terry a few times on this journal before, including one memorable meeting at the first North American Discworld Convention (the first fan convention I ever attended, out of a grand total of two so far). But I don't think I've ever really laid out what he, as an author, meant to me. I won't try to give a comprehensive picture here, as I don't intend to write an entire thesis, but I do want to hit some of the main points.

I first got into reading Terry Pratchett over a decade ago, and I proceeded to drag the rest of my family into his orbit. I cannot tell you how many hours we spent reading the Discworld books and Good Omens, or listening to them on audiobook on long car trips. We got Hogfather on DVD when it came out (I found it not some much good or bad as kind of wonky—I still enjoyed it, the rest of my family less so), and I even watched The Colour of Magic and Going Postal even though they were kind of bad (though I'll argue the latter had its good points). A couple of us even watched the animated Wyrd Sisters at one point (which also had its moments).

Terry Pratchett is, hands down, one of my favorite authors of all time. I can name only a handful of authors who could delight me and touch me as profoundly and consistently as Pratchett writing at his best. Heck, even most of his inferior works were well above standard reading fare. While I have hopes and many good wishes for his daughter Rhianna, the the Discworld heir, my literary world is greatly impoverished by his absence.

More over, Sir Terry was one of my guiding stars as a beginning writer. I doubt I will ever write a story which feels similar to his—I don't have his gift for humor; he was funny off the cuff, and where he averaged five great jokes per page, it usually takes me about ten pages to get even one—but his style has profoundly shaped my storytelling sensibilities. There's so much of what I think about how to write good fiction that I learned from reading Pratchett, and doubtless a great deal more I'll glean in the years to come.

Heck, I've immersed myself in his works to such an extent over the years that it's even influenced my speech patterns, (especially noticeable when it comes to my use of expletives).

And on top of all that, the sense I get from both from reading his stories and from what information I've picked up about him as a person is that he was, by and large, a very decent bloke. I believe he had some stances which I strongly disagree with, but I think he was at heart a good person, and to my knowledge he didn't promote any outlooks which are actively horrible—not something I can say about all my favorite authors, sadly. Such a loss.

Many people are using the master's own words to eulogize him, and why shouldn't they, when he leaves such a wealth of good ones behind? I'd like to see somebody compile a list of the best ones, but for now, I'll leave you with my own selection from Hogfather: (perhaps later I'll dig up something good from Night Watch, there must be something really fitting there, too):

Susan: All right, I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need … fantasies to make life bearable.


Thank you, Terry, for making me and so many others that little bit more human.
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Film reflection: The Amazing(ly Angsty) Spider-Man 2 [Jan. 31st, 2015|10:36 am]
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |Peekskill, NY]
[mood |****, that ending ...]
[music |none]

I watched the sequel to 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man on an overnight flight and suffering from mild sleep-deprivation, which I always find lends an intense and slightly surreal tinge to the experience. Anyway, the second film reunites director Marc Webb with stars Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, and Sally Field as Aunt May, and adds Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro, Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborne/Green Goblin, with Felicity Jones in a role just one notch above cameo as Felicia Hardy (though not yet the Black Cat). In short, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a highly enjoyable film for its first 125 minutes; unfortunately, there are fifteen more minutes before we hit the credits, and those last fifteen minutes, hoo-boy. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Everything's always complicated with Peter ...Collapse )

Peace out.
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Jupiter Ascending trailer reaction [Dec. 31st, 2014|10:30 am]
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[Current Location |Peekskill, NY]
[mood |ringin' out 2014]
[music |Ready to Roll, by Jet Black Stare]

While my mother, sister, and I were in the theater to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (review upcoming – it'll be a few months, but it won't take as long as my piece on The Desolation of Smaug) we saw a trailer for the upcoming sci-fi action movie Jupiter Ascending. And, well …


- Female person of color protagonist.

- Female person of color protagonist played by Mila Kunis. With Sean Bean as a major supporting character. (Of course, he’s probably going to die at some point …)

- A Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster based on an original script, rather than a remake, reboot, book/comic book adaptation, or new installment in an existing franchise.

- The premise, from what I got of it, seemed pretty cool and mind-twisty in a good way.

- Oh my god, those visuals are in-credible. Especially the awesome sci-fi tech. I’ve never said this before in my life, but I might have to see this movie just for the visuals.


- Mila Kunis is the most important person of all because she’s secret royalty, basically the chosen one; not because of the choices she makes or merits which she earns herself.

- The main villain’s acting is atrocious. He goes for low voiced and menacing and winds up delivering cardboard.

Wild card:

The plot. It looked like it might come off, but I could easily see it falling flat in practice.

Final verdict: Could go either way, to be honest. See particularly the note on the film's plot. On the other hand, even if it does turn out to be crap, the movie might be worth seeing on the big screen on the strength of the visuals alone.
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Dan Brown's Inferno review [Dec. 30th, 2014|10:36 am]
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[Current Location |Peekskill, NY]
[mood |that ****ing ending ...]
[music |"Which Side Are You On," performed by Pete Seeger]

The story so farCollapse ) First, I should mention that this review contains a mild trigger warning for discussions of sexual assault and forced sterilization, and major spoiler warnings for the ending.

That said, let's dig into 'Inferno' and see just what I thoughtCollapse )
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Seattle +15 [Dec. 1st, 2014|12:00 pm]
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[Current Location |Peekskill, NY]
[mood |global conscience]
[music |"Strike a Blow Against the Empire," by David Rovics]

Just wanted to write a quick note to commemorate the fact that yesterday, November 30th, 2014, was the fifteenth anniversary of the protests which shut down the 1999 big meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle, Washington.

Since I last posted on this topic, five years ago, the world has witnessed the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, both multinational movements which could to some extent be said to be legacies (or continuations) of the global justice movement, for which the Seattle protest was a major turning point, and both of which have spawned legacies themselves whose long-term impact is not yet clear. We have also seen increased scrutiny - if only in the semi-alternative and radical news outlets - of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), another set of accords geared towards stripping away what little democratic power the citizens of various nation-states have to curb corporate excesses and put those decisions in the decidedly corporate-friendly hands. I have not personally been involved in any anti-TPP activism, or even heard that much about other people's activism, but it's been on my radar for the past two or three years, and it hasn't gone through yet - so big props to everybody who's played a part in stonewalling the TPP so far.

As we march forward into an era of increased austerity rhetoric and warmongering, coupled with increasingly alarming climate activity, let us keep Seattle and other such partial democratic victories close to our hearts. Solidarity in struggle.
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